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Horseback Riding

By: Galadriel Billington

9:08PM Apr 12, 2004


I teach horseback riding in a dressage-based balanced seat. I teach and also train flatwork and jumping. I believe that working in cooperation with your horse works better than working antagonalistically against your horse. If you ask properly, and you are alert to his responses to your aids, you can achieve much. The majority of learning to ride is the study of how to ask properly, and how to adapt your aids to get the precise amount of response.

So much can be accomplished if you simply know how to ask. A horse can give you exceptional feedback if you just sit and experiment with aids. A shift of weight, an application of leg or seat; your horse's response will tell you what that aid means to him. Much of my instruction is based on what I have learned in lessons and in study, but also I pass along what my horses have taught me. When you can ask with subtlety and kindness, why should you bother with force? Knowing how to ask is the key.

Most of the time, a horse is a willing creature. If we can find a way to ride quietly and calmly, most horses will be delighted to oblige. Additionally, I feel that riding should be pleasant for the horse, as well as for the rider.

Articles in this section


The Emergency Dismount

If you ride for long enough, you are going to have a fall. It happens to everyone, eventually. A fall doesn't have to be scary or dangerous, but when you ride you are relying on your balance to keep you astride, as well as the balance of the horse under you. If you or the horse should become unbalanced, you can get off the horse's back safely with the Emergency Dismount.

Dealing with Fear of Falling

Falling happens. Everyone falls once, twice, occasionally, or ride after ride :)

Some people are afraid to ride, due to a fear of falling. Some people find each ride full of tension or stress due to this fear. It is a legitimate fear! But it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one.

Fear while Riding

When you are so afraid that you are tense, your riding suffers *and* it feels more frightening, because you bounce and you are less stable in the saddle. If you can get your body to relax, that can help you feel more relaxed emotionally as well.

Staying on the Rail in Lessons

Many times beginner riders will have difficulty keeping their horse on the rail, in lessons. I have noticed a tendency in many beginners to want to pull a horse back to the rail by using the outside rein. This doesn't work!

Point your Toes In

Why does it matter where your toes are pointed? Truthfully, your toes themselves don't really matter--what does matter is where your *leg* is pointing.

Gripping with your Legs, Knees, or Thighs

We're told not to "grip" the horse, so how do we stay on?

The How and Why of Posting to the Trot

Posting to the trot is often misunderstood by students who are first learning to ride. The idea behind posting is to make riding the trot easier on both you and the horse. It can help to have a better understanding of what you are trying to do.

Diagonals in Posting

When posting to the trot, you will post to a certain "diagonal." The diagonal indicates which diagonal set of legs the horse is using (left fore/right hind OR right fore/left hind).

Learning to Ride the Canter: Common Obstacles

Often new riders are intimidated by the canter. It may seem too fast or out of control, too bouncy, or the horse may keep breaking to a trot. If you can learn to ride the canter, it will feel more in control and will be easier to maintain.

Working On the Bit

When a horse is "on the bit," the bit is in fact the *last* element to be concerned about :)

A horse "on the bit" is a horse who has shifted much of his weight to the hind legs. As a result, he is working harder in his haunches and through his back. His hind legs will have more movement to them; they will be flexing more and moving further forward under the body.

What is a Half-Halt, and How is it Used?

A half-halt is an especially useful tool when riding. With a half-halt, you can ask a horse to balance. You can get his attention, to notify him that you're about to ask for something different: a turn, a transition, a halt, collection, extension, and so on.

Miscellaneous Riding Tips

Here are some tips to make riding properly easier, and improve the pleasure of the ridden experience.
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2004 Galadriel Billington. All rights reserved.