Adapted from a presentation by Doug Householder, Ph.D., Extension horse specialist, Texas A&M University, at the 1997 National Youth Horse Council Meeting 6.
Maintain proper adult involvement. Remember that the main goal of 4-H is youth development.
Parents and other adults are there to help and teach you, not to do your work.
Help them to focus on what is best for all the kids and the program, not just on you.
Do as much as you can yourself. 106 Riding and Showing The 4-H Horse Project W arm – u p A rena E tiquette At a horse show, you’ll have opportunities to use warm-up space.
The warm-up ring is usually overcrowded, so following these simple rules can help make it a safer and more beneficial place. • All horses work in the same direction. • Trainers, leaders, and helpers remain outside the arena. • Don’t mix longeing and riding in the same arena. • Don’t mix carts and mounted horses in the same arena. • If you ride a mule, donkey, or pony, remember that some horses are not familiar with these kinds of animals and may be frightened.
Be respectful and careful when warming up together. • Don’t cut others off into the rail or crowd the rail, moving others off. • Communicate with those around you, especially if you are having trouble. • Do not halt and/or back up without warning those around you. • Keep two horses’ lengths between you and the horses to the side, front, and back. • Be in control; if you’re not, you’re not ready to be there. • Keep your language and comments appropriate. • The 4-H Code of Conduct applies at all times. • If your horse has a tendency to kick, put a red ribbon in its tail. In th e S h ow R i ng Remember that all contestants are doing their best to be seen by the judge.
Be respectful of the riders around you.
Adhere to the same guidelines in the show ring as in the warm-up arena, and add the following: • Don’t try to “squeeze” into a space in line where there isn’t space. • Don’t be afraid to enter the arena first. • When working a pattern, stay away from those who are lined up whenever possible. • Be ready and waiting for the judge’s signal for you to begin. • Wait for the judge to acknowledge you before you begin your pattern and before returning to line when you finish your pattern, unless the judge requests otherwise. • Be sure your exhibitor number is clearly visible. • If you are too close to another exhibitor, don’t hesitate to circle safely and find your own space on the rail. • Do not dismount in riding classes. • Ask a steward or judge for permission if you want to be excused. • Be sure your horse is prepared for the horse show environment (clapping, chairs moving, people climbing bleachers, and so on). The 4-H Horse Project Riding and Showing 107 Choosing a Qualified Riding Instructor/Trainer Finding the perfect riding instructor is not an easy task! The right instructor helps you become a safe, confident handler and rider, no matter which discipline you choose.
Two of the most important elements of riding are safety and fun.
If either of these is missing, then you have the wrong instructor.
It is worth the time and energy to find the right trainer/instructor so you can be safe and successful.
Before you begin your search for an instructor, decide what your goals are, both for yourself and your horse.
You also must decide which discipline or type of riding you want to pursue: English or Western.
English includes jumping, hunt seat, saddle seat, dressage, and eventing.
Western offers pleasure, stock seat, Western games, reining, cutting, and others.
Determine what your best learning environment is.
Some instructors have a busy, active barn; others a quieter, laid-back atmosphere.
Also, you can choose group or private lessons.
Some people like having other riders around them who have the same goals.
Others like to have the instructor’s undivided attention.
Find an instructor who really understands horses and is experienced in your chosen discipline.
An instructor must have people skills as well as horsemanship abilities and must be able to help students achieve their goals.
Not all good trainers are good instructors.
A good instructor must not only understand the horse and the chosen discipline, he or she must also know how to teach.
To begin your search for a riding instructor, ask friends, local horse clubs, 4-H leaders, veterinarians, and farriers for referrals.
Talk to other horse owners and find out which instructors have worked well for them.
Check with riders currently learning from an instructor to find out about his or her ability to teach and train.
Also, try the Yellow Pages or a Horseman’s Directory.
Follow the guidelines below when searching for an instructor.
Good match for yours? Discuss lesson programs, student goals, and riding styles with the instructor. — The 4-H Horse Project them from swinging and to adjust the length of the reins.
Placing the hand on your thigh is acceptable.
