Help with Aids and Control - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 09-24-2010, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Help with Aids and Control

Alrighty, I have ridden so far in three lessons for my first experiences in English riding. First ride went great, I rode an older gelding and he responded beautifully to my aids. I have noticed that unlike the western horses I have casually ridden before, the horses I have ridden at school are not very responsive to the rein and take most of their cues from the leg. BUT the last two horses I have been on have really given me a hard time. I was really frustrated by the end of the class to say the least. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong, or if it was even me.

The first problem horse was really slow and lazy. He walked slower than I do on the ground. I was constantly having to urge him on. He did not respond very well at all to my leg cues, and even worse for aids with the rein. If I wanted to half circle and reverse, he would ignore my leg cues and when I resorted to the rein, he would just turn his head but keep moving forward! Agh!!! I was pretty mad, and I felt like I was just the worse rider ever, especially when other students said they had a good experience on the horse. Makes me feel like a crappy rider, which I probably am, which is why I am here :) to get better.

The second horse was pretty fast. TOO fast, during the trot he would run right up into the previous horses' butt instead of going around. He would ignore my cues asking him to go around and ignored my tug on the rein.

I have come to the conclusion that I need work on my cues. These horses are not understanding what I want. Please help! :/

1) How do I apply the pressure and where?
2) How do I cue during the trot? ( I am still working on getting my posting down pat.)
3) What is the proper posture for English riding? Is there a diagram somewhere showing me where my hands/ legs/ feet/ shoulders/ seat/ need to be?

These are things I feel might be causing me some trouble. I am paying for lessons, but I feel I am not getting the constructive criticism I need right now. :/

Any help would be EXTREMELY appreciated!

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post #2 of 19 Old 09-24-2010, 04:04 PM
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Ideally, when someone is beginning to learn how to ride, it should not be in a group situation. What I would prefer to see is instructors spending time individually with each student on the lunge line where they can learn to balance and develop stregth BEFORE they have to worry about the horse. If it is possible, try to find a school that will teach you on the lunge, or aks an instructor at your current school.
If you are not happy at the school you are riding at, you should stop supporting them by paying them. It might be in your best interests to find a smaller, more "private" barn. Eventually you will also want to start part leasing a horse and if you have already found a barn and a horse that you like, this will make your life easier.
As far as specifically answering your questions, the aids are the same during walk trot and canter, as far as steering and speeding up/slowing down. If you can't do these three thing in the walk, don't move onto the trot. Adding speed when you aren't ready for it is not the right thing to do. Very basically an aid from the lower leg should send the horse forward and by sitting up, slowing your seat and as a last resort, using the reins the horse should slow down. It is important for a beginning rider to be on a responsive horse so that they can worry about their own riding, rather than correcting the horse. Here is a diagram of a rier sitting correctly. Notice the straight red line through the body and the straight line from bit to elbow.
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post #3 of 19 Old 09-24-2010, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the diagram. That gives me something to work from.

I agree with you on the training, unfortunately, the school's instructors are MUCH cheaper than private ones. Being a full time student, I don't have that sort of cash just lying around! I really don't have much choice other than to make the best of it.

I will try and get a friend to video the next session.

Okay, here's a dumb question for you: how exactly do I administer cues? A squeeze of the knee or a prod with the heel? I have a feeling this is where my issues are originating.

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post #4 of 19 Old 09-24-2010, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Raidress View Post
Okay, here's a dumb question for you: how exactly do I administer cues? A squeeze of the knee or a prod with the heel? I have a feeling this is where my issues are originating.
Not a dumb question at all.

Leg cues I like to think about like squeezing a toothpaste tube (correctly, from the sealed end, not from the middle). You're generating energy, which comes from the hindquarters and "oozes" into the hands, which collect the energy like your toothbrush would collect the toothpaste.

More educated horses (and horses ridden by very educated riders) respond dramatically to seat aids. Transitions can come from the seat alone. A good "tagline" for me is to think of the seat controlling the hindquarters, the legs controlling the ribcage, and the hands controlling the shoulders.

I love this video... I've posted it before in other threads, and it has been a prompt for several of my personal riding breakthroughs. Maybe it will help you a bit.

Good luck!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #5 of 19 Old 09-24-2010, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Fantastic video link. I will be sure to study them all so that I can give these a try next time I am in the arena on Wednesday.

Thanks! That's exactly the sort of information I have been looking for! ^.^
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post #6 of 19 Old 09-25-2010, 02:21 PM
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I have to say that I am with Anebel. I completely understand your situation as I am also a full time student but you do get what you pay for and actually fewer lessons at a higher quality barn (ie a horse that is responsive, individual attention, etc) is going to propel your riding faster than riding a dead horse and not knowing what you are doing. Bad habits are far more difficult to correct than learning proper ones from the get-go.

