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Handling Horses With Confidence – Stop Fearing and Start Enjoying Your Horse

Quiet Confidence

There is one tool that any person needs to have in order to successfully work with horses. It is a tool that is of more importance than any other tool that you may possess. You cannot buy this tool at a feed store or order it online. It is a tool that will make all other tools of the trade more useful. And without it all other tools useless. That tool is confidence. A sort of fearlessness in the face of an animal that could very easily hurt you at best, and kill you at worst.

A horse by nature does not really communicate its wishes through verbal commands. They do on occasion let you know what they are about to do by whinnying or neighing, but for the most part they speak to each other through body language. I want to address the fact that when you step into their world your body language will do the speaking for you. You need to learn what they are saying and be able to anticipate what they are about to do. The more fluent you become in speaking their language the easier and safer your horse experiences will become.

A horse is a prey animal. It survives through picking up on the slightest signals around it. It is also a great reader of things unseen. They have a sixth sense of sorts, filtering in information from between the lines, as well as directly. When you venture into their space they are picking up on so much more than what you are doing. They can sense what you are feeling. They have a sponge like ability to absorb what you are feeling especially anxiety. It is very important to remember that when you are feeling nervous or anxious so is your horse. This signals to your horse that they need to be ready to flee because danger is around.

Unfortunately they do not understand that to a person who lacks confidence they are often the danger that is around. So whenever you are going to interact with your horse or any horses for that matter, you need to really be aware of the feelings you are projecting onto them. You need a quiet confidence, a sense of relaxed energy, that will allow them to remain calm in your presence. And over time you will develop this quiet confidence more and more.

What do I mean by quiet confidence? Well quiet confidence comes from a sense that you truly know that everything around you is alright and that you are in control of the situation. It speaks of a true leadership state of mind. That is what a horse is looking for, a true leader. If you want to have a natural leadership role with your horse, this is the key, quiet confidence. When you see people yelling and screaming at their horses teetering on the edge of abusing them into doing what they want, they are reacting out of fear or anger. Fear and anger do not make for good leadership qualities. Horses understand that when you are out of control you can not control them.

Before you can have control of your horse, you must be able to control yourself. The horse knows this and you should learn it before going any further. Focus on understanding that with a horse fear is a sign of weakness or danger. Weak people do not lead horses, weak people get pushed around by horses. When a horse senses fear it also can become nervous and ready to flee for safety. When a horse does not respond to something you want it to do and it makes you angry you need to take a mental timeout. Horses do not lead through anger. Horses lead in one way and one way only – quiet confidence.

Confidence is not something you can just get either. It is learned, built upon, and grows. It takes time to get the confidence you need to be a true leader in all situations.

The whole idea of natural horsemanship has taken off to a great extent in recent years. It has helped put some of the archaic and outdated training techniques to rest and for this I am thankful. Just like any new idea that comes along, it has been over marketed and milked for every single penny it can produce. People have slapped the “natural horsemanship” label on everything from books to gear in order to sell it more quickly. I am not a natural horsewoman. I am just a woman who seeks to have a very balanced and productive relationship with my horse. In fact if I wanted to be a natural horsewoman I don’t think I would ever place my rump in a saddle. My horses would be left running free on open ranges and I would never subject them to the training, fences, trailers, and shows I so often do. Everything humans do for the most part with and too their horses is unnatural. Calling it natural doesn’t make it that way.

Whatever I can do to learn more, I will. And whenever I can help teach someone else something that will aid them in developing a deeper relationship with their horse, I will.

I hope by the end of this book you will have learned something and moved forward in the understanding that a horse is not just a beast. They are very intelligent, very perceptive, very able creatures that I feel every human can call their partner.

The relationship you have with your horse is much like the relationship you share with people in your lives. To have a successful relationship of any kind it must be a working relationship. It must continually be growing and as it grows it will strengthen itself naturally. It must also be a balanced relationship. The start to having a balanced relationship with your horse is to understand that a horse is a horse and not a human being. That is the beginning to having a fulfilling experience that makes both parties happy.