Your hands should not be right next to each other, as you don’t ever want it to appear that you have two hands on the reins. Western Gaits Walk The walk is a four-beat gait, with the horse’s feet hitting the ground one at a time.
Collect the horse by lightly picking up the reins and making contact with the bit.
At the same time, squeeze lightly with the thighs, but do not let the horse move forward.
With the horse brought to attention this way, use relatively light pressure with the calves of your legs to move it into a walk.
Release the bit contact if the horse has been trained to go on a looser rein, but never let the reins hang slack.
Follow the movements of the horse’s head with your hand.
Encourage the horse to walk freely.
Do not peck at the horse with your heels; your feet should be as motionless as possible.
Flex at the waist to absorb the horse’s motion in your lower body. Jog Jog is the term used in Western riding for a slow trot.
A trot is a two-beat gait with diagonals (opposite corner legs) moving as a pair, striking the ground at the same time.
Collect the horse at the halt or walk and use more leg pressure to go forward at the jog.
You may use a voice command or cluck first, depending on the horse.
Adjust the rein tension to allow the horse to move forward at the desired pace.
Lean your body weight slightly forward from the hips as an additional aid, but come back to an erect position for a jog.
Keep enough weight on your feet to absorb the motion in your ankles.
Also relax the seat muscles, so the sitting bones follow the slight side-to-side motion.
In a fast jog, the horse is asked to increase the speed and frequency of its steps.
In an extended jog, the horse noticeably extends the length of its stride without increasing the frequency of its steps.
In Western riding, as the speed of the jog increases, lean slightly forward, keeping contact with your thighs.
Put more weight in the stirrups and keep your heels down to absorb the impact in the ankles, knees, and thighs.
Bring the seat slightly out of the saddle, rising slightly forward on your thighs, moving with the horse’s motion. The lope is a three-beat gait.
One rear foot hits the ground followed by the other rear foot and the diagonal front foot.
Then the other front foot hits the ground.
Lope is the term used in Western riding for a canter.
During the lope (or at a faster gait, the gallop), the horse goes forward in a series of leaps.
As it lopes, the horse’s body is turned at a slight angle to the direction it is traveling.
In a circle, horses naturally lope on the inside lead.
If the rider simply collects the horse and uses stronger leg pressure than is required for the trot, the horse will lope on either the right or left lead.
The rider must guide the horse’s body into the correct angle for the lead, using the reins and legs.
For the left lead, collect the horse at the walk and lift its head slightly to lighten the forehand.
Do not lean forward.
To angle the horse’s body, move your right leg back a few inches and push the hindquarters slightly to the left.
Follow instantly with enough pressure to push the horse forward into the bit, but do not allow it to speed up.
At the same time, your left leg should put pressure at the cinch to increase forward motion.
Your body weight should be nearly centered, with a slight shift to the right (outside) sitting bone.
This lightens the left forequarter.
The horse should begin to lope from the walk without trotting.
It may be necessary to rein the horse slightly to the right to help pick up the lead.
Straighten the horse’s head as soon as it picks up the lead.
Reverse the aids for the right lead.
Your hands and arms should be relaxed enough to move with the horse’s head.
Locked arms tend to make a rider rock forward and back in the saddle.
Rigid posture is another cause of rocking.
Your back must be supple at the waist.
With practice and experience, a rider can feel whether or not the horse is on the correct lead.
When the horse’s body is angled away from the leading side, the saddle moves forward in a slight spiral, and the rider’s leg on the leading side is pushed ahead.
For example, when the horse is on the left lead, the rider’s left leg tends to move ahead.
Another way to check is to glance down, without tipping your head, at the horse’s leading shoulder, which naturally moves forward. (Do not lean over to look.) Left to itself, a horse often develops the habit of using one lead most of the time.
It may refuse to take the unaccustomed lead entirely.
Ask for a specific lead even on a pleasure ride to avoid this problem.
Using both leads also relieves strain on the horse’s legs.
The counter canter (the horse leading with the outside leg in a circle, or the outside Lope The 4-H Horse Project Riding and Showing 121 lead) is a good exercise to test the horse’s obedience and improve its balance.
