"You MUST stop looking at the size of the fence and answer the question. Two enormous tables on a bending line may be what you see, but the question could be going away from home and rather than be a bending line, it could be a slice with the terrain being on a slant to benefit the ride. When I stopped looking at how huge everything was and started looking at the essence of the question, it became easy and nothing was big." ~ Mellisa Davis Warden
When you realize that you are meeting a jump on a half stride, it can be challenging to keep a calm, clear head! Give yourself something constructive to think about. Tell yourself to just stay still and keep riding your horse's hind legs all the way until the point of takeoff.
"The legs bring the horse to the seat, and the seat brings the horse to the hands. When the teacher says 'shorten the reins' it needs to be translated into: 'engage the hind legs, sit on them, and then take the slack out of the reins', because if you shorten the reins from front to back, the horse will only resist." ~ Thomas Ritter
"I've always been a stickler on saddles. I see a lot of saddles that sit on the side of the horse's back, and if you think about it you are fighting against the movement in one direction or the other, if the saddle doesn’t fit in the middle. I think it's been proven by the Brits with a lot of research, that the saddle and the way it sits can make the difference between an 8, an 8.5 and a 9. I'm a stickler about that for sure. AND not riding with strength." ~ Debbie McDonald
For a forward response, the rider should be using the lower leg as an aid - mainly the inner calf. For collecting, a half halt, or a downward transition, the rider should wrap the whole leg lightly around the horse, thigh through calf evenly - as if giving the horse a hug with their legs as they use their seat to perform the transition. This encourages the horse to correctly engage the hind legs and lift the back in the downward transition.
"Until the horse comes free in the shoulder, in the shoulder in, he will not come free in the shoulder, in the half pass. Mostly, "more forward" develops the freedom in the shoulder, so often refresh the gait." ~ Hubertus Schmidt
Most riders know that we want to keep a straight line from our elbow to the horse's mouth when riding. But did you know that this means when viewed from above as well as from the side? And that it also includes your wrists and fingers??
"First, [the rider] has to be ambitious. Mentally, he has to be well balanced and consistent. He has to be tougher on himself than on the horse. If he gets after the horse too much, he will not get far. One must really be able to push oneself harder than one ever pushes a horse. Then, success will follow…" ~ Ernst Hoyos
"Having a horse with crazy gaits and an eagerness to please at 5 years old is freaking me out because I’m really feeling the weight of the responsibility to not push too hard, too fast." ~ Lauren Sprieser
This is something every rider should be thinking about!
Try giving yourself something positive to do with your eyes when jumping. Watch the top of the jump until your horse's head blocks your view of it, and then look up at the next jump. If you are following that plan at every jump, you will never be looking down. And you will also be more likely to let your horse do the jumping.
Think of keeping your shoulders aligned with your horse's shoulders (or where you want them to be), and your hips aligned with your horse's hips (or where you want them to be.) This is especially important to think about during lateral work.
Horses become incapable of learning when they go past a certain level of fear, anxiety, or stress. This means that if you keep hammering away at the horse, trying to teach them something when they are currently overwhelmed with stress, it will not work.
The only thing that you will be able to teach them by putting more pressure on them while they are in that condition is that their job is not enjoyable, and that you cannot be trusted.
Yet I often see people handling and riding horses who appear to be giving very little thought to where their horse's current level of stress is at. If the horse is not behaving or performing correctly, they keep adding more and more pressure on the horse to attempt to force it to do what they want.
In scenarios like this, the results will be FAR more successful if the human is able to monitor the horse's stress levels, and make an attempt to lower those levels before adding more pressure. (Click on Article Title above to read full article)
"If one induces the horse to assume that carriage which it would adopt of its own accord when displaying its beauty, then, one directs the horse to appear joyous and magnificent, proud and remarkable for having been ridden." ~ Xenophon
"It is only when the horse is tense that he puts his front leg out way in front of himself, and then brings it back. He never does it when he is relaxed, and the rules say that the horse has to be relaxed. Some people may think this trot looks nicer, but it is not correct." ~ Georg Theodorescu
A seemingly minor issue where you can gain or lose points in a test (or just make the judge crazy) is how you make your transitions in and out of the halt.
Let's begin with Intro and Training Level rides where the directive permits transitions between trot and halt "through the walk." In these cases it is not mandatory to make walk steps, but doing so allows the transition to be more fluid and less abrupt, hopefully with the horse staying in front of your leg. Having said that, it does not mean endless strolling or meandering into an eventual stop. A good number of walk steps might be two or three, but they should be attentive and marching and not a listless trickle as the horse runs out of gas and finally stands still. (Click on Blog Title above to read full entry)