HORSEMANSHIP RIDING LESSON
During Ground Training; in addition to Desensitizing and Sensitizing we
used a triad of exercises designed specifically for Ground Control. Ground Control exercises that paralleled
riding manouvres. Now that the horse as a solid foundation on the ground
we start establishing a solid Foundation in the saddle using exercises designed
specifically for Body Control. Body
Control manouvres in the saddle develop independent control over the horse's -
his head, neck, shoulders, rib cage, and haunches. These are all separate body parts that must
learn to work individually or in unison during riding maneouvres. The focus is on the displacement, flexibility
and control of these separate and is the mainstay of creating a horse that is
willing and capable of moving his body in any direction at any time. Once established the results is a solid
mounted foundation and these exercises help the horse to excel in any
Some riders and/or horses may only need the basic riding skills and some will require a lot
more perhaps all. This depends on the owners goals and the discipline. Lateral
manoeuvres are the cornerstone of establishing a solid foundation of mounted
training it improves the rider and the
horse as follows:
Confidence Builder for the rider and the horse
Establish Body Control of the horse’s five body parts in the
saddle; Head, Neck, Shoulder, Rib Cage & Hindquarters
Observe your horse from the ground in all exercises and in all gaits and Identify
which body part exercise is the weakest before saddle work
Identify behaviour issues in the saddle then you can fix the holes
on the ground
Agility and manoeuvrability.
Attentiveness, focus and responsiveness to the aids and cues.
Suppleness, softness and calmness.
Riding straightness & Balance
Balance the horses’ mind.
Allow the rider to engage and bend each hind leg individually.
Unlock the horse’s hips due to the crossing and engaging of either
the inside or the outside hind leg.
Unlock the horse’s abdominal muscles due to the required lateral
bend of the horse’s spine.
Strengthen the muscles on the inside and outside of the hind legs
and front legs.Increase the horse’s shoulder freedom as a result of the
increased engagement and flexion of the haunches (i.e. collection).
Where do you begin?
We demo and coach you from the ground in hand; explaining the reasons for doing the exercises prior working in the saddle. The goal of work in hand is to supple up the
horse to both sides, to teach the horse the
training exercises and to
prepare the horse for riding. The exercises are progressive and in logical sequence. Examples of some of the movements covered are:
Step 1 - In Hand on the Ground
We accept ANY positive response to give way to pressure.
Turn on the forehand
Staying safely near the horses head, we ask the back end to move over
a bit. One step is good enough and reason to praise the horse. In
fact, one step is much better than the horse running away from us, trotting
his hind end around in an attempt to escape! We want a calm response
to the request. Just move over one step.
On the Circle
In hand & lunging - the horse learns to
bend to both sides, in a forward-down position with a hind leg that steps
under the weight.
Turn on the haunches
Staying near the neck, we ask the horse to move to the side, finding
his sweet spot to which he best responds, asking him to step away with his
front legs. This is simply "yielding the shoulder" away from
our pressure. Again, one step at a time is good progress.
We teach this during ground work exercises and lunging.
When the horse
feels supple on the inside rein, the outside rein can be used to ask the
horse to bring its shoulders inwards. In the exercise shoulder-in, the weight of the horse is placed in front of the
direction of movement of the inside hind leg, thus making it carry more
In addition to increasing respect and control, teaching
your horse to side pass on the ground will make teaching him side passing
under saddle a lot easier. Start facing the fence and when the horse improves move to an open area.
Step 2 From the Saddle – For Starting, re
education, Re-habilitating horses always review the exercises in hand on the
Ground first before mounting and then begin at the walk!
At the stop and collected; we accept ANY positive response to yield to leg pressure and move to the right and to
the left sideways
step is all that is needed. However, it is not so easy as that, as the
rider is no longer able to hold the horse by the halter while asking for the
movement. So, one has to really take their time here. The horse
has to learn to not run forward when we ask for one step of "move
yield back to the rail
training has begun, we can use the horse's desire to stay on the rail, wall,
or track. Coming away from a corner onto the long side, we turn one
step early, walk forward a few steps, say "Move over", and give a
nudge with the inside leg right where we were giving it when we did this from
the ground. A step of leg yield is all we want at first. As
confidence in this grows, we start our turns earlier, making it a another
step or two to the wall.
yield facing the rails
horse progresses in his understanding of the training, we will ask for a leg
yield along the rail, facing it so that he is less likely to run off.
