Learn to ride 101

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      Why do I want to learn to ride a Horse?

 First of all you will understand the beauty of the movement of a Horse and then the Beauty of the movement of the Horse and Rider together.

The First thing you need to learn when you are learing to ride a Horse is to wear a Helmet then what to do to get off quickly. If you feel unsafe, place your two hands on each side of the withers area in front of the saddle and bring your two legs up back on the Horses hind quarters and look at which side is safest to get off on and if the Horses is moving drop to the ground in a running mode and let yourself roll foward if you have to as this will help custion the fall. (This is called the Emergency Dismount)

The safe way to dismount at a stand still is to stand in the stirups and bring your right leg over the back of the Horse and put it next to the left leg and take the left leg out of the stirup and lower yourself down to the ground.  ( Never put the right leg on the ground and leave the left leg in the stirup because if the Horse get starled he could drag you with your left leg still in the stirup)

There are Two things you have to control a Horse.   1) Natural aids EX: Mind, Body, and your Spirit.    2) Artifical Aids,   Reins, Bits, Saddle, and a lot of man made equipment.

Lets start with the reining movements, the reins should go thru the hand with the thumbs on top and the rein going thru and between the little finger and second finger, this will give an advantage in control and if you use 4 reins to control this will aid in the mangement of the 4 reins

.  There are 5 basic reining movements,   1) the open and leading rein.   2) the neck rein or as the English call it the Bearing Rein.    3) the Direct Reining Movement.    4) the Indirect rein of Opposiition in front of the Withers.    5 the Indirect rein of Opposition behind the Withers.   Theses reining movements can be used by themselves or in combination with each other.  Ex: The neck rein and the open and leading rein when used in combination will teach the Horse to turn in either direction thus by placing the right rein on the upper part of the horses neck and by using the left rein as open or leading this will teach the Horse to turn left and then reversing the reining movements will teach the Horse to turn right and with practice you can drop the open and leading rein and just with the Neck rein  the Horse will turn to the left or right.

There are 4 Basic Gaits of a Horse, Walk Trot, Canter and Galop.  The Walk is a 4 beat gait.   The Trot is a 2 beat gait.  The Canter is a 3 beat gait.   The Galop is a 4 beat gait.

All creatures have 4 movements when they use their leg to move on something soild..  They are a lift, drop, touch and press. If you ride any creature with 4 legs your legs do not touch the surface so their legs become an extention of your body so you need to try to figure out what each leg is doing when it moves you around.   You move your legs the same, lift, drop, touch, and press, so transfer that thought to the movement of the Horses legs.

There are many different kinds of bits and bridles.   I feel that starting with a full cheek snaffle being most kind and gentle but giving you good control is the best bit to use,   It is a gentle bit and with the full cheek the turning ability that so manny riders fight to get when they first try to ride is easy to achive with a full cheek bit.   One good thing to realize is that horses if giving a choice don't want to be ridden but  paticence and understanding  will allow you to invade its space gently.

   God gave us dominion over aminals but it is like a stewardship a give and take.   After you learn to ride a horse and to find out if you have made progress in getting the horse to like giving a ride, take off the bridle and then get on and see if he will cary you to where you want to go.   Sally Swift has written many good things about riding a horse so read her works to understand deeper into ways to handle yourself around a horse.

   Let's start with the walk. After mounting sit still and relax raise your arms above your head then drop then straight down then pick up the reins,  now  using your lower torso push like you are pushing a swing until the horse picks up a slow walk.   If must be touch the sides of the Horse and give a gentle touch to help start him.  Using a direct rein, go in a straight line and feel the walk, the walk being a 4 beat gait, feel the Horses right hind leg as it touches the ground, we will think one.  As the right front leg touches the ground we think two.  As the left hind leg touches the ground we think three.  As the left front leg touches the ground we think 4.   This is a lateral movement so you will see the horse at the walk use his head and neck up and down to balance himself. If when you are riding him and you don't follow this movement with your hands and you hold the reins still the Horse will stiffen his back because the bit will hit it in the mouth, so this lack of movement in his head and neck will result in passing the stiffness into your back thus you get the shock wave and after while a sore back.  So we must follow the movements that the horse makes even if it means using your hands like a scrub woman uses her hands to scrub cloths on a scrub board, back and forth soon you will transer that movement into your hands then fingers.

