Top 7 Ways To Spot An Effective Rider

Top 7 Ways To Spot An Effective Rider
Photo Credit: J. Boesveld

Riding effectively can mean many things to many people. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word "effective" to mean: "producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect"

But in riding horses, it's often difficult to know which part is the horse's doing, and which part is the rider's.

Or is it?

As riders, we are occasionally lucky enough to have a more skilled rider (or trainer) get on our horse. Then we can begin to understand the power of effective riding, because suddenly, our own horse develops far advanced skills - in a matter of minutes! That's when we witness for ourselves the effect the rider has on the horse.

For many, this "journey" toward effective riding is what drives them to keep practicing, keep learning, step out of their comfort zones, try new things, listen to new people, and essentially, try to become better riders. I don't think we can ever reach perfection when it comes to developing skills.

One of the key tips I've learned along the way is that you can develop an eye to detect the truly effective rider. And it's not always evident in their riding position (although many people look good AND ride effectively).

In fact, once again, it's the horse you can turn to. Learn to listen to the horse, and you'll know when someone is an effective rider.

You just need to know how to "read" the horse. Here are the top 7 ways you can spot them.

7. The horse is moving freely and energetically.

It's a feat in itself to be able to get the horse moving well, but then also stay out of his way. One way you can spot the effective rider is to notice how easily the horse can move.

Is he restricted in some way? Does he have an inconsistent tempo or unusually heavy footfalls? Is he rushed, or is he uncomfortably slow? Does he seem to know where he's going?

Or is it all the opposite? He steps forward boldly. He shows no sudden changes of balance. He's fairly light on his feet and keeps a consistent tempo no matter what he's doing. It all looks simple.

All that "freedom" is testament to the rider's ability to go with the horse, not interfere, and work with the horse.

6. Both stay in good balance.

The effective rider is a student of balance, both for herself and her horse. The reason? Balance is literally one of the most fundamental aspects of riding, no matter the discipline. Developing balance is a key focus at all times. Maintaining balance makes everything seamless and easier for the horse.

The effective rider can first create good balance in the horse, and at the same time, maintain her own body position in such a way as to enhance the horse's movement. Good balance is an accumulation of many little aids that add up to keeping the horse from falling to the forehand.

And again, it looks like she's doing nothing.

5. Easy transitions.

Another way to know the effective rider is to consider the quality of the transitions.

Are they lurchy or flowing?

Does the horse fall to the forehand, or maintain balance to, through and after the transition?

Does the energy stop through the transitions, or does the horse step through boldly?

Does it look like the horse is prepared for the transition, and knows what he is doing and where he's going?

The rider has influence on all of the above factors, and there's no doubt about it - the horse can only transition as well as the rider can ride!

4. Everything is getting done! (straight lines straight, circles accurate, transitions in place, bold movement).

Accuracy is a bit of a trickster because when everything goes right, it all looks so easy. The educated observer knows that when the ride is flowing and the movements occur where they are supposed to, there is a lot of fantastic riding going on by the rider. 

Somehow, she has earned the teamwork of her partner, and the result is evident in their impeccable communication.

3. Rider looks like she's doing nothing.

When there's effective riding going on, there is little to be seen. Quiet riding is a key clue to knowing just how effective the rider is, especially when there are little disruptions, and lots getting done. If you see the horse moving boldly in balance, you know that the rider is up there doing some amazing things. And the more boring it appears, the better!



2. The rider improves the horse as she rides.

There is nothing more amazing than watching a horse transform into a majestic equine just minutes after the effective rider gets on.

Tension? Gone.

On the forehand? Not after the rider re-balances the horse.

Rushing, short jagged steps? All smooth and longer after a few minutes.

1. The horse looks happy.

When it all comes down to it, there is no other way than to describe it: the horse simply looks happy! He is confident in his movement. If he was tense to start, he is relaxed and calm at the end. There is a distinct absence of pinned ears, tension in movement and expression, and a calm, flowing side-to-side tail as he walks.

Now, it must be said that it takes years and years to become this sort of effective rider. And we all progress at our own rate, and go through learning stages and plateaus as we develop.

But after you've learned the fundamental skills, you can begin your "effectiveness" journey fairly early in your riding career. You might not become effective in all areas, but you will begin to find that you can influence the horse in the above ways in some areas. 

It just takes practice!

Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!

Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions. 

This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.

Click here to read more and to join one of the most complete programs on the Internet!

Horse Listening

Don’t miss a single issue of Horse Listening! If you like what you are reading, become a subscriber and receive updates when new Horse Listening articles are published! Your email address will not be used on any other distribution list. Subscribe to Horse Listening by Email

Horse Listening Book Collection - beautiful paperbacks with all the excellence of the blog - in your hands! Click on the image for more information.