The angle to the wall will be shallow enough to keep the work from causing
physical or mental stress.
yield facing into the arena
the horse is confidently marching forward in walk with facing the wall, we
will train leg yield with his haunches to the wall. This is much more
difficult for the horse, as the arena center is like a magnet to the horse.
He will want to walk forward toward the center. So, this
movement is really a good test to see how well he understands leg yielding
transition from leg yield to shoulder in is a subtle one. In the leg
yield, we are not worried about bend. In fact, in leg yield, the horse
is fairly straight throught the body. However, in shoulder in we need
to get a proper bend through the body, from poll to tail. Also, the
angle is quite clearly defined, whereas in leg yield, the angle can vary.
In shoulder in, the horse travels on 3 tracks. This means that
as you approach a mirror in shoulder in, you should see "3 legs" of
your horse. 2 legs means you are straight. 4 legs means you
have too much angle. Shoulder-fore is a slight shoulder in often used
to help balance a horse in preparation for other movements.
the first lateral movement where the horse actually looks in the direction of
travel. He moves his hind end off the track of travel of the front
legs and bends through the ribs.
the same as travers, but the haunches are pointing towards the wall of the
arena. Like the leg yield facing into the arena, this can be a
challenging movement for horses still new to lateral work.
the travers is well confirmed, it is time to progress to the half pass.
This movement is often described as travers on the diagonal, and in
the walk, that's good enough. Again, the horse should be looking
directly at where you are going.
the haunches & Pirouettes
aids for turn on the haunches and pirouettes are simple enough, but require a
high level of understanding and response from our horses. So, to avoid
messing up what will later become a fabulously fun movement, many trainers
will hold off on the turn on the haunches until the aids for the other
lateral movements are well understood.
first... Then trot ! All lateral work is trained in the walk
first. This gives the horse (and the
novice rider) a chance to work things through without speed. Also, by
going in walk, we give the horse a chance to build up muscles without over
taxing them. Each of these movements can successfully be done in walk
and then later in trot. Half pass and pirouettes are also done in
lean out !
When riding lateral movements, it is critical that the rider never sit to the
outside of the movement. Yet, this is one of the most common faults
seen both in training and in competition. For example, when riding
down the quarterline and leg yielding to the wall, leaning towards the wall
is not going to help the horse at all. In fact, it will unbalance him,
making the movement more difficult. Always sit straight or slightly to
the inside. Never lean or sit to the outside.
successful every time ! If the lateral work you are asking for is
not happening, go back to an easier lateral exercise, or get out of the
saddle and return to the ground work. Aim for one step of success,
even if it's via an older lesson.
Advanced Lateral Movements:
Once your lateral work is coming along nicely, there are lots of new
things to try with your horse. Think outside of the box and see what fun
you can invent.
100% sideways is called for in many Western Riding competition classes.
It is also useful for when trying to open and close gates from the
back of your horse. To train side pass, we use squared off jump poles
that don't roll easily. We teach the horse to stop over the pole and
stand. When he's comfortable with that, we ask him to stop over one
end, then step sideways just one step, enough to not have the pole under him.
As he gets confident in this, we stop with more of the pole under us,
adding more steps to move sideways. Eventually, we get to the point
where we can do the full side pass movement, starting next to the jump pole,
side passing over the whole length of the pole, and coming out the other end.
yielding into a jump
2 small cross jumps, side by side with an 8 foot gap in between them.
Riding towards the gap at the trot, decide which jump to take and leg yield
smoothly towards it. Give your horse a lot of room for this exercise,
allowing the leg yield to be shallow while also giving him room to be
straight for a least the last 20 feet before the jump. And, to keep
him thinking and waiting, you can sometimes trot through the gap as well.