Horses Riding Lessons

Smart Trail Riding

You love horses, riding lessons have been a part of your routine for a long time now and you’ve started going on trail rides. You’re going out on a quiet horse which is used to traffic, with at least one other experienced rider for safety. And you’re mindful of the riding instruction you’ve received, even while outside the confines of the arena.

Great! Now it’s time to get even smarter about your trail riding.

Rules of the Road

Before you leave

If you’re riding on the roads, in addition to regular brushing boots, your horse will benefit from knee boots, which are protective leather covers to protect your mount’s knees should he slip.

Keep it steady

It’s best to stay in walk on hard tarmac surfaces, as they can be slippery. If you do trot, keep it steady, not fast, to avoid concussion of the horse’s legs.

Be courteous

Always pass vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and other riders in walk, whichever direction they’re moving in. If a driver or anyone else slows down for you wave, smile and say ‘thank you’!

Imagine how you’d feel about horse riders if you took the trouble to slow down for them and they didn’t acknowledge your good manners. You’re an ambassador for other riders when out in public – keep the image positive!

Turn signals

The lead rider gives these, not the inexperienced one. An arm stretched out to the right or left gives the signal for turning. If the leader is requesting traffic or the rest of the ride to slow down, the whole outstretched arm is raised and lowered several times.

Riding on Uneven Ground

This is the time to use those strengthened leg muscles developed on the horses during your riding lessons! When going uphill or on very uneven terrain, whatever the gait, raise your seat out of the saddle a little to alleviate the horse’s back.

Riding Through Woods

Lean forward over the horse’s neck when riding under low-hanging branches but still looking where you’re going.

If you need to pull a branch aside to pass, be careful not to let it swing into the face of the person behind you. That’s a good way to lose a riding buddy!

The more you go on trail rides, the more the above will become second nature. The advice is based on common sense and will turn you into an experienced trail rider whom others want to go out with.

Using the German Training Scale in Your Horse Riding Lessons

Posted on 2010-07-22

After only a few horse riding lessons you’ll be ready to work on exercises to supple your horse and relax him. It’s the most important thing you can do to help your mount perform well for you, and the most neglected aspect of a riding session.

Concept of the German Training Scale

The Germans have evolved a system of riding and training horses which has been adopted worldwide. Its early steps are impressively effective at getting horses supple and relaxed.

Known variously as the German Training Scale or the German Training Tree, this system is based on humane and logical principles aimed at making it easy for the horse to understand and obey the rider’s aids.

The Official German Riding Handbook

The German Riding Association has produced one of the best horse riding books for beginner and novice riders, available in an English version.

Its German title is printed in the U.S. under the title ‘The Complete Riding and Driving System Book 1: The Principles of Riding.’

The long name makes one suspicious that the book may be complicated and long-winded. But the opposite is true. It discusses the successful training of the rider followed by the basic training of the horse in language which is easy to understand.

The Training Tree

There are six basic elements of the German Training Tree. These start at the beginning of the horse’s education:

Rhythm (Takt)

Relaxation (Losgelassenheit)

Contact (Anlehnung)

Impulsion (Schwung)

Straightness (Geraderichten)

Collection (Versammlung) FOR THE HIGHER LEVELS OF RIDING

The English translation does not always do justice to the German terms, and you’ll find various additional words used to complete the meanings, especially of the concepts Losgelassenheit and Schwung. But for the beginner and novice rider, the English words are more than sufficient to convey the basic principles.

You’ll also hear the term ‘through’ – the equivalent of the German word ‘durchl??ig’ – meaning that the horse is so relaxed, supple and obedient that only the subtlest of aids are needed. The ultimate aim of every rider should be a horse which is ‘through.’

How Can You Apply the Training Scale?

Here are some practical exercises you can use to get your horse relaxed yet alert and willing to work.

Exercise 1: Ride your horse on a long rein with a light contact, in medium walk. The footfalls should be regular and active, and the hind hooves should land a little in front of the marks of the horse’s front feet.

Your approach should be relaxed, but ask for energy with your seat and driving leg aids. Alternate using each leg as the horse’s shoulder goes forward, to get your horse moving well right from the start of the session.

This will begin to relax your horse and help him find his natural rhythm. Do this for the first ten minutes.

Exercise 2: Now ride in working trot, which is the easiest for the horse. The horse should ‘track up’ – i.e. his hind legs should land in the marks left by his front legs. Post to the trot, as it’s softer on the horse’s back than sitting at this stage. Remember to change diagonals!

Ride in large 20 meter circles and serpentines (loops across the arena) and make a loop on the long side. These figures will encourage the horse to relax, establish his rhythm and start to develop impulsion.

Exercise 3: Transition from working trot to working canter, which covers one horse length per stride and is the easy canter pace for your horse. Canter in circles as well as down the long side. Bring your horse back to his working trot before asking again for the canter.

Make sure you change rein frequently as this will soften your horse on both sides. Think of ‘inside leg to outside rein’ – asking your horse to ‘move off’ your inside leg into the support of your outside rein.

Exercise 4: Add transitions from working canter to working trot to medium walk for further suppling of the horse. This can be performed on the circle as well as down the long side.

These are the beginning exercises suggested in ‘The Complete Riding and Driving System Book 1: The Principles of Riding’ with notes added to help the rider. If you’re looking for horse riding books, I strongly suggest you start with this one!

The information in it will set you on the path to having a relaxed, happy horse in your horse riding lessons and make the experience more fun for both sides of the equine partnership.

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How to Treat Horses Between Riding Lessons

Posted on 2010-06-08

If you want to be around horses, riding lessons provide the perfect opportunity for spending time in the saddle.

But one day you may own a horse and you need to learn how to relate to him both on and off duty. Here are some pointers.

Comfort Zone

As herd animals, horses need a leader whom they respect. Be fair, don’t demand of the horse more than he can give and take care of him physically. You will then become his comfort zone and he’ll willingly follow and obey you.

Time Out

Even when he feels comfortable around you, he still needs time away from you to wander and graze and be with his own kind. It’s important for him to be among other horses; don’t keep him in solitary confinement so you can be the only ‘person’ in his life. It’s not fair on him and will make him unhappy.

Treat Sparingly

Be careful about giving your horse too many treats. He’ll bug you for them every time he sees you, and it’s a short step from that to biting. You should learn this about horses in riding lessons, as no barn can afford to have its equines biting patrons!

Working Partners

It may help to perceive your horse as a ‘working pet,’ in the same way that a Border Collie herds sheep for the farmer, but is an integral part of his family.

You love your horse dearly, but he has a job to do. If you mother him too much, he won’t want to work and you’ll have a hard time controlling him under saddle. He needs to respect, but not fear you.

If you think of your horse being like a child needing your care and guidance, you’ll develop a relationship with him that is emotionally rewarding on the ground and productive under saddle.

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