Human beings have this inner need to humanize animals and other “things” that inhabit our lives. We assume that animals think and react like people through spoken words. I have heard many people referring to their horses as if the horse was just another human. I want you to understand that a horse speaks a different language, feels different emotions, and is very non human.

I think the world may be a better place if people were a little more like horses and a little less like people. And that is the key here, be more like a horse instead of forcing the horse to be more like a human.

The biggest mistake most people make with their horses is to “love” them too much. It isn’t hard to love a horse. It is really easy in fact to develop a very deep emotional attachment to it. I want you to love your horse. I want you to love your horse so much that you make unselfish decisions when it comes to their development. Spoiling a horse in the name of love only benefits the owners own need to feel loved by the horse. But horses do not “love” people in the sense than humans love one another. Yes they can become very attached to their human companions. They become bonded in a way that resembles human love. But it is not the same. When you truly love your horse you will understand that you must make every effort possible to bring forth a well mannered and obedient animal.

Chances are that you will not own your horse for the entirety of its life. Things change so rapidly in our lifetimes. People lose jobs, they need to relocate, get new jobs, have children, become physically unable to care for their horses. Many things can happen that will result in you needing to find a new home for your horse. A horse that is well mannered, submissive, and obedient will go on to have a long and well-lived life.

It is horses that have been spoiled in the name of love that develop the multitude of undesirable behaviors that will dwindle their chances at finding a good home. And even worse your beloved friend could end up at a stock sale being shipped to Canada or Mexico to have their lives ended in a cruel and unimaginable way.

It is a sad but truthful reality that as the economy has dwindled in recent years we find far too many horses left in a state of homelessness. Many people who loved their horses have had to make the ultimate decision on the welfare of their animals and surrender them to others so that they can be cared for adequately. There are so many horses and not enough quality places for them to live right now. Many horses have ended up in the hands of horse traders, or less than perfect living arrangements. Only the good horse who is useful to man will find a place in this world to live a nice quality life. Horses that have issues are often the first to be sent off to the sale.

So if you truly love your horse, you will be a strong leader. Leading your horse in a way that will produce a balanced animal will insure him a place in the human world for many years to come. I ask you to put aside your own needs and consider your horses long term needs. Spoiling your horse will not gain you anything other than a lot of problems or worse injuries.

I want you to understand what I mean by spoiling. Anything you do with your horse needs to have a few simple boundaries. You need to maintain a space around you. You can envision a bubble of sorts – it expands out about 1 or 2 feet around you – this space is yours and the horse is not to enter it. (When we look at the lead mare behavior in the next chapter you will learn more about why this is so important)

You can pet your horse, in fact I feel touching your horse all over his body is an excellent way of gentling him/her. You can offer your horse treats on occasion as long as it is done in moderation and at the correct time. People tend to think that because a horse comes rushing over to the fence to see them, somehow they have created a special connection with their horse. The horse will always come running to the fence if it is given treats for showing up. They come running to see the treat not you.

I want to show you that the horse can come running from a true bond to you, not because he is bribed into behavior. You need to remember that everything you do should be done in moderation which will end in balance.

Balance is not something only needed in the saddle. Balance must exist in every aspect of horsemanship. Imagine a scale if you will on the left hand side you see the opposite of spoiling, you see neglect and abuse. It is easier to picture this end of the spectrum in your mind. On the left we have the abusive owner who try’s to beat submission into his animal and neglects to even care for its basic needs of food, shelter and water. Now look to the right hand side of the spectrum and you will see the polar opposite of the bad side. You see the owner who allows the horse to dominate and dictate to him/her what is going to happen. On this side the owner pops in every once in awhile with sugary treats and over indulges the animal. Soon the horse is nipping at his owners’ pockets and dragging him around by the lead rope or worse kicking them out of disrespect or being uncontrollable in some other way. You need to be somewhere directly in the middle of this scale. You need to maintain balanced and fair treatment of your horse through quiet confidence.

