Recommendations for Riders , Owners & Trainers

When we ride - we are members of a two individual herd , (at minimum), the horse knows how we feel and feels our focus (even ocular focus). We need to become better at feeling the horse and we must remain the leader as much as possible. We need to learn to ride consciously more of the time as on average we spend two thirds of our time thinking of many other things in our lives other than the riding we are doing at the time, don’t be just a passenger as much as we generally do. Don't constantly look down at the ground nearby nor at the horse's ears or head as that confuses the horse, focus on where you want to go. Horse can feel a fly on its skin so it can easily feel our movements.

Firm and Benevolent Leadership Another important point that applies to many horses is the herd mentality requirement of having a "Firm Leader". As we humans are predators we must also include with Firm Leadership a clear understanding of "Benevolence" toward the horses as well. Therefore an effective paradox is to become a "Firm and Benevolent Leader" for our horses so that they can expect and trust us to take care of any of their fears when they are with us. With their millions of years of DNA programming they will always need some one to kill any attacking predators and we must be that protector. Our ability to redirect and control their energy and footfalls rather than confining / stopping them (holding them back) from running or moving is an important factor in that line of thinking.

The Lies that we have been taught from early on: Catch Em', Saddle Em', Kick Em' to go, Pull Em' to stop and Pull Em’ to Turn Em'.

learn to use single rein (Direct and Indirect) for control and safety Use a halter to learn the single rein control mechanics and feel in order to prevent accidental damage to the horse's mouth during training before using the bit, then transfer to the bit and learn it softly but firmly. Always use correctly applied pressure then release for the horse to follow.

When riding, try to give the horse gentle notice of upcoming action / requests -- slobber straps are helpful as well as properly placed bits being carried on the tongue by the horse and of course soft hands to signal upcoming requests.

Try riding your horse without a bit, from time to time, in halters (of various types) and give the horse's mouth a break from the bit.

Always remain patient and allow a few seconds for a horse to absorb and respond to requests (Whenever Training or Riding). Sometimes we need to allow time to regain focus during interruptions.

Good rider exercises in a ménage or other contained area should include riding bareback at walk, trot (optionally at a canter/lope), with a bit and in halter (whilst carry a bit) always using soft hands. One can and should learn to feel the “barrel movement” whilst riding bareback and in saddle in order to help with lead departures from aids/cues as well as for stopping, both when feet are in correct positions to allow the horse success with our requests.

A good habit building technique for stops is to back up a couple of steps whenever stopping (when practical) and when training do not completely release rein pressure until / unless the horse head is in the correct / desired position.

For building loin muscles rollbacks are a good exercise and not as boring as simply walking or trotting up to a jump and slowly leaping over in order to build loin muscles (although that does work).

When riding circles don't always stay on correct lead as any horse needs to learn to be more ambidextrous for better balance . A horse needs this to better maintain balance in awkward or difficult circumstances, therefore, periodically use a counter canter.

When only a small amount of time is available for training don't do nothing as spending even small amounts of time does help and is not a waste, just keep the horse focused. Communication is improved whenever you train with focus no matter how much or little time you spend.

When large amounts of time are available for training , keep training / schooling interesting (complex and/or different exercises). Vary the sequences of exercises, plus provide periodic breaks throughout training routines.

pressure release A huge key to dealing with horses (whether riding, training, leading or loading) is Pressure – Release, applied correctly and methodically.

When longeing Teach your horse to work on a loose rope in order not to stress/strain the back, spine, ribs or legs (joints/muscles). Never create pressure/drive from behind the horse, always apply pressure from the girth/rib areas forward (otherwise the horse will simply be running away from pressure and not learning).

opposition reflex Always remember that horses naturally oppose constant pressure (whether pushing or pulling they are opposing) this is commonly known as “OPPOSITION REFLEX”. Therefore it is important to use appropriate pressure & release actions whilst remaining persistent & consistent, however try to always remain “passively persistent” and never overtly harsh.

Never get angry count to yourself / delay before reacting in anger.
Be firm but fair in all matters equine (riding or training).

Overly aggressive methods (riding, training, leading or loading) only serve to trigger the prey animal instinct (right brained instinct) instead of the left brain thinking capabilities and defeats real training/ learning.

Dignity We must leave a horse's DIGNITY in place and human egos have no place in dealing with horses.

Discipline vs. Punishment Remember that discipline is much different than punishment and horses do not do well with punishment.

Never forget – reverse psychology and lateral thinking!