Learning to be a Good Rider.
I've been reading the post by Spyder about Applying Aids Correctly, and to be honest it has got me thinking a lot about the fact that there is a lot that I don't know.
I've learned all I know from books, a few lessons, and just riding. Because I have primarily taught myself everything, I feel like I have missed out on some key concpets and principles associated with riding.
I ride trails mostly and use western tack. However I wouldn't say my way of riding is solely western. To me riding is more than just hopping on and going. I want to have connection with my horse and be properly balanced with him. I don't want to just be a passenger, but a partner.
I've had my horse Duke for about two and half years now, but I still consider myself a beginner, atleast in some ways. What are the basic concepts I should know? Right now I'm reading "Centered Riding" by Swift. It has given me a lot to think about. I'm curious what you think I should know. Both in skill, and concept.
Here are the things I know:
-I get the concept of keeping your core centered. And keeping your shoulding over you center and making sure you heels are directly under your center.
-Making sure you heels are down and you are allowing your weight to sink into your heels.
-Breathing with your diaphram. Feeling your breath into your core.
-Keeping your hips/pelvis open and relaxed.
-keeping elbows bent and flexible.
-Not leaning forward!
-I've just recently learned the concept of using your legs to "push" the horses belly as it swings at the walk. (When you feel the belly on your left leg, lighty hug it and push it back to the right. Same on the right. Helps propel horse.)
-Using leg aids at the trot is a bit harder. From what I have read so far you are supposed to cue with each diaganol. Cueing with the hind leg. But are you supposed to cue with the inside or outside leg?
I guess I'm looking for other basic prinicples I should know.
I apologize if I have not made myself clear, I'm not even sure how to explain it.
it's great that you are looking at becoming a better rider in every small detail.
learning to feel the belly roll to the side is good because this indicates when the leg on that side is stepping under. So, if the belly swings away from your left leg, that means the horse's left leg is reaching under him. This means that if you want to cue the horse for either a sideways step (away from the left leg) or ask for more forward energy, then you time your application of your left leg WITH the horse's stepping under/forward with HIS left leg.
I do not apply my leg with the roll of the barrel every time. this would dull him out.
if you want a general concept of riding that is real fundamental to riding I would say, Don't put any aid on unless you want a change in the horse, and don't take that aid off until you've got a change in the horse.
a lot of problems occur when folks are putting a leg or rein on kind of mindlessly, not looking for a change and certainly not noticing when it happended and rewarding with a release.
The opposiste is ; asking for the horse to do something (applying an aid) and then releaseing the aid when the horse has not done what you asked.
both of these train in dullness.
Take stopping for instance. I ask for a stop, that means the horse stops and comes off the bit and even rocks back a tiny bit on his haunches. if I release when he is stopped but is still leaning forward so much, barging on the rein, that if I release the reins he falls forward and off he goes, then I am not getting a real change in the horse.. I release only when he has fully stopped and has changed his mind and released forward.
if , when he is stopped, I keep the rein tight and never release, I am applying an aid for no reason at all, and making the rein have less and less meaning.
same goes for the leg. If you put the leg on and the hrose doesnt' make a real change, and you release the aid, then you are saying, "that's ok, I 'll accept this half response" from now on, that's what you'll get.
but, if the hrose is already trotting along and you keep naggin at him, he'll learn to ignore your leg.
So, that is a really important principle in riding, from my perspective.
I read the Sally Swift book years ago and it gave me a lot to think about. It's a classic.
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