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. 

weeks
0
1
days
0
0
hours
0
1
minutes
4
4
seconds
2
1

Click on the PayPal button below to get started.

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”

Top 6 Things You’ll Learn From Doing Barn Chores

Top 6 Things You'll Learn From Doing Barn Chores
Photo Credit: NBanaszak Photography

It's hard. It's time-consuming. It's often thankless.

To the outside observer, it might seem that working in a barn is unrewarding and just that: chores. I mean, all you're doing is feeding and turning horses in and out, cleaning stalls and sweeping aisles, right?

Well, anyone who has actually worked in a barn knows differently. In fact, people who work with horses have to become highly skilled, be fairly athletic, and must know how to pay attention to detail. While people can start with little to no experience, they usually get paired with longtime horse keepers who can mentor them until they have enough experience to work independently.

Working in a barn can do more than just give you a gym-level workout. Here are the top six lessons you won't be able to avoid if you stay long enough at the job.

6. Hard work is necessary

This is probably the first thing you'll learn if you get the chance to ever work for the horses.

You'll quickly realize how you can actually move heavy things if you put your mind to it. You might have to go up and down stairs or ladders to get to the hay loft. You'll have to fill feed bins and then horse buckets with grain. Those feed bags and hay bales need to be moved, stacked and then fed. The walks to the paddocks can be long, bumpy or snow-covered. No need for you to go to the gym after that!

5. It's ok to get dirty

Because you won't have any choice in the matter! You'll likely end up with hay bits in your hair and down your shirt, mud all over your lower legs, dirty jeans because of having to lift the feed bags off the dirt floor. Then there's the mouth goop that the horses leave on your shoulder as you lead them out, and splashed water as you fill buckets.

4. Team work makes the dream work

After you have to do the barn all on your own, you quickly learn the value of help. There's nothing better than two (or more) people sharing the chores, one person taking on one task while the second person does another.

3. Routine is wonderful

This lesson probably will come from the horses themselves. Horses thrive on routine. Timeliness, feed, exercise... the more regular these can be, the happier the horses in your care. You'll learn the value of establishing and then maintaining a routine.

2. Efficiency is key

Every barn worker learns all about efficiency and saving energy - not just the electrical kind!

Before you figure out your routines, you might end up having to walk back and forth to key areas - such as the feed room, the tack room, or the paddocks. Soon enough, you'll start figuring out how you can save as many trips as possible - because, let's face it - the number of steps you walk can add up pretty quickly when you're walking real distances!

You'll work out what you should carry with you even while you're heading to a paddock to do something else.

10,000 steps? Haha! Even after multiple step-saving attempts, you'll still end up somewhere in the 15-25,000 steps region. That's in ONE DAY!

But you won't be able to stand for inefficiencies ever again!

1. Horses come before anything else

This is truly the #1 lesson you'll learn if you work in the barn. While it's true that you're working for the barn owner, or for the boarders or lesson students, you'll soon realize that it's all about the horses. How will you learn this valuable lesson?


It might happen when you notice that one of the paddocks run out of water, and how the horses stand around the water tub waiting and waiting - in the heat of the summer. Or you'll notice how a horse gorges on his hay when he comes inside - after having finished the morning hay on that long snowy wintry day, when there's no grass to be found otherwise. 

These mistakes will urge you to be more diligent because the horses are literally reliant on you.  And it's a big responsibility. 

There is one other thing that happens when you add all this up. In the end, you become a much more empathetic human being. Which will serve you the rest of your life.

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:

13 Reasons Why You Should Be A Barn Brat

How You Know You’re At the Best Barn Ever

10 Things You Should Never Tell Your Non-Horsey Friends

24 Reasons Why Horsin’ Around Makes Us Better Human Beings

The Difference Between Knowing and Doing

Practice Sessions Black Friday Sale Starts Now!

We're offering our first-ever Black Friday sale here on Horse Listening!

If you've been following our blog, you might know that it's been exactly 5 months since the Practice Sessions were officially launched. 

We now have a wonderful group of active members, an ever-growing archive of Practice Sessions and Ground Work Sessions, "Tuesday #tips" PDF books sent to the members every month (which are archived tips from the Facebook group because we didn't want to lose the tips to the Facebook gods), short "homework" exercises inviting members to share on the Facebook group page, and so many more things that are developing organically as we go along. 

