Sunday, March 14, 2010

Schenkelgängers und Rückengängers: Leg movers and back movers

The direct translation for these terms, respectively, is "Maverick legs" and "Back-goers." My short, paraphrased explanation--back movers have energy freely flowing through their body, a loose and "floaty" spine, active hind leg, and a lengthened neck that one instructor told me "feels like your horse is looking over the edge of a cliff." Leg movers are tight in the back and hollow, short in the neck, hind legs trailing, with energy blocked by the riders hands.

Now, if you want to read about these terms from some of the truly eloquent dressage experts, here are some resources...

Create a back mover... Dressage Today, June 2009

Timeless take on the terms leg mover and back mover, Dressage Today, March 2007

Keep it simple from

Controversy over short and deep
from Walter Zettl

The flipping up of the front foot from

Back mover vs. leg mover from USPC dressage articles

Leg mover vs. back mover from Betsy Labelle

Importance of engagement from Equus Inspiration 2010

Elements of dressage: A guide to training the young horse By K. A. Von Ziegner


  1. Just catching up. Re Harv. The desire to canter leads me to think hind end. Sending good thoughts your way.

    Interesting concept about the horse's back and correct "throughness." I sometimes wonder when people talk about their horses being "light" to the rein, if they are actually getting a horse truly working his back.

  2. I first read about leg movers vs. back movers in the book cited, Elements of Dressage. I'm not a dressage rider myself but it was a great read and is handy on my shelf.

    I'd recommend the book to anyone - the author lays out the fundamentals that any horse should learn before going on to the career they are best suited for. I am always going back to study the training tree.

  3. Any comment on how Tortilas moves? In my opinion he has too much knee action but I am just a mere amateur.

  4. "I sometimes wonder when people talk about their horses being "light" to the rein, if they are actually getting a horse truly working his back."

    Do you mean you think they are, or aren't? My new OTTB is definitely light to the rein... but takes work to get to use his back. He has a super sensitive mouth, and only as he's getting to know me am I able to start getting him to reach for the bit and stretch some. He tends to naturally squish himself up into a short, tight frame with a tense back and move only his legs... but do so while keeping his back end under him. It's very possible to get him to soften and move his back, too, just not easy.

    I tend to think moving the back doesn't have to do with what the head is doing (some horses do need it in a specific place, just not all) as much as the rest of the body. I've read some articles on horse anatomy, which make it sound as if the head is only really connected to a small part of the horse's back but it takes true suppleness to get that movement in the back - and if truly supple, you can get it at different speeds, different lengths of stride, and different head positions.


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.