A horse is a simple animal. You can show your horse “love” by giving him/her proper nutrition and as much clean drinking water as they can drink. You can show love by feeding him grain twice a day, giving him a good supply of hay, and a nice pasture to graze upon. You can show them love by keeping their stall clean, and keeping their bodies clean through proper grooming. You can show them love by providing proper veterinarian care and keeping them pest free. You can show them love by scratching under their chin or in any other place they can’t normally reach. This is a horses happy place, being cared for and being provided for. This type of love will benefit your horse for many years to come and will produce a pleasant animal to work and play with.

The key is to find balance, where both parties are happy and content with the partnership. If the horse isn’t happy you are too far to the left. If you are not happy you have drifted too far to the right. If you stay in the middle everyone will be content.

It is human, not horse beliefs, that dictate that we must buy affection. I told you earlier to think more like the horse. They don’t care if you are spending lots of money on new halters and bridles. They don’t care that you took a loan out to have a better horse trailer than your neighbor. The true connection that will bond you tightly to your horse doesn’t cost anything but time. Humans somehow try to make up for not enough time spent by placing a monetary band-aid on the shortcoming. You cannot buy your way to control. You must put in the effort and the time needed to make the connection and the connection can only be made through confident leadership.

In the horse world there are two types of social roles, a leader and a follower. If you take a look out in your own field you will see that there is only one true main leader and the rest filter in behind them. Number 2 horse will follow number 1 but she will also lead number 3. Number 3 follows number 1 & 2 but leads number 4. There are no two number 2 ranking horses, it is a single file line that leads all the way down to the lowest member of the society. They all bow down to number 1 and number 1 submits to no one. Your job is to study number 1 and learn about how she leads with quiet confidence.

Confidence is something that comes from the inside and extends out into our physical being. It is a feeling of collected self awareness. You feel powerful therefore you are. Maybe you are fortunate and are a naturally confident person, then your task is going to be easier. Be sure that your confidence is not actually arrogance. Arrogance is actually the lack of true confidence. It comes from feeling inadequate and trying to over compensate by puffing oneself up. Horses can call this bluff easily. Arrogance and horses will add up to injury or worse death.

The horse will look for a confident leader. You need to stand with confidence, move with confidence, breath with confidence. You need to personify confidence. I want you to stand up tall and move like a mountain around horses. In your mind you ball up all of that strong energy and you move right through them instead of wavering around them. If they are in your way, you make them move out of your way.

Time will prove to you as you apply this simple state of mind that the horse will respond naturally to you and move as you will them too. You must be very clear and focused in your thinking as to exactly what you want them to do and then apply just enough energy to make it come true.

There will be times when you may face a horse that has more confidence than you. In these instances you will need to make sound judgments on how you proceed. Training an animal with more confidence than you can be dangerous.

Ask yourself if this horse is really more confident, or is he more afraid? Are his actions based on dominance or fear? You need to study this horse and see if you can learn something from it. Remember horses are our teachers and they have mimicked their way to where they are. Study his/her confidence and then do just that, mimic their behavior, but always be safe.

I want you to really develop this confidence around horses. Become consciously aware of what you are projecting at the horse. Be aware of what you are feeling before you go through the gate. Be diligent in your pursuit of this quiet confidence.

You can spend thousands of dollars attending a seminar or clinic on horse training to learn how to train horses. You can go out and spend hundreds of dollars on new training aids or even thousands on a new round pen to do your training in. All of it will be money wasted if you don’t have the confidence to lead the horse. You cannot fake it. You cannot buy it. You must develop it. It is free except for the time you spend building it. It is invaluable.

There are many horse owners who have a fearful relationship with their own horses. Being fearful is the main mistake people make with ther horses. Being even the slightest bit nervous around a horse will put you in the subordinate seat. You will not get results in your training. You will have a very flat and unsatisfying relationship if you base it on fear.

I want to suggest to those that are afraid, even in the slightest, of their own horse that they go out and buy a whip. You may never even need to use it. It is more a tool to help you feel safe and more confident. Get out your lunge whip if you want. Carry it in your hand when dealing with your horse. I am not asking you to use it, I am asking you to carry it. Sometimes the security of knowing you have it will give your confidence the boost it needs to start conversing successfully with your horse. If a horse respects a lifeless stick that only weighs ounces because it can produce a slight sting on his rear, imagine how much more respect you alone could have with the horse. Carry your whip in hand until you feel safe in leaving it behind. It is merely an aid to help you start to understand that horses are not as big and bad as some people believe them to be.