This Black Friday Premium package has never been offered before and I wanted you to know about it right here on the blog in case you've been wanting to join but never got around to it. It's a six-month package, discounted 20% from the regular price, and gives access to everything that the Premium membership offers, PLUS access to the archives, for a 6-month period.

If you're going to be around for 6 months, you will likely want to dig in and try the different Practice Sessions that have already been "practiced" and then moved to the Archives. 

You can start with a $1 Trial for five days, during which time you'll have access to everything. This way, you can decide if you like what you see. I want to make sure that you find the Practice Sessions useful for you and your horse before you commit to any package.

If you stay, there will be an automatic upgrade to $277 for every 6 months. If you decide to cancel, there will be no upgrade. No hard feelings! 🙂 Our usual monthly and annual packages are also available if you'd rather try monthly, or benefit from the annual price (the annual package is still our best deal). 

This offer is time-sensitive and will end on midnight, on Cyber Monday (November 26, 2018). So it will be available for only one week.

Click here to learn more. If you haven't heard of the Practice Sessions, you can read all about how it began, what's involved, and how it might help you achieve your horse riding goals.

And as always, thanks ever so much for reading. None of this would happen if it wasn't for people's feedback, suggestions and encouragement. 

 

6 Reasons Why You Should Pull On Your Winter Woolies And RIDE!

Well, we just had our first snowfall out here in our neck o' the woods, and it got me thinking about the winter season that's looming ahead of us in the north end of the Americas.

While it's true that your clothes will be bulky, and the temperatures will drop, the winter can be a great time of rest, renewal and growth for you and your horse. I'm here to tell you to get your thick breeches on, put on the two extra jackets, grab your hat and head to the barn anyway! Here's why.

1. You don't get nearly as hot.

After the hot, hot summers we've been getting, it's such a relief to get to ride in cooler temperatures. The extra layers you put on when you first get to the barn will likely get dropped onto a jump standard (hopefully not onto the sand) and you'll end up riding in a couple of the lighter layers you've worn underneath.

Your horse will benefit too, as long as it isn't too cold (in which case, the lungs could be irritated, so better not to ride on those days). There is nothing better than a little exercise to warm up the muscles, get the heart and lungs working, pound the feet on the ground for some circulation in the legs, and do the walk/trot/canter that they can't do most of the time in turn-out because of poor footing.

2. Bouncy bouncy energetic horses.

What great fun it is when the horses are happy to move! These are the days when you can really work on your - and your horse's - conditioning, do longer trots and canters without the accompanying foam and soaking wet saddle pads of the summer.

Listen to your horse's heartfelt snorts, feel the spring in his steps, and ride along with all that positive energy!

3. Cozy indoors and good footing.

Inclement winter weather is nothing to worry about if you have access to a comfy cozy indoor arena. It's a special kind of contentment when you can walk into the barn and leave the snow-covered winter wonderland behind long enough to prance, dance and frolic (and ride!) on delightfully clear sand footing on those days when there's no chance for real movement otherwise.

Plus there's the added bonus of being able to stay on a fairly regular riding schedule despite weather changes - something that helps keep both you and your horse physically and mentally fit over the long winter months.

4.Gorgeous outdoors, clear white snow, brisk get-yer-circulation-going wintry air.

Or better yet, keep those many layers on and head out into the the bright sunshine-y winter day and revel in deep snow, and white, open fields. Watch your horse's breath as it lingers visibly in the fresh air. Thrill in the crunchy snow underfoot and the eye-watering wind that stings your cheeks but makes you feel so alive.

Make it even better and go with a friend!



5. Plenty of Time for some delightful "homework"

Did anyone say, "homework?" Not the kind that you hate to do. This kind of homework is the stuff that great riding is built on. The winter season is by far the best time to hunker down, stay at home, and work toward achieving those goals that you kind of glossed over during the summer. Get nit-picky and improve step by step.

Add some laterals, some tempo changes, changes in circle sizes - and you'll find that you might end up doing more over the winter months than you did in the summer.

6. Even when it's cold, you know you'll warm up anyway!

And this is the best part of riding in the winter. The cold becomes less of an obstacle because you get to move - even if you do ground work with your horse, even while grooming and tacking up, and especially if you ride. It's all exercise and you will warm up as you go along.

On the other hand, sometimes there's nothing better than taking time away from riding, or away from the barn altogether (that is, if you aren't the one feeding-and-cleaning-and-turning-in-and-out).

