The JenkuMethod: Right hind leg jab in horses
The right hind leg jab in horses known as the JenkuMethod happens because of natural asymmetry.
Symmetry in Horses
Perfect symmetry is very rare in nature as every breathing creature is constantly being shaped by its genetics, its experiences and its lifestyle. Form follows function. That means that asymmetries that we can spot in our horses are a consequence of how the horse is using his body.
Most horses are good at putting their left hind foot forward and under the deepest part of the saddle where the rider’s weight is.
Suppose you want to let your best friend get on your shoulders.
In the first exercise, you put both your feet outside the backdoor and lean into the house.
The slightest weight on your shoulders will have you tipping over, for sure!
In the next exercise, by putting one foot inside the backdoor, directly under your shoulders – or as close as possible – it should be much easier to hold your friend’s weight and balance yourself sufficiently.
Training horses works on the same principle.
Addressing Natural Asymmetry in Horses
You want the horse to bring his hind foot in and forward and under the deepest part of the saddle where the rider’s weight is. In this way, the horse can lift both his own torso and the weight of the rider and rebalance. This results in the horse being lighter on the bit, because he is not using the muscles in his neck, but rather engaging the big muscles in his hind quarters to lift and hold both his own torso and the rider’s weight.
Interestingly enough, the right hind leg is not as capable. Normally, this is because the leg muscles are a bit shorter on the right-hand side and the stomach muscles are not quite as strong. Often then, the right hind leg is good at pushing, but not very good at engaging and stepping forward, under the deepest part of the saddle.
This can be addressed by both in-hand and under-saddle exercises to train the right hind leg “jab” to make the horse more relaxed over the back, and then train them to get stronger in their stomach muscles to encourage them to put their right hindfoot forward and under the deepest part of the saddle. This should enable them to lift their torso and the rider’s weight in the same way as on the left hind leg.
This is what is meant by riding a horse from the back to the front.
Next week in The JenkuMethod: One body, two brains