Before long you will understand just how powerful you can be and just how submissive a horse can be. You will also find that this new confidence will filter out into the rest of your life. You will walk a little straighter and be bolder in what you do. You learn to be more aware of the feelings you are projecting. Confidence will attract the horses attention just like it does a humans.

Remember confidence is not bullying. Think back to when you were in school and there were bullies. Usually a bully was just puffing himself up and acting aggressively towards others because he was afraid. A horse can tell when he is being bullied and it will not have the lasting effect that confidence will. You can bully a horse sometimes but bullying will only get you so far.

I have seen lots of horse bullies and none of them were horses. They have all been humans trying to put on a show of strength. And that is all it is, a show. The horse knows the difference between bullying and confidence. Bullying comes from inner fear, confidence comes from inner strength. A horse will follow strength, he will flee from fear. And keep in mind that if he can’t flee from the fear, he can as a last resort, act out in protective aggression. Bullying a horse is a good way to get hurt or killed.

I don’t want you to fear your horse. Sometimes it is easy to fear an animal that has so much power and so much strength. His size alone can easily make him dangerous but for the most part a horse is a docile and timid creature.

He is also submissive and willing to be a part of man’s world. If he weren’t he would simply jump over the fence we have built to contain him or bust through the barn door and set himself free. He doesn’t use his strength in the same manner a human being would. He will if faced with a life threatening situation, but for the most part he is docile and timid.

That’s not to say it is a guarantee that your horse will never assert itself over you physically. He can and chances are he will, but it will be in more subtle ways than stomping you to death. Horses often “test” you to see if you are paying attention. Subtle invasions of your role as leader can add up to a mutiny, so be aware of what the horse is saying to you at all times.

Try to replace fear with respect. Respect the fact that he is large and you should proceed with educated caution when handling him. Do not irritate a horse or tease it. Do not provoke him to prove a point to other humans. In fact leave all your desires to impress people with your horse skills at home. Concentrate on you and him and the relationship you truly want to share.

Use common sense. Do not stand behind a horse and taunt it to kick you to prove it won’t. You may get unlucky one day and try this with the wrong horse. Show respect, not fear. After you start to have a “safe” track record your confidence will naturally grow and replace the fears you once had.

This article is an excerpt from the book H.E.R.D Human Equine Relationship Development by author Tamara Svencer

Source by Tamara L Svencer

The 4 Qualities of a Good Riding Instructor

Riding in Europe and the States has afforded me plenty of opportunity to determine what separates a good instructor from a bad one. Riding lessons are not cheap. You, the student, are entitled to be happy with the caliber of instruction you receive and the rate of progress you are making.

A good way to find out whether an instructor possesses the following key qualities is to watch his or her lessons and talk to existing pupils.


We all know the saying “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” But horse riding is one of those disciplines where an instructor who rides well inspires more confidence than one who doesn’t. Not all good riders make good trainers, but every good trainer I’ve had has been a good rider.

Ideally, instructors should competently ride at least one level higher than their students. If they are active and successful competitors, so much the better. They will also be able to prepare interested riders for showing.

Even if the instructor rides well, he or she must be able to convey directions clearly, explaining the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how.’ The pupil should understand the reasons behind the training, not just how it’s done. A good teacher will take pains to ensure students grasp what is being asked, and will patiently repeat explanations where necessary.

It is useful if the instructor is willing to get on a student’s horse and work through problems. Sitting on a horse often makes tackling issues easier than just giving advice from the ground. I had a cross-country coach who thought I was over-shortening my gelding’s stride before a downhill fence until he got on the horse. “Ah!” he said, “It’s not you — he’s doing it by himself.” After that he was able to teach me to help my horse.


Sadly, this is not a universal quality in riding teachers. Is the focus completely on the riders or on chatting into the cell phone and with other people during the lesson? It’s important to find a barn where the instructor takes lessons seriously. Riding is supposed to be fun, but no progress will be made without attention being paid to the pupils.

