Riding Instruction and coaching Tips

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What makes a really good seat?

Four elements of a great position

No matter what style you ride, a good effective position must have these four basic elements in order to function well.

1. Unity of the horse and rider in motion
2. security of the rider in the saddle
3. Non-abuse of the horse by the rider's seat, hands or legs
4. The riders aids used efficiently and effectively

1. Unity of the Horse and Rider in Motion – Ever heard of the old saying “Be one with your horse?” Let's face it. Riding is not a static activity. Being able to move in rhythm and balance with you horse makes your riding experience exciting and fun for both the horse and the rider.
Unity comes from the proper blend of balance, rhythm and relaxation which creates the “one with your horse” experience to which most riders aspire. Being in unison with your horse makes the entire riding experience safer and more fun by allowing for easier, more efficient control and an easier ride for horse and rider.

To achieve unity:

2. Security in the Saddle – Riding without fear of falling is the best way to have the most fun with your horse! True security in the saddle means finding a way to stay on while not holding on with your hands or legs and still move in unison with your horse.
Many novice riders quickly find that holding the front of the saddle or gripping with their calves will either put them out of balance or cause the horse to run away. Balance, distributing your weight evenly into the stirrups, spring in your legs and proper use of grip in your knees, upper calves and lower thighs are the key ingredients to being secure in the saddle.

To achieve security:
Weight distribution

3. Non abuse of the horse by the rider's seat hands or legs – Horses were not born with riders on their backs, so it is up to us to ride in a way that works with the horse's natural efforts and doesn't cause confusion, conflicting signals or even unintentional pain.
We have all cringed when seeing a novice rider unknowingly yank a horse in the mouth, bounce up and down on the horse's back or kick the horse's sides with every stride. Riding with soft hands, quiet legs, a well balanced seat and clear signals is essential to an effective position and a safer more fun ride. Your horse will respond more willingly and you both will gain much more enjoyment from your ride.

To achieve non-abuse of your horse:
Soft Hands
Quiet Legs
Balanced Seat
Clear Signals

4. Efficient Aids – Communication and cooperation with the horse is a key element in good riding. It starts with position. Placing your hands, legs and seat in the correct position will allow you to use your aids (tools used to communicate with the horse) quickly, easily and effectively. Learning to balance with your horse so you are not using the reins or legs to stay on will prevent you from giving conflicting signals.
Finally, it is very important to learn how to give signals clearly and then continue to give them in a consistent manner. Changing signals on a horse and expecting the horse to understand is simply unfair and will cause your horse to ignore your signals or react unfavorably.
Good aids are the key to communication with your horse and will give you a safer, better ride!

To achieve efficient use of aids:
Legs, hands and seat in correct position
Good balance independent from your hands or legs
Clear, consistent signals

What are the natural ways to control a horse?

Control your horse easily with natural aids

Natural aids are the easiest way to control your horse. Horses respond naturally to simple, clear signals that every rider can easily use. The natural aids do not require any special equipment or gadgets to work. Natural aids the rider uses to signal the horse are:
Body Weight

Some exercises for riders to develop strength & balance are?

Exercises To Improve Rider's Position/Balance

To correct riding by balancing the upper body with the hands on the mouth of the horse: practise exercises on a lunge line. Riding with no hands, performing these exercises. Fold hands across the chest; hold arms straight in the air above the head; hold arms straight out to the sides; place arms behind the back (will really help to keep the rider behind the motion~!); place hands on hips; turn body 45 degrees and swing arms in rotation....reverse and turn the opposite angle; put hands on back of head; extend arms straight ahead at shoulder height. Practise these at the walk, then trot, then canter. Each gait will improve the upper body strength as you gradually progress the gait. Once you can do these easily, then add first one, then two, then three, finally four trotting poles; eventually progressing to cavalletti's or small 1' to 2' jumps; still on the lunge line.

Practise Exercises for Developing Lower Leg Strength Are?