Lead changes More advanced horses and riders may wish to try making smooth changes from one lead to the other.
The easiest method is to drop to a walk or trot and immediately pick up the opposite lead.
This is a simple change.
Try to take as few steps as possible between leads.
Another technique is the interrupted change.
Bring the horse to a complete halt, and immediately apply the correct aid to take the lope on the opposite lead.
There should be no walking or trotting steps.
The third type of change is the flying lead change.
The horse must change front and rear leads without dropping to a trot or walk.
If the horse misses the rear lead, it is called cross-centering, cross-firing, crossleading, or disunited.
When compared to an equal pattern using an alternate change, credit is given for a good flying change.
However, a simple or interrupted change with no mistakes is better than a flying lead change done poorly. across the neck.
Your outside leg should press against the horse’s side to help push it into the turn.
Your weight should stay upright in the center of the saddle.
If you are riding with two hands on the reins, pull the direct (inside) rein in the direction of the turn as lightly as possible.
Two hands are not used with a Western curb bit.
Move your hand back toward your body, not to the outside.
Loosen the outside rein slightly and lay it against the horse’s neck.
Your legs and weight work the same way as in neck reining.
The indirect rein aid is used to move the horse’s weight from one front shoulder to the other, bending only the head and neck.
The rein makes a line from the inner side of the bit, across the front of the withers, to the rider’s opposite hip.
One use for the indirect rein is to keep the horse from cutting corners, while still bending properly in the corners. Western Pleasure Western Pleasure is an event judged on a horse’s ability to be a pleasure to ride.
To be a pleasure to ride, a horse must be broke and quiet, soft and smooth, and go with little restraint.
In addition, the horse must meet the requirements of the class.
Western Pleasure—Pleasure Type and Pony Western Pleasure are class divisions and not separate events. Stops and Backs A good stop at every speed requires a definite set of aids to prepare the horse.
Give the voice command “Whoa” first.
Fix your hands in one position to set up a barrier with the bit.
Then, push the horse into the bit by squeezing the legs.
Sit deep, nearly on the tailbone, without leaning forward or back, to absorb the shock and avoid being jerked forward.
Grip with your thighs and put more weight on your heels to keep them low and underneath the body.
Do not shove your legs forward, as this pushes your weight back on the horse’s hindquarters and makes a good stop more difficult.
The horse should be trained to stop immediately when the reins apply pressure.
Relax the pressure on the bit once the horse has stopped, but maintain contact.
To back, give the horse a signal to move by squeezing with your thighs.
At the same time, create a barrier with the bit by setting your hand(s).
The horse cannot move forward, so it backs.
Relax the pressure on the bit as soon as the horse starts to back. Class routine Contestants show their horses at a walk, jog, and lope.
They are worked both ways of the ring at all gaits.
Horses may be asked for an extended jog.
The order to reverse is executed by turning away from the rail.
Riders should not be asked to reverse at the lope.
After rail work is complete, entries line up as directed.
Riders usually are asked to back. Scoring procedure — correct— straight from mouth to hand incorrect— hands too close with palms down incorrect, hand too low The 4-H Horse Project Riding and Showing 129 Hunter hack The hunter hack class combines both flat work and jumping.
The hunter hack horse should move as a hunter under saddle horse, with free, long-striding forward motion.
It should demonstrate good manners, being both obedient and responsive.
The class begins with flat work.
Horses are required to walk, trot, and canter both directions of the ring.
All horses are also required to hand gallop one direction of the ring.
No more than eight horses are permitted to hand gallop at one time.
Excessive speed is penalized.
A halt from the hand gallop usually is requested also.
After the flat work, exhibitors are asked (one at a time) to jump two fences in a line.
The horse should go willingly at a steady pace, in a straight line.
A refusal to jump is considered a major fault but not a disqualification.
Jump heights should follow the state standards for Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences.
Often, the judge will ask for the hand gallop after the jumps, then a halt, stand, and walk off on a loose rein. saddle seat position Saddle Seat A horse with higher head carriage and a more animated way of going is well suited for saddle seat.common saddle seat breeds include the American Saddle Horse, Arabians, and Morgans.
