Watch this page daily for quick handy tips and quotes, some of which are from our loyal members and fans! If you would like to contribute, email your tip to: firstname.lastname@example.orgClick on each Tip/Quote Title (in blue) to make comments.
Don't confuse being left behind over a jump with a defensive seat on cross country. They are very different. The rider who is in a defensive position on cross country is a nickel behind the motion, while still not interfering with the horse in any way. The rider who is left behind is catching the horse in the mouth and slamming their backs on landing, both the ultimate punishment for the horse jumping the fence. If you are getting left behind often, it may be time to move down a level and work on your basics.
A major key to success lies in the rider's ability to differentiate between resisting and pulling on the reins.
The horse's jaw unlocks when their back muscles relax and begin to swing with the movement.
Self carriage isn't just for Dressage. Think of little checks for self carriage when jumping as well - even on cross country. Never attempt to hold your horse up!
"You have to constantly refine your program and train with the best people that you can find so that you’re always growing and staying competitive." ~ Jessica Phoenix
"There is no miracle, there is no magic wand. It is just education, trying to be as clear to the horses as you can. When I give an aid, is the horse going to understand?" ~ Emile Faurie
It is tempting to try to lift your horse up in front when he drops down too low, by giving a good yank upwards on the rein. But that is not a good fix for this problem… as it will tend to increase the horse’s anxiety about the rider’s hands. Which will likely only increase the horse’s desire to drop behind the connection in his work.
"The horse has to have independence, responsibility, and tolerance for a variety of distances because you’re going to mess up and the horse has to be able to cope." ~ William Fox Pitt
Think of the rein contact as a living, breathing thing. It should breathe with the horse's movement.
Lack of sufficient long and low stretching work often causes sore backs in horses. Their back muscles need to be loose, relaxed, and swinging to be healthy!
"It is true that when the training is slow, the progress is quick, when the training is quick, the progress is slow." ~ George Morris
Turn on the forehand and leg yield can be used to teach the horse that the rider's leg can mean something other than, "Go forward." The horse must understand this concept in these very basic movements before you will find much success with any of the more complicated lateral movements.
"The absence of a correction is not a reward to a horse. The only thing that is a reward is 'good girl' or a pat on the neck or giving them a sugar. You can’t train a seal without fish." ~ Robert Dover
Riders can benefit SO much from discussions about their riding. Riding is as much cognitive as it is physical - both aspects need to be exercised to truly improve!
"If you say nothing to a horse, you mean nothing to a horse. We have to be in a conversation and teaching them." ~ Robert Dover
Dare yourself to give your horse as much freedom in the neck as possible in all of your work.
Good shoulder in work will improve the range of motion and sideways reach in your horse’s half pass work.
"The actions of arm and hand must complement rather than contradict the position and effect of the seat and leg. The inside rein must be shortened sufficiently to allow the hand to maintain the lateral flexion without any backward pull on the rein. In general the inside hand should be kept just in front of the outside hand." ~ Chris Bartle
When bending their horse or performing the shoulder in, it is a common mistake for riders to draw their inside heel up, bringing the inside leg too far back to give the aid. This tends to push the horse's hindquarters out, producing angle rather than actual bend.
Soften and let your horse lengthen his neck, while trying to maintain the feeling that he stays sitting behind, with a lowered croup and well engaged hind legs.
"The secret in riding is to do only a few things but to do them right." ~ Nuno Oliveira
Happy, fresh, relaxed, and supple horses always perform better than horses that are drilled and drilled!
Shorter reins are not more restrictive of the horse when the rider keeps their hand properly "forward thinking."
"Most of the riders ride with their upper body very stiff – especially their shoulders. If the stomach is in balance and in the position it should be, the shoulders are allowed to relax, and should relax. You need to be loose in your shoulders. As long as the rider is breathing in the upper body he is going to be too tight, too cramped to get the horse to go forward from a relaxed seat. The rider learns to breathe in the lower stomach and everything will relax. The weight will come into the saddle and the horse moves away from the aid of the weight. But if a rider cramps in the upper body, he cramps everywhere and is effectively unable to ride his horse." ~ Ernst Hoyos
Riding backwards (too much hand and/or not enough leg) when the horse is "having a look" at the fence can easily cause a refusal.
When giving the aid to canter, let your outside leg sink back and down as the last part of your canter aid. If you lift your leg up and back to use it (as so many incorrectly do), you will end up losing your seat to some degree, and may also end up sitting crooked.
"With young horses and inexperienced riders, I do not ask the rider to alter the horse’s step in front of the pole because I want to awaken the horse’s initiative. Whether he takes a slightly long step or adds a step before the pole, I am equally satisfied. If he steps on the pole, the chances are good that he will learn from the experience and not do it again. If he continues to step on the poles on the ground, I suggest that the rider find another prospect, as this one is probably too dumb to improve over obstacles." ~ Jimmy Wofford
"Don't raise your hands. The poll should be higher than the rider's hand." ~ Stefan Wolff
"Contact is nothing more than the contact to the hind leg, the contact that the rider makes between the mouth and the hind leg. This is the duty of the rider, to put these two together. The moment the horse starts to move, and he moves behind, you have to feel it in your hand, then you have to let it out." ~ Jean Bemelmans
"Since the criteria of a correct seat are the same as the criteria of good posture in general, being constantly attentive to one’s bearing when standing or walking is excellent training. A correct vertical posture of the head and the trunk on horseback is not a special posture applicable only to riding." ~ Kurt Albrecht
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