Shimmering Princess - Building a solid Riding Foundation [Slideshow]
What is it that makes a horse nice to ride? What skills and habits make a horse an everyday pleasure?
To me there are certain things that make a horse a pleasure:
- willingness to please and to listen
- moving with rhythm and relaxation in the gait
- it learnt to act like a participating partner in everyday tasks
- being responsive and light on the leg, rein and seat aids
- when the horse is as happy to go forward as it is to stop - it has good impulsion
Princess reached the end of her stay with me - 2 months of Foundation training after her Colt start half a year ago. In total, I rode her about 60 times. During her start under saddle, I mainly wanted to reach a point where she enjoys her new work. Now I focused on more advanced concepts.
Every horse, no matter what discipline, should first have a foundation training, focusing on these concepts, before advancing to specialized training. It will learn more easily and progress faster.
Check out the pictures to discover the building blocks of Princess' riding foundation
Princess learnt to take the bridle by herself.
She learnt to come and pick me up at the mounting block
She is standing patiently for me to mount.
What a good girl! I have the habit to always say thank you to my horses no matter how small the request. They are not our slaves but our valued friends and partners in crime!
Can she be light in the bridle and responsive to the leg?
Princess learnt that it is her responsibility to keep gait and direction. My job is to have a solid focus and to leave her alone when she is doing the right thing. Giving a horse long reins is a great way to test this.
She learnt to trot with rhythm and relaxation in a long and low frame
When transitioning from bitless to riding with a bit, I like to use this headstall. It transfers half of the pressure on the nose and half onto the bit. The bit can’t press down on the sensitive tongue and bars of the horse.
Responsiveness to basic leg and seat aids: yielding the shoulders
Yielding the Hindquarters to light pressure of my leg
On the ground, Princess already learnt to move with relaxation and to stretch her neck forward down. She could transfer this skill very quickly to riding.
When horses turn, they will point their nose to the outside and throw all the weight onto the inside shoulder. This is not beneficial when riding. Princess already learnt how to bend around turns.
She learnt to canter with impulsion - I can let the reins loose and trust her that she will not take off.
She learnt to pick the correct lead in both directions. She can also execute simple drop-to a-trot lead changes
Using simple obstacles add purpose to the riding. All the basic skills learnt, will make perfect sense to the horse. Princess loves exercises like going sideways over a pole! It engages her mind and she can show off how smart she is! It gives me a reason to praise her - that`s how I create eagerness to please.
Not only a practical thing to do: Opening and closing gates. It is a great way to test understanding and responsiveness to all basic leg and seat aids.
Princess masters this task very well!
Well done, Princess! You are ready to go home to your lucky owner.
A solid foundation is so important for every riding horse. It will make your time you spend together much more enjoyable.
Read more about Shimmering Princess