I had to use a crop :( - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 06-26-2016, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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I had to use a crop :(

Well, at my last lesson, my instructor decided I should start using a crop. I'm still just a beginner - been taking lessons once a week since February - but it still made me feel sort of bad. I'm doing posting trot, and having a very hard time keeping the horse at the right speed/pace while doing courses and turning. I haven't gotten the hang of post/kick/post/kick, I think. It's like my body won't cooperate or coordinate at the level I need to communicate with my horse.

So my instructor gave me a crop to tap Cody's (the lesson horse's) shoulder while I ride so that I can give him the rhythm more directly without him having to rely on my leg aids.

It all makes sense, it all seems sound, but it still felt like a big step back for me. Like if I was progressing at the right speed, I'd be able to communicate everything with just my body and not need anything additional. I whined (lol) to my instructor that I really didn't want to use a crop, because it felt like cheating and/or training wheels, but she promised that lots of good equestrians use crops.

I'm going to take another lesson tomorrow morning, so I guess I'll see if things are any easier. Also going to try reading some tips online/watching some youtube videos to see if there's anything I'm missing. I'm always hoping for these big "aha!" moments, but it seems like practice is really the only solution.

Any other beginners being given crops to help you out?

Last edited by Mme Yersinia; 06-26-2016 at 11:14 PM. Reason: Forgot to mention - we're doing posting trot, to begin cantering soon.
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post #2 of 19 Old 06-26-2016, 11:45 PM
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You shouldn't really be kicking at all. It's just leg pressure (calves and thighs - never pinch with your knees). (: Think of the horse as a tube of toothpaste in which you have to squeeze to get what you want out. In this case, that's forward movement!
Anyway, crops aren't so bad. You can always test it out on yourself to make sure you don't hit Cody too hard. As you progress you'll need it less and less. They really only have a place in some beginner lessons (some lesson horses become hard) and dressage.

c'est la vie
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post #3 of 19 Old 06-26-2016, 11:51 PM
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Bad girl, now use it on yourself as punishment for being a big meanie to your horsie.

/sarcasm off

Agreed that you shouldn't be kicking but squeezing with your calves. Some beginner-broke horses are "dead" to the aids, lazy, or old... a crop gives them incentive. It's not mean.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #4 of 19 Old 06-27-2016, 12:00 AM
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Really, it's better to use the crop to get them moving if the alternative is for you to be kicking every stride. When you take your legs off and kick it destabilizes you, so by using the crop you keep your position stronger and will actually help you in the long run.

And you really should be using it behind your leg, not on their shoulder. In order to do that you have to take on hand off the reins, holding both in the other hand, reach back without twisting too much, give a swat, then return your hands to neutral without being rough on their mouth, all in 1-2 seconds. So think of it as another thing to master, not a cheat or training wheels.

Some lesson horses really are just dull from so many beginner riders. They've learned to ignore most leg aids, it's not your fault. Lots of lesson horses are chosen for this trait. Many people would need a crop, at least in the beginning, to reschool the horse to be off of the leg.
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post #5 of 19 Old 06-27-2016, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Oh wow, what nice and helpful comments! You guys are all wonderful :)

I actually had not thought of it as "squeezing a tube of toothpaste." My instructor always used the word "kick" so that's what I was trying to do. I guess that explains why I felt so uncoordinated. I will definitely try to do it more like that today.

I'm actually quite proud that I managed to use a crop for almost the whole lesson without feeling "mean!" I know consciously in my brain that a horse is a big tough animal and my tiny taps are not going to hurt him, but it's still such a strange concept to get over. But Cody is very much a dead-sided lesson horse (bless his soul), so I absolutely see what you mean.

I also found that having a crop was one more thing that kept my brain locked on "rhythm, rhythm, rhythm!" so I suppose that was helpful.

Thank you, everyone for your very encouraging and kind words! I will go into my lesson today in a much better mood
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post #6 of 19 Old 06-27-2016, 08:10 AM
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It takes a long time to be able to give correct independent aids and it can be hard !! I use a dressage whip on my TB, it's not a mean thing because I don't just whip him when he ignores me or at all actually. I always squeeze, bump with my heels and then tap it's not cruel it's just to tell the horse you're serious ! Some lesson horses as said above are very dull and need that extra push to get them going !
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post #7 of 19 Old 06-27-2016, 08:20 AM
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The rhythm you set with your posting will also tell the horse how fast to move. If you quicken your pace so will your horse. Think of it as also pushing forward as you apply leg aids. You shouldn't be kicking with every post. There are lesson horses that need the extra wake up call a pop with the crop gives them but using it to set the rhythm isn't something I would suggest. Are you checking your diagonal and on the correct one?
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post #8 of 19 Old 06-27-2016, 08:36 AM
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You may find that Cody just knowing you carry a crop is enough to keep him motivated and a steady pace...
Your "tapping" may actually be helping you to keep a beat and pace going that before you did not do...called steady impulsion.
Many, many people ride with a crop, dressage whip or bat. It is nice to have that extra reinforcement at times when you need a little more umph to get you out of a bad spot say when jumping or used for a fine tuned message delivery...
{ever watch high level dressage? a "whip" is used to help guide and cue the horse along with spurs gently caressing the animals sides}
Like anything else you need to learn to use it, carry it and refine the finesse of having it quietly held in your hand. You need to know when to apply the sting of it at the correct moment in time too....
Just like spurs, you need to understand and be taught how to use a piece of equipment properly before doing so on your own.
In the right hands, used properly it is a tool of refinement, used improperly or cruelly it is a unjust way to aggravate and **** your horse off.

As you post your leg should near instinctively tighten momentarily against the horses side...
Do not make the mistake of gripping with your knees either, but use your entire leg as one unit to deliver your message. If you grip with your knee, then your lower leg loses so much communication with the horse side and becomes not a active "aid" you seek. Notice those who ride with a lower leg looking like a grandfather clock pendulum...swing back and forth but no communication, no base of stability, no help assisting with asking/telling your horse what you want them to do...
You want to have a leg that softly hugs the horses side, quiet with less motion and a ankle that is a flexible shock absorber to your bodies movements astride.
These are all things that come with practice astride and many, many hours of guidance in lessons. Your muscles actually need to learn to hold a riding position and how to subtly cue...eventually becoming "muscle memory" over time.
You are just starting your journey of riding education....enjoy!!
...
jmo...
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post #9 of 19 Old 06-27-2016, 11:35 AM
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Some good advice above. Many people coaching (myself included) will say "kick" when "nudge, bump, or leg pressure" is more what they are looking for. You should not be thinking of a crop as an instrument of punishment (although it can be) but as an extension of yourself and another aid that you can use to reinforce with or get attention. A dressage rider using a whip or a lady riding side saddle where obviously she has no leg on the right side, are good examples. This is done with a tap or pressure from the crop/whip, and is completely understood by the horse.
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post #10 of 19 Old 06-27-2016, 09:05 PM
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Don't worry, I hated the crop when I first had to on the lesson horse I rode(who did not respond to cues), Toby. I still need it for Thunder, the other lesson horse who is the same way. Now I don't think it's mean, just as an aid reinforcement.
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