   Knowing where the Horses leg are will avoid interfence with his movements and will cause no interference with him. You can do things like look down at the front sholder to make sure your feeling is on target. or Put your one hand back on the hip to feel the movements in the rear on the left or right side. Soon you will feel the movements in the small of your back.   So REMEMBER How do you get to feel confortable riding a Horse? Practice Practice Pracitice.

After you feel you are ready for the Trot

, Start at the walk again using the direct reining movement, when the Horses legs on the right side are going one, two  notice your leg on the left side, of that lateral movement, your leg will swing closer  to the left side of the Horse so if you engage with the movement it can be pressed into the Horses left side to increase his walk and when you feel  the 3,4 beat your right leg will engage with the Horses right side to increase his walk until he start a faster walk and as you increase his walk  by swinging in tune with his movements he will pick up speed to a slow trot.   Sit until you feel the movement of the trot pick you up so you start posting with the increased movement of the Trot.

 The Trot is a Two Beat Gait. It is a Diaganol movement. The right hind leg and the left front leg move together as does the left hind leg and the right front leg move together. The Horse holds his Head steady so no movement in his head but avoid your using the reins as support for your body. Hold the reins as sticks touching the mouth but not pulling or pushing, instead as the old timers said getup sit down getup sit down or one, two, one, two, this is called Posting so you will follow the movement with your body going out and up to stay in Motion with the Horse. Once you catch the Motion you can use your body to slow the Horse by Posting behind the Motion by going upward and forward slowly holding the Horse back or to speed the Horse up going forward and upward slighty in front of the motion to speed the Horse up.  Again if you get off the Bus and ask someone how do you get to the Horse Show? They will tell you Practice Practice Practice.

Before we move on let me make an important reflection:   If you are going to have a relaationship with a Horse it's helpful if the horse likes you, as the majority of the work that is to be done to accomplish the goals you want,  the horse will do most of the work. So as my daddy use to say a word to the wise should be suffient.

The movement from a trot to a Canter is achived by increasing the speed of the Trot until he picks up the Canter, that is achived by posting forward and upward ahead of the motion.  Then when he starts to canter sit into his body and enjoy the slow Canter. To work up to a median Canter increase the pressure of your legs and body forward and he will increase his speed.

Lets look at the Canter:   it's a three beat gait and if you think about it, you have two lateral movement and one diaganol movement that make up the three beats.  The first beat, depending which front lead you want, if you circle right you will want the right front leg to lead and if you circle left you will want the left front leg to lead. In a circle the Horse uses the loading of the inside back leg to balance himself so as not to fall into the inside of the circle, so leading with the right front leg in a circle to the left is not the best option to lead with unless your attemping a counter canter. If you are asking to achive, the left front lead you start the first beat with the right hind leg, the second beat will be the movement of the left hind leg and the right front legs together in a diaganol movement. The third beat will be the left front leg in a lateral movement.   So the Horse would have a tendence to move across his body and without correction, either on his part or yours. You will find the natural aid of your left leg holding steady pressure on the left side of the horse will achive a straight path when moving straight on a left lead and visiverse on the right lead.  Once the Horse understands your signals the less and eventually no pressure will be needed as he will take the cue fron your body movements.

   The Galop is to be treated with reverence:  Increasing the canter to a galop should be first started up a hill. This will be easer to handle and control for you.  Canter to the bottom of a 45 degree hill and increase the canter to a galop. Stay in touch with the Horses Mouth (This is done by practice at the slower gaits, practicing feeling the reins like sticks not pushing or pulling but following the mouth of the Horse gentlly)   If you follow the movements when the Horse is off the Ground take a shorter hold of the mouth if you want to slow down or a release of the mouth slightly if you want to increase the speed. (Remenber the Horse cannot run off from your control if you follow the movements of the mouth using Half Halts to slow the Horse or leaning forward to increase the speed. Do not try to Galop your Horse unless you have mastered the lower Gaits.

   Remember:  Your body and the Horses body must move in sink and to achive this you must be aware of both of your movements like a dance.