The style conveys elegance and emphasizes the proud appearance of both horse and rider.
The rider should give the impression of effective and easy control. Basic body position 1 2 3 4 7 5 6 1.
Body vertical 2.
Shoulders back 3.
Back straight 4.
Upper body balanced over legs 5.
Wrists supple 6.
Hands about waist high 7.
Knees flat on saddle 8.
Toes straight ahead 9.
Heels down and back 10.
Stirrup on ball of foot 11.
Rider is in center of seat, not too far forward or back 12.
Stirrup hangs to, just at, or below ankle bone 13.
Knee should just cover the stirrup leather 14.
Toe no farther forward than knee 15.
Stirrup on ball of foot 16.
Heel down 8 9 10 11 — Riding and Showing 135 Gates It is your job to position the horse so the gate may be worked properly and easily.
The sidepass, haunch turn, forehand turn, backing, and neck reining are all used in working a gate.
Ride up parallel to the gate and as close to it as possible, or ride up a few steps away from it and sidepass over.
Always push the gate away from you unless it is unsafe or the pattern directions specifically state otherwise.
You can walk forward through a gate or back through it.
If you walk forward through it, stand facing the latch.
If you back through it, stand facing the hinges.
You should try to keep a hand on the gate at all times, but it is better to let go than pull the gate over or frighten the horse.
Sit up as straight as possible while working the gate.
If you lean too far, you can dig the horse in the side and push it away from the gate.
Remember, the simple shift of weight is sending an opposing message to your horse.
When you have finished working the gate, sidepass a step or two away from the gate if the pattern allows.
Patient practice is a must! Push and walk through gates Begin by standing parallel to the gate facing the latch.
Open the latch with your hand nearer the gate.
Back a few steps slowly, keeping your hand on the gate, until the horse’s head is past the gate standard.
Push the gate away from you, and, using neck reining, move the horse forward through the opening.
Once your knee has passed the end of the gate, begin pushing the horse’s hindquarters around until the horse is facing the opposite direction (the hinges).
Sidepass over (and back if necessary) to close and latch the gate.
Push and back through gates Begin by standing parallel to the gate facing the hinges, but with your hand beside the latch.
Open the latch with your hand nearest the gate.
Sliding your hand along the gate, walk the horse forward until its tail is beyond the latch gate standard.
Push the gate away from you.
Push the horse’s hindquarters through the gate, then back a few steps.
When your knee has passed the end of the gate, push the horse’s hindquarters around the end of the gate until it is facing the opposite direction (the latch).
Sidepass over to close and latch the gate.
Pull and walk through gates Begin by standing parallel to the gate facing the latch.
Open the latch with the hand nearest the gate.
Pull the gate toward you as your horse sidepasses away from it.
When the gate is well open, move your horse forward until your knee is just past the end of the gate.
Using your legs and reins, turn the horse around the end of the gate and then walk forward through it.
Sidepass away from the gate to pull it shut beside you.
Then take a few steps back until you can latch the gate closed.
Pull and back through gates Begin by standing parallel to the gate facing the hinges.
Open the latch with the hand nearer the gate.
Pull the gate toward you as your horse sidepasses away from it.
Make sure the gate is well open.
Back your horse until your knee is past the end of the gate, then turn the horse around the end of the gate and back through the opening until the horse’s head is past the gate standard.
Sidepass away from the gate, pulling it closed.
Step forward to latch the gate.
Rope gates Maneuver through a rope gate much as you would a “solid” gate.
Make sure the horse’s body is far enough through the gate before you make a turn to close the gate.
Be very careful when working a rope gate that the rope does not loop down and catch a stirrup or foot.
If your horse becomes frightened, be sure you let go of the rope immediately. Sidepassing Most trail courses include one or more obstacles that require the horse to sidepass (see page 113 for a description of a correct sidepassing maneuver).
The sidepass should be smooth and continuous.
Look in the direction of travel, and remain in the center of the horse as much as possible (although a slight weight shift to the side opposite the direction of travel is acceptable).
Staying straight and balanced in the saddle will make your cues more subtle, the movement smoother, and the performance better.
