Horse play

Turns out horse riding was not as easy as I thought. (see post: horsing around)

Here are a few problems I’ve encountered which made me feel a bit bummed yesterday. But I got some answers that really make sense and I’m going to try to drill all this information into my head before my next ride.  It also helped to watch some video tutorials online. 

My dilemma:

1) My horse rides well when following another horse or when led by someone. When I try to ride on my own she stops and wont go on her own. I tried another horse and he didn’t seem to like me (I think I was nervous with him).. what am I doing wrong?

2) I’ve read that when trotting you should grip with your legs for balance… this confuses me because I thought the legs shouldn’t grip lest the horse thinks you’re tense??

3) I think because of the above confusion I don’t know how to gain control when in a trot. And my feet seems to bounce out of the stirrups. I try to keep my feet in but maybe the stirrups are too low?

After trying to trot today I feel like I have no control at all and perhaps never did

Answers from kind lady who really hit the nail on the head (e.g. me not wanting to hurt the horse):

1) The horses you ride may not respect you. It’s a very common school horse trait to follow (that way they don’t have to work to think). Are you afraid to discipline them when they ignore you?Do you not want to be mean or hurt them?

Here’s some things to try out: Sit tall in your saddle (do not curve your back). Pretend you’re at a formal party and you must sit like a princess up there. No slouching! If that visual doesn’t work, pretend you are a puppet and you’re being held up by strings. Elbows should be elastic and at your side. Keeping them elastic helps your hands from moving up and down with you as you post. 

Make sure your reins aren’t like your grandma’s clothes line! You should keep a contact with the horses mouth. It should feel like you’re carrying a stick of butter in your hands.You’re hands should be your horses bit-width apart. Hands should be kept on the same “plane”. Take you’re whip and hold it between your thumb and pointer finger when your hands are around your reins. Now, at the walk, practice your bending around turns, circles and weaving with it there. You’re hands must stay at the same distance & height. See how turning is hard with your hands alone? Now it’s time to add your legs! For turning, use your inside leg to push your horse out, the outside leg will stay against his side(but not applying pressure!), at the same time you will keep your outside rein in a flat line against your horses neck & use your inside rein to go in the direction you want. 

There should be a straight line from your shoulders to hips to ankles.You’re toes should be pointing up & forward.Another thing is your seat. When you ask for a halt or slower gait, you go to your seat first. You should sit the trot, lean a little farther back, think of yourself relaxing deep into the saddle, as if weights are pulling you farther down and down. You squeeze you abdomens(part of what’s called a “half-halt”) and pull back with your SHOULDERS, not your hands. Holding the weight with your shoulders ensures you do not grip the horses mouth and you’re arms stay elastic. You can still lightly squeeze your hands and pull a little back with your arms, but you want to feel the weight in your shoulders.You also need to look where you’re going.

Are you always looking at your horse when you ride? When your ride, you need to be the one to make all the decisions. When you aren’t looking around & creating a plan for your next moves, you’re not making decisions for the two of you. This is where your horse will decide they’re just going to follow the tail in front of them. You’re not telling her where to go so why should she listen? To stop this, remind yourself to LOOK AHEAD AND PLAN AHEAD. Is your horse too close to the horse in front of him? Look across the arena to the other wall, point your shoulders to the wall and GO. Do not take no for an answer. Your horse will probably fight you, but this is called a “test”. He recognizes you are now trying to be the boss of this ride and he wants to be lazy and do the least amount of work, so he if he wins this battle, he can continue to do nothing but follow.

Use your legs and push him if he tries to slow down, take your inside arm out and point it so your are asking your horse to turn. then once you’ve won the battle, give a little kick to keep him going on his own as he may try to go to walk or stop so the horse before can pass and you two will end up behind them again. Vary up your ride with many circles, serpentines and intervals of walk to trot, trot to walk, walk to halt, halt to walk, halt to trot, and trot to halt. The intervals will get the horse listening to you, and the circles and serpentines ensures your’e not just going around the same circle around the arena and boring him to death.


2) You should not “grip” your legs around the horse, but you should not keep your legs off them completely either. Let your legs drape like a blanket around your horses sides. You need to keep a contact so they aren’t surprised when you suddenly apply your legs. 


3) At the halt, stand in you’re stirrups. Do you have to stand on your toes? If so, you need to shorten your stirrups. You want to be able to stand while keeping your ankles down. When you sit your legs should not feel bunched up either. Can you still press your leg against their side without feeling like you are getting off balance or need to use your heel instead? Once you find the right length, count the holes for each side & remember them for your next ride.Keep in mind you’re new to riding. Everyone has these problems! The more you practice the better you’ll become. It just takes time 🙂


One response to “Horse play

  1. Pingback: Trouble Shooting - Expert Advice Avoid Refusals | Thistle Ridge Equestrian Services·

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