Horse riding is a skill that requires you to be extremely focused all the time on the skill at hand. It goes without saying that you are dealing with a live animal that is much bigger than you, so how do you control a horse while riding? All your key senses come into play when dealing with an animal the size of a horse.
Like every skill that can be learnt, the more you practice the more you become better at it. Before you start horseriding, you and your animal should be comfortable with each other and you should be certain that everything is in order to prompt your horse.
Ride slowly assuredly.
It is important to be sensitive to how responsive your horse is and adjust your speed accordingly. Be in control at all time and remember that you are in charge.
Horse riding can be tremendous fun and challenging at the same time. Despite this, only a few people have really attempted to ride a horse. As with anything, some people would love to try it but are afraid to get started riding this strong big animal. To do it properly though, you should know the exact tips and techniques required to help keep you safe when on a horse.
Horse riding gives you a chance to train your horse to move and respond. It is also a good opportunity to improve your bond but if you find that your horse is not doing things correctly, investigate and correct them in a friendly manner.
Important tips on how to control a horse while riding.
The first step in riding a horse is to maintain the correct position. Create a straight line through your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel. Try and keep the alignment secured as you ride, as this keeps your weight over your horse’s centre of gravity. Carry your weight evenly in each foot and relax your back to keep it straight, a relaxed and straight back is one of the most important aspects of having a correct riding posture.
Don’t concentrate too much on having a straight back, as this often causes overcompensation which can make your back arch uncomfortably. Losing this alignment can send your horse confusing signals while riding. If your legs slide forward, your weight will fall onto your horse’s back which is difficult for it to carry and if your legs are too far back, you will tip forward.
Distraction should be avoided as much as possible, such as other horses within the area, when your horse is new to the sensation of you riding its back. It can get caught up in the energy that it will not pay attention to you. Your eyes should be kept on where you are going, don’t fix your gaze on your horse while you ride.
Keep admiration of your horse for later, you must always keep your eyes on the trail. It is said that you should look ahead through the horse’s ears. But as long as you keep sight of the path while holding a straight posture, that should be enough to have a safe trail trip while riding.
Direct your Horse
Your body should be opened towards the direction that you want to go. Turn your head, shoulders, and hips toward the right or the left.
When you want to move toward the right, apply gentle pressure with your left leg and let your horse move into your right leg. Vice versa applies for the opposite if you want to move toward the left, apply gentle pressure with your right leg and let your horse move into your left leg.
You can encourage the horse to take the correct lead by asking for canter as you ride into a corner or turn, keeping the contact especially on the outside rein and making sure you have the horse bent a little to the inside before you ask. A helpful way to think about turning is for your horse to move off or turn away from the pressure and as the horse begins to turn, follow the motion and let the weight in your seat shift slightly to the outside.
Feel your hands, seat, and legs open towards the inside. When broadening your horizons, you need the right guide at the right time, at the right places. The biggest advantage you can give yourself is to ride with your heels down. This needs to be done because it forces you to sit in the saddle with your bottom instead of riding on the stirrups of the saddle.
You will develop much more confidence when riding with your heels down, then next thing to do be done is to relax your lower back. Your lower back should act as a shock absorber
If tensed during your ride, it’s common to perch in the saddle and for your back to arch without even realising it. This tells your horse to tense up and to prepare for flight, which in turn makes both you and your horse tenser. Try and relax as much as possible, in order for your position to remain correct and your back stays straight.
This helps the communication that you have with your horse.
Changing your Speed
Pulse your legs gently at an increased rhythm to speed up. Keep your body aligned and gently apply more pressure with your lower legs. Lighten your seat slightly by sitting taller. Your body should be moved following the same rhythm of the horse.
After your legs have been moved, relax your body and be more flexible to your horse’s motion to signal an increase in pace. Your hips and seat be flexible and follow the faster swinging motion. Your hands should be allowed to move with the increased bobbing motion of your horse’s head.
Signal your horse using both slight leg pressure and let your body moves forward in the same rhythm, Your horse’s motion should be followed with your elbows, then once you have started giving the correct signals with your legs, hips, and seat, let your arms relax and allow your elbows and hands to follow the increased speed.
This also helps your body be open to the new movement.
Steer and Control a Horse Using Your Seat and Legs.
