4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding Riding Be Courteous to Your Horse 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Mount your horse gracefully, without hitting the horse’s rump or the saddle with your right leg.
Keep good posture and alignment in the saddle to go with the motion of your horse.
Ride with a light touch on the reins.
Check reins regularly and often to make sure they are even.
Do more walking and trotting/jogging than cantering/loping.
Give clear consistent cues to your horse to move, stop, back up, etc..
Use your natural aids (voice, hands, legs and weight) more than artificial aids (crop and spurs). Warming Up and Cool Down Horses require a period of gradual warm up for proper muscle function.
Cold muscles injure easily.
Therefore, you should begin by walking in both directions, advance to a trot/jog (again in both directions) before advancing to a canter/lope.
Walking your horse after a workout is essential to cool down its muscles and avoid cramps.
This may be done mounted, but it is preferable for the rider to lead the horse on the ground.
This also allows you to loosen the cinch so that your horse may breathe more easily.
Your horse is cooled down enough when its breathing has returned to normal without nostril dilation and when its chest and neck have dried. Mounting Safe and proper riding begins with safe mounting.
Different styles of riding have slightly different methods of mounting, but both maintain some basic principles: Before mounting your horse, always lead it to an open location where you wish to mount, ensuring that you are a reasonable distance from other horses.
Check your equipment to ensure that it is all adjusted correctly.
Check the cinch/girth and if it requires adjustment, tighten it before you proceed with mounting.
It is important that your horse does not move while you mount.
Adjust the reins evenly with enough tension to feel the bit so that you can hold your horse steady. 198 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding The eyes and ears of your horse can communicate to you if the horse is going to shy or bolt when you mount.
Therefore, as you mount, you should watch your horse’s head for such signs.
Short riders may need to use a mounting block to help them mount.
It should be solid and safe.
A mounting block may help to reduce pulling and strain on a horse’s back. If you ride Western, you would proceed to mount using the following steps: 1. 2.
Stand on the left side of your horse and place the reins over your horse’s head.
Take up the reins in your left hand, tight enough to keep your horse from stepping forward.
Lay the bight(loose ends) of your reins on the near side (when riding with a leverage bit), or crossed (when using a snaffle bit).
For utmost safety using a leverage bite, the reins may be crossed while mounting.
Then after mounting, both reins may be placed on the near side.
Face either the same direction as your horse, or face the side of your horse, using your peripheral vision to keep an eye on your horse’s head.
Be careful not to push your toe into the horse’s side.
Place your left hand on your horse’s neck in front of the withers, grasping the horse’s mane or the saddle pad if necessary.
Hold the stirrup with your right hand and place your left foot in the stirrup.
Your right hand may also be used on your left shin to help guide your foot into the stirrup.
If you are tall enough, your right hand may immediately be placed on the base of the horn (never on the cantle).
Grasp the saddle horn with your right hand and push up off the ground with your right leg.
Bouncing once or twice helps the shorter rider create energy to push themselves up rather than pulling heavily with their arms and stressing the horse’s withers.
Lift yourself to a standing position with your weight on the left stirrup.
Pass your right leg over the saddle without touching your horse.
Sit down gently in the saddle.
Put your right foot into the right stirrup (without leaning over to guide your foot into the stirrup with your hand).
Recenter your saddle.
Take up the reins and adjust them. 199 Riding 3. 4. 5. — Absorbing the Horse’s Motion Correct Position and Aids for Various Gaits The Walk Four joints are important in absorbing the horse’s motion when riding – the ankle, the knee, the hips and the elbow.
The upper body should remain as still as possible but not stiff during the gaits.
Moving the hips independently allows this to happen. The walk is a four beat gait and is a pace that the horse naturally offers the rider.
The horse takes long, relaxed steps of equal length and usually overtracks, which means the horse’s hind feet step further forward than the hoof prints left by the front feet. Aids for the Walk: From the halt, the rider asks for the walk by gently squeezing both legs against the horse’s side and by following the movement of the horse’s head and neck with his hands and arms. The Jog/Trot The jog/trot has two beats to a stride, so it is a two beat gait.
The jog/trot can be ridden either sitting or posting. Aids for the Trot: From the halt or walk, the rider asks for the trot by squeezing with both legs at the same time.
The hands give slightly on the reins and the seat encourages forward motion.
Clucking is a voice aid or say “Trot”. 216 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding Rider Position In a sitting trot, you should remain sitting deep in the saddle, maintaining the same position as when stationary or at a walk.
The movement of the horse’s body at the trot will cause your hips to make a slight side-to-side motion.
This occurs because as the horse is stepping forward with his hind leg his hip drops; thus a following rider will allow his hip to drop at the same time.
Allow this motion in your hips but keep your upper body as tall and still as possible.
The rising trot is an easy movement for the rider.