Practice sidepassing without a fence line or other barrier.
Working in a box-shape pattern is an excellent exercise.
Walk forward a few steps, halt, and then sidepass to the right.
Back up a few steps, halt, and sidepass to the left, completing the box.
This exercise helps make the horse responsive to leg cues and weight shifts.
To train a horse to sidepass over a pole, begin by stepping over a pole on the ground.
Center the pole under the horse’s body, just behind the rider’s leg.
Look in the direction you will go and sidepass off the pole.
Be sure you work both directions.
As the horse improves, approach the pole by sidepassing to it.
To provide more difficulty, sidepass around turns or elevate the poles.
If you are working a box made of poles, work first with the horse’s front feet inside the box, then with the hind feet inside the box.
Sidepass to the corner of the box, then use a turn on the forehand or a turn on the haunches to negotiate the corner. 136 Riding and Showing The 4-H Horse Project Back-throughs To perform a back-through successfully, your horse must be able to back in a straight line as well as in circles or around objects.
Since turns or changes of direction may be required in a back-through, your horse must also be able to do forehand and haunch turns.
The back should be slow but smooth and consistent, with fluid steps.
Make sure your horse is always in a good position and never against an obstacle.
Look slightly back and down without leaning to verify your position.
Choose one side to watch; looking from side to side shifts your weight and throws your horse off balance.
Keep your legs close to your horse to give support and control its body movement.
If a correction is needed, make it while the horse is taking a step backward.
This makes the correction more subtle and prevents an over-correction.
Begin your back-through training with two parallel poles set on the ground 4 feet apart.
Walk forward between the poles, halt, and back straight out.
Take a step or two, then hesitate if necessary before taking more steps.
To help keep the horse from rushing, do not always completely back out.
Stop before reaching the end, then walk forward and out.
When your horse can back quietly, smoothly, and straight without hitting the poles, you can move on to more difficult exercises.
Instead of walking forward between the poles, walk to one end, turn your horse into position, and then back through the poles.
Elevate the poles or back between barrels or cones.
Teach your horse to back through an “L.” Back the horse until its hind feet are centered in the turn.
Turn on the forehand to move the horse’s hindquarters 90 degrees.
Hesitate, then turn on the haunches to move the horse’s forehand 90 degrees.
This should position you for the final straight back movement.
To back around barrels or cones, use the same technique.
Back straight, then hesitate, and use a forehand or haunch turn to position the horse properly for the next backing action. it is strong enough to support the weight of the horse.
You may be asked simply to walk over a bridge, or you could be asked to stop on the bridge.
Advanced patterns may call for turning on a bridge or even backing off a bridge.
Your horse should approach the bridge calmly but alertly.
Try to get your horse to lower its head and inspect the bridge before stepping onto it. (Most horses do not do this naturally, so one idea is to put a little grain on the bridge.) Apply light pressure with both legs to encourage your horse to move forward, and use all your aids to ask the horse to walk confidently straight over the bridge. Walk-overs, trot-overs, or lope-overs These obstacles are staples of the modern trail course, and they come in an endless variety of designs.
Your horse should be able to negotiate any pattern, at any gait, smoothly and calmly.
Knocking poles is a fault, so your horse should pick its feet up and go through cleanly.
Approach at the center and lean slightly foward.
For walk-overs, give your horse its head and let it put its head down and look at the obstacle.
Begin training your horse over these obstacles by placing several poles on the ground and walking over them.
Vary the distance between the poles so your horse learns to look and pay attention.
As your horse becomes more comfortable with the exercise, trot over the poles, and finally do lope-overs.
Start with straight lines, and then add bends or turns.
You can also elevate the poles or use logs or rails. Jumps Bridges Bridges come in a variety of styles.
Whatever you practice on at home, make sure Make sure your horse knows the difference between a jump and a walk-over.
For a jump, gather the reins up a little, and squeeze with your legs to keep the horse centered and moving forward with impulsion.
Give with the reins as the horse jumps, and flow with the horse over the jump.
Be careful not to jerk the reins when landing.
The horse should jump willingly and cleanly.
Read more about • Do not halt and/or back up without warning those around you: