On the Importance of Good Riding

All of our horses are going to be ridden at some point, unless my readers have started joining the Alexander Nevzorov movement. Not that I don’t like the Nevzorov ideas, in fact, I hold Alexander in quite a high position on my list of amazing horse trainers, and I suggest that you look him up. But, we generally ride our horses, and it is necessary to do so in a responsible way.

Some horses are much more sensitive than others, and so should not be ridden bareback. Riding a very sensitive horse bareback, while it is fun, could potentially injure the horse’s back and make him no longer enjoy his rides with you.

But assuming your horse is like most horses and is not one of the super-sensitive-high-strung-Arabian types, there are a few things you can do to make your ride more enjoyable for your four-legged companion. The first is to learn about Centered Riding. This amazing riding technique is just about the best way to ride a horse. It is complex enough that I simply cannot describe it here, but this also I suggest looking up and researching. Once Centered Riding is mastered, a slight cue that no one but you and your horse know about will control him and you can enjoy the best relationship you have had with your horse.

Learning how to ride well is a great asset to anyone training their own horse. No, I should not say asset – necessity! Your horse is as good as you are. The better you ride, the better your horse will be. Less is more. Such are the maxims of Centered Riding, and they are well worth knowing.

I think this post will become a string of posts related to how we ride – stay tuned for tips on turning, stopping, and starting your horse in a way that bystanders won’t notice!

Until next time,

The Horsegentler


Help for the Halter Puller

Unfortunately horses that sit back against their halter and rope when tied are all too common. There is hope – you will not have to have someone hold your horse for you forever!

The first step is to find out why your horse pulls, and how severe the problem is.

Why: Some horses pull because they are scared of being confined. This is the result of improper training or handling. It can be fixed, in time, if the severity of the fear is not too bad. Others will pull simply because they have learned that if they pull they can get free. Whatever the reason, you must understand why the horse pulls before you can begin to treat the issue.

Severity: I will give you a scale so you can see what I mean. Your horse is a one if he occasionally jumps backwards, then jumps forwards again, looking rather surprised that he couldn’t leave. Your horse is a ten if whenever you place any pressure backwards or forwards on his halter, he resists so strongly that he actually flips over backwards.

I am very sorry to say that there is just about nothing I can do for the horse that is a 10. If he can be taught to stand still, it is possible that when you are least expecting it, he will pull back and fall on top of you. He is very dangerous in all respects! So I hope that none of you reading this ever own a horse that is a 10.

The fix: The first step in retraining is what I always say it is. Start at the beginning. Your horse must respond immediately to any pressure you or anything else exerts on his halter. Do this simple exercise to see where you are with this.

Standing facing your horse’s neck on his left side, extend your left arm, and place a small amount of pressure on his halter. Does he stretch his neck out, or does he step forward softly at your command? Release pressure and then pull harder suddenly. This will be very telling. If he sets his feet, you need to teach him to lead properly to any small amount of pressure. Then, when you do this test again, you will find that with the same sudden hard pull, he will jump forward. This is exactly what you want. Now when the horse goes to set back against his halter, he will feel the pressure and jump forward instead.

Now, tying to a solid post without any give is still going to be dangerous for the horse, even with his new found knowledge. Get a tractor or car tire inner tube, cut off the metal valve, and squeeze it through your tie ring. Loop it through itself once, and tie the horse onto this loop, safely, with no excess loop of rope. If you have a command to tell your horse that he is expected to stand still, tell him so. Leave him be now, not alone, but be a fair distance away. If he pulls back now, he should step forward, but if he does set back, the inner tube will have some give and he will not injure himself.

Good luck with this! If you are still having troubles, Contact Us and we’ll do our best to help you in your own particular situation.

The Horsegentler