6. RIDING A HORSE YOU ARE UNSURE OF
EXAMPLE: First day back from a spell, change of environment, new rider, new horse etc...
~A RELAXED HORSE IS A SAFE HORSE.
~THE FIRST MOMENTS CAN SET THE TONE FOR THE WHOLE RIDE.
~CONNECT WITH YOUR HORSE, SO THEY WILL WORK WITH YOU.
~DO NOT USE SIGNALS WHICH ARE TOO DRAMATIC OR HARD.
~GET GOING WITH JUST VOICE & REINS BEFORE USING LEG.
~KINDNESS, FAIRNESS, REASSURANCE ALL THE WAY.
~MAKE SURE YOUR HORSE IS COMFORTABLE.
~WORK WITH YOUR HORSE NOT AGAINST IT.
~SIGNALS SHOULD ALWAYS BE KIND AND SOFT INITIALLY.
COMMON PROBLEM CAUSES
~TREATING THE HORSE LIKE A MACHINE, NO CONNECTION.
~USING LEGS OR OTHER COMMANDS TOO HARD TOO EARLY.
~TALKING NERVOUSLY IN HIGH PITCHED OR HARD TONES.
~TONES IMPLYING TO THE HORSE YOU ARE SCARED OR SCARY!
~ATTEMPTING TO MAINTAIN THE HORSE IN A STATE OF DOMINATED FEAR RESULTING IN A DODGY NERVOUS HORSE.
~GEAR WHICH IS HURTING THE HORSE.
~PUTTING GEAR ON TOO RASHLY HURTING THE HORSE.
~LEAVING WESTERN HALTERS ON HORSES WITH THEIR PRESSURE POINTS CONSTANTLY PRESSING INTO THEIR FACE.
~LACK OF APPROPRIATE PADDING UNDER THE SADDLE.
~BRIDLES TOO TIGHT, (No more than 2 wrinkles in the sides of mouth, hand width between cheek and throat latch & a cavesson is not a drop noseband, 2 fingers between nose and noseband, should be loose and halfway up horses nose).
~GEAR LEFT IN THE HOT SUN THEN PUT ON THE HORSE.
~GRIPPING THE REINS DEFENSIVELY WHILE ASKING THE HORSE TO WALK FORWARD.
COMMON BEHAVIOUR CAUSED BY NEGLECTING PROPER HANDLING
• Over nervousness and reactiveness
• Unwilling to listen to signals
• Unwilling to be caught
• Trying to dislodge rider
• Bad attitude
• Lack of concentration
• Resentfull behaviour
1. GEAR UP SLOWLY & KINDLY
Don’t rush and maintain a calm and relaxed demeanour so your horse is able to also be relaxed and confident. Make sure your horse has ample saddle padding…bulk does not necessarily mean padding, choose something with a good amount of cushion and give such as a ‘Puffer Pad’.
Make sure all your gear is kind and comfortable and put on without causing discomfort or stress.
2. CONNECT WITH YOUR HORSE
Just grabbing a horse out of the paddock, treating it like a machine, throwing a saddle on does not give your horse much incentive to be ‘nice’ to you.
Connect with your horse, talk to it, get up by it’s face, look it in the eyes and give it a pat and some reassurance you recognise their rights as a being too, this will go a long way in your favour when the horse is weighing up in their mind whether or not they feel like working with or against you.
3. MOUNT KINDLY
Mount and as soon as you are in the saddle give your horse a re-assuring good boy or girl, a pat and some encouragement they are fine and you are their mate and they have nothing to be concerned about.
4. THE FIRST STEPS
Those first steps with you on board after a long spell or on a fresh horse can be the most daunting for rider and horse as well.
You need to communicate in the kindest, softest possible way that you want your horse to walk forward. A lot of people make drastic errors at this point putting themselves unwittingly in danger.
Some common mistakes are clicking or kicking a horse from the get go and gripping the reins defensively while asking the horse to go forward.
These signals are much too hard and drastic and can cause any horse to react badly. Instead gently ask your horse to walk nicely with your voice, kindly, allowing them enough time to process and do so kindly.
If the horse chooses to ignore you or freezes up, just encourage it gently on by saying again kindly in your own words to come on mate let’s go for a walk, at the same time a great trick to get you going at this stage is to turn the horses head slightly to the side to generate at least a bit of movement, albeit sideways, so the horse actually thinks you have been able to make it do something and will soften and give in a little more.
If the horse still refuses to walk with soft aids you do not want to get up a fresh horse, this can result in bucking, rearing etc, so a great trick is to avoid jamming your legs on the horses side, leave them just hanging beside the horse and just use your reins and voice to produce some sideways movement, i.e. turn the horse until it is forced to move and thus you have that mental win and first step and keep doing this from side to side using the sideways momentum you get to get the horse also going forward off the back of this sideways movement.
5. THE FIRST FEW MINUTES OF RIDING
After producing your first few steps on your horse you will need to engage it’s mind and remind it to listen and work with you. Always pat and encourage your horse the whole way, this creates a happy, reassured and more relaxed horse and in that state of mind they are not likely to get dodgy.
Walk your horse through a series of turns, stops and starts. Always use kind gentle signals. Again the most common mistake that will get you into trouble here is using signals which are too dramatic and hard and not maintaining your horse in a reassured confident relaxed state by patting and encouraging him or her.
You can slowly get your legs on your horses belly at this stage and a good trick is to slightly move each of your legs forward and back against the horses' belly when the horse is walking and in unison with it’s front leg movement.
That way the horse is able to understand you are not asking it anything with that movement but simply moving with their movement.
This is a great trick to use for a horse that has been known to get dodgy with that initial leg pressure and works brilliantly to diffuse that and get the horse calmly back into the routine feeling of having your legs ‘there’.
After you have established the ‘brakes’ via your stopping and starting and your turning ability with your legs comfortably and softly against your horses sides without the horse reacting to them you can move on slowly to other gaits, speeds and disciplines, but always maintaining that extra encouragement, softness and connection with your horse.
~A HORSE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS IT'S LAST RIDE...ALWAYS LEAVE IT ON A GOOD NOTE...THAT'S WHAT THEY'LL REMEMBER MOST.