Every Touch is a Training Aid

Do you have the feelings that your horse is ignoring you? Are you struggling with having to kick your horse every stride to keep them going? Do they sometimes run through your rein aid?

Every time you touch your horse with your leg, your hand, your rein or with a whip, you are training your horse. If you are getting a good response to your touch, the training will be improving your communication, whereas if you get no response or a resistance to your touch, you will need to use lots or progressively stronger aids.

Horses are sensitive enough to feel a fly landing on them and will move that exact bit of their skin. They are aware of every time we move our bodies, either to changes and balance, or to a kick or a pull. If we keep applying pressure, particularly in a regular rhythm, they will become numb to the aid, in the same way we stop being aware of the feeling of the clothes we are wearing.

To help our horses to understand us, we need to do our best to coordinate our movements to be purposeful and consistent. The ideal is that the same light touch in the same location gets the same response from the horse every time. To get to that we need to be aware of when and how we are asking for something, praise desired responses, and correct those that aren’t. The more consistent you are, the more consistent your horse will be as well.

We also need make sure that we are staying in the best balance possible. That means we may need to work on our position and stability in the saddle. This could involve a mixture of working on sessions on your horse, a lunge lesson or work on a riding simulator. For best results, we would complement that with some off horses fitness work. If you are looking for a place to start, I have released a free series of basic exercises on Youtube, click here for the link.

Next time you ride, try spending some time being really aware of the times you make contact with your horse, and the way your horse responds to it. Can you give softer and/or fewer aids? How does the movement affect your balance? Try it out and let me know how you get on. I would love to hear from you!

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