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 every application of aids.

 

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 followed 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 precondition for a trusting cooperation!

 

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.

 

Sometimes instinct leads 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. Lasting aids, e.g. pressing legs will very easily provocate resistance.

 

Being able to ride with a hand independent from the seat, that the horse steps confidently towards, is one of the most important capabilities of a good rider. 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, will get a 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.

 

Only the rider who is able to ride half and full halts without making the horse short in the neck, can reach 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 by the driving aids.

 

Temporarily it may be necessary to use more strength. However there can only be a positive effect, if the rider isn't tensed or even cramped when doing this.

 

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 canter during the warm up; as well it must be possible during the working phase to ride working pace whenever you want.

 

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 horses fun of going forward pleasure-orientated.

 

Riding a horse in streched posture can only be worthwhile, if it still steps towards the bit, 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.

 

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.

 

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 good contact feels. 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. 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 is unable to swing through them forward optimally.

 

The link between proper contact, characterized by confidence in the hand, and real impulsion makes a horse "pull positively".

 

It only makes sense to ride with flexion or bend, if the horse reacts sensitively to the diagonal aids (inside leg - outside rein). That means it steps steadily to the outside rein and the rider is able to become light with his inside hand.

 

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 collected exercises and lessons, before the horse goes with a supple back. Take care not to accept a nice raised posture offered by some horses from the beginning and waive riding in a stretched posture.

 

Only a horse that pulls positively can be 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).

 

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.