Teach The Horse To Lead Not Just Follow
Horses will follow us about anywhere until they feel uncomfortable, then they stop.
If this happens and the horse has not been taught to lead; to step forward with the slightest amount of forward pull on the lead rope, the horse’s first instinct will be to go backwards instead of forward when we pull forward on the lead rope. The harder we pull the faster they run backwards and before we know it the horse is running backwards so fast across the parking lot, dragging us like a skier behind a boat, the soles of our boots are on fire!
“A horse that won’t lead and respect halter pressure can become a dangerous horse.”
“Give” to the bit (not resistant to the bit due to rein pressure)
To teach the horse how to be “soft” to your hands the rider must first teach the horse how to “give “to the bit.
“Give” to the bit is taught by the rider using one rein at a !me, making contact with the horse’s mouth through the bit.
When the horse relaxes through the jaw, poll and neck the rider will feel less resistance through the rein. As soon as this less resistance is felt the rein must be immediately released to reward the horse for “Giving” to the bit. When the horse has learned to “give” to one rein at a !me, the same method can be used when teaching two rein contact.
Eventually the rider will not have to let go and the horse will reward themselves by staying relaxed in the jaw, poll and neck.
If you do not like your Veterinarian or Farrier:
- Do not teach your horse how to stand while you take their temperature, let them kick you across the isles.
- Do not teach your horse to keep his head down while you place your thumb in his mouth, simulating deworming. Let them raise their head, jerking you off the ground, and swinging you around like a limp rag.
- Do not teach your horse to trot beside you so the Vet or Farrier can evaluate his gait. Instead, you trot and let your horse walk or stop and let them evaluate your gait.
- Do not teach your horse to lunge both directions. Let your horse stand still and you run or trot around them in a big circle. That way the Vet or Farrier can not only evaluate your gait they can evaluate your fitness as well.
- Do not teach your horse to stand quietly. Let your horse keep moving and if they move into you, get out of their way or let them step on your toes.
- Do not teach your horse to pick up their foot and let you hold it until you put it down. Let your horse, jerk their foot out of your hand and stomp your toe or let them sling you across the isles, slamming you into the wall.
All kidding aside, my point is: Your Vet and Farrier did not go to school to become your trainer.
Sending Your Horse to Training
A parent wouldn’t send their child to first grade for 30 days and then take them out of school to home school them without educating themselves in how to continue the child’s schooling. The same holds true when you send your horse to a trainer. Owner/rider education
is equally as important as having your horse trained.
“Collection cannot be taught without Connection”
Collection is achieved when the horse steps more forward with their rear feet, which allows them to put more weight on their haunches.
For the horse to do this they must raise their back and elevate their shoulders. Pressure from the rider legs is what raises the back and drives the rear feet forward but if there is not enough rein CONNECTION to the horses mouth, when pressing with the legs, the horse will not raise their back, they will just go faster.
The Well-Trained Horse
Purchasing a well-trained horse is a good way to advance your riding skills, but just purchasing the horse will not make you an Olympic rider. Without proper instruction and an occasional tune up by a professional, the well trained horse will just turn into an average or less than average horse.
Ask then Release
When introducing something new to the horse, release all pressure when the horse makes the slightest attempt to do what you are asking. Doing this consistently, the horse will become less resistant and more responsive to your request.
Riding = Controlling Energy Flow
By using correct rider aids, (hands, legs and seat), the rider should be able to control the tempo and direct energy through the face, shoulders, ribs and hips of the horse. If the rider is unable to control all parts of the horse, together or independently, the horse will escape the movement.
Pianist versus Equestrian
If the pianist wishes to become more proficient they must practice and master the ‘feel’ of the keys and the tempo.
If the equestrian wishes to become more proficient they must practice and master the ‘feel’ of the horse and the tempo.
It is always said, “IF YOU FALL OFF A HORSE YOU MUST GET BACK ON,” but is this always the best?
