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I just got a new horse and am trying to be proactive in my riding so I can build clear communication with him. I'm sure I'm still new enough to riding that I sometimes give conflicting aids or that my timing of aids or release will be off. One aspect I've been thinking of recently is the need to start with a subtle and light cue but then escalate that cue and add more pressure quickly and firmly. I can see how graceful and fluid my trainer is at this, even when doing lounge work, she can fluidly ramp up the use of the whip in a timely manner. I'm sure practice and experience make a difference. Any ideas on how to work on this coordination or being aware if I'm giving conflicting aids? Working on transitions comes to mind. I tend to use verbal cues for transitions and slowing down more to help me think consciously of what I'm doing. Anything else?
 

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really, it's just time and being observant, and I get the feeling you are observant.


that means observing just exactly how the horse is behaving, and watch for subtle changes. I find this endlessly fascinating.


Look at it this way, Horse are EXTREMELY observant. They can see , out of the corner of their eye, so to speak, when a more dominant horse suddenly has the though to move closer to them, and 'their' place at the feeding trough. The observant horse sees this and moves before the dominant horse even has to do anything punitive.


Watch you horse, watch his ears, see how they move, and then think 'what is he thinking on?" it takes years to really get good at this, but when you do, you will start to develop a real feel for WHEN and HOW much of any kind of pressure to put on, and take off. This is what builds a sensitive and responsive horse. Those humans that are good at this earn the title of 'horse whisperer', but I really think they should be called "horse listener".
 

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A couple of thoughts, because I'm in a similar situation.

1. You will be riding with an instructor, right? If so, share your concerns with her and ask her to watch out for when you do this.
2. You're going to give conflcting aids where you are in your progress right now; it's just going to happen and you need to accept it. That doesn't mean don't try to get better, because of course you want to get better, but don't sweat it. Don't worry about it so much that you become worried to ride your horse.
3. Focus on one aid per lesson, and try to get better at that one. Again, asking your instructor to let you know if you are giving really inconsistent aids.
4. Have a better rider ride your horse from time to time to remind him how things "should" feel.
5. Think about being as gentle as possible.
6. Build that relationship with your horse. Like I said, I'm in a similar situation, but I feel like my Pony really does try to figure out what I want despite all of the noise, and I believe he tries hard because he likes me and wants to please me. Feel free to disagree, but that's what I think.
 
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That 'fluidity' you speak of will come with time and experience. All beginners are clunky and inconsistent with their cues - it's part of the learning process. No need to feel ashamed about it, and it's great that you have seen this in yourself and have a desire to improve.

Anyone can sit in a saddle and give a horse a cue, but the wisdom is in gauging how much pressure you need to apply with an individual horse, and timing the release of pressure as soon as the horse responds correctly. The 'Ask, Tell, Demand' adage is a general rule of thumb that's good for beginners to apply to their riding while they're learning, and it sounds like you're already doing that. (You ask with the softest cue first, and if the horse doesn't respond, you increase the intensity of the cue).

And while it's important to focus on yourself, don't forget that it's just as, if not more important, to observe how your horse responds. Horses talk to us all the time through body language, and when you learn how to read that body language, then things will start to make more sense.

So in short, just keep learning from your trainer, don't be afraid to ask questions, try to study your horse's responses to your different cues, and never lose that drive and passion to improve.
 

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Not giving conflicting aids is less to do with the aids themselves and more with isolating body parts. You need to be able to move your right ankle without your right calf moving. In beginners, the hand doesn't know it can stay still while the shoulder moves.



Lunge lessons will go a long ways. Arm swings, leg swings, ankle circles as you walk.


Knowing biomechanics helps.



Above all else, it's hours in the saddle under the direction of an excellent instructor.
 

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@ApuetsoT makes a very good point.
When I used to teach I quite often found that when a rider complained that their horse wasn't going forwards with any real enthusiasm it was because they were holding the reins in a death grip and putting too much pressure on the horses mouth
You see a similar thing when people use a whip behind their leg to ask the horse to go forwards while at the same time bringing that hand back and putting confusing pressure on the horse's mouth.


It all comes together with practice, suddenly a process that seemed to take minutes to go through is taking just a few seconds.
 
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