horse riding impulsion
Doing my best to "just go" with him as he gave a super enthusiastic burst of energy in the lengthen. Photo Credit: J. Boesveld

One of the best ways to give positive feedback to your horse is to "just go" with him.

There are three things we can communicate with our aids.


We probably spend most of our time telling the horse what to do. Turn here, canter there, stop in the middle. We use "active" aids to communicate the messages to the horse - from our seat aids, to our legs, hands, upper body.... These aids are doing things to make the communication happen as seamlessly as possible.

"Don't Do"

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Then we can communicate the exact opposite as well. We resist in order to stop the horse from doing what he is doing. For example, we may brace with the lower back and seat, and half-halt to ask the horse to stop. We may use our inside leg against the horse's side to stop him from "falling" to the inside of a circle. We might activate the seat bones to ask the horse to stop backing up.


While the above two applications of our aids are most common, there is a third very distinct purpose to the aids. We can call these aids "passive", or "harmonizing".  I usually tell people to "just go" with the horse.

You will find the "just go" aids to be a very powerful way to help your horse understand that he is on the right track. When you follow the horse's movement (assuming you can follow and stay in balance at the same time), the horse will suddenly feel your lightness and buoyancy. Think of the little child that can hold herself up on her parent's shoulders - so light and easy to carry. That's how we should feel to the horse as often as possible.

Of course, it can be a little more complicated on a horse's back, especially when you're in canter or some of the more challenging movements like shoulder-in or half-pass, where you have to keep your balance while the horse is moving laterally.

But it can certainly be done.

If you'd like more detail about how to do this, I've written about it in more detail here: The Need For "Yes" Speed - While You Ride Your Horse.

So, this week, see if you can be more aware of when you can "just go" with your horse and see what he has to say about it!

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

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.

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Goal Setting For The EquestrianRead more here:

#1 Rider Problem - Confusing Aids: This one happens all the time! How to avoid mismatching of your aids so that your communication with your horse can be crystal clear. 

From A Whisper To A Scream - How Loud Should Our Aids Really Be? Deliberating on this often pondered question.

"Inside Leg To Outside Rein" - The Cheat Sheet: What does this phrase really mean? And how to do it.

Love The Laterals - An Explanation: Have you wondered what those lateral terms mean? Here's a breakdown. 

Why Boring Is Beautiful In Horseback Riding: It really is!