This is a motivational and macho saying but not necessarily true in all cases. Some riders can be encouraged to get back on, but forcing a rider that has lost their confidence to get back on or to do anything that they are not comfortable with in my opinion is a mistake. Instead of just saying it is part of the process, maybe we as instructors should take a little more responsibility for the fall. We should ask ourselves,” Are we doing our job and why did the student fall off?”
Good instructors teach riding skills using knowledge, encouragement and example, not by forcing or intimidation. An instructor must be able to read the riders ability and confidence, as well as reading the horse’s ability and confidence, this will enable them to instruct without putting undo pressure on either horse or rider. Teaching the rider how to control all parts of the horse gives both horse and rider confidence and ability to improve and in doing so the odds of the rider NOT falling off are greater.
Choosing the Right Sole: Rubber Sole Boots vs. Leather Sole Boots
While trying to make the boot more comfortable for walking and the soles last longer, you see many boots with rubber soles instead of leather. Rubber is also being placed in the stirrups so the rider has some cushion and so they don’t lose their stirrups as much.
Rubber is made to grip; and in doing so, can prevent the boot from coming out of the stirrup. While this may seem like a good thing, it can actually be a very dangerous thing. This can be very dangerous while getting off or getting bucked off! So, be safe and choose the right “sole.”
If you are going to walk, wear rubber soles.
If you are going to ride, wear leather soles.
Choose a Riding Instructor Who Will Give You Good Foundational Skills
Riding skill level can be compared to building a house. If you skimp on the foundation, the house may remain standing during the calm; but it will start to falter during the storm. To have the best chance of being successful in Western or English riding, find an instructor who teaches correct fundamental riding skills before you pick an event.
Use the Seat and Assist with Hands, Legs and Feet
Establishing correct riding aids using the seat, assisted by the hands, legs and feet, at the level you’re at, will allow you to continue your journey to advanced horsemanship. The result is being able to ride with lightness, which translates to “happy horse, happy rider!”
Feel & Timing
Good riders not only know the correct aids, but also have good feel and timing. In any movement the rider has to know the aids for the movement and also has to hold the aids long enough to finish the movement, but not so long as to disrupt the flow of the movement. Without feel and timing, the horse becomes confused and the movement becomes mechanical and hesitant.
“The fence or the wall of an arena is not considered an outside aid.”
Many times the rider, unknowingly, allows a fence or wall of an arena to be substituted for his or her outside leg and outside rein aids. To make sure you are using all aids, imagine a railroad track 5-10 feet off the wall, or fence, and practice keeping your horse straight between the rails.
Always practicing riding off the wall will assure that the rider is using the proper aids when they have to ride on the wall or fence.
Make sure your horse understands what you are asking of him . . .
In the PERFECT riding world, as soon as we applied the correct aid the horse would immediately, willingly, and softly respond to that aid. In REALITY, horses have their own way of doing things and sometimes the human way makes no sense to them so we have to teach the front, middle, and rear of the horse to respond to the proper rider aids. Being able to control each piece of the horse allows us to assist the horse with balance and collection. The rider should be aware of what all parts of the horse are doing to make sure the horse is not avoiding the maneuver by escaping through another part.
To fix or prevent problems the rider must understand and learn how to use the correct aids. There are many educational avenues out there that can help. Watch training videos, go to clinics and take some lessons from a qualified instructor. With time and hard work we can create the willing partnership that we desire with our horses!
Importance of Correct Body Position
To be successful in any discipline, whether it is Dressage, Reining, Roping, Cutting, Jumping, Trail riding, Barrel Racing, etc., the correct body position of the horse must be obtained and maintained thru the movement.
Before this can be accomplished the rider must not only learn what the correct horse position is, but also how to use the aids of their hands, seat and legs, to control the head, neck, shoulders, ribs and haunches of the horse so they can obtain and maintain the movement.