It could be the intensely cold weather, and other times it might be the holidays or special winter events that keep you away from the barn. But the winter gives you space to breathe and time to slow down and take it easy without feeling like you HAD to make it for that next ride.

And you will be energized and enthusiastic the next time you go out.

Here's to a wonderful winter, full of horsin' around, to come!

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 Have Fun on the Trails in the Middle of Winter

THE Blanket Rule For Blanketing Horses

“Super Moon”-lit Night Ride

Good Day For A Little Horseplay

14 Reasons to Love Horseback Riding

Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass: 5 Take-Aways

Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass
No cameras were allowed, so you get a nice fall trail riding picture instead!

Last year, we had the excitement of auditing Carl Hester's Masterclass, and this year, it was Charlotte Dujardin. Or just "Charlotte", as we call her, because her incredible accomplishments have made her a household name in our neck o' the woods.

I attended only the Sunday sessions, but the riders were new and there were horse representatives ranging from 4, 5, 6 year-olds, to Prix St. George and Grand Prix levels. So we got a great overview of the progression through the levels, and the exercises that she would use to improve each horse.

These tips are purely my own interpretation of what she said. But I thought I'd share my notes with you.

1. Horse's Daily Lifestyle

She started off by talking about their horse keeping strategies in their "yard". She said the excitable horses go out overnight, the horses with normal energy go out for the day, and the quiet horses go out for half-days or so. All of their horses get turnout every day, and they believe in letting horses be horses.

It all sounds great, until you realize that she's talking about literally the tip top of the "top horses" in the world!

The horses get worked 4 times a week, go out on the trail the other two days, and get Sundays off completely. She says that both she and Carl are interested in maintaining the horses' longevity. They want every young horse to make it to Grand Prix (if it can) and then be rideable long enough to develop at the Grand Prix level going into their teen years.

She mentioned that Valegro is still going strong, teaching young riders all about Grand Prix, and heading out to riding demonstrations at big venues. He also still enjoys his regular trail rides!

2. Young Horses and Their Riders

She had high praise for riders who bring along young horses, mostly because of the learning curves they have to ride through until the horse matures. She said that young horses need brave, balanced riders, as many horses typically start quiet and sweet, and then get cheekier as they get stronger and more opinionated!

She showed great patience with the young horses, and worked with the riders to help the horses overcome their tension in front of the large crowd. One horse kicked out repeatedly, and the only thing she said was to keep asking for trot (forward), stay away from the crowd (!!), and maintain contact. In time, the horse settled and finished with awe-inspiring movement, indicating a huge potential to come.

3. Stretching

She uses the stretch in walk, trot and canter for warm-ups and cool-downs. Don't just ride with a long rein and the horse's head anywhere; he has to be forward and taking the bit from the rider forward and down. As she worked the 4-year-old, it was evident that "forward" was more forward than you might think. It was as forward as the horse needed to be free moving in his gait and back.

However, she qualified by saying that you might not be able to stretch every horse like that right from day 1. She said it took her 2 years to get a stretch from Valegro at the beginning of a ride! So if the horse is excitable, better to start the ride with shorter reins and in an uphill outline and work toward the stretch over time. Safety first always!

4. Walk/Trot/Walk

She did a great demonstration of relaxing the 5-year-old horse (that was overwhelmed by the closed-in crowd) using a simple walk to trot to walk transition exercise. She coached the rider to send the horse forward with two legs, maintain even contact on both reins, and keep the head and neck directly in front of his chest.



After a short trot, she'd bring the horse back to walk, just before the horse got stronger or more excited. We could almost feel the horse calm through the walk transitions, and the movement through the back was more visible with each successive trot. It was a soothing, peaceful exercise that settled the horse's mind and invited him to relax and release. 

5.   Awesome Canter Work

I took away two great tips for canter work from the more advanced horse sessions. At this point, she was helping the riders develop collection and a more uphill balance.

One exercise was to stay in canter and send the horse forward, then ease him back, then send him forward again. Use the half-halt to rebalance the horse - not for more than a stride so the rider doesn't end up blocking or holding the horse. The rider shouldn't feel like she has to carry the horse.

In the collection phase, she encouraged the rider to make the horse more active. If the horse doesn't respond to a light leg, "go for a yeehaw"! She wanted the riders to move out in the canter, energize and then come back to a more active collection. 

