The Fundamentals of Foundation –Part 2 – Getting in Timing with the feet

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 2, 2012 09:30






Robin Davis is a lifelong horse lover who founded of the Holistic Horse Care Cooperative ( and, alongside of her husband, is owner/operator of a holistic horsekeeping ranch in Northern Colorado called Mustang Hollow.  Robin loves to spend time with her horses any way she can.  Her current herd of six consists of 1 Mustang, 1 Warmblood, 1 OTTB, 1 Quarter horse, 1 Arabian and 1 Welsh cross.  Robin loves to trailride, has competed in Dressage and has started and tuned up many horses using natural horsemanship methods.

 As we begin to take a stronger interest in the foundation of our horse, the feet, one easy and very impactful way to get started is to get in timing with the feet.  Take time to watch your horse move.  Watch the pattern of footfalls at each gait.  Walk is: Right hind, right front, left hind, left front….   Trot is the diagonal pairs together.  Left front and right hind, right front and left hind… The canter depends upon the lead.  Left lead pattern is right hind, reach with left front, left hind and right front together.  Backing is a slow ‘trot’ backwards.  They back in diagonals when allowed to move surely and freely.
Understanding how the horse uses its feet is an important way to begin building a stronger relationship with the hoof.  I like to spend a lot of time on the ground with my horses in a way that helps them know that I am interested in everything they are interested in, and boy are they interested in where their feet are and how fast and how far they can move them.  
Often times I’ll look at the way they are standing and determine which foot I think they will move first if I ask them to lead up or to move off.  I like to spend time with each of us at opposite ends of a 12’ lead rope and see if I can get them to move one foot towards me…only one… and then can we place that foot back where it was before - using visualization, body language and as minimal lead rope cue as possible.  This is a great way to keep them light and responsive to your every aide and translates directly into a responsive and light ride.
I use these same exercises while on their back too.  I love to play “hokey pokey” with my horses both on the ground and on their backs.    Or to sit on them while grazing and determine where the feet are at any given moment and which foot might move next.  So much more can be said about getting into timing with the feet this blog could be 1000’s of words long.  But I must stop here for today.
Next blog we’ll begin to look at the foot as an indicator for wellness…

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Holistic Horsekeeping