Are the students spoken to respectfully, or made to feel stupid in front of the other riders or spectators? You don’t want a trainer who uses a pupil’s weaknesses to get cheap laughs. The trainer should create a comfortable learning environment for riders of all levels and abilities.

Here’s a quick way to find out whether the instructor takes his or her job seriously. Does the lesson start promptly and continue for the allotted time? One acceptable reason for shortening the lesson is when the horse has performed well, unexpectedly quickly. If he has already jumped as high as asked, why make him continue until he gets fed up and refuses? If he has mastered a new dressage movement, why drill him further? The instructor should reward him by finishing early: it teaches the pupil to show regard for the animal and keeps the horse fresh and willing

But if the instructor regularly shows up late for a lesson and/or finishes early without good reason, look for another. Your time and money are too precious for you to put up with such discourtesy.


Instructors should begin a new acquaintance with pupils by asking what their goals are. Otherwise, how can they help them get there? For students on their own horses, does the instructor ask about their mounts’ ages and backgrounds and get an overview of what the owners can reasonably expect to accomplish? Maybe they want to compete in a novice one day event, or a 3′ 6″ jump class, or move from Training to First Level dressage.

The next step is to assess how realistic the students’ goals are, and future frustration can be avoided by agreeing on a sensible time frame for achieving them. The instructor should be committed to his or her pupils’ success, taking as little or as much time as necessary to bring it about. The process should not be spun out in order to make more money.

This is where it becomes important to assess whether existing clients are making progress or not with your prospective instructor. Does he or she build on the last lesson, adding more challenges (as appropriate), or do the same thing every time?

Is he or she willing to attend shows with students? For many riders, the ultimate goal is to compete. This can be very intimidating, and having the instructor at the venue helps enormously to calm nerves and correctly focus attention.


It doesn’t matter how good an instructor is if you don’t like his or her personality or teaching style. Your temperaments must suit, otherwise you will have trouble getting past the person and listening to the instruction.

But it is possible to accept some negatives if you respect the trainer. My jumping instructor in Germany is an example. During group lessons he’d shout at my husband and me: “You can jump, but you can’t ride!” Yet there was nothing personal in his remarks– he was tough on everyone and always told the truth. A very successful show jumper, he knew what he was talking about and was committed to turning me into a winner — which he achieved. He is one of the best instructors I’ve ever had.

However, glaring personality clashes will result in unhappiness on both sides.

Closing Comments

Does an instructor have to demonstrate all four qualities to be right for you?

As the above illustration shows, it is possible to have a good working relationship with a less than perfect instructor! But don’t settle for someone who is incompetent, discourteous and also not interested in helping you achieve your goals. You want your time in the saddle to be fulfilling and fun. Accept a little leeway on the personality side, but don’t sell yourself short on the other qualities.

Source by Hilary Walker

From Low Rise to Regular Rise – Styles and Fits of Horse Riding Breeches For Every Equestrian Rider

Horse riding breeches and jodhpurs provide riders of every skill level the close contact with their horse that they need to ride safely and securely. In addition to being functional, horse riding breeches also create a stylish appearance that is crucial in the show ring. Riding horses is an athletic endeavor that deserves the highest quality riding apparel. The experience of riding can be made even better when the horse riding breeches worn are the correct cut and fit for your specific body type and riding style.

Casual riding, endurance riding, hunt seat, dressage: they all have different physical requirements and demands that result in the need for different styles of horse riding breeches. In addition to these issues, different body types, different weather, and other factors all combine to narrow down the best choice for your horse riding breeches and jodhpurs.

Brand Names Really Are Better

Sometimes shopping for discounts, seconds, and used equipment is fine, but not so with horses. Horses are big, heavy, and occasionally panicky animals. Riders can best protect themselves, and their horses, by wearing well-crafted, form-fitting horse riding breeches or jodhpurs and other riding apparel designed specifically for riding. This is not the place for baggy pants or raggedy shirts that can catch on something and cause a fall.

