I have problems keeping lazy horses in active walk... as in, if I get a lazy horse (which I would still prefer to a forward one as I am still regaining my confidence after a series of very bad falls), he tends to slow down and stop after a while.
I just returned from a riding holiday where I had the chance to ride very desensitised and well-schooled horses. I also had the opportunity to relearn many basic instructions which had "flown out of my head" with the falls. However, due to the influx of information within a short period, I am now not very sure about some and would like to seek clarifications.
I heard that in order to actively engage a horse and to keep him walking, I should press my calf muscles into his sides, alternating left, right, left, right.
Is this true? And when do I press which side? I tried this on a very jaded horse while on holiday but I can't really remember.. hehe..
Also, I have issues with steering horses which refuse to go the direction I want. I tend to be able to get the head of the horse all the way to the direction I want, but the rest of the body is moving away. When I find the horse stubbornly refusing to yield, I tend to give in (due to the accidents I had, and I know the horse is stronger than me), but as a result, I lose control (and the respect of the horse) and he realises he can bully me after a while. I have tried doing what is standard - if I want him to turn left, I use my left leg and left rein; but I don't seem to get his whole body to turn the way I want. What am I doing wrong?
While riding on the left rein on a very old and well-schooled horse at the holiday ranch, I realised that by keeping my right leg slightly behind his girth as we are coming off a corner, I managed to get him to cover the corner very well, and his hind quarters to square off nicely. This was done while I nudged with left leg to push into rounding off the corner. However, I worry that on a more forward and younger horse, I might set him off into a canter if I move my outside leg behind his girth as many school horses are accustomed to transiting into canter around corners. Is my worry uncalled for, and is what I described above the correct way?
Thanks for your advice.
You have had a confidence knock, and I don't know anyone who can say they then get back on the horse and say nothing happened.
Firstly, well done for getting back on. Only ride a horse you are comfortable with at the moment. The slow ones teach you to ride properly- you have to ask them right to make them move. If you don't, they won't respond. Don't think about riding younger horses for now, just crack on with what you've got until you have the basics.
For moving, I don't alternate left,right,left,right unless I truly need more engagement from the hind. As Kitten_Val said, ask with a squeeze of your calves, being careful that you are not pulling the reins back if you tense up- you'll be asking the horse to move on, and come back at the same time, very confusing.
Get this sorted first, don't worry about steering. In fact, if you are in a school on your own, tie the reins, get someone to put you on the lunge and use a neck strap, just work on forwards.
For direction, if you are the left rein you should have slightly more weight in the inside leg, and when you bend, you should apply pressure to the inside, and use the outside leg to balance the horse, and if the horse refuses, inside leg off, outside leg on firmly. I don't know how advanced you are in your lessons, but half halting is a good idea too. Again, make sure your reins aren't tight, get the horse to move and turn from your seat and legs. IF the horse will not respond, do not panic, keep the outside leg on , outside hand comes forwards (not like a washing line, keep the contact) and bring the inside hand ACROSS your body. However, outside leg is important, and sit to the inside otherwise the horse will bend its neck and carry on walking.}