HL Five Years
HL Bundle
HL Goal Setting
HL Book 3
HL Book 2
HL Book 1

Read more here:

How to Loosen Your Way to A More Effective Riding Seat

5 Steps to Effective Short Reins

#1 Rider Problem of 2018: Riding Tight Instead of Toned

Impulsion: How Two Easy Strides of Energy Might Solve Your Horse Riding Problem

How to Ride Your Excited Horse In 5 Easy Steps

#1 Rider Problem of 2018: Riding Tight Instead of Toned

Each year, I think try to think about common rider problems that we all face at some point (or often!) during our riding lives. These are overarching problems that might not come along with quick fixes or "find the right button on the horse" ease. But they're there and so we must first identify them, and then begin to mindfully work on finding ways to reduce and eventually eliminate them in the long run, for the benefit of our horses (of course!).

Think of, or imagine, a younger you who would literally ride as play. When we are in play mode, we are fully engaged, joyfully physical, and our body reflects it. It helps to have youthful courage and invincibility that allows you to be your utmost relaxed self even while you know there might be some risk in what you're doing - but there's no chance it's going to happen to you!

I treasured the days when I'd be riding the most reliable, rolly-polly pony bareback along the trails, easily switching between walk/trot/canter, letting my body just flow along in her movement, with nothing to keep me on other than my sense of balance and an occasional handful of her long flowing mane!

And while my posture or technique might not have been ideal, one thing I can remember vividly is how I was able to just "swing" in the horse's movement. There was no heavy holding of my core, no tight joints in the shoulders or hips. Any significant tension would result in not moving with the horse, which might cause an unscheduled dismount - which would be very inconvenient as we were far into the woods with nothing more than a ragged path to walk over, all the way back to the barn. (Of course, I never thought I'd actually get hurt if I fell off...)

Now, I'm not saying you should go jump on your horse bareback to find that loosey-goosey you of yesteryear. In fact, loosey-goosey might not be ideal anyway - you want more tone through your body than that. And it helps to consider that bareback looseness might preclude "correct" riding posture, mainly because you might need your knees up in the groove behind the horse's shoulders in order to stay on. There goes that vertical line that connects the rider's ear to shoulders to hips to heels.

But the image is a good contrast to the opposite - which is tightness.

We often ride with too much overall body tightness. It could be due to the of anticipation of a sudden loss of balance. It could be more about the fact that we've been sitting at a desk at work or school all day, and training our posture to be completely contrary to what we need for riding. It could be lack of strength and flexibility, or  (for us "adulter" adults) those creaky joints that feel each horse stride much more than in the good ol' days. In any case, it's there and we might not even be aware of it.

What To Do?

I want to say that all you have to do is...  ** insert magic formula here **.

I mean, aside from doing something like yoga off the horse that will absolutely improve your strength and flexibility and likely change everything about your riding body.

But let's stick to what you can do on the horse.



You know, and I know, that it's not that simple to go from tightness to toned. However, there is something you can bring back to your ride from that carefree you - the joyful attitude that made everything feel so simple and easy

So go along and do your ride like you usually do. Work on your transitions, straightness, laterals, and forward oomph. But while you're doing all that, see if you can mentally let go - a little in the seat, a little in the legs. Can you laugh a little and become a little more boinkie-boinkie along with your horse? I mean, literally laugh out loud. While you're riding.

Can you un-complicate things? What would happen if you let yourself think that it's all so easy? Put yourself in a simpler frame of mind. 

Feel what happens. If you feel that suddenly, you're a lump of jelly barely staying on, then tone up a bit. Obviously, we do want to carry our own body weight, in the best possible balance, with as correct posture as we can. Holding your body is key to allowing your horse the freedom to move in balance. 

But can you find a happy medium of being toned and not tight or jelly? Can you ride with more sense of humor, more let go, less hold in your joints? Being toned while you ride is completely different than being tight.

If you can "find" tone instead of tightness, you will likely know it right away. Because not only will you feel like you're riding better in the horse's movement, but your horse will let you know too! He will likely lose that same tension, feel looser (more boinkie-boinkie), soften in expression, and move with better fluidity. 

Then you will know you are truly on the right track!

Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!

Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions. 

This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.

Click here to read more and to join one of the most complete programs on the Internet!

Horse Listening
Don’t miss a single issue of Horse Listening! If you like what you are reading, become a subscriber and receive updates when new Horse Listening articles are published! Your email address will not be used on any other distribution list. Subscribe to Horse Listening by Email

Horse Listening Book Collection - beautiful paperbacks with all the excellence of the blog - in your hands! Click on the image for more information.

