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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When to Transition to a Bridle

A snaffle bit is a great educational tool and makes learning easy for a young horse. Last time we discussed the many different types of snaffle bits and how they work. With any bit it is important to remember that it is the rider’s hands and not the bit that is most important.

A snaffle bit is a great training tool as you can be more specific with your rein aids or cues with the reins than you can when the horse is in a hackamore or a bridle.

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Begging for Acceptance

Imagine you’re meeting a blind date at a coffee shop, a setup by your friend who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. Even though you’re not really interested in a relationship right now, you arrive only a few minutes late, and looking across the café, you see a guy jump to his feet, frantically waving his arms over his head, a little too eager to get your attention.

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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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Snaffle Bits

There are a lot of opinions out there about the snaffle bit. Everyone, from your local trainer to a national level trainer, has a point of view on the right type of snaffle and how it should be used. There are also many styles of snaffle bits including a full-cheek snaffle, a lose-ring snaffle, an offset D-ring, an O-ring, an egg butt and more.

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Horses Give More Than They Get

When you own horses, and especially if you keep them at home, sometimes it seems like your whole life revolves around doing their bidding—food service, housekeeping, valet service, maintenance. Most people who dream of bringing their horses home (after boarding them forever) are stunned to discover they have even less time to ride. Why? Because of all the other chores that need doing!

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A Devoted Horse

Horses rise or fall to your level of expectation, no matter how high or low. If you think he’s going to spook at something, he generally will. If you think he is going to throw a fit about getting in the trailer, he will oblige (especially if his emotional outbursts have gotten him what he wanted in the past). On the other hand, when your expectations are high, and you have clear parameters of obedient and compliant behavior, he steps up.

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How Much Time Should You Spend Training Your Horse

Each horse is different and the amount of time to spend on training depends on the age of the horse, the physical condition, where the horse is at in his training and his personality. By personality I mean his emotional level. Is the horse flighty or calm, willful or compliant? These factors determine how quickly the horse can learn.

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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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Think Forward: Ride Yourself Out of Rough Spots

When was the last time you felt a lack of control while riding your horse, even if only for a moment? Was he spooked? Did your horse freak out because the other horses took off? During a tantrum your horse threw about leaving his herd mate?

In the moment of panic—let’s say right after your horse spooked at a rabbit—most riders grab the reins and clench hard when they first feel a lack of control. Often, they fail to shorten the reins first, so the reins are too long, causing the rider to lean back, hands flailing and out of balance too.

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