When the horse trots, he is springing from one diagonal pair of legs to the other.
Let the spring from one pair of legs going forward lift your seat out of the saddle.
Your seat returns to the saddle as the other pair spring forward.
So as your horse moves each pair of legs in a one-two, one-two beat, you are sitting and rising to the same up-down, up-down beat.
Your seat should be raised by the movement of the horse, returning quietly to the saddle without any loss of balance.
With each stride of the trot – the horse “bumps” the rider out of the saddle (and slightly forward), followed immediately by the rider returning to the saddle.
This “rise and fall” motion should not be forced but look natural for the amount of energy that the horse is using to trot.
Do not actively try to push the body up and down, or it will make your shoulders and arms appear to be bobbing.
To rise, use the muscles in your abdomen, buttocks and thighs rather than pushing in the stirrups.
The shoulders stay upright and do not tip forward any farther than a 20° incline at the waist.
The hips move forward.
The weight on the stirrup irons should not vary.
The contact of the lower legs should not vary.
Elbow and shoulder joints should be supple, allowing the hand to maintain the correct position.
As you rise, the angle of your elbow joint will open, closing again as you return to the saddle.
Your hand should maintain the same contact at all times. Riding Diagonals The trot is a two beat gait which allows the rider to post.
To ride the correct diagonal the rider will rise and fall in the same motion as the outside front leg and inside hindleg of the horse.
For example, if you were riding to the left, you would rise when the horse’s outside (right) front leg and inside (left) hindleg are off the ground, and sit when these legs are on the ground.
To check to see if you are on the correct diagonal – you may glance at the movement of the horse’s shoulders to determine the position of the legs. Hint: Rise and Fall With The Leg On The Wall — Western Rein Back: It is not necessary to lean forward or use legs to back up the western horse.
The legs are used if the horse is resisting, to elevate the horse’s back and to loosen its shoulders. 220 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding Transitions Three P’s of Transitions 1.
Patience A transition refers to a change in gait(s) either upward or downward.
The ideal is to execute in a clean, balanced manner.
When you ask for a transition, the key is to make it happen like clockwork.
Preparation for the transition is more important than the transition itself and is of utmost importance to success.
Do not rush into a transition.
Do not ‘surprise’ your horse by suddenly stopping or turning it without ‘half halting’ to warn it that you are about to make a change. UPWARD TRANSITIONS Halt to Walk Walk to Trot/Jog Trot/Jog to Canter/Lope DOWNWARD TRANSITIONS Walk to Halt Trot/Jog to Walk Canter/Lope to Trot/Jog Transitions can increase or decrease through more than one gait (example: walk to canter) The Half Halt The half halt is a brief almost invisible signal to the horse to re-balance its weight on the hindquarters and therefore become lighter in the rider’s hand.
It is achieved by resisting the forward motion by using the hand and seat aids.
The rider closes his legs on the horse’s sides and pushes him up into the rider’s hands, which just for a second blocks the horse’s forward movement.
This is followed immediately with rewarding the horse by the rider relaxing the leg and softening the hand again.
The half halt can be used to: 1) 2) 3) rebalance the horse in any gait.
Warn the horse that the rider is about to ask him to do something such as change direction.
Build impulsion within each stride which can be stored to produce collected work or released to produce extended work. The half halt is probably one of the most difficult things to learn or explain and takes time and practise to perfect for both horse and rider.
Your hands, seat and leg aids should be used in combination to cue the horse for changes of gait. Riding 221 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding General Aids for Upward Transitions The rider’s legs apply pressure on the horse’s sides to increase the forward movement.
At the same time the hands give slightly and the rider’s seat follows the movement of the new gait.
The rider’s upper body should remain tall and still so as not to unbalance the horse as it moves upward.
As soon as the horse is in the desired gait, the pressure from the legs should be released.
The rider will maintain the gait through the combination of aids. — General Aids for Downward Transitions The rider’s upper legs apply pressure while the hand(s) and seat block forward movement.
The pressure on the reins, along with downward pressure in the saddle will discourage the forward motion as the horse moves into the lower gait.
As soon as the horse becomes balanced into the new gait, the backward/downward pressures are released and the gait is maintained by the rider’s correct use of the aids. General Aids for Western Downward Transitions Relax, breathe out and quit following the rhythm of the gait with your hips.
Only apply rein pressure if the horse does not respond. Simple Lead Changes A simple lead change allows you to slow to a trot/jog before cuing your horse to change from one canter/lope lead to the other.
Simple lead changes are easier for a rider to understand the combination of aids and the cues needed to make lead changes. The Flying Lead Change The flying lead change occurs when the horse switches leads in the air without changing gait.
Horses often do flying changes naturally while exercising in the pasture.
The rider must learn how to prepare and properly cue the horse to pick up the new lead.