HL Five Years
HL Bundle
HL Goal Setting
HL Book 3
HL Book 2
HL Book 1

Read more here:

10 Strategies For The Nervous Horse Rider

Why We Dressage: The Rider

10 Tips for the Average Rider

Are You Learning The “Right” Way To Ride?

“You’re STILL Taking Riding Lessons?”

 

Giveaway Winners

I'm thrilled to announce the winners of the Goal Setting For Equestrians eBook Giveaway! Thanks to everyone who participated in the comment section. I enjoyed reading through everyone's goals for the upcoming year. The whole time, I was thinking - Yes! I need to do that too! 🙂
They say that any goal you set can be accomplished by creating new habits. So after you set your riding or ground work goals for 2019, think about changing and/or creating new habits that will help you achieve each goal. Goal achievement has everything to do with practice and consistency (check out the Horse Listening Practice Sessions for lots of that!).
Here are the five New Year Giveaway winners. The names were randomly drawn - all the comments (entries) you left on the blog were included. Please send me a quick email if you have won at fwdnrnd@gmail.com
Elaine Barnett

My goal for 2019 is to work on my bending and keeping my horse properly round in accurate circles, with no straight edges.

carol lukasek

Develop a light following see by learning to sit the trot really well!

 

June Brewer

This year my riding goal is to get clean changes . . . and learn to count them properly! They have been a challenge for both Roo and me so it’s time to make them happen. 🙂

Ingrid Kristin Henry

My goal is for me and my mare to learn flying changes this year. We have been working 3rd level for over a year and have competed at 2nd getting mid-60’s, but she is inconsistent at getting the changes in her hind end with my trainer and I’ve never gotten a clean change from her. Ideally, I would love to compete at 3rd level and get my bronze medal too, but the training is more important to me than competing. Most important to me is continuing to build our positive relationship together and learning to be a better rider and horsewoman! I’ve had her since she was a yearling and it’s been a long journey but so very rewarding!

Gaye Kapkin

Love reading your posts Horse Listening. Looking forward to more enjoyable reads in the new year and translating what I’ve picked up from reading into workouts with the girl. Best wishes for a healthful, happy and prosperous new year to Horse Listening and all your readers. 😊

Horse Listening

Don’t miss a single issue of Horse Listening! If you like what you are reading, become a subscriber and receive updates when new Horse Listening articles are published!  Your email address will not be used on any other distribution list. Subscribe to Horse Listening by Email

Now is the time to re-evaluate your goals and path to riding success!

Goal Setting For The Equestrian
Click on image to learn more.

If you’d like a structured, but personal tool to set goals, take a look our Goal Setting for the Equestrian: A Personal WorkbookThe pages are designed for you to set and keep track of your progress over the course of a year.

Included in the book:

  • design your overarching goals
  • long- and short-term planning,
  • debrief your special events such as clinics or shows
  • reflect on, plan and evaluate your goals
  • sample goals and pages

The Workbook is available for instant digital download so you can print the pages right off your computer. There is also the option of a paperback version if you’d rather have a professionally bound book to hold in your hands. Click here for more information.

Happy New Year & Giveaway!

Happy New Year everybody!

The beginning of a new year is the best time to take stock of what we did last year, and make plans for what we'd like to see in the year ahead. 

After all the parties are done, and the celebrations are finished, the calm after the storm is a great time to sit back, reflect, visualize and plan, and schedule your goals - especially your riding goals. As I've already discussed many times, goal setting is a little different when it comes to horses, because they have quite a lot of input into what can happen. 

So it is great to have a structured, organized way to start off the year, then come back on a weekly and/or monthly basis to evaluate, adjust, and think ahead to next steps. Which is where the giveaway comes in!

Goal Setting For The Equestrian: A Personal Workbook has helped thousands of people do just that. 

And in celebration of the brand-spanking new 2019, I'd like to give away FIVE digital copies of the book! Print off the pages as many times as you like. This is the Giveaway that keeps on giving! 🙂

All you have to do is write a riding or ground work goal in the comments below. Make the goal something specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (get it? S.M.A.R.T. - which is how the goals in the book are set up!). Silly, irrelevant goals will eliminate your entry, so think of something that you really want to do this year in your riding, that will benefit your horse (or the horse that you ride).

FIVE lucky winners will be announced the first week of January. Enter only once. Winners will be randomly chosen after the close of the Giveaway. Look for the "Winners" blog post in the first week of January to see exactly who won.

