Getting to the Feet

One thing that constantly comes up during my clinics is how little people understand about footfall, proprioception and balance in guiding the horse’s feet effectively, and of course, accurately. So, let’s get started! You cannot, and I mean, it is not possible to guide a foot unless it is just leaving the ground. I have provided a video that will support this, which can be viewed on the WHUK website and on That is where, understanding footfall in relation to your timing, comes in. If you were to ask for a side pass for example, and you put your leg on each time your horses’ outside leg is on the ground with weight on it, how can your horse respond to you quickly? The video is the best example of this, so I highly recommend you check that out.  

On a similar level, you never want to ask for six steps of any manoeuvre... you ask for one step, six times! You can test this out on the best of horses - put your leg on and ask for any movement; sideways, turn on the haunches/forehand, etc. and just leave your leg there. It won’t take long before your horse quits on you because you’re giving him no confirmation that he’s doing the right thing. Therefore, the process goes: for side pass (that’s the horse staying straight and moving both his front and hind legs to travel sideways), you apply your leg while the horse is still, and when both front and back feet begin to step sideways, you remove the leg. That’s one step; you can then immediately add the leg again for a second and third step, but that ‘micro release’ is so important in showing your horse that he did the right thing. Otherwise, how is he going to know? The key thing to this is that the timing of your leg going on and coming off flows accurately with the timing of your horse’s feet. As a great old Horseman once said, “that’s not something I can teach, it’s just something you can learn”.  

Joe Midgley is a British horseman devoted to teaching both human and horse to develop a partnership that will allow them to achieve their greatest aspirations.

Joe trains through a physical and psychological understanding, meaning that he believes the emotions, or mental welfare of the horse is vital in creating that partnership and trust. This means no abuse, no beatings, no strapping down heads - just pure horsemanship.

Joe has had the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the worlds best: including Chris Cox and Buck Brannaman. Day to day, Joe travels the UK teaching lessons, performing demonstrations and clinics for horse and rider from foundation level, up to national level performance horses.