Then the exercise progressed naturally to the canter-walk transition. She told us that we shouldn't "fall into a heap" after walking! So she had the rider move out in canter, collect-collect-collect, and by then, the horse could easily walk right out of the canter, as long as the rider was actively riding the walk.

She urged us to ride at home as we would want to ride at the show - with precision and good movement, so excellence can become a habit.

The sessions were practical and gave us many ideas for our own riding, but my biggest take-away from the day was less about the skill building and had more to do with the way she treated both the horses and riders.

I imagine her teaching style is much like how she rides her own horses. She was at once kind, gentle, encouraging and supportive, and also firm, clear and absolutely specific. She let the horse guide the lesson, coached the rider as much as needed, and addressed each horse at its level. She didn't shy away from the difficult moments but never seemed to get too worked up about any problems. 

It was a wonderfully inspiring day!

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

If you liked this article, read more here:

A Stretch and Strengthen Canter Exercise

12 Riding Quick Tips – #10: How To Canter Instead Of Just Trot Faster

How To Improve YOUR Trot-Canter Transitions

How To “Flow” from the Trot to the Walk

Collection: A Beginning Exercise To Try

 

A Stretch and Strengthen Canter Exercise

Need some "legging up" in canter?

Working in canter for an extended period of time (let's say, around 5 minutes) has many benefits, and if you want to know why, read the article that I wrote here. The exercise below is an awesome way to develop (you and) your horse's conditioning, work on suppling the horse over the back in canter, play around with balance and hind end engagement, and just work toward something as simple as maintaining a steady tempo.

This exercise is also good  if you find that your horse often drops his back (and "giraffe necks") when you transition to canter, or during the canter. We want to teach the horse to loosen through the back and allow it to move while in canter.

You will use the whole arena for this, with circles at A and C. Try to do this in an easy pace - not too fast, not too slow. You can always build up the horse's impulsion as he settles and begins to use himself better, without adding speed to it. The pattern sounds like it isn't much work, but there's quite a lot going on when you go around a few times and let it work you and your horse.

Start at A. Canter on the right rein.

1. 20-m circle

Start with an easy, softly stretching 20-m circle. Think of it as a half-stretch, so not really stretching down as you would for say, a 2nd level dressage test. But do make it a stretch, so that your horse can carry his head a little lower than usual, and stretch through the back a little more than usual.

Ride in half-seat yourself, and take most of your weight off the horse's back.

Keep a mild 20-m bend, keeping your horse on a large circle but watching the outside shoulder. Keep the shoulder straight and allow the bend to happen through the body, not just through the neck.

2. 10-m circle

When you get back to A, do another circle, this time much smaller. Make it a 10-m circle, with more bend, and this time, sit into the saddle and bring the horse up into a nice uphill outline. This circle requires more collection, so keep the canter active and strong but add in the deeper 10-m bend.

3. Canter on up the long side of the rail

After the 10-m circle, head into the corner and then go straight up along the rail. Go back to the half-seat, and ask your horse for the small stretch again, this time on the straight rail. The long side of the ring should allow you plenty of time to strengthen the canter (not speed up, though) and develop a nice, even tempo and stride length. 

Strengthen: If your horse feels good, isn't pulling down on the reins, and feels like he has good balance, ask for a little longer stride and a little more impulsion. Don't let the reins go longer and make sure you ease the horse into the bigger movement. (If your horse does pull down on the reins, just sit up a little and ease up on the canter, or even do a down transition to trot, and then canter on again. We want the horse to strengthen the canter, but not to end up on the forehand. So use trot transitions to bring the horse into balance again, as needed.)



You're feeling for a bouncier, more trampoline-y canter. You should also feel like you spend more time in the air than on the ground.

4. 20-m circle

Go through the next corner and back to a 20-m circle at C. Stay in the half-seat for the 20-m circle, and keep the horse in the mild stretch. The difference between the stretch here and on the rail is that you have to re-establish a bend (even though it's just a mild bend) so you're also working on the lateral suppleness on this circle.

5. 10-m circle

Now do a 10-m circle at C. Sit, prepare for the bend as you come back to C, and then bring the horse uphill again in his outline. Use this circle to let your horse do a little "carrying", have a higher and shorter outline, and use his now more active hind end to take some weight off the forehand.

6. Canter down the long side of the rail

Then ease out of the 10-m circle through the corner and down the next rail in the half-stretch (for him) and half-seat (for you) position again. 