There are enough established, high quality manufacturers of elegant and fun riding breeches, show coats, ratcatchers, gloves, and other riding apparel to make shopping for equestrian apparel fun and rewarding. Three of the best-known names include The Tailored Sportsman, TuffRider, and Equine Couture. These fine businesses have withstood the test of time and demonstrated that they use only the finest materials and world-class craftsmanship, ensuring that every purchase is well worth the money.

What Is It About Waistbands?

The waistband on women’s riding breeches can come with or without belt loops and most of them are made of stretchable material. They come in wide and regular widths. The width of the waistband is largely a matter of personal preference. So, too, is the height of the waistband. Waistband height is also a factor of riding style. Low-rise waistbands are ideal for endurance riders and hunters, providing an extra measure of flexibility and freedom of movement. On the other hand, the high-rise waistband looks far more sleek and elegant in the show ring, regardless of the class.

In Any Kind Of Weather

As anyone who has ever owned a horse knows, horses must be worked frequently and regularly, regardless of the weather. Luckily, there are now lined women’s riding breeches to keep riders warm in winter and ultra-lightweight fabrics for summer riding. Most modern fabrics used in making high quality riding breeches and jodhpurs are made from cotton combined with stretchable Lycra or Spandex for form-fitting comfort and flexibility.

Moisture-wicking materials are useful year-round. Not only do they prevent chafing, they also keep the rider comfortable in any weather. Sweating from a tough training session in the summer heat is bad enough, but, in the middle of winter, it can lead to a bad case of pneumonia if the rider gets too chilled for too long. These high tech materials from The Tailored Sportsman and other fine retailers provide year-round comfort, style, and functionality for riders of every skill level.

Selecting Show Apparel

The appropriate show apparel will depend largely upon the style of riding. Dressage riders compete in entirely different equestrian apparel than pleasure riders. Riding apparel and equipment must be selected according to the sanctions set out by the show organizers. Once a rider knows specifically what those requirements are, they can go online and select the riding breeches, show coat, ratcatcher, gloves, and helmet they will need to look and feel their very best in the show ring. A new crop is always a nice touch.

Unlike generations past, riders today can enjoy the flexibility, style, and comfort provided by modern textiles. At the same time, riders are no longer limited to the classic colors of white, black, and beige. While not always appropriate for the show ring, the colors available in riding breeches extends all the way to sage, espresso, deep purple, charcoal, taupe, chocolate, and more!

The most important factor to consider when purchasing riding breeches is the ability to move freely, to maintain close contact with the horse, and to avoid injury. Of course, it’s always nice to look your best, wherever the ride occurs!

Source by Anne Coyle

Disadvantages of Being Tall at Equestrian Sports

Disadvantages of Being Tall at Equestrian Sports

Being exceptionally tall has many advantages, but what about when it comes to sporting endeavour, in particular when it comes to equestrian sports. So just what are the plus and minus points of height when it comes to horse racing, show jumping, dressage, 3 day eventing etc. How can a rider use extra height to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent who has a different physical make up. Let’s look at the key attributes of the taller sports person. Being taller implies longer limbs, in turn meaning longer reach. This is a tremendous advantage in many sports, but not particularly for any horse related sports, where the emphasis is usually on balance, technique and seeing a good stride for jumping purposes.

Being tall is a significant disadvantage for any aspiring young race riding jockey, mainly because they will be too heavy to succeed at this profession. Jockeys who race on the flat generally ride at between 8 and 9 stone weight and therefore are rarely taller than about 5 foot 8 inches. It is a physical impossibility for an exceptionally tall jockey to make the weight for flat race riding. Riding over fences is a little more forgiving, with these jockeys generally being a stone or two heavier than their flat race riding counterparts. However even if a tall jockey can race ride at the required weight, his physical attributes are of no particular advantage over his shorter rivals. In fact one could argue that the taller jockey is more easily unbalanced and finds it more difficult to maintain the shorter riding position, favoured by all modern day jockeys, where the stirrups are positioned higher up on the horse, leading to the jockey maintaining a crouched position.