Please use a name in the comments below that matches the email address you will use if you win. Email addresses are NOT necessary for entry. 

The giveaway is open to current readers as well as new readers (so tell your friends!). Entries will be accepted starting now and ending at midnight (12:00 am) on Jan.2. 

OK! What are you waiting for?! Looking forward to reading all about your goals! Comment below.

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Horse Listening

Don’t miss a single issue of Horse Listening! If you like what you are reading, become a subscriber and receive updates when new Horse Listening articles are published!  Your email address will not be used on any other distribution listSubscribe to Horse Listening by Email

Top 10 Horse Listening Articles of 2018

Horse Listening Practice Sessions
Click to learn more

Well, it's that time of year to take stock of where we've been and where we're going. We had another action-packed year here at Horse Listening, launching and then building on the new Practice Sessions program. It has been met with great reviews and Premium members are seeing success with their horses, trying out the exercises and joining in on the conversation in our private Facebook community. We're now into our sixth month and the program has blossomed from just exercise videos to audio Q & As, audio downloads of all the videos, mini e-books, demo videos and much more! 

Horse Listening Book 4
Click to learn more

Then, we were thrilled to introduce our Horse Listening Book 4: 20-Minute Exercises To Add Variety To Your Rides just before the end of the year. The pre-order period is now over, but keep an eye out for the official book launch, scheduled on or about December 29th. The digital version will be sent out to everyone who pre-ordered on December 29th.

 

OK, let's get to the top 10 articles of 2018. These are the most widely read articles, my dear horse listeners, and they really do represent some of the best I've written over the years. I was surprised to note that this year, the top 10 articles range from one written in 2018 all the way back to the first year of the blog, 2011. This is interesting, because most years, the newest articles get read the most. This year, the articles seemed to be more diversely read. And some of the oldies are still very goodies! 

Without further ado... <drumroll, please...> Just click on the image to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.

The Benefits of Cantering Round and Round the Ring

 

9.

One Simple Way to Quiet Your Hands While Riding Horses

 

8.

5 Ways To Be A Confident Horse Rider

 

7.

An Awesome Over-The-Back Suppling Warm-Up At The Walk

 

6.

9 Things You Need to Know if You Want to Ride Horses

 

5.

To The 50+ Year-Old Horse Rider

 

4.

How to Halt Without Pulling on the Reins

 

3.

The #1 Rider Problem: The Outside Rein!

 

2.

7 Essential Aids For An Epic Canter Transition 

 

1.

“Inside Leg To Outside Rein” – The Cheat Sheet

I started this blog "back in the day," when blogs were blogs and people wrote them for passion and for the love of the horse. In the good ol' days, the bloggers I read were intent on sharing for the purpose of information exchange, opening conversation, "listening" to comments from readers, and basically, doing it for fun and for free.

That was my mission from the get-go, in any case.

While I've now published books and started the membership site (which all help me to afford the new and the old on the website), my mission for the blog has not changed, even as the whole blogging environment has morphed around me. I will continue to share what I know right here on the blog, week in and week out. I love hearing from you, love the encouragement you send my way through likes, shares, and comments, and I especially love getting to know some of you and your horses personally, across unlimited miles.

Here's to much more of the same as we head into 2019. The sky is the limit!

Happy New Year!

Kathy & Cyrus

Horse Listening
Photo Credit: K. Arbuckle

Horse Listening

Don’t miss a single issue of Horse Listening! If you like what you are reading, become a subscriber and receive updates when new Horse Listening articles are published!  Your email address will not be used on any other distribution list. Subscribe to Horse Listening by Email



Top 8 Horsey Things To Do During The Christmas Holidays

 

Oh the Christmas holidays are here! And you will have ever so much time on your hands! So while you're out visiting friends and family and sharing good cheer, don't forget your favorite equine friend. Here are the top 8 horsey things you can do with all that spare time!

8. Pack the gifts for your barn friends and their horses.

7. Prepare food for the barn party and make the trip worthwhile - sneak into the barn before you head home and share treats and kisses with the horses.

6. Bake cookies (and eat half of them - so bake some more!). Then bake a bunch for the horses.

5. Dress up warm and head out for a winter trail ride.

4. Read the horse books you haven't had time for.

3. Watch The Man From Snowy River.

2. When the horses are all inside (or go join them outside) - stop, be quiet, and listen as they munch on their hay.

1. Give your horse a day at the spa.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

Thank you for reading, commenting, liking and sharing! 

Kathy

 

Announcing: Horse Listening Book 4 Pre-Launch Sale!

 

It's almost here!

