Author: Lynn Palm

Use Your Aids to Whisper, Not Shout

The rider’s aids are her tools to communicate with her horse. The “natural” aids, which she uses to respond to her horse, are her seat, legs, and hands. The rider’s seat, and especially her legs, controls two-thirds of the horse’s body from the wither back. Her hands control the forward one-third of the horse’s body including the shoulders, neck, and head. Let’s look at each of these important aids.

The Seat: The rider’s seat works as an aid to help the horse go forward or slow down. The seat works by applying weight into the saddle on the horse’s back according to what response the rider wants. She uses more weight in her seat for more response, less weight for a lighter response. The weight that the rider applies through her seat, on the saddle has two functions. It indicates to the horse her desire to go forward or slow down and helps him to accomplish these actions. I’ll explain more about the function of the seat in upcoming editions of this newsletter series.

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Aids Communication Keys to Success: Include a Warmup

Most people who do any type of exercising know the importance of a warm-up. When riding, including a warm-up helps the horse loosen and limber up his muscles after standing in the stall or pasture. It prepares his mind and body for the work you will be asking him to do whether it be schooling, trail riding, pleasure riding, or showing.

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Tips for Mounting Properly

We’ve reviewed what the term “aids communication” means and why it is so important to success in communicating with our horses. In the next few articles I am going to share training techniques built on the use of the rider’s natural aids, meaning her seat, legs, and hands—not artificial training aids or gimmicks! You will learn how to teach your horse to respond more willingly, without using force.

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The Horse Who Runs Up From Behind

To review, we have discussed important steps to prepare for training on the trail, including reading the horse to recognize his inner energy level and working with him to release it, preparing the rider through warm up and stretching exercises, and building safety and confidence on the trail.  I’ve also covered training tips for dealing with the horse who wants to always be in the lead. 

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Aids Communication: The Bending Aids

I have been reflecting on the importance of the turning aids compared to the bending aids a rider uses. This issue is so important, I would like to revisit our discussion of these aids and add some clarification.
To review, the turning aids are the outside leg and outside indirect rein, supported by the inside leg and inside rein.

Bending is when the horse arcs his body, from the poll (top of the head), through his spine, to the dock (top of the tail). The bending aids are inside leg and inside open rein, supported by the outside leg and outside rein

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