When talking to various people in the horse world, I get a little concerned when they describe a person that has just started their journey with horses as competitor in a specific discipline, for example, a hunter jumper rider, a barrel racer, or a dressage rider.
Take a moment to work out what that means…. from the first time they sit on a horse, they have already been put into a “class”….
The job of that first coach is to teach a new rider how to begin their journey as an equestrian.
New riders need to be taught a basic understanding of the seat, the connection between the arms, hands and bit, basic good position, and how to ride a horse that may not do exactly as you would expect.
Like horses, riders need to be treated as individuals… Not a one size fits all approach
I spend as much time as it takes with each client to get them secure in their seat. They need to understand the correct position of their bodies, use each aid independently and have an idea how to react when things don’t go quite to plan. This takes time and patience from all parties. I explain that this is what is going to happen and it will take time.
Riders should not be rushed, you would not expect a runner to run a marathon after 5 training sessions!
Fix your position, before trying to ‘fix’ your horse
Like our horses, we also have a correct way of going, regardless of the discipline. Even experienced riders need to check them from time to time, it is scary how quickly we can fall into bad habits.
Holding your arms and hands correctly is not just for dressage, its for jumping and all other forms of riding too!
A rider with straight arms, hands below the horses neck and open hands means they have no real control, and a horse that lives on the forehand. Relaxed shoulders, elastic elbows, thumbs up and carry your own hands.
Shoulder, hip, heel line is for all!
Imagine if your horse magically disappears, would you fall on your arse? Then, you will fall on your arse when you horse does in fact disappear! Because at some point they will!!
Practice your 2-point
Everyone should be able to ride in 2-Point or jumping position, you never know when you will need it!
Independent leg aids
The ability to use your legs independently and move your horse away from the leg is necessary for both the dressage and jumper ring, even out on the trails…. How else are you going to get close enough to the gate to open it without having to dismount!
And keep a open mind
We can all learn from each other and we should all learn how to ride a dressage test, navigate a round of jumps or ride gymkhana games, you might just learn something new!!