Ways to Become a Better Rider When Not in the Saddle


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Horseback riding takes many hours of patient and constant effort. The journey to becoming a better rider is a long one. But there are many ways that you can continue your development and improvement as a rider even when you aren’t in the saddle. Here are some great techniques to get you started.

Understand the Horse’s Gaits

The better that you understand the movement and mechanics of the horse’s body, the better you will be able to move with him and use your body effectively. Spend time observing horses at different gaits. Watch them in the fields, and ideally being lunged or exercised. Memorize the footfall patterns at each of the gaits, and watch how the movement of the legs transfers through the horse’s body. Observe how the horse’s body bends in different directions and at different places, and watch the movement of his head and neck during different movements and actions.

Watch Other Riders

You can learn a lot about riding by watching other riders. While at horse shows, try to find some time to watch the classes that you are not riding in. At your horse’s agistment, ask your trainer if you can observe the riding lessons of others. If allowed, then sit quietly and listen to the trainer’s comments. Try to spot the issues the trainer is working to fix, and watch how they are solved. Pay special attention to how the rider’s position affects the horse’s movement and behavior. Many of these methods and ideas can be transferred to your own riding.

Study Riding Technique

You know all those books out there about riding and horsemanship fundamentals? Read them. The more knowledge that you have, the better. But read a variety of books by trainers from a variety of disciplines. You’ll find that the trainers have many different approaches and theories, so approach every book and method with an open mind. Take from the methods the pieces that you find to be truthful and helpful, and then apply them to your riding.

Audit Clinics

Clinics provide a perfect opportunity to watch a variety of horses and riders in action, and a clinician will talk you through what you’re seeing and how changes and improvements can be made. Choose a clinic taught by a reputable trainer, take a notebook and camera, and plan to attend the event for a full day. The public can often audit clinics for a nominal fee, making them much more financially accessible than riding in them can sometimes be. For added benefit, attend a number of clinics by different trainers, pulling together the knowledge that you gain from them.

There are many ways to continue your development as a rider, even when not in your riding lessons. With a little effort you can continuously develop your horseback riding skills.

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