Hand Control with Cory Petska

What the world champ expects from his heel horses in the bridle.

Cory Petska is a master with his left hand. Here’s how he expects his heel horses to respond.


Riding my horses with them in my hand and between my feet works better for me than just trusting them. If I put my hand down and just let my horse be in control, 80% of the time, he’s just going to do what he wants to do. I’ll only get the exact reaction I want 20% of the time. If I keep him up in my hand in between my legs, I can have control every step of the way.

In the bridle

That means a lot more to me than just pulling. It means I’m using my feet just as much as my hands. When I say in the bridle, I mean my horse is collected. He’s in my hand and driving off his hind end. I’m not pulling a whole lot—on a scale of one to 10, with one being a loose rein and 10 pulling back, I’m probably at two. It’s a steady, consistent pressure.

Ready to stop

When I’ve got my horses up in the bridle, working off my feet and my hands on their backends, they’re ready to stop when I am ready to stop. Some horses cue you to throw. When I’m in control, I can tell my horses when I’m throwing and when to stop instead of vice versa.    

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