Improving Lower Leg Strength

To improve the strength of the lower leg, practise 2 Pt. exercises. Stand in the stirrups (while the horse is standing). Stretch your heels low with your hands pushed into the neck at the withers. Bend the hip and knee slowly as though closing an accordian. Now bend forward at the hip (pretending you are going over a fence). Sit back into the saddle, WITHOUT MOVING YOUR LOWER LEG POSITION~! After doing this several times at the stand still, practise at the walk, then trot, eventually the canter. Progress to posting for 10 strides, then 2 Pt. for 10 strides. Progress from here to adding a couple of cavalletti's.

What are the most simple ways to use your legs to control your horse?

Simplify your control with three basic leg aids

Understanding the three basic leg aids used to signal a horse will make controlling your horse much easier! All horses, unless they have been spoiled or abused, will react in basically the same way to these three natural leg signals. Three basic legs aids are:

1. Urging leg – used to urge the horse forward
The leg is used slightly behind the girth.
Example: Asking the horse to transition from a walk to a trot.

2. Bending leg – used to bend the horse around a turn
The leg is used at the girth.
Example: Used in cooperation with the urging led to turn the horse. Use of the bending leg will require the horse to carry itself balanced through the turn rather than falling in on his shoulder or evading by just bending his neck.

3. Displacing leg – used to control the hind quarters
The leg is used well behind the girth.
Example: Used often in a turn on the forehand to ask the horse to move his hindquarters.

Does my tension affect my horse?

Relax and The Horse Will Too!

Relax and the horse will relax with you.

what questions do I ask when choosing a Coach?

Choosing A Coach Questions #10

10) Do they accept "trailer in" lessons; or do they recommend boarding with them. How is the contentedness and condition of the horses boarded with them currently.

How to discourage weaving between fences in youngsters or beginners?

Green Horse/Rider Weaving Between Fences

To help a Green Horse/Rider from weaving between fences, add ground poles to form the track between the fences....this discourages the horse to leave the jumping track.

Is it necessary for a coach to match the personalities of horse/rider?

Personality Suitability

When the personality of the horse/rider/discipline is matched or syncronized, miracles happen...dreams come true!

Horses' are comprised of physical & psychological characteristics which comprise their temperment.

As a Coach, what´s most important in lesson horse qualities?

Lesson Horses

Tolerance & generosity is an absolute must for a Lesson Horse.

First choice for recommending to someone loosing balance?

Loosing Balance

If at anytime you are loosing your balance, Grab ahold of mane! This will always keep you in the motion with the horse.

Some exercises for students to develop lower leg strength & balance?

Improving Lower Leg Strength

To improve the strength of the lower leg, practise 2 Pt. exercises. Stand in the stirrups (while the horse is standing). Stretch your heels low with your hands pushed into the neck at the withers. Bend the hip and knee slowly as though closing an accordian. Now bend forward at the hip (pretending you are going over a fence). Sit back into the saddle, WITHOUT MOVING YOUR LOWER LEG POSITION~! After doing this several times at the stand still, practise at the walk, then trot, eventually the canter. Progress to posting for 10 strides, then 2 Pt. for 10 strides. Progress from here to adding a couple of cavalletti's.

Look for these when a horse is wandering all over the jumping lane?

Horse All Over Jumping Lane

When the horse is wandering all over the Jumping Lane during a class, check on the Riders' eye control & the independance of the upper body.

Some Exercises To Teach Me To Keep My Heels Down?

Keep Your Heels Down

The greatest lesson that any Rider can ever learn is to Keep Your Heels Down. Practice--Practice--Practice. You really just have to keep your mind on your heels until it becomes your physical nature to have them so dropped that it is excessive.

It helps if you can have someone lunge you on a horse, so that you do not have to hold the reins, or steer. Practice riding without reins. At the walk, then trot, then canter, then trot over poles on ground, canter over poles on ground, and eventually trot--then canter over small jumps (try to not go over 2 feet 6 inch fences) on a lunge line or without using your reins.

While you are riding, put your hands on your waist; then on your shoulders, then head, then strait up in the air over head, then strait out from the shoulder, then you can become very fancy, and touch opposite hip side or knee side, and eventually the toe of the opposite leg.

