Moving with Rider

When the horse is no longer nervous with everything below, the group can begin walking together. The handler should walk a few yards, stop then walk again. Repeat for several days.

When the horse and rider walk without any stress, the rider may then be given the reins and the pair goes out on the lunge circle. The rider should not have any mouth contact. The horse should walk and stop several times using the same commands as without a rider. With difficult horses, a third person should take the lunge whip from the handler – if the horse gets dangerous, the handler can stop the horse with two hands.

When the horse proves that he can remain calm at the walk over several rides, we start to trot. This is done very carefully. Ask the horse to trot as he has always done. The person with the whip helps a little but when the horse needs even more encouragement. When trotting the first time, use a slightly small circle than normal for control. When the horse relaxes, increase the circle size. After one or two circles in trot, return to the walk. The rider should do anything to put the horse in trot or walk. There should be no aids from the rider – just follow the movement while being light during the first rising trot.

Many horses can be afraid when the rider posts, so some horses need the rider to sit at first. The rider’s hands should stay in contact with the horse’s neck but should not move. She only has very light contact with the reins, never trying to influence the horse at this stage.

If the horse start to trot suddenly but puts their tail between their legs, they are fearful. It is very important for the rider to move forward with the horse while the handler slows and calms the horse.

Other horses may not want to trot with the rider on their back, so the handler may have to push them more with their voice and possibly whip from the ground. Both types of horses need a lot of transitions between walking and trotting to gain confidence.

After several days with the passive rider at the walk and trot, the canter can be introduced. Using voice commands and the whip only if necessary, ask the horse to go into a fast trot and then the horse will eventually “fall” into a canter. The rider should be light, with deep hands and follow the horse’s movement.

The handler should lunge the horse and rider in all three gaits until the horse is moving as relaxed as he does without the rider. The rider, at this time, should not be using any aids. This period is only to teach the horse that a rider is now on his back. Then and only then do we start the next step: teaching him the rider’s aids.


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