Essentials for Trainers and Riders

Horse and rider must be regarded as a unit.

Therefore, every instructor and trainer must school his eyes the same for the motion and feeling (state) of horse and rider.


Educational progress and solving of problems will be possible, only if you succeed in finding the cause for a problem and if you try to eliminate it instead of just treating symptoms. Therefore the responsible trainer must be ready and willing to work on the rider, too. That means to deal with possible problems of seat and influence, also with advanced pupils.


One of the main reasons for lacking suppleness of the rider is a forced stretched, actually over-stretched seat. Saddles that fix the rider and stirrups only slightly too long, only feign a better seat, in fact they reduce seriously riders elasticity and accordingly the effect and impact of his aids.


A supple and balanced seat is only out of the movement possible! The idea of sitting still leads very easily to a static seat and is therefore counterproductive.


Any reclined seat affects the elasticity and mobility of the rider!


Usually: The horse can't be more supple than the rider.


A good trainer will give positive instructions to the rider as often as possible, instead of telling him what to refrain from. This idea should also be properly implemented when applying the aids to the horse.


Without any doubt it is very important to emphasize the dominance of the driving aids against the restraining ones. However, even more important is to ride a horse in a manner that makes it feeling well under its rider. Then it will enjoy moving together with him and therefore it will feel ready to go forward well and to ”pull positively” just by itself. 


The rider's first and most important task regarding the seat is, to convey a good feeling to the horse in its back. That is an essential prerequisite for a trusting cooperation! This also includes to sit friendly, a little into the movement in the transitions, e.g. during lengthening!


The efficiency of any influence by the seat depends on the way the individual horse has been accustomed to, the way it has been ”conditioned”; therefore first of all it is necessary for a lot of horses (to be corrected) to use the weight aids increasing the weight on both sides only rather restricted, sometimes better even nearly by riding in “forward seat“ and applying the driving aids mostly by the legs.


Horses that have been "raised up" (elevated absolutely), usually feel a too extreme respect for the weight aids and in fact, they are in the medium and long term not capable any more to perform a real stretched posture because of shortenings in the region of the "extensors of the trunk". These horses react to an increased, stronger influence by the seat extremely negative, not to say “allergic“.


The inside leg driving to the outside rein is the decisive aid for flexing and bending a horse. It must be placed close to the girth and must not slide back.


Obedience to the rider’s leg is in connection with the giving of aids a very essential point. The rider has to learn, to use his leg-aids controlled and as impulses and must become capable to coordinate the seat- as well as the rein-aids precisely with these. That are the preconditions that the horse can accept the rider’s aid sensitively and trustfully.


Sometimes instinctleads the rider to faulty reactions and therefore it must be controlled by mind: For example, this is quite typical when dealing with the position of the hand or teaching the horse "to pull positively".


Every aid that doesn't show an immediate reaction of the horse is not only unnecessary, but even harmful. It makes the horse feel, prompt response to the aids is not important.


The rider should have the idea, giving his aids like signals, and he must be really confident that the horse will follow them. Longer lasting aids, e.g. pressing legs will very easily provocate resistance.


Occasionally, it may be necessary temporarily use more force. This can only lead to a positive result if the rider does not tense himself in the process or even cramped. The more determined he is in doing so, the faster he can come to relax again. What is decisive is what happens in the rider's head!


Being able to ride with hands independent from the seat, that the horse steps confidently towards, is one of the most important capabilities of a good rider. Reining with one hand is a good control exercise with regard to good contact, but can also promote trust in the hand in very fine horses.


When getting older and the elasticity of the middle posture is waning, it will mean a decisive part of the rider's capacity.


The hand (rein aids) is only the vis-a-vis to the weight and leg aids; it never must be predominant. This is valid especially also for half halts and halts.


The yielding rein aid is said to be the most important one: The rider, who is able to yield in the right moment, - better to become light with the hand -, will get the horse, yielding in the poll too. You can understand this kind of yielding best as a relaxation of the muscles tensed before; an actively forward going hand is necessary only very seldom.


The hand or the rein aids must never be understood as a "brake" that must be released, for example, when starting, trotting or cantering. The rider should initially remain with the unrestrained hand during these transitions and only become light (relax) a tiny moment later, when the horse has remained flexible in the neck! During these transitions, he should have the idea of wanting to ride through his hand, through the contact.


"Correct" halts and half-halts are ridden with all aids, the regulating or guarding ones increasingly step into the background!


Only the rider who is able to ride half and full halts without making the horse short in the neck, can achieve optimal "throughness". The good, experienced rider can ride that nearly without any active rein-aids.


Positive thinking is especially important in dealing with and riding a horse, because horses react very sensitively to the human's mental state. If the rider himself doesn't believe an exercise or lesson will be mastered successfully, he can't expect the horse follow his instruction.


As often as possible the rider must try to act instead of react, so he must always (try to) anticipate the horse's actions in his mind.


