Riding on the Road – Be Aware

When you hack out do you know the rules of the road? Take a look at some of these highlights to prevent disasters while out riding.

 

English: Horse riding

Take Precautions When Riding Along the Road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember when riding you are considered part of the motor vehicle act and you should be riding on the same side of the road as vehicles. For example, pedestrians walk facing traffic, while horseback riders should ride with the flow of traffic.
Where we live there is not much traffic and we ride on the right hand side of the road as if we are ‘vehicles’.

 

Stay at a safe distance from the horse in front. This means no crowding. If your horse feels crowded then it may get nervous.

 

Be seen. This is very important. Wear a reflective vest so cars can see you. And even a reflective blanket/sheet for the horse.

It does take a bit of education.

Wearing reflective clothing helps identify you, as a rider, as a possible hazard. I know in my neck of the woods, horses are not too common and some drivers do not slow down as much as I would like. They often drive by slowly and then accelerate. This sometimes sends small stones up, which spooks the horses. Wearing a reflective vest will help keep the cars slower for longer and make them realize they do have to be cautious around the horses.

Training Your Horse to Be Safe on the Road

Horse

All of my horses have been safe on the road because we have our pastures adjacent to the road and I have taken the time to train them not to be afraid of traffic.

One instance a truck with a (noisy) hay wagon was being pulled along the road. I recognized this as a disaster waiting to happen. So I got the driver to slow down and had a chat with him. All the while the horses were trying to munch on the hay debris left on the hay wagon. So as I chatted with the driver I let the horse sniff and eat the hay off the wagon. Crisis averted and more importantly – it turned out into a positive experience.

Have you ever taken the time to teach your horse a vehicle is something positive? I have, in the past, taken a green horse out and have had a friend drive my vehicle beside the horse. At different points along the road I would have the driver of the vehicle stop and feed the horse a treat from the vehicle. This way the horse associates the vehicle with something positive.

What have you done to encourage safe riding along the road?

 

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Just for Fun – Friday Fun Day!

For a change take a look at these fun sites. A little light reading for your weekend.

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Some Light Reading For Your Weekend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Jumping Position Balance – Top tips to stay in the centre of your horse

“Oh, I got left behind”, this is a common occurrence in the show ring and training arena. Here are some top tips to help you stay in the centre of your horse when jumping or riding in general.

 

Français : Concours de saut d'obstacle à Niort...

Establish a Solid Jumping Position (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Establish your Jumping Position

 

Finding a balance in your riding position over fences is like finding the ‘sweet spot’ of hitting a base ball. You know you have it when you have it. Everything clicks together. You are balanced over your base of support, your legs and seat, and you can feel yourself moving in balance with the horse.

It does take time, practice and effort to achieve the right balance. Luckily, there are many exercises which you can do to assist you.

 

Exercises

 

  1. At the halt, experiment with your position. Start off at the halt and get in your 2-point. Establish your regular position and gently roll your weigh off your seat onto your lower leg and calf.
    • Can you maintain your balance?
    • Does the same amount of weight stay in your heel or do you roll the weight into your thigh and knee?
    • Do you balance on the reins or fall back into the saddle.

    Your lower leg is the foundation of your jumping/2-point position. Drop your weight down and keep your weight deep within your heel and calf. Most people grip with their thighs and which does not allow for a deep seat and heel. Keep your thighs, knees and ankles relaxed to act as shock absorbers.

  2. Let go of the reins and put your hands:
    • Out like wings.
    • Above your head.
    • Down by your knees.

    Can you still maintain your balance? Keep practicing until you can move your hands and arms without any disturbance of your position.

  3. Move from halt to walk, walk to trot in 2-point.
    The change in movement of the horse is great practice on how to maintain your balance and position. If you fall back and/or use the reins to balance on your horse’s mouth, then grab mane or use a neck strap to prevent your seat from falling back on the horse’s back.
  4. Make riding in 2-point part of your regular routine. You don’t have to be jumping to practice your jumping position. Some other exercises may be:
    • Ride in 2-point down the long side and rising trot on the short side (and vise-versa).
    • Try a 3 loop serpentine doing rising trot on loop 2 and 2-point on loops 1 and 3. Or even a 4 loop serpentine alternating between 2-point and 3-point.
    • Use your 2-point over trot rails.

These are just some exercises you can do. If you have an excellent exercise you would like to share with us, then please write a comment and send it to us. We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

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Trouble Shooting Your Walk- Using Placing Poles to Establish Your Walk

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Make Your Horse Think Where His Hooves Are

Do you ever use poles to help your horse THINK where his feet are?

 

Most horses do not think they have big honking hooves at the end of their spindly legs. Help your horse out by educating him on where his feet are. Use placing poles to help establish a comfortable forward walk.

 

What the Judge Hates to See

 

As a senior judge, I have judged in the ‘trenches’ at schooling and training shows and at the other end of the spectrum as well and I can tell you, the first impression is a walk!

 

To improve your walk, get the horse moving forward. As the video says, they should be over tracking.

 

How to Improve The Walk

 

Walking aimlessly around doesn’t offer much to the horse. This just confirms in his mind he is doing the correct thing. Riding the walk is not a holiday! He must push forward and stride forward purposefully. Start by placing poles at various locations in your riding space. If you are riding on a circle place them at the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions.  This gives you focus and gives the horse an opportunity to lift up his feet.

 

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After the horse is walking over the poles quietly you can place them approximately 9 feet apart. So rather than having them at the 12, 3 and 6 position you can place them in a row, 9 feet apart. This is designed to help the horse get confidence over poles and to teach them how to pick up their feet.

 

Believe it or not, some horses do get anxious over a simple pole, so make sure you get the horse comfortable walking over poles before you set off on further jumping adventures.

 

Improve the Walk Even More

 

English: Muscles (part 2) of Equus Callibus (a...

Walking Over Poles Will Help Develop the Horse’s Muscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you find you would like to improve the walk even more, give your horse more confidence and strengthen your horse, raise the poles slightly. Raising the poles offers the horse ample opportunity to raise his legs. This is often an over looked opportunity. Raising their hooves at a walk is similar to marching for us. It engages the muscles they require for jumping, dressage and other equestrian sports. Offering simple exercises which enhance the use of the leg lifting muscle and get it and keep it stronger for longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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