The news gets a little better for other equestrian events such as show jumping, dressage and cross country events (or 3 day eventing, which consists of all of these disciplines). For these events weight is not so strictly a factor, except that it will slightly inconvenience the horse to propel itself with a larger weight on it’s back. The emphasis in these type events is more on understanding your horse, balancing, controlling and making it jump the obstacles. Unfortunately there are no particular advantages that the taller rider can bring to bear in these events. Polo is perhaps the only equestrian sport where one could make an argument that the taller rider doesn’t have to bend so much to make a strike and hence has a slight advantage over a smaller rider.

Like many things in life, being tall has many advantages and disadvantages. Being tall in equestrian sports however is in general a disadvantage.

Source by Myles Long

Proper Equestrian Riding Techniques

Proper equestrian riding techniques vary depending upon the type of riding you are doing, whether it is English, Western, jumping, dressage, or eventing. Overall, proper equestrian riding techniques are largely a matter of correct body position, clear communication, appropriate equipment and equestrian riding apparel, and being aware of your surroundings. No one is born with the knowledge or ability to ride properly. It takes years of training and dedicated practice.

As a novice rider, you have much to learn. It is far easier to learn the proper ways first, rather than having to spend years unlearning bad habits and replacing them with proper riding techniques. That’s why taking lessons for the novice rider is such a great idea.

Take Lessons from a Reputable Trainer

Regardless of the type of riding you are interested in, riding lessons are always a good idea– especially for the novice. It is too easy to learn bad habits and put yourself in danger by simply jumping on the first available horse. This is especially true when jumping horses.

Even experienced riders must regularly rely upon basic riding techniques to maintain their safety as well as the safety of their horse. Your trainer should be able to provide you with an outside perspective. It’s amazing how many times you will be absolutely positive that your heels are down when, in fact, they are not. A reputable trainer can help you to fulfill your potential as a skilled horseman or horsewoman.

Riding lessons will teach you how to tack your horse up in the proper equestrian equipment, how to tighten the girth on English saddles to prevent slipping, how to select the equestrian riding apparel that is appropriate for your style of riding, how to develop the correct body position, and the best communication methods for interacting with your horse. Riding lessons will also educate you about the common rules of riding etiquette.

Proper Body Position and Riding Etiquette

For generations, young children and adults have been admonished to keep their chin up, shoulders back, and eyes forward. All you have to do is add heels down, elbows in, and hands quiet so that you will have a superior body position for horseback riding. As a rider, your job is to maintain control over your horse without appearing to do anything. Loud cues, abrupt movements, and lost tempers are never appropriate.

In the English riding world, there are specific rules of ring etiquette in place to ensure everyone’s safety. Generally, this means that everyone should be travelling in the same direction and working basically on the same skills. Slower traffic keeps to the inside of the arena while faster moving riders stay to the outer edge of the ring. A full horse length should be maintained between riders. If passing is necessary, one is expected to inform the other rider quietly and to give a wide berth. If horses are moving in both directions, the general rule of thumb is to pass — left shoulder to left shoulder — just as though you were driving a car. These courtesies work to prevent countless accidents and emergencies and should be followed at all times.

Use Appropriate Equestrian Riding Apparel and Equipment

Appropriate equestrian riding apparel means you are wearing an approved helmet, riding boots, a well-fitting shirt that allows enough freedom of movement, and riding breeches. Jeans are not appropriate for English riding. English saddles will rub on the seams, causing chaffing, and the material will slip and risk a fall. Loose and baggy clothing is never considered appropriate equestrian riding apparel. It can snag, bunch, and interfere with your movement that may risk injury.

English saddles will help you to maintain the correct body position for flat work and jumping, just as an event a saddle will help a rider maneuver hills, waterways, and other obstacles and help a rider to maintain their seat safely. Being lightweight and relatively flat, English saddles provide you with a greater range of motion than a heavier, bulkier Western saddle. However, they also require a strong leg to help you maintain contact and communicate with your horse. There are many varieties of English saddles available. Before buying English saddles, discuss your options with your trainer.

Every step of your training will help you to develop the skills and habits necessary to ride safely and effectively. Wearing appropriate equestrian riding apparel, finding the correct style English saddles, and working regularly with a reputable trainer will all help you to develop proper riding techniques.

Source by Anne Coyle