Patience and endurance are very important qualities in dealing with horses. However, sometimes a horse will understand too much leniency as indecision and unsureness and take advantage of this situation, so it won't follow the aids promptly. In this view horses are like children who test, if an instruction is really meant seriously. For that reason, especially the learning horse needs a decisive and steady rider.


Also, in extensions the rider must maintain the initiative; the horse must not anticipate. That's the only way to keep the horse in front of the rider, on the driving aids.


A steady rhythm (“Takt“) is always the most important criterion. This is particularly true for turns, transitions and lateral movements.


The advanced horse too must be ridden in working trot and working canter during the warm up; as well it must be possible during the working phase to ride working pace whenever you want. It is important, especially in relaxing work (warming up), to find the individual basic tempo that suits the individual horse; this applies especially to the working pace at the trot!


If a horse doesn't want to go forward enough, that must not always mean a lack of driving aids. Very often the rider doesn't allow more forward because of an inflexible, non-elastic seat and a restraining hand. He actually spoils the horse´s fun of going forward pleasure-orientated.


Riding a horse in stretched posture can only be worthwhile, if it still steps towards the bit, is yielding in the poll carries itself and if the rider can keep it in front of him.


Changing the frame again and again is much more important, that means to ask alternating for a stretched and a slightly raised posture, because so the muscles can tense and relax much better. That's a very good way of developing suppleness and building up the muscles.


Also, for a remonte it is not so important to go in stretching posture all the time. It is much more important to ride the young horse with a frame that changes several times, i.e. to alternate between stretching and a somewhat more closed posture, because this helps the muscles to tense and release (relax) even better; this promotes suppleness and muscle development particularly well, and also improves communication between rider and horse.


A correctly trained and well-educated horse will show readiness to stretch itself in each moment of the training.


Walk is best reflecting the mental state of a horse.


When riding walk, it is advisable as soon as possible to ride "with connection to the horse's mouth", better still "on the long rein". If the rider has learned to accompany the natural forward-downward nodding movement in the walk with the hand, this promotes very well the so important trust in the rider's hand!


The rider should not only allow the stepping towards the hand, but even more make palatable the contact for the horse and show him, how delightful it feels to go with connection with the rider´s hand in a good contact. A delicate rider's hand, independent from the seat, which makes the horse step confidently towards the bit, is the decisive prerequisite here.


Real impulsion (“Schwung“) requires a good suppleness of the back and trustfully stepping onto the hand. If this is lacking, even a horse, wonderfully talented for impulsion won't be able to move "schwungvoll"; although it steps off quite actively with its hind legs, it will be unable to swing through them forward optimally.


The cross connection between good contact, characterized by trust in the hand, and real momentum ("Schwung") going through the body enables the horse to always be forward oriented and "pull" with a healthy, well-controllable forward urge. In this way it shows "joy of going" and keeps it!


It only makes sense to ride with flexion or bend, if the horse reacts sensitively to the diagonal aids (inside leg - outside rein). It should accept and respect the respective inner leg so well, that it safely approaches the outer rein and that the rider can become light with the inner hand. 


With very young horses or horses that have not been ridden very much, it is less harmful to ride with an incorrect position at times than to pull too much on the inside rein.


The rider must learn to deal with the natural crookedness of the horse, to work seriousily on straightening, not only to disguise or compensate the crookedness.


It does not make sense, it is even counterproductive, to start collecting or collected exercises and lessons, before the horse goes with a yielding poll and a supple back. Take care not to accept a seemingly nice raised posture like for a test offered by some horses from the beginning and waive riding in a stretched posture.


At the beginning of each training session, the opening of the topline of each horse should be queried and checked.


Only a horse that ”pulls positively” can be correctly straightened and seriously collected.


Collection must never be at the expense of rhythm ("Takt") and diligence.


Transitions are the moments of truth: If a horse here stays steady in rhythm, supple and yielding in the poll, its movements can flow over the back and through the whole body, than the horse is responsive/”durchlässig” (Throughness). That is especially valid for the downward transitions (from extension to collection!).


Only if the transitions are successful with a yielding poll, the new gait can begin with active hindquarters; especially valid also in the transition to the lower gait (e.g. canter - trot) and in the slowing down after an extension: the hindquarters can swing through and close up only if the poll is yielding!


Exercises and movements can help to attain trainings-targets and they are best fitting to control quality and state of the training. The riding of movements must not become an end in itself and must not finish in teaching like tricks.


Spurs and whip should be used only very targeted and punctually. Otherwise the horse will be deadened.


Precondition for correct riding correctly is to adjust the demands to the level of education and training as well of the horse as the rider.


Riding correctly is applied animal welfare for the riding-horse. The rider with sense of responsibility will take care of species-appropriated horse-keeping, adequately feeding, professional hoof care, possibly shoeing and optimal fitting tack. He will ride only on grounds and indoors with appropriated and neat surface, also when hacking he will adjust his riding to conditions of the ground. – The whole package has to be well compiled!


Riding, especially learning to ride "correctly", is a school for life. It is quite a demanding challenge!

A good trainer can have a big part in it! Also, for him the mediation is a very demanding task!