Stopping Your Horse in an Emergency

horseback riding for beginners

A common worry about horseback riding, for beginners, is what to do if they need to stop the horse.

If beginner riders feel confident of being able to stop a horse, they can relax in the saddle. 

How to Stop Your Horse

Event riders use a less drastic version of this to check a galloping horse when it approaches a cross-country fence with a little too much speed. I’ve used it many times and it’s a very effective way of slowing a horse down as well as stopping him.

Step 1: Brace yourself against the horse’s movement by jamming your heels down and pushing your legs forwards.

Don’t let your heels come up, as the horse can yank you forwards.

 Step 2: Hold one rein on the horse’s neck, keeping it very taut.

 Step 3: Hold the other, shortened, rein in your strongest hand.

If you’re right handed, your left hand should hold the taut left rein on the horse’s neck, with the other rein in your right hand.

Step 4: Push your left hand (with the rein in it) into the horse’s neck for leverage…

Step 5: ….while your right hand pulls hard on the right rein. That is the reason for doing this with your strongest hand.

This will stop your horse.

Practice

Clearly during a lesson on horseback riding for beginners you won’t be put into a sticky situation simply to practice an emergency stop!

However, gently practice the above steps while your horse is halted, and use a softer version when he’s walking, just to reassure yourself that you really can stop him.

Knowing you have this ‘weapon’ available to you will calm any fears you may have about controlling your horse.

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