Your seat and legs are important tools to use when riding your horse, by aligning your body correctly and learning how to adjust the pressure and movement of your seat and legs, you will be able to control and steer your horse without relying on the reins as much. With enough practice using your seat and legs, you will be able to clearly communicate with your signals.
Horse Riding tricks
It can be hard to influence the canter if the horserider is still blown away by the speed of the horse, as it does require quick thinking and action. The same basic principles also apply to a ‘walk and trot‘. To slow down the canter, the pace should be checked when the horse’s shoulders are lifted, as this is the moment when the rider has the most control.
Imagine asking the horse to hesitate just at this point in the stride. A common problem with less forward horses is to find that as soon as you get into canter you are back in trot. This is often caused by the rider freezing as they go into the canter. Therefore do not forget to ride actively in canter and keep applying the leg aids.
As soon as you feel that lift of the shoulders, which means the horse is about to canter, use your legs again to encourage the horse forward into the canter.
Canter vs Walk and Trot
There is often a lot of confusion about the canter aid as it differs from that of Walk and Trot. The leg aids for canter are inside leg on the girth and outside leg slightly behind the girth. The uneven leg aids for canter tells the horse which leg you want him to lead on.
Some horses may respond more to one leg aid than the other and so you may need to experiment with the balance to get it just right for the horse you are riding. If you do not get a transition when you want one it does not help to move your outside leg even further back, simply apply stronger aids.
A common fault with riders who are worried they may get left behind is to lose rein contact as the transition is made. If you suffer from this problem then keep your hands low so you can use the neck to keep your hands steady – but keep that contact!
The gallop is not something that involves being ‘out of control‘ as this pace can be varied and controlled just like any other. Gallop is most often ridden in a forward seat that is very similar to a jumping position. To achieve this, as when jumping, you may wish to shorten your stirrups. The aim is to hover just above the saddle supporting yourself on your knees and stirrups without pulling on the reins to hold your position.
Some horses may get excitable and strong in the gallop and in this case it can help to bridge your reins, as this gives you a secure contact. Bridging your reins means once the rein has passed between your thumb and forefinger it goes across the horse’s neck to your other hand where it is held between your thumb and forefinger.
You can do this with one or both reins. Keep your hands low, resting them on the horse’s neck if you wish.
How to control a horse using your feet and legs.
In order to gallop, first, go into a canter and then adopt a forward seat; then use both legs to ask the horse to gradually accelerate. When you want to stop steady the pace with your reins and sit back down into the saddle. Here are some further tips.
- Don’t try to gallop if your control in canter is uncertain.
- Pick a good piece of level or slightly uphill ground which is straight and gives you plenty of time to see ahead and stop if need be.
- If you’re not sure you’ll be able to stop to practice in an enclosed field at first.
- Don’t try and go too fast. You should feel that you could stop at any moment should you need to.
- Remember that the riding arena is too small a space in which to practice galloping!
Oh and enjoy it too!
If you should find that you can’t stop then keep calm, sit down in the saddle and sit up straight. If the pace is too fast or unbalanced for you to sit to reasonably then stay in the forward seat. Don’t get into a tug-of-war with the horse by continually pulling on the reins but try short pulls on the reins, releasing in between until the horse listens.
If this has little or no effect, and there is room the easiest thing to do is to ride ever-decreasing circles. As the horse circles it will slow up to balance itself and then you can stop. If circling is not possible then place one hand firmly on the neck with the crest of the neck between your thumb and fingers and pull firmly on the other rein with a long pull and brief release until you have the horse again under control.
If you ride sensibly you will very rarely, if ever, be really out of control.
Bringing Your Horse To A Halt
Tense your body when you are ready to stop. Become less flexible and more still to stop following the motion. Slow down the speed at which your hands follow the bobbing motion of your horse’s head. Reduce the flexibility in your hips and seat to stop following the motion. This indicates to your horse that you are going to ask to slow down or stop.
Tighten your stomach muscles to reduce the movement in your hips and seat, then sink your weight into our seat bones. Relax in the saddle, keep your weight distributed evenly, and make sure that your back is relaxed. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, sink your weight down as you stop following your horse’s movements.
Stop pulsing with your legs.
Your legs help to maintain the rhythm and speed of your horse. Stop applying pressure with your legs and let your calves relax and remain still. Your horse will come to a halt.