And repeat! If you want, you can do this pattern several times in a row one way, and then take a walk break, and do it several times the other way. 

You can also do the whole thing in walk and trot, either as a warm-up or as a cool-down. The concept of stretching and then shortening the back is a great way to supple and strengthen the horse's back and hind end in all gaits.

If you like this type of exercise, or want more details on the aids and the hows behind the pattern, check out our Practice Sessions below!

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

If you liked this article, read more here:

12 Riding Quick Tips – #11: Do A “Beginner Bend”

12 Riding Quick Tips – #10: How To Canter Instead Of Just Trot Faster

How to Fine Tune Your Canter-Trot Transitions

What Are The Leg Aids For Canter?

Drawing a Circle (in Sand)

Are You Learning The “Right” Way To Ride?

There are so many riding disciplines and styles of teaching. It's hard to distinguish between right and wrong, especially since there are so many different opinions and "paths" to "good" riding.  But everyone has a different opinion about everything in horse riding, from tack to theory to rider position to how to use your aids (or don't use them at all!) to everything you can probably think of! Am I not right?

How can you tell that the way you're learning to ride is the "right" way?

As they say, there are "many roads to Rome," and horseback riding is one of those activities that really fits that bill. As you learn more, you realize that there are many ways to teach the same end result to the horse, and when it comes down to it, we all walk, trot and canter or gait (according to our discipline and breed type movements).

But there are certain things you can look for that will give you absolute insight into the "correctness" of how you are riding and what you are learning.

Listen to your horse

One of the best indicators of the "right" way is your horse's response to what is being taught. While there is such a thing as challenging the horse and putting him out of his comfort zone, you will almost always know that you're on the right track because the horse will show you pleasure - through his bounding gait, through forward ears and eager expression, through his snorts and even (hopefully controllable) romps - when your horse feels good, you will know it. And you'll feel good too.

Improved Health of the Horse

So I know you already give your horse the best care you can, in terms of food, vet care, supplements, and even other professional care such as massage and chiropractic. But good riding and training techniques can be actually seen in the horse (and the rider, btw). With correct riding, the horse's musculature improves. The top line fills. The hind end rounds out. The hooves get bigger and wider (yes! it happens!). The coat starts to gleam. 

Better Movement

You will be able to recognize a "good" system just from feeling, or watching, your horse's movement. There is nothing more amazing than to learn how to go from a tight, stuck walk (or trot or canter) to a flowing, free gait that allows your horse to move to his potential. Even better is to watch your instructor get on and morph your horse to such great movement that you never thought your horse could ever do! 

Things Get Easier Over Time

While you may be continuously challenged with new skills or understandings, you can see clear progress in your development because the old "impossible" skills become easier and easier over time. Your body becomes more automatic. Your horse becomes more responsive. You can float through what was once an onerous task. 

Your Techniques Are Used By Other Respected Riders

We're all working in our own barn bubble most of the time. But if you stop to look around, and you recognize that what you're now learning and doing is being done by other well-respected, successful top riders in your discipline, then you're probably on the right track.

Maybe you've never heard of these people, but when you read about them, you recognize that you're already doing what they are talking about! So while you're still learning it all in perhaps the novice levels, you can see that what you're doing has plenty in common with people much farther along the path than you. 


Your Own Satisfaction

I'm not saying that every ride will be euphoric. Some rides (or many) might actually be tough and tiring. Some might be confusing. But if you come out of those rides with a sense of accomplishment, with the understanding of how to improve yourself so you can improve your horse, and maybe with an odd "aha" moment, then you know this is the path for you.

Other Riders

The proof of the pudding is to see how other people are doing in that system of teaching and training. In general, good basics create good riders. And the success I'm talking about is whatever you see as being successful. It can be success in showing, but not necessarily only in that venue. Maybe your vision of success is to have a calm, responsive horse that you can pop on the trailer at will, to go on a trail ride with your friend who lives an hour away. Maybe you want to ride your horse well enough to keep him sound into his later years. Is this what you're seeing done by the other riders who are learning from the same instructor?

Well, the horse industry is certainly not one-size-fits-all. It may take time for you to find that "right" path, but when you do find it, you will 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

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

If you liked this article, read more here:

10 Strategies For The Nervous Horse Rider

Maybe You Want To Be The Horseless Horse Person

“You’ll Ruin Your Horse!”

“You’re STILL Taking Riding Lessons?”

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Riding Lessons