To maintain position doing these exercies, YOU MUST KEEP YOUR HEELS DOWN, or you will pop out of the saddle and always be fighting your position and balance.

what do I ask to find a coach/instructor?

Questions To Ask A Coach When Choosing #1

In seeking a qualified Coach/Instructor you need to be comfortable around the person coaching. Then you should ask the following questions:

1) How long have they themselves been riding.

Why should I use bounces/grids to teach riders?

Benefits of Grids/Bounces

Most common grids are pole to crossrail to Vertical to Oxer to crossrail. This arrangement allows for the natural loss of impulsion of the horse as the grid comes to an end.

Bounces teach horse/rider balance & coordination. They develop scope & eye for distance. Bounces are to teach rhythm, balance, timing, coordination between & in both horse & rider, individually & as a team.


Bounces and gridwork need only be a progression of low obstacles that create repetition.

what questions to ask when choosing a coach/instructor?

Questions To Ask Choosing A Coach #6

6) What do they expect from their students: a) at a lesson, b) between lessons, c) frequency of lessons, d) progress of lesson level, e) goals.

How to use 3 neck/mane releases in a class?

Mane/Neck Releases

Practise Neck/Mane Releases on Grids of 5 Fences:
Alternate the fence types from X poles, to vertical, to oxer to vertical to oxer or X poles.

Practise your releases on the ease of the type of fence.

The X Poles will have a short release.
The Verticals will have a medium release.
The Oxers will have a long release.

B4 I ask my students to collect a horse, what are the pre checks?

Pre Checks Before Teaching Collection

Establish a rhythm in each gait.
Establish a supple bend to either side (can be assisted by lungeing).
Contact must be relaxed through the neck, throat, back while the horse is moving INTO the bit.
Horse must move straight, evenly on both sides. The rear quarters must propell the front in a straight and direct path.
Impulsion must be active in the rear quarters.

In Collection, the rear must be able to drop in order to elevate or to animate the front end.

Why do i bounce in the canter?


these riding tips on canter feel will help you to develop a better body control and position.
KNEES- while tightening the muscle on the front of your calf , and keeping your upper body balanced over your heels ,relax in your knee joints, they are your shock absorption, and feel the movement of the horse in your knees.
HIPS- Remember the feeling in your hips when swinging on a swing and how u moved your hips, pushing the swing higher on the upswing, and relaxing them on the back swingand apply this movement to the motion of the canter stride.
Excercises can be used to help soften and loosen the hip and knee to teach you the canter feel.
Try standing one stride in the canter and and very LIGHTLY sitting in the saddle for the next stride. this will appear to be almost a posting in the canter. As this becomes easy, sit two strides then stand one.

In coaching, what are considered to be medium level fences?

Medium Obstacles

Medium Obstacles are considered to be anything that is from 2' or 2'6" to 3' or 3'6".

What Are good horse rider combinations?

Timid Riders

Timid or Indecisive Riders will confus or upset a timid horse.

what questions to ask when choosing a coach/instructor?

Questions Asked Choosing A Coach #7

7) How many lessons do they recommend per week (month) to someone at my level, and with the goals that I have.

What are considered to be upper level fences or advanced?

Large Obstacles

Generally Speaking, anything that is over 3'9" is considered to be jumping in the higher leagues.

Gran Prix is anything that is over 4'6" and upwards.

How Do I Check Wrong Leads With Only One Student?

Lesson Horse Always On Wrong Lead

Check these in order:
a)Review the aids with the student; have the student demonstrate to the class the inside & outside aids.
b)check for soreness or interferences.
c)attempt approaching the corner, on a circle or starting the long side.
d)Coach get on & do it.

Why Is That Horse Holding His Head So High?

Horse Holding Head Unnaturally High

Check these areas:
a)improper fit of tack, saddle, bridle, pads.
b)check for any soreness, stiffness or teeth.
c)watch students hands, are they heavy or high?
d)Coach ride, then try standing martingale with the Coach riding ALWAYS first!

questions to ask in choosing a coach/instructor?

