Using Artificial Aids

Equestrians refer to communication aids that are associated with some use of the rider’s body as “natural” aids. These include the legs, the rider’s weight, the hands, and an independent seat. They call anything else an “artificial aid.” In a very broad sense, if you are using the arena wall or the corner to help […]

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The Riding Tree: Coordination Of The Aids

As we move up the riding tree, we learn to relax on the horse, stay balanced and follow the horse’s motion. As we continue to develop our ability to communicate more clearly with the horse, we learn to apply the pressures of weight (seat), leg, and rein aids to communicate to the horse the shape […]

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The Riding Tree: Balance

When a student gets on a horse to take that first riding lesson, their greatest concern is staying there. Everyone is afraid of falling off, particularly in the beginning. Whether you are the student or whether you are the instructor, you need to be aware of this fear and aware that it is very normal. […]

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The Riding Tree: Following the Motion

Our goal as we move up the riding tree is to develop an independent seat so that we can influence the horse. An independent seat means that you are not relying on anything but balance to hold you on the horse. You use an athletic muscle tension to help you stay in balance but you […]

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The Riding Tree: Influencing The Horse

Only when riders progress to the top of the riding tree are they finally capable of influencing a horse to teach it something new or to remind it about something it already knows. Their communication is clear enough and accurate enough that they can use the language of aids pressures to show the horse new […]

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The Riding Tree: Communicating Through Aids

Aids are physical pressures a rider uses to communicate with the horse. When the horse responds correctly to the pressure, the pressure goes away. So a correct response rewards the horse. Think of individual aid pressures as “words” that have a specific meaning to the horsechange gait, go left, go right. As both horses and […]

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The Riding Tree: Relaxation

Before you can clearly communicate to the horse what shapes you want him to take at what gait and in what rhythm, you need to have control over your own body. You cannot simultaneously influence the horse’s shape, gait, and cadence unless you are in the right position over his center of gravity to apply […]

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The Importance of Timing

We communicate with a horse by using a corridor of pressures that suggest the shape, the pace, and the direction we want the horse to take. Removing a pressure is the horse’s “reward.” It is the way we communicate to the horse, “Yes! That’s right.” If your timing is off when you either apply a […]

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Teaching Pressures

In the earliest stages of training, we show horses what we want them to do by applying a pressure then rewarding the horse by releasing that pressure the moment he responds correctly. I call this a teaching pressure. Later, when the horse has developed a degree of understanding, we’ll ask him to do something with […]

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Recipes for Riding

A new student recently told me he was diligently taking notes, carefully describing the corridor of pressures that create each a specific shape we ask horses to take when we are riding. He planned to take all his class notes and develop them into a book. Then, he figured, people could read the book, know […]

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