Horseback Riding Instructions

When to Call the Vet

It’s never too early to read horseback riding instructions explaining when equine veterinary help is needed. If you learn what to do while waiting for the vet you’ll also increase your horse’s chances of a swift recovery.

Here are some common situations you may encounter.


‘Colic’ is a term covering many types of intestinal ailments. Colic can be light or severe and life-threatening. If you suspect your horse has colic call the vet immediately.

A colicking horse will display any or all of the following signs: obvious distress, kicking at his belly, patchy sweating, getting up and down and rolling violently. While waiting for the vet, put a blanket on the horse and keep him walking – you may need help doing this. Don’t let him get down again to roll. His gut may twist, requiring urgent surgery.


As part of your horseback riding training learn how to tell when a horse goes lame. A change is his way of going indicates a problem. There may be an obvious unevenness in his gait or the signs may be more subtle. If your horse is lame, dismount immediately and lead him back to the barn.

If possible, have an experienced horse person assess the horse to determine whether veterinarian attention should be sought. Otherwise, phone the vet.

Deep Wounds

Call the vet for spurting blood and keep the horse immobile to prevent more forceful bleeding. Have someone hold the horse while you apply firm pressure on the wound until medical help arrives.

For less severe bleeding, clean the wound with a saline solution and check to see how bad the wound is. If it is an inch long the vet will need to stitch it. For small cuts, spray the area with an antiseptic or apply wound cream.


Also called ‘tying up’ and ‘Monday-morning disease’ it often occurs in fit horses after a day off on full feed, and seems to afflict mares more than geldings. Signs are a sudden muscle stiffness which results in either slight hind-end discomfort or a complete refusal to move.

If you suspect azoturia, dismount and don’t force the horse to walk until she’s ready. Cover her with a warm blanket (or place your jacket on the area behind the saddle) and arrange to get her to the barn. Call the vet.

Learn what your horse’s usual behavior is, so you can spot any abnormalities. Studying horseback riding instructions which explain equine medical problems and how to handle them will reduce your anxiety if your horse is hurt.

What To Do When Horseback Riding Instructions Make You Nervous

Posted on 2010-06-29

A trainer will tailor the horseback riding instructions to the students, and this will include asking you to try new things. Otherwise you’d never improve.

But there may come a time when you feel pressured into doing something which makes you uncomfortable. This is particularly hard to deal with if the others in the group are performing the ‘scary’ task with no problem at all.

So what should you do?

Be Honest With Yourself

First you need to ask yourself why you don’t want to perform that movement.

Let’s use your first trot as an example. Are you afraid of what the horse might do, or of looking silly in front of the others?

If you’re afraid of looking foolish, here’s the perfect opportunity for learning to laugh at yourself. Believe me, there’ll be plenty more occasions the longer you ride so there’s no point in worrying about your image. If you laugh at yourself, the others won’t.

But if you’re genuinely afraid of getting hurt, that’s another matter.

Explain Your Situation to Your Instructor

Tell your trainer about your fears. He or she needs to know how you feel in order to help you work through them. You won’t be the first student who got nervous nor the last: don’t let your ego get in the way of safety.

Two Possible Solutions:

The instructor will try to alleviate your concerns, but if that doesn’t work, here are two ideas to help you.

1. Switch to another horse

If you’re afraid your horse won’t behave when you ask for trot (in our example) and another student in your group is on a quietly trotting animal, ask if you can swap horses for a while.

You’ll feel safer asking the quiet horse to trot and at the same time see your horse go nicely for the other rider. This will encourage you to get back on him.

2. Work on the lunge

Being introduced to a new gait during horseback lessons is less stressful if you’re on the lunge. The instructor stands in the middle of a twenty meter circle, with a long line attached to your horse.

Knowing your trainer has control of where the horse goes makes it easier to concentrate on balancing in the saddle: you don’t have to steer as well. In our trot example, you are moving up from a calm gait (walk) to a very bouncy one, and the more help you can get the better!

It’s perfectly normal to have nervous moments when following new horseback riding instructions. Just admit your anxiety to your trainer, who’ll find a way to overcome your fears.

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Horseback Riding Instruction: Understanding Bridle Lameness

Posted on 2010-06-24

Bridle lameness (Zügellahmheit or ‘rein lameness’ in German) can be a mystifying phenomenon until correctly identified.

If your mount exhibits this during horseback riding instruction, he’s conveying crucial information about your use of the reins, which you need to address.

What is Bridle Lameness?

A perfectly sound horse in the paddock, or when lunged in a halter, which suddenly goes lame when lunged in the bridle or being ridden, is known as ‘bridle lame.’ This condition shows itself by uneven head nodding, as if the horse were lame in one foreleg, and in extreme cases the horse appears to suffer chronic back issues.

His walk and trot strides are uneven because he’s leaning on one rein and avoiding the other. The result of such unbalanced contact is that the horse is constantly crooked and one of his hind legs moves in shorter strides than the other, leading to apparent lameness.

Both sluggish and more energetic horses can show bridle lameness. Even riders who are advanced in their horseback riding instruction can cause it by pushing their horses too far without having ridden correctly in the early stages of the animals’ training. Their horses alternate between rushing ahead and hesitating. They aren’t lame in extended trot but refuse to step forwards in collected trot and attempt to go above the bit, with nodding head and uneven steps.

What Causes Bridle Lameness & How Can It Be Cured?

Bridle lameness is caused by an unbalanced rider who is stiff in one arm. As a result the horse cannot relax in the back. In his effort to compensate for the lack of balance, his limbs must work extra hard. This puts uneven stress on the horse’s legs and makes them prone to injury.

If you suspect your horse is bridle lame, pay special attention in your horseback riding instruction to developing a balanced seat, while maintaining equal but light contact on both reins. Ride your horse forwards without rushing him, and allow him to find his natural rhythm.

A horse which has been bridle lame for a long time will require your patience. He’ll probably take a while to get used to no longer being ridden crookedly. Once he’s allowed to move straight and freely into an even, elastic contact, he’ll no longer behave as though lame under saddle.

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