The moment to cue the new lead is when the horse is balanced (straight) and during the period of suspension that follows each canter/lope stride.
It is only at this point that the horse will be able to perform a flying change.
Some horses tend to become excitable or nervous when they are introduced to this movement, so be sure to teach the horse carefully and patiently.
Some examples of when you would use the flying lead change are in competition over fences, equitation patterns, western riding class, reining, barrel racing and pole bending. 222 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding (Flying lead change) Movements Turn on the Forehand A turn on the forehand is executed from a halt and the horse moves its hindquarters around its forelegs in a circle.
The inner foreleg acts as a pivot and the outer foreleg describes a very small circle.
It can be done through 90, 180 and 360 degrees.
The outer hind leg crosses over in front of the inner hind leg to show a tendency for forward motion. — 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding Leg Yield (continued) 4) Keep your outside (left) leg in a neutral position, applying pressure only if needed to block a leftward swing of your horse’s hindquarters, or to add impulsion if he loses his “forward” motion. Western Aids: 1) Two direct reins: one active tipping nose slightly towards rider’s active leg.
Other rein supporting so horse does not overbend and to convert some forward motion to lateral.
Second leg inactive unless more forward motion is necessary.
Rider may use seat aid on same side as active leg. 2) 3) As you exit the half circle, increase your right leg pressure in rhythm with your horse’s walk stride.
Sit balanced and centered above him as you send him diagonally on the left leg yield.
You should feel him start the maneuver by stepping left with his left front, then crossing over with his right hind, following with his left hind, then right front leg.
Ask only for a step or two at first, gradually adding steps as your horse understands the maneuver.
Practice in both directions.
When your horse will arc his body away from your inside leg the instant he feels pressure on it, graduate to the jog. 1.
Leg Yield (easiest) horse moving forward and sideways diagonally horse’s head tipped toward rider’s active leg Horse’s body arced around rider’s active leg Rein aids: active rein of opposition, second rein supporting – 2.
Two Track horse moving forward and sideways diagonally horse’s spine is straight shoulders and hips of horse are an equal distance from the rail Rein aids: two direct reins one active leg to move horse laterally second leg maintains forward motion 225 Riding 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding Leg Yield (continued) 3.
Two Track (advanced) horse moving forward and sideways diagonally horse is bent around rider’s less active leg and head is tipped to look in direction of travel.
Outside leg is further back moving horse laterally, outside seat bone may assist lesser inside leg by creating bend and maintaining forward motion inside direct rein to tip nose, outside rein supports. — weight Aids: Active rein may be indirect, direct or rein of opposition (whatever is needed to keep the horse from leading with shoulders).
Active leg on same side as active rein.
Second rein supporting (doing what it has to do to make the active rein work).
Second leg open and inactive unless horse is crossing behind, then it will create forward motion.
Seat aid may be active on side of active leg.
If the horse’s shoulders get ahead of his hips, use a rein of opposition to slow the shoulders and let the hips catch up. 226 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Riding Two Track The two-track is the movement in which your horse moves forward and sideways in a diagonal direction making two sets of parallel tracks.
It is an excellent activity for developing muscle, coordination and a supple, athletic body on your horse.
Some horses will begin a two-track more easily at a trot/jog because they have more forward motion to help them move.
The two-track is a great exercise for horses.
It encourages them to round their back, lift their shoulders and move their weight onto their hindquarters.
Cuing for the two-track is the same as cuing for a sidepass, except that your rein tension will be lighter and your opposing leg pressure more so that your horse will continue to move forward.
A correct two-track requires that the horse remain straight in its body as it moves along the diagonal or slightly bent in the direction of travel.
Leading with either the forehand or the haunches is incorrect.
The two-track is also referred to as a leg yield. The Rollback Example: lope in on left lead, halt, sweep 180 degrees to right, lope away on right lead. The rollback is a change of direction at the canter/lope, combining the stop and turn into one motion.
Your horse should bend into the turn, turning on its hocks and using the inside hind foot as a pivot, with its front legs close to the ground to maintain momentum.
A rollback to the left will come out on the left lead (and vice versa).
The rollback is more animated than a turn on the haunches.
It is a lope in one lead, stop, sweep 180 degrees over the hocks away from the lead leg and immediately exit on opposite lead. Extended Stride An extended (lengthened) stride means the horse steps ‘longer’ (not faster) in whichever gait it is in. The Counter Canter The counter canter demonstrates the horse’s suppleness, coordination, balance and obedience.
A counter canter is a movement in which the horse lopes/canters on the outside lead.
It involves the horse cantering with the left leg leading, while being worked on the right rein, and vice versa.
The counter canter must only be attempted when a horse can pick up and hold correct leads constantly.
The horse must keep its head and neck bent over its leading foreleg, so that it is, in fact, bent in the opposite direction to that in which it is moving.
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