Change is Hard

Change is hard!!! It is hard to mentally accept that there is another way of doing things with your horse. Not to mention muscle memory just makes things happen the way you have trained yourself to do it.
When you have been doing things a certain way with your horse for so long, it is easy to not think about doing it another way. Especially if what you are doing is working. If you are used to holding the horse in a position with solid rein contact and constantly pushing with your leg, and you get the movement that you want, why would you change? Perhaps there is an easier way of doing things for both you and your horse mentally and physically. The goal in the art of riding is to do less and less as a rider and yet have the horse be willing to perform the movements happily on his own.
Many people get stuck in their thinking. For instance, if I don’t use my leg like this, he won’t move sideways or go forward. If I don’t hold him with my hands, he will not stay round. With this way of thinking, your horse will get heavier and heavier to the aids. Thus, making it harder and harder for both of you. It is a lot of work always to be kicking the horse to go forward. Not to mention, your horse will eventually become dull or resistant to all of that pressure.
If you make the conscious decision not to pull and hold or to not constantly use the leg, then you will have to find another way. In searching for this new way, you and your horse have another chance to find lightness and partnership with one another.

When to Progress

It is important to know when to take the next step in your horse’s training. Most riders try to advance their horse before he is ready. If the horse is not educated in the basic movements, he will not be able to perform what is being asked of him well enough and/or with consistency.
Advancing the horse before he is ready will lead to a handful of problems: resistance, confusion, loss of confidence, stiffness, and potential injury. On the same note, if you do not advance your horse when he is ready, you will bore him, and he can become frustrated with the same exercises and possibly become pushy.
Knowing the next step in your horse’s training is imperative. You need to know where to go in your training from where you currently are. Most riders know where they want to end up with their horse. They want to be able to Piaffe, perform flying changes, do sliding stops, or jump four feet fences. However, they lack the knowledge of what the training steps are to get there. Often, riders start trying to perform the goal maneuver.
Training upper-level movements does not start with teaching the maneuver. It begins with other movements that build-up to the goal. You start with much more basic moves that teach the horse how to balance himself and build strength. The basics also teach the horse the aids. When your horse is ready for the more advanced maneuvers, and they have achieved the building steps with success, then you can move to the next maneuver confidently, with a good foundation.


Self-carriage is often spoken of in many equestrian disciplines and is of great importance for our equine partners.  What is self-carriage?  Simply put; it means that the horse is able to sustain his position with minimal support from the rider.

One of the greatest gifts a rider can give the horse is to stay out of his way.  Once the horse gives the rider the correct response, their reward is the release of the pressure.  If the pressure returns to the horse, it tells him that he needs to return to where he was or to change his position. 

It is important to remember that self-carriage is not a position in its self, but the result of the horse’s understanding of the aids for the asked position or movement. There are many training stages in order for the horse to become collected.  Self-carriage needs to be at each training stage before advancing to the next. 

The majority of people think of self-carriage as a horse maintaining a beautiful frame as it moves around the area.   Self-carriage should not only be in the position of the horse but in the movements themselves. When performing a shoulder-in, the horse should not only maintain a good frame while doing should-in, but the shoulder-in should be maintained by the horse as well. Just like the rider gives the horse the aids to shorten their frame and to collect themselves, they give the aids for should-in. Once the aids are given, and the horse does what is asked, the rider then lightens the aids and allows the horse to continue with a minimal amount of support.  The horse should continue the shoulder-in until the rider gives another aid to change the movement. 

When your horse learns to carry himself in a balanced manner and is responsive to your aids, you will truly be able to sit relaxed on your horse and enjoy the ride!

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“Anything forced or misunderstood can never be beautiful.”