CHAPTER 14: BASICS: WESTERN HORSEMANSHIP Horsemanship, or equitation, is the art of riding in a balanced and graceful manner.
This takes time and patience and can only be achieved if you and your horse work together as a team.
The following suggestions will help you become a better rider.
This basic information can be applied to every type of riding with slight modification. Mounting There are two positions considered proper for mounting.
In the first position, as shown in figure 63, the rider stands by the horse’s left shoulder with his body facing a quarter turn to the rear of the horse.
The rider’s head is turned so both ends of the horse can be watched.
This is the safest position to use when you mount.
It is easier to place your left foot into the stirrup from this position, but be careful not to rake the toe of your boot along the horse’s side as you swing up.
Brace your knee against the horse for support to keep your foot away from its side.
When you use this position, take one hop on the right leg and go into the second position briefly as you swing into the saddle.
The second position, shown in figure 64, is used when you are tall enough to stand and place your left foot in the stirrup without moving back to the rear of the horse.
You should face squarely across the seat of the saddle.
Turn your left foot so the toe of your boot is pointed forward or into the cinch.
In both positions, hold the reins in your left hand with the left rein slightly shorter to give enough tension to steady your horse.
Place your left hand on the horse’s neck just in front of his withers. Figure 63.
Use this method to mount green-broke horses, or horses unfamiliar to you. Figure 64.
Use this method when you are tall enough to place your left foot in the stirrup without moving back to the rear of the horse. 98 CHAPTER 14: BASICS: WESTERN HORSEMANSHIP Steady the stirrup with your right hand until your left foot is in the stirrup.
Then place your right hand on the saddle horn and your left knee against the horse.
Swing up and into the saddle with a spring by pushing with your right leg.
Your body will be balanced by the triangular base of support formed by your hands and knee.
Spring hard enough with your right leg to carry you up and over the saddle with a minimum of weight on the left stirrup.
Lower yourself smoothly and lightly into the seat of the saddle.
Do not swing too high and plop into the saddle.
If you consistently pull the saddle to the side, you are not springing up hard enough.
With practice, you will mount in a smooth, easy motion. Dismounting When you dismount, use the same hand position.
Take the slack out of the reins to steady the horse.
While holding the reins, place your left hand on the neck of the horse, grasp the saddle horn with your right hand, shift your body weight slightly to your left leg and keep your left knee in close to the horse.
Your right foot should be free of the stirrup.
Swing out of the saddle and keep your right leg as close to the horse as possible without hitting the cantle of the saddle or the horse’s rump.
Do not swing your right leg in a wide arc.
Keep it close to the near side of the horse so you will face slightly forward when your right foot touches the ground.
Push down on your left heel to allow your foot to slip out of the stirrup.
Do not roll your left foot on its side to slip it out of the stirrup.
If you are not tall enough to reach the ground with your right foot, slide both feet out of the stirrups.
Swing your right leg over the rear of the saddle while rolling your belly to the saddle seat, and land with both feet on the ground. Seat position Your position in the saddle is important to maintain balance and rhythm for ease of riding, and to carefully use aids.
Sit tall in the saddle in a balanced, relaxed manner.
Keep your back erect and flex with the horse.
Do not slump in the saddle and never sit back on the cantle with your feet shoved forward.
You will find it necessary to change your seat slightly for different types of riding, but the basic principles remain the same.
You should sit where the horse can be controlled with aids in a comfortable riding position.
Keep your body weight where it will help rather than hinder your horse’s movements.
Read more about Turn your left foot so the toe of your boot is pointed forward or into the cinch: