SweetTrigger

Confident Riders

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(Please be kind and positive as I find this to be kinda upsetting :unsure: )

I have a 15 hand 4 year old gelding, Trigger. I ride him on a 3 ring gag on the third ring. My trainer told me to do so. I guess I've never been a very confident rider. I'm not always nervous or anything but I'm not what you would call "a confident rider" either. My horse is fine in an arena or with another horse in a field but when I rode him in the paddock one day and he bolted I fell off. I only rode him once in the paddock since he bolted but I rode him in our yard a few times but it's too small.There's only enough rooom to walk up and down and turn to go the opposite way. Only in a controlled area where he's calm can I ride him with loose reins or do anything with him!! I am trying to save up to get an arena for the summer but I'm on a tight budget.. Is there any advice for anyone to give me?!

523630_182606035221734_1365476671_n.jpgMe and Trigger in our yard.

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Building your confidence is important. If you are nervous, your horse will pick up on it, and that may be part of why you are having the issues with him you are having.

Falling off can affect your trust and confidence for quite some time. Heck, just having a horse take off with you without that can be a bit of a knock. Also...and please don't be upset by this...when he tossed you, did you get back on? If you didn't, he may have come to the conclusion that taking off will get him out of work. If that's the case, then you may want to find somebody more confident with a good velcro seat to ride him through it - somebody who hopefully won't fall off and will only make him work harder if he tries it again.

So, here's my suggestion, if your logistics and finances allow it. Have your trainer or an experienced friend lunge you on him. That will help you get back your feel without the fear of him taking off - because there will be an extra person controlling the horse. Lunge lessons also help you improve your seat, which will reduce the risk of coming off - they can really help with developing that aforementioned "velcro seat."

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Building your confidence is important. If you are nervous, your horse will pick up on it, and that may be part of why you are having the issues with him you are having.

Falling off can affect your trust and confidence for quite some time. Heck, just having a horse take off with you without that can be a bit of a knock. Also...and please don't be upset by this...when he tossed you, did you get back on? If you didn't, he may have come to the conclusion that taking off will get him out of work. If that's the case, then you may want to find somebody more confident with a good velcro seat to ride him through it - somebody who hopefully won't fall off and will only make him work harder if he tries it again.

So, here's my suggestion, if your logistics and finances allow it. Have your trainer or an experienced friend lunge you on him. That will help you get back your feel without the fear of him taking off - because there will be an extra person controlling the horse. Lunge lessons also help you improve your seat, which will reduce the risk of coming off - they can really help with developing that aforementioned "velcro seat."

OK thanks so much :) That is very helpfull. I should be getting lunging equipment soon and my neighbour is a brilliant rider but I don't know if I should ask her. I always get back up after I fall but I didn't get back up in the paddock when I fell. He went galloing around and bucking so I brought him into the yard, untacked him and went around bareback just cooling him down. I rode him in the padddock again a few days (or a week I'm not sure at all!) after that incident. He was still a little bit jumpy. I was jumping one small fence that day in the bottom part of the paddock (where it was flat). My mam stood in the middle of the paddock and he didn't run off with me that day, although he tried to trot but I pulled him back. I rode him in the yard a few times since and he's fine there. I think it's just in big, open areas. Do you think I should ride in a snaffle instead? (My current bit is a 3 ring gag on the third ring as my trainer told me to do so but should I ride with a soft bit? Since it's not the bit that controls the horse)

Edited by SweetTrigger

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There are different types of "confident" riders -- or, at least, people who appear or claim to be confident. Some of these riders get their horses excited and then try to control the response -- basically controlled flight. I stress trying to get the rider to relax. This, in turn, helps the horse relax, making the whole riding experience more comfortable for both horse and rider.

Relate this to the classroom. If one or more students are excited and hard to control, the teacher may react by yelling and screaming at the students. This tends to get all of the students emotional and hard to control. Under such conditions, it is very hard to learn. However, if the teacher remains calm and refocuses the students on the learning experience, things go much better.

When riding, I recommend that the rider first focus on keeping her horse calm. Calming a horse cannot be done through force. While one might get obedience, the horse will either do this out of resignation (thereby loosing any enthusiasm to learn) or maintain a feeling of resentment and rebelion which can surface later with dire consequences. A calm horse is much more likely to learn to enjoy the time its spends with the rider and seek to do what the rider requests.

So, how does this relate to your situation? First, I recommend using a simple snaffle bit of generous diameter. The horse should find this more comfortable, and you should have a better feeling of what is going on at the horse's mouth when you do something with your hands. It is very important that you establish an independent seat based on balance, relaxation, and a low center of gravity. That is the only way you can use your hands with finesse.

If your horse bolts, try to control the horse without simply pulling back on the reins. While pulling back on the reins may sometimes work, it is more likely to cause resistence in the horse. Maintaining balance and keeping your body pliable, begin to turn your horse by taking one rein to the side. It is important to release tension on the opposite rein in an equal amount so that you are not simply pulling on both reins which generally leads to a loss of control. As the horse responds to the side pressure, relieve the tension as a reward. You can repeat this process as many times as necessary. As you do so, the horse should make the arc smaller and smaller. Continued this until you get the horse back under control. You can continue until you get the horse to come to a complete stop if you desire. Be sure to reward your horse by releiving tension on the reins. When you releive this tension, however, do not "throw the reins away". If your horse took off again, you would probably respond by jerking on the reins. You should only releive the rein tension, but keep them ready to reapply them smoothly if necessary. If your horse tries to pull the reins to loosen them, give by opening the angle in your shoulder and elbow so you do not give the horse anything to fight against. When the horse brings his head back, take the reins back so they are not slack. This way, you maintain control of the reins rather than giving this control to the horse.

This same taking and giving of the reins may be used to control a horse that tries to lean on the bit when going straight. Some horse try to lean on the bit, making the rider hold them up as the horse shifts its weight forward and runs off. If the rider gives on the bit, they horse cannot use the rider for support and must stay better balanced. At the same time, the rider should use a smooth, periodic "take" on the reins to tell her horse to remain controlled and balance. This taking and giving is much more productive than trying to control a horse by simply pulling on the reins.

I hope these ideas help you understand how you can guide a horse without trying to force compliance with a "stronger" bit.

Also, I would advise you to wait with doing things like jumping -- which tends to get a horse excited -- until you have a better relationship and better control of your horse. When you do begin to jump, test that the horse remains calm. You should be able to quietly get your horse to walk within a couple of strides after going over a jump.

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There are different types of "confident" riders -- or, at least, people who appear or claim to be confident. Some of these riders get their horses excited and then try to control the response -- basically controlled flight. I stress trying to get the rider to relax. This, in turn, helps the horse relax, making the whole riding experience more comfortable for both horse and rider.

Relate this to the classroom. If one or more students are excited and hard to control, the teacher may react by yelling and screaming at the students. This tends to get all of the students emotional and hard to control. Under such conditions, it is very hard to learn. However, if the teacher remains calm and refocuses the students on the learning experience, things go much better.

When riding, I recommend that the rider first focus on keeping her horse calm. Calming a horse cannot be done through force. While one might get obedience, the horse will either do this out of resignation (thereby loosing any enthusiasm to learn) or maintain a feeling of resentment and rebelion which can surface later with dire consequences. A calm horse is much more likely to learn to enjoy the time its spends with the rider and seek to do what the rider requests.

So, how does this relate to your situation? First, I recommend using a simple snaffle bit of generous diameter. The horse should find this more comfortable, and you should have a better feeling of what is going on at the horse's mouth when you do something with your hands. It is very important that you establish an independent seat based on balance, relaxation, and a low center of gravity. That is the only way you can use your hands with finesse.

If your horse bolts, try to control the horse without simply pulling back on the reins. While pulling back on the reins may sometimes work, it is more likely to cause resistence in the horse. Maintaining balance and keeping your body pliable, begin to turn your horse by taking one rein to the side. It is important to release tension on the opposite rein in an equal amount so that you are not simply pulling on both reins which generally leads to a loss of control. As the horse responds to the side pressure, relieve the tension as a reward. You can repeat this process as many times as necessary. As you do so, the horse should make the arc smaller and smaller. Continued this until you get the horse back under control. You can continue until you get the horse to come to a complete stop if you desire. Be sure to reward your horse by releiving tension on the reins. When you releive this tension, however, do not "throw the reins away". If your horse took off again, you would probably respond by jerking on the reins. You should only releive the rein tension, but keep them ready to reapply them smoothly if necessary. If your horse tries to pull the reins to loosen them, give by opening the angle in your shoulder and elbow so you do not give the horse anything to fight against. When the horse brings his head back, take the reins back so they are not slack. This way, you maintain control of the reins rather than giving this control to the horse.

This same taking and giving of the reins may be used to control a horse that tries to lean on the bit when going straight. Some horse try to lean on the bit, making the rider hold them up as the horse shifts its weight forward and runs off. If the rider gives on the bit, they horse cannot use the rider for support and must stay better balanced. At the same time, the rider should use a smooth, periodic "take" on the reins to tell her horse to remain controlled and balance. This taking and giving is much more productive than trying to control a horse by simply pulling on the reins.

I hope these ideas help you understand how you can guide a horse without trying to force compliance with a "stronger" bit.

Also, I would advise you to wait with doing things like jumping -- which tends to get a horse excited -- until you have a better relationship and better control of your horse. When you do begin to jump, test that the horse remains calm. You should be able to quietly get your horse to walk within a couple of strides after going over a jump.

Ok thanks a lot :D I'll try that thanks. I said earlier to my mam "I want to change back to a snaffle for a while to see if he's better" and she said "you won't be able to control him then". I responded by saying "it's not the bit that controls the horse though".

My trainer reccomended the gag but a snaffle would be best wouldn't it? I don't think he (my horse) will be in training again this summer. I can do anything with Trigger (like jumping) when I'm in an arena just not in a field or a big wide space but he's fine with another horse anywhere.

We should be getting arena fencing put up some time but I'd like to be able to ride Trigger anywhere (safely :excl: ). I want to talk about the snaffle bit with my trainer but I'm concerned for how she'll respond. She could say "you'll have no control then" or something but I don't have a clue how she will respond!! She's very good though. She's told me multiple times to lean back, not pull on the reins and I think (or at least I like to think) I'm getting better as a rider.

Do you think maybe I should work on a lunge line without reins on Trigger to get him used to stopping when I lean back or something? I'd need an experienced rider there though!! (My mam was going to help..I think! But she doesn't ride!! WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS COMPLICATED?!!!!!) Anyway!! Thans for all the help :happy0203: It's much appreciated

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Make sure you use the RIGHT snaffle. If possible, try a few different ones with a trainer or experienced rider observing how he takes/accepts the contact with each one. Talk to your trainer. Tell her you aren't entirely comfortable with the gag, make sure she knows what you want to achieve.

Horses often do get more excited and jazzed in a wide open space. This is then being aggravated by your tension. Another thing you might want to try is borrowing a nice quiet horse from your friend and riding THAT out in the paddock a few times - I know that might not be possible, but it's another thing that can help.

Sweet, there's one great thing your mam can do to help whether she's a rider or not - video you when you're riding. That way you can see what you're doing and it can really help the learning progress. You don't need a fancy camera - a phone will do.

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Make sure you use the RIGHT snaffle. If possible, try a few different ones with a trainer or experienced rider observing how he takes/accepts the contact with each one. Talk to your trainer. Tell her you aren't entirely comfortable with the gag, make sure she knows what you want to achieve.

Horses often do get more excited and jazzed in a wide open space. This is then being aggravated by your tension. Another thing you might want to try is borrowing a nice quiet horse from your friend and riding THAT out in the paddock a few times - I know that might not be possible, but it's another thing that can help.

Sweet, there's one great thing your mam can do to help whether she's a rider or not - video you when you're riding. That way you can see what you're doing and it can really help the learning progress. You don't need a fancy camera - a phone will do.

Thanks :smile: My friend has lots of good ponies but I don't know if she would lend one to me! And I have a feeling if I mention this to my mam, friend or trainer the answer will be no!! My mam will probably freak out saying "don't be silly" and "no you're not asking her". How can riding another horse in the paddock help? I'll try to organise something like that! But I'll most likely have to ride their horse over at their house.

Luckily my mam got a fancy camera for christmas!! My paddock is uneven at the top but flat at the bottom. I will try out a few different bits thanks. Maybe should I put white tape across he bottom of the padock? Trigger is a bit of a risk taker though, so I can't say he deffinitely won't try to run through the tape

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Ok thanks a lot :D I'll try that thanks. I said earlier to my mam "I want to change back to a snaffle for a while to see if he's better" and she said "you won't be able to control him then". I responded by saying "it's not the bit that controls the horse though".

My trainer reccomended the gag but a snaffle would be best wouldn't it? I don't think he (my horse) will be in training again this summer. I can do anything with Trigger (like jumping) when I'm in an arena just not in a field or a big wide space but he's fine with another horse anywhere.

We should be getting arena fencing put up some time but I'd like to be able to ride Trigger anywhere (safely :excl: ). I want to talk about the snaffle bit with my trainer but I'm concerned for how she'll respond. She could say "you'll have no control then" or something but I don't have a clue how she will respond!! She's very good though. She's told me multiple times to lean back, not pull on the reins and I think (or at least I like to think) I'm getting better as a rider.

Do you think maybe I should work on a lunge line without reins on Trigger to get him used to stopping when I lean back or something? I'd need an experienced rider there though!! (My mam was going to help..I think! But she doesn't ride!! WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS COMPLICATED?!!!!!) Anyway!! Thans for all the help :happy0203: It's much appreciated

I worked a little with a young woman today and a horse even one of the better riders at the stable told me needs to be ridden in a curb bit for control. I was riding this horse in a snaffle and had the young woman get on. I told her how to respond if the horse started to get excited -- basically the "taking and giving" of the reins I mentioned earlier. The woman was delighted with the horse's response. The horse was also accelerating on the slight downhill slope of the area where the woman was riding. I told the woman to keep her body vertical -- this might "feel" like one is leaning back -- in order to not interfere with the horse's balance on the down grade. She was amazed at how big a difference this little change in balance made.

I've never heard a good explanation for leaning back when stopping, although I have seen a lot of people do it. Normally, this leaning back is accompanied by the rider sticking her feet out in front of her, stiffening her legs, and pulling on the reins. I advise a rider to remain balanced with their feet underneath them. My main emphasis is to move with the horse and keep it relaxed. Then, when I want to stop, I simply stop my body from moving with the horse. Since the horse has become accustomed to our bodies working together, the horse stops moving when I stop moving. I also advise a rider to stop their hands from moving forward In relation to the ground. Rather than the rider pulling her hands back to her body, the horse brings her body towards her hands. The difference is that the horse is putting the pressure on the reins. While the rider may not be able to tell the difference, the horse can. When a rider puts pressure on the reins, the horse doesn't really know what will happen if it stops. The horse does know, however, that if it is the one putting the pressure on, stopping will stop the pressure from increasing. Practice this stopping technique at a walk and see what happens. Once you get used to it at a walk, try the same technique when trotting. This is a simple technique -- once understood by the rider -- that a horse easily understands and generally responds to even if accustomed to more aggressive stopping techniques.

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I worked a little with a young woman today and a horse even one of the better riders at the stable told me needs to be ridden in a curb bit for control. I was riding this horse in a snaffle and had the young woman get on. I told her how to respond if the horse started to get excited -- basically the "taking and giving" of the reins I mentioned earlier. The woman was delighted with the horse's response. The horse was also accelerating on the slight downhill slope of the area where the woman was riding. I told the woman to keep her body vertical -- this might "feel" like one is leaning back -- in order to not interfere with the horse's balance on the down grade. She was amazed at how big a difference this little change in balance made.

I've never heard a good explanation for leaning back when stopping, although I have seen a lot of people do it. Normally, this leaning back is accompanied by the rider sticking her feet out in front of her, stiffening her legs, and pulling on the reins. I advise a rider to remain balanced with their feet underneath them. My main emphasis is to move with the horse and keep it relaxed. Then, when I want to stop, I simply stop my body from moving with the horse. Since the horse has become accustomed to our bodies working together, the horse stops moving when I stop moving. I also advise a rider to stop their hands from moving forward In relation to the ground. Rather than the rider pulling her hands back to her body, the horse brings her body towards her hands. The difference is that the horse is putting the pressure on the reins. While the rider may not be able to tell the difference, the horse can. When a rider puts pressure on the reins, the horse doesn't really know what will happen if it stops. The horse does know, however, that if it is the one putting the pressure on, stopping will stop the pressure from increasing. Practice this stopping technique at a walk and see what happens. Once you get used to it at a walk, try the same technique when trotting. This is a simple technique -- once understood by the rider -- that a horse easily understands and generally responds to even if accustomed to more aggressive stopping techniques.

Thanks :smile: I will not pull on his mouth, nor will I put my feet in front of me while stopping by leaning back because that's just not my riding style! (sounds a bit more western than english!! :smile:)

Do you think it's ok that I want to ride in an arena to control him? for now anyway. I might do lunging without a bridle and saddle, just a rope around his neck with my trainer if she goes for it? To work on my seat, balance and getting trigger to understand different aids by body positions without tack!!

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If your horse lunges well and your saddle fits properly, I would recommend riding in your saddle without stirrup straps. I was taught to ride with my hands held as if holding reins but with nothing in my hands. Alois Podhajsky (director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna for more than 20 years) wrote that the rider should hold on to the cantle of the saddle with his inside hand and the pommel with his outside hand if necessary, especially when first learning to sit the trot. He wrote: "It is much better to hold on and sit correctly than to try to remain in the saddle by twisting the body or clutching the horse with one's calves." As the rider gets used to sitting the trot better, Podhajsky recommended the rider take his hand off the cantle first and later off the pommel. When I had an instructor lunge me without stirrups or reins, the horse was very good to slow down if I lost my balance. I have found that this is very common with horses.

It is certainly fine to ride in an arena until you have more confidence in controlling your horse. You want to improve, but this is best done by establishing a good foundation before going on to the next level. Rushing things usually leads to going back, having to correct problems, and re-learning; this usually ends up taking much longer than taking the proper amount of time in the beginning. By the way, remember that your horse is still young (only 4) and his body is not fully developed -- don't confuse size with development --, so you don't want to overstress him either. You should remember to develop your horse gradually so that you don't overstress him physically or psychologically.

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If your horse lunges well and your saddle fits properly, I would recommend riding in your saddle without stirrup straps. I was taught to ride with my hands held as if holding reins but with nothing in my hands. Alois Podhajsky (director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna for more than 20 years) wrote that the rider should hold on to the cantle of the saddle with his inside hand and the pommel with his outside hand if necessary, especially when first learning to sit the trot. He wrote: "It is much better to hold on and sit correctly than to try to remain in the saddle by twisting the body or clutching the horse with one's calves." As the rider gets used to sitting the trot better, Podhajsky recommended the rider take his hand off the cantle first and later off the pommel. When I had an instructor lunge me without stirrups or reins, the horse was very good to slow down if I lost my balance. I have found that this is very common with horses.

It is certainly fine to ride in an arena until you have more confidence in controlling your horse. You want to improve, but this is best done by establishing a good foundation before going on to the next level. Rushing things usually leads to going back, having to correct problems, and re-learning; this usually ends up taking much longer than taking the proper amount of time in the beginning. By the way, remember that your horse is still young (only 4) and his body is not fully developed -- don't confuse size with development --, so you don't want to overstress him either. You should remember to develop your horse gradually so that you don't overstress him physically or psychologically.

Ok thanks :smile: I can do a siting trot and I have a good seat but there's always room for improvement!! I like riding bareback too so I might try some exercises without a saddle! And with the saddle on too though!! :smile: I will to some stirrupless work too thanks :smile:

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Try lunging him out in the paddock, on a lunge line, May I ask why you would get such a young horse if you aren't all that experienced or confident? I'm not very experienced a rider which Is why I got an older horse.

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Try lunging him out in the paddock, on a lunge line, May I ask why you would get such a young horse if you aren't all that experienced or confident? I'm not very experienced a rider which Is why I got an older horse.

Yes I will try lunging him thanks :smile: I was told he was 4 when we bought him, not...around 1. I am experienced I just need to work on my confidence a little bit, that's all :smile: But I don't mind that he's young. It's a good experience for me to have!! :smile:

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