Empowering Equestrians to Train their own horse with 100% Force Free & Horse Friendly methods

To be honest most riding lessons I attend look more like a ‘struggle’ than fun. Not only for the rider, but also for the horse. Does it sound weird if I say this depresses me? It doesn’t have to be like that. Really, horse riding can be easy and fun, for both rider and horse.

5 Things I would like to see more of in today’s riding lessons are:

  • Independent seat
  • Schoolmasters
  • Facts about horse behaviour
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Attention for the horses emotions

Independent seat

When I was following Centered Riding lessons I got very enthusiastic about riding again. Instead of,hearing over and over the same instructions that seemed physically impossible to follow, I now was moulded into a balanced position before I was asked to walk.

I improved my riding in every lesson

Instead of hearing ‘Keep your shoulders back, sit straight, look forward’ (which was

CenteredRidingwith Lucie Klaassen2

Riding instructor Lucie Klaassen giving a lesson about the seat, picture by Christa Balk

shouted to me for years), I was encouraged to test the unbalanced seat and then the balanced seat again. This shifted the feeling of the new position from feeling awkward to normal. It allowed me to reset my position to a proper one.

I discovered that following instructions about the position of my arms and legs are useless unless I balance my pelvis first. These type of instructions only help to mask the problem instead of fixing the root cause. This seems to happen a lot in lessons.

 A balanced seat feels very safe

A balanced seat provides a very safe feeling. If the rider is balanced a lot of tension in the body can be released and the seat becomes independent. I miss this in almost all the riding lessons I’ve attended. Novice riders are encouraged into a trot while they are not even balanced in walk. That doesn’t contribute to comfort or safely for horse and rider.

DSC_1381

Good instructors spend time to explain the seat. Picture provided by Lucie Klaassen, made by  Johan Auerstedt

Sometimes due to the unbalanced rider, the horse is protesting in some way and the instructor tries to fix that symptom. Horses are uncomfortable with unbalanced riders and can hollow their backs which causes the horse’s head to go up and against the bit or they go into flight mode and run off.

Instead of using a martingale or riding small cirkels to slow the horse down a balanced rider can fix this instantly. I have seen horses change in minutes when the rider was helped to sit balanced.

Things to look for in a riding instructor

I wish more instructors invested time in explaining and practising an independent balanced seat. Ask your instructor about his or her background. Find out if (s)he has knowledge of the anatomy of rider and horse. Instructors who have done Centered Riding, The Murdoch Method or have a background in equine or human bodywork are more likely to pay attention to the riders pelvis, where the balanced seat starts.

Tell me about your best riding instructor!

Sandra Poppema
For tailored positive reinforcement training advise, please visit my website and book a free intake consult!

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(Lucie Klaassen is a Dutch riding instructor. Thank you for providing the pictures)

Read more in this series The 5 Essentials of Good Riding lessons
Part II: Schoolmasters
Part III: Facts about horse behaviour
Part IV-a: Positive reinforcement (horses)
Part IV-b: Positive reinforcement (riders)
Part V: Attention for the horses emotions

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Comments on: "The 5 essentials of good riding lessons (1/5)" (2)

  1. Terry Golson said:

    I agree with you that balance is at the base (no pun intended) of confident and kind riding. Add to that the way one thinks about getting what one wants from the horse. I have two new students who called me in because they’re just beginning to do pre-novice eventing and one of the horses was running out on the jumps. The instructor at their boarding barn told them that the “horse has to be more afraid of you than the jump.” (Not an unusual mantra.) My students knew enough to know that creating fear while riding was not how they wanted to do it. Not only does that instructor train the horses with threats but she yells at the students. Not fun. And no chance of being balanced when tense, waiting for the next punishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Terry for sharing. I am glad to hear that your new student are cleaver enough to understand that a fearful horse doesn’t make a safe horse or a trustworthy team member.

      You are right about the shouting too. I always hated to be shouted at (it caused fear, tension, I became insecure and it took the fun out of riding). I think (aggressive) shouting has a negative effect on the horse too.

      I am glad to hear that your student have found you!

      What an awful mantra by the way the ‘horse has to be more afraid of you than the jump.’ I am wondering if the instructor have some fear herself…

      Liked by 1 person

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