Choosing A Coach #4

4) Who do they go to for lessons and further training; how frequently.

what do I ask a Coach/Instructor when choosing one?

Questions To Ask A Coach When Choosing #2

2) How long have they owned their own horses; and do they care for their own horses; and if so, for how long.

Why Is That Horse Refusing That Small Fence?

Lesson Horse Refuses A 2' Fence

a)Check with other students, spectators if the horse is unknown to Coach, as to past performance.
b)Ascertain no lameness, or soreness, or stiffness.
c)Check the eyesight/vision.
d)Determine if student is too nervous, and thereby effecting the refusal.
e)Lower fence until a confidence is established between student/horse.
f)Coach ride, and if okay, ride with a Jumping Bat, if okay, provide student with the jumping bat.

What Corrections Are Necessary For A Too Quick Lesson Horse?

Lesson Horse Performing Too Quickly For Lesson

Check for: a)determine correct fitting tack.
b)student not using too much leg, seat or hands.
c)if group lesson, move this pair to the front.
d)change to a slower paced exerise for a brief time.
e)students can change horses.

Checking to see if horse speeding up at contact release is rider error

Horse Speeds Up At Loss Of Contact

If your horse speeds up as you release the contact, first make sure that:
you are not increasing your leg pressure (by getting strong on your grip).

Work on 2 Pt. Position, and Upper Body Strength and independence.

how do I choose a Coach?

How Do I Choose A Coach #5?

5) Someone who welcomes the questions of the students and their families, and helps both to set realistic goals.

In teaching students, small obstacles are considered to be?

Small Obstacles

Small Obstacles are considered anything that is 2'6" or 2' and less.

what questions do I ask when choosing a coach?

Choosing A Coach Questions #8

8) Do they expect their students to show, how frequently, at what levels, and where.

3) How long have they given lessons at the level of Riding that I am currently at; and how long have they given lessons to the level that I am striving for.

How can I spot students balancing off of the horse´s mouth?

Problems Balancing On The Horse's Mouth

Horses at the canter or sitting trot will not stay in a frame with a rider that is balancing on their mouth. The horse will elevate his head/neck and hollow the back, eventually becoming stiff and tense. This will dramatically worsen over fences~!

How does it help teaching children or beginner´s with trotting poles?

Trotting Poles For Balance

Trotting Poles or grids on the ground, will develop both balance, timing and eye for both horse and rider. This is imperitive if you are ever to progress to even jumping small obstacles.

What are some bad/good horse/rider combinations?

Fearful Riders

Fearful Riders should never ride hot horses. This type of rider will get hurt on a "hot" horse. The horse in looking to the rider for security, will get rid of a rider that is adding to the anxiety or stress level of that horse.

If our coach is selecting our horse, how much value is temperment?

Top Show Temperments

Top Show Temperments must include the following:
willingness, cooperative, agreeable, sensible, reliable, consistant, enjoyment of the work being done.

Equal balance between confidence, relaxation & stress is the basic foundation of showing success.

How do I find a coach for a beginner, adult/child?

Beginner's Coaches

Choose a Coach that LIKES & understands beginners. Ask around at schools to find other Coaches that people have. Ask also your Veterinarian.

When do I teach neck/mane releases?

Following 2 PT. Security

Once the 2 pt. is established and the upper body is strong enough to demonstrate independence from the hips/legs; the rider should move on to learning the correct neck/mane releases, and when/where to apply each, depending on the height, difficulty of obstacles.

What questions do I ask when choosing a coach/instructor?

Choosing A Coach Questions #11

11) What are the complete fees that can be charged.

What are some good/bad horse/rider combinations?

Zealous Riders

Zealous Riders, Enthusiastic or Energetic Riders will have their zeal squealched on a slow, dull, methodical or hard to motivate horse.

what questions do I ask when choosing a coach/instructor?

Choosing A Coach Questions #9

9) Levels and temperments of lesson ponies/horses available.

questions to ask choosing a coach/instructor?

Questions to ask Choosing A Coach #5

5) Where did they apprentice, and who were they working for to gain their knowledge and experience.

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Heidi Splete