For example I can't believe you've had three lessons and you are on the internet asking how to stop, go, turn. These are pretty much basic things that you should have learned in the first lesson. Not mastered, but at least had the concept explained to you. You can learn a lot from asking the amazing people here on the forum but you are PAYING someone that should be laying a strong foundation for you. You deserve to be getting your money's worth and I have to say it doesn't sound like you are. You already said you think you're a crappy rider- and confidence is very important in riding. You're not crappy! You're a beginner, we all start somewhere, no one is born sitting astride a horse knowing what to do!!

Last note, it sounds like your safety isn't exactly being kept in mind either. If you don't have stop go turn controls, the instructor should not be having you trot, especially in a group situation. Some horses don't like having someone run up their bum, and you could get a severe kick. There are a lot of barns out there that will take people's money gladly and let them do what they want (even have total beginners jumping) it doesn't mean it is safe or right or that the students will even eventually figure it out on their own. Please, consider fewer lessons at a better barn. In the long run you will be so glad you did! Best of luck to you!!
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post #7 of 19 Old 09-25-2010, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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I might seriously consider that. I don't currently have a horse of my own, so the 3 rides a week I have at school, whether they are informative or not, do allow me time in the saddle atleast to add to my experience. SO if I choose to go to a private place, I will get to ride a lot less. :/

But yeah, I agree the situation is a little ridiculous. I have to overcome this though. All I need is to master the basics. It can't be that difficult, but I have to know what I need to master in order to do so, lol.

I am not scared of horses at all, and am confident in my potential ability, but I am not getting the instruction and criticism I need.

You guys have helped me immensely already. I am determined to become a great rider and show these people that a person with zero experience can be just as good as someone who has been riding since they were 5 with the right determination and support.
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post #8 of 19 Old 09-26-2010, 12:21 AM
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This post is very helpful, good luck with everything! I would suggest the private lessons, too. That is what I have been doing and they're a world of difference.
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post #9 of 19 Old 09-26-2010, 02:51 PM
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It seems like you aren't being taught how to use your aids TOGETHER. To get a horse to go you have to be giving with the reins (not throwing them away to the horse's head, but not restricting them back either) and you have to squeeze with your leg. To turn you have to use the leg, seat, and hand cues together. It's not going to look pretty or be refined until way later, but you need to get the basics down.

Having "experience" isn't a good thing in your situation it seems. It sounds like there is little teaching going on, which is going to give you some bad habits in your riding. It doesn't matter how often you are in a saddle, if you can't ride properly, it will never help you. I would rather one lesson a week with a good trainer that will further my riding than three that are going to make my riding horrible and basically backpedal the entire situation.

Jumping a horse = Getting wings!
Why live on the edge when you can jump off?- Greenwood Horse Trials Tee-Shirt
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post #10 of 19 Old 09-26-2010, 07:03 PM
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Reading between the lines, you are not new to horse riding rather you are seeking to learn to ride English.

In England school master horses are prized partly because they are mostly a steady ride although perhaps dull to the aids. Their role in training the rider is to enable the novice to acquire the correct ‘seat‘ - which is as per the diagram already shown on this thread. Retaining the correct posture on an English saddle with a small foot print is not as easy at it seems and in most cases the novice’s muscles must be developed to do so.

The English rider also rides ‘in contact’ and must learn the knack of holding the reins short without inadvertently jerking the horse’s mouth. The technique takes time to learn which the novice spends going round and round in circles on a level arena . The rider learns by rote - constant repetition. The brain must learn to respond instantly and instinctively to the forces of motion.

Much later the student learns to ride with a light contact, using the under thighs, the backside and body weight to direct what should be a well schooled horse trained to respond to light and sensitive aids. Those same aids won’t necessarily work on a schoolmaster horse whose sensitivity has been worn away by carrying novices round and round in circles.

The English rider believes that the horse must first be schooled to carry the rider then the novice must be trained to ride the schooled horse. The blind will lead the blind if a newly backed and young horse is used to teach the novice rider.

There are significant differences in the two systems of riding ie Western and English. The novice will feel more secure in the deep seat and the raised pommel of the Western saddle. In Western there is no need to hold the reins constantly in light contact, a technique which takes time to learn.

Buy/borrow a basic ’Learn to ride English’ book and work out the difference for yourself between the two systems.
It is possible to ride a horse on a Western saddle using English techniques - it is not quite so easy the other way round.
The horse can manage under either system.

Concentrate on getting your English seat right:
back straight, heels down, toes up, feet straight.
Feel for the bit in the horse’s mouth - gently.
Take some videos and check your position against the drawing.

Try to take the opportunity to sit the school horse in the arena on your own - or at least away from the others.
Nothing fancy - : Take up the reins, walk on, slow trot, walk, stop, turn right, turn left. Stand. Lower the reins.
Try to feel for what makes the horse respond.
Communicate with the animal. You may even talk to it.

Best of luck & Enjoy.
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