Black and White
Photo Credit: NBanaszak Photography

As a colour, gray gives variance to the spectrum between black and white.

But with horses, "being" gray leaves too much unsaid, too many questions, too many options to choose from.

I'll tell you why gray doesn't work.

Gray Is

- wishy-washy

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- unclear

- muddy

- unsure

- insecure

- confusing

Gray is simply too much in the middle.


- do better with a straight yes or no

- want all the wrong options eliminated

- gain confidence from a confident rider

- prefer a confident, secure leader

It is true that horses are constantly communicating with you. Through their physical interactions, they ask questions and answer yours. This regular interaction is the foundation of your training program.  One of the most critical personal attributes a good rider has is clarity of aids and requests.

Often, the horses that find leader-humans are the happiest, most content horses to ride. They can rely on their partner to be clear, concise and sure. There is no guesswork required of the horse.

So how does this impact your regular riding routine?

Be Black and White in Riding

If you ask for a canter, get that canter. Don't let the horse trot away faster and faster until you finally just pull him up. If he trots off, slow the trot, ask for the canter again. Repeat. Be clear. Be concise. Maybe you need to reestablish the inside bend. Correct a dropped shoulder and then ask again.

If you asked for a turn, follow through when the horse drifts to the outside. Catch the horse's outside shoulder with the rein, use your outside leg to encourage better straightness from the rib cage, and encourage more impulsion from the hind end with your seat and leg aids.

Timeliness is the key when it comes to clarity. Don't wait ten, twenty, thirty or more strides before following through on your request. The quicker you can respond, the easier it will be for your horse to make connections.

If your horse needs to do something more basic, change the plan. But be specific in your intentions and reinforce/review/change the approach as required.

Stick to your program.

Be an active rider.

Have you recently had a "black/white" moment during a ride? Comment below.

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If you liked the above article, you might also enjoy:

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Cultivating Your Multiple Riding Personalities: In daily life, assuming different personalities might be frowned upon. However, if you can can channel several different personas while riding, you might actually be doing your horse a favor!

How to ‘Flow” From the Trot to Walk: Although we rely on our hands too much and initiate all movements from the horse’s mouth, there are many alternate aids we can go to.

Why You Don’t Need to Panic When Your Horse ‘Falls Apart’: Even if you are not thinking “panic”, your body might be communicating it by either being completely passive or too reactive after the horse is off balance.

Do You Make This Timing Mistake When Riding Your Horse? Have you ever given your horse an aid and got nothing in return? There could be one other variable that you might not have considered…