Horse Listening Book 4: 20-Minute Exercises To Add Variety To Your Riding Routine

While we're all getting ready for the holiday season, I've been quietly compiling the new book in the Horse Listening Collection, making decisions around chapters and formatting and images and everything else that goes into a book.

I'm excited to let you know that the book launch date is scheduled for December 29th, 2018. The book will be available in both digital and paperback versions.

Like the other three books in the Collection, this book is a compilation of articles posted on the blog over the past few years. As you can imagine, there is a LOT of material to choose from, and I have distilled it down to only the best and most popular posts.

My focus is always on creating the most useful, practical book I can, and this book features all the best patterns and exercises that people have raved about each time I've featured them on the blog and on social media. 

The chapter list is almost finished, and each exercise highlights a section of the book, with follow-up chapters that support the skills needed for that exercise. The paperback will have 200+ pages. The details are being finalized as we speak!

Pre-Launch Special!

For the first time, I can offer a reduced pre-launch price for the digital version of the book. The download will be in PDF format, and readable by all computers and devices. You can reserve your copy of the eBook for only $9.99 (USD) right now, and you will receive the download by email as soon as it is available. Regular price for the eBook will be $12.99.

The Paperback price is not known at this date.

*The pre-launch special is available only for the digital eBook version. The pre-launch will end on Saturday, December 22. 

It’s One Thing To Know What It Should Look Like…

Photo Credit: J. Boesveld

... and another thing to know what it is, how it feels, how to do it, and how to fix it.

I mean, it's so easy to sit there and watch clinic riders, or riding students, and say, "Yes, yes, the horse looks so much freer now that she's got him going forward."

"It's a no brainer, really, that all she needed to do was to give him a little more room in the front end."

And so on!

We've all done it, and honestly, there is some need to developing your eye, knowing what you're looking at, and identifying the problems. Understanding what you're looking for is a critical step to developing your riding knowledge. Some of us become experts at "seeing".

But - as in all things, but especially because it's riding HORSES - it's one thing to know, and another thing to doBecause as easy as it looks sometimes, and as often as people say, "oh yeah, the horse is doing all the work," all you have to do is get on the horse even for the first time, and realize that it's not all about smelling the roses and looking grand.

But for those of us who go on to the second time, the hundredth time, and the 25th year - we wouldn't have it any other way!

By then, while we might have a developed really good eye, we also have learned to recognize the hard work and dedication it takes to make small improvements, literally one step at a time, sometimes two steps forward and three steps back. We have insight about how hard the ground can get, how difficult it can be to sit through a romp, and how terrifying a runaway horse (or pony!) can be. 

We understand fully about how it takes a village to make progress, how support is critical and education is necessary. 

We become realistic about our own strengths and weaknesses, our horse's talents, and how dedicated we must be to pursue our training dreams and goals. 

And then, we begin to really know.

When we watch the riders in the clinic, or in the riding lessons, we have a much better understanding of everything that went into just getting there. We know how that ride is just one moment in the overall picture. Mistakes can be made, and mistakes can be fixed. We recognize that a little change can make a huge impact on the horse - and that the horse will always be the best guide.


Then, we think, "Wow look at how that rider was able to translate what the clinician said, so that she could allow the horse to move freely."

"She clearly held her balance enough to give the reins enough to allow the horse more room in the front end."

The more we do, the more we know. 

Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!

Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions. 

This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.

Click here to read more and to join one of the most complete programs on the Internet!

Horse Listening

Don’t miss a single issue of Horse Listening! If you like what you are reading, become a subscriber and receive updates when new Horse Listening articles are published!  Your email address will not be used on any other distribution list. Subscribe to Horse Listening by Email

Now is the time to re-evaluate your goals and path to riding success!

Goal Setting For The Equestrian
Click on image to learn more.

If you’d like a structured, but personal tool to set goals, take a look our Goal Setting for the Equestrian: A Personal Workbook. The pages are designed for you to set and keep track of your progress over the course of a year.

Included in the book:

  • design your overarching goals
  • long- and short-term planning,
  • debrief your special events such as clinics or shows
  • reflect on, plan and evaluate your goals
  • sample goals and pages

The Workbook is available for instant digital download so you can print the pages right off your computer. There is also the option of a paperback version if you’d rather have a professionally bound book to hold in your hands. Click here for more information.

Read more here:

The Truth About Perfect Practice and the HL Rider Learning Cycle

14 Reasons to Love Horseback Riding

Breaking the Cycle: It Might Not Be What You DID Do…

23 Ways to Solve the Riding Problem

Too Good To Be True? Finding Your Horse’s “Happy Place”