Sunday, October 28, 2012

Riding tips, tricks, and words of wisdom

Many of you may have hear these from myself or other people, but here is a list of tips and tricks off the top of my head.

Tips for under saddle:

1.  If you are having a hard time picking up a lead try asking in a smaller circle.  The smaller the circle (small not tiny) the easier it is on your horse to lope/canter in the correct lead.

2.  If you are having trouble picking up a counter-canter work in a bigger circle and slowly scale down the size as your horse gets comfortable.

3.  Large wide circles encourage your horse to speed up (think reining) while smaller circles encourage your horse to slow down.  This works at both a trot and lope.  

4.  The more you move the faster your horse will move, think posting verses sitting a trot.

5.  Your horse's mind is where ever his nose is.  If he is hanging his nose to the outside of your circle he is not focused with or on you.

6.  If you can see your horse's inside eye/eyelashes or the buckle of your bridle your horse's shoulders are upright or close to it when working in a circle.

7.  When trying to lift your horse's shoulders you must first lift your hand before moving it over.  If you just move your hand over you will only tilt your horses head instead of lifting the shoulder.

8.  When your horse warping your circles to the outside.  Brace with your outside leg (leg facing to the outside of the circle) and direct with your inside rein.

9.  When your horse is cutting off your circles to the inside brace with your inside leg (leg facing to the inside of the circle you are riding) and lift your inside rein up and over to lift the shoulder and widen your circle.

10.  It is much easier long term to correct a bad behavior the moment it happens (yes this applies to a horse who normally doesn't do that) than to allow it to get out of hand.  Even the most well trained horse will try and push their boundaries at some time or the other.

11.  If they do it once they will do it again.  This applies to warping circles, dropping shoulders, walking off while mounting, and everything in between.  It is your job as the rider to recognize patterns in your horses behavior and work to fix them.

12.  All of a sudden does not exist in the horse world.  Your horse told you he was upset (high head, braced neck, distracted, tense) and you did not listen.  99% of all spooks can be avoided by paying attention to your horse.

13.  When in doubt move his feet.  It very hard to spook, buck, and or rear when all four feet are already moving.

14.  It is not the pressure that teaches but the release of pressure.

15.  When the going gets tough break everything down into tiny little steps and reward any progress in the right direction.

16.  If you want your horse to always do something you must always be willing to make them do it.

17.  Always make the right behaviors easy and the wrong behaviors hard.

18.  When you teach your horse to move forward without constant kicking, kissing, and general encouragement you are then able to use your legs to cue other maneuvers, you will also be a lot less tired after riding.

19.  If you want your horse to learn to do something for themselves (moving forward, traveling with up right shoulders, etc) you must be willing to let go.  You must be willing to let them try and mess up over and over again.

20.  Riding a horse is a lot like driving a car.  You are very likely to crash and burn when you take your hands off the wheel and stop paying attention.  

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