Resistance Free Riding- Asking for a Simple Collected Circle

Using this Diagram as your guide:

To ask for a circle to the left in-frame and collected:
-  The left hand should for a left hand circle lift and move to position #2 and then move to #0, to tilt the nose in and to lift the rib. 
- The left leg should lay it against the horse softly in position # L2 to move the rib over 
- The body should turn to the right at the hips
- The right leg should move to position #R2 urge the horse forward and should lay against the horse to push the horse around in the circle.
- The right hand should stay in a neutral position and apply a little pressure to keep the shoulder from moving out and to tuck the nose for collection. 

Remember that the horse reacts to your movements. When you drop your inside hand it will:

1. Drop your inside shoulder and lock up your horse's shoulder.

2. Pushes your horse's hip to the outside.

3. your inside leg pushes your horse out of the circle.

When you lift your inside hand, it will:

1. it moves your weight to the outside seat bone.

2. it lifts your shoulder.

3. it opens up your horse's shoulder so it can step around.

4. opens up your inside seat bone.

You want to always be sure to create an area of no pressure, that is where the horse will go. If ou create an area of pressure, the horse will want to get away form that area. Now it is up to you to recognize where your body creates pressure as you go through exercises in the arena. Your body can create press in the leg, seat bones, and rein. Be sure that you are creating pressure that you WANT to cease in order to ask the horse to do something, not on accident or because of your lack of muscle strength. 

This information was learned and derived from classes taken at the Global Equine Academy

Good riding habits and Training Techniques

Before you get out there and saddle up your horse and take off to the nearest open field and settle into a nice canter so you can feel the wind through your hair, and the sound of hooves hitting the ground in a steady pace that seems to align perfectly with your breathing, and allow that exhilarating feeling of freedom to take over your soul in the way that only your 1,000 pound friend can do, you might want to consider implementing some good practices that will get you and your furry friend off to a great focused start with each ride you go on. There are a few practices that will get your horses mind on you, and take it off of every thing else.

To start, you should do a soundness check. Check for wolf teeth if you haven't done so. Check to see if they are full or gant, and if they have a bright or dull eye to see if they are feeling well.

Next, you can do these quick exercises before you even hop on your horse.

1. Back: Ask the horse to back up for several steps. This will get their attention

2. Disengage hip:bring head towards stirrup to limber the neck and lock the inside leg. apply pressure at the hip until he steps his foot in front of his back foot. If he isn't listening, put some life in your body. Do a few circles to each side.

3. Disengage the Shoulder: come at him at the shoulder, and apply pressure if needed. Add life to your body, lift your arms. Do a few circles on each side.

4. Lower the head: swivel his head down until he responds to the pressure.

5. Bring head to cinch: Bring his head around to his cinch, and ask him to leave it for a second. This makes him focus. If he gives to pressure, that is one thing, but leaving it for a second is them demonstrating focus.

6. Longe them in a few circles on a long rein: You might need something in your other hand. Be sure their head is in the circle toward you. Add life to your body, be active if you want them to be active. When you become inactive, so will the horse.

Ground Limbering exercises:
Tie head to rear D-ring with rein or a bungee. Ask the horse to move around until they start to follow their nose. Be sure to switch sides.

"Bit up the horse" This is a term used when you tie the reins back on the horse, teaching him to give to vertical pressure and break at the poll. For this Exercise, you can run your reins through the D on the cinch, over the saddle and tie them at the seat. This is a little harsh for the mouth, so I prefer to use bungee cords and a tie down or a bucket hanger or something to make it long enough. Run the strap/bungee concoction to the front D ring on the saddle. Be sure they are the same length, and that it brings the horses head perpendicular to the ground. You will want to do this in the round pen so the horse can move out both ways safely. If this is the first time you are doing this, let the horse stand there for a few minutes and get used to the idea. After the horse looks comfortable, ask him to move forward by driving from the hip.

Mounted Collection Exercises:

Once you mount the horse, check your hand and leg positions. Be sure you are level, your foot is level, you are up on your seat bone and then ask for the following:

Bend his head to the cinch for lateral flex, and tip his nose down for some vertical flex.

How to:

Asking for lateral flex: Pull his head toward the cinch, and add a little pressure with the inside leg.

Asking for lateral and vertical flex: pull with your inside hand, and give a little pressure with your inside foot, and use your outside rein, held a little lower to ask him to tuck his nose. If he backs up, that is ok. He will stop eventually. Now try to move the head from side to side keeping the nose tucked. When his head is in the middle, you should have pressure on both reins. Remember pressure and release. If he gives his head, give some back. If you need to, do a back and forth with the reins. If he started backing, give him some pressure with your legs.

Preparing Yourself for Your First Endurance Ride

The last ride I did, I wore a heart-rate monitor to see how many calories I burned during that 25 miles. I burned 1,000 calories on my horse that day. I am in good shape, and that is a very serious workout. To give an example, I burn 1,000 calories by running 10 miles (on my own legs and feet).  So you can see that an endurance ride is not for the weak body.

Preparing your body for the race should include a lot of riding. However, in addition to that, you should stay healthy. Walk, stretch and do physical activity as much as possible. The stronger you are, the better rider you are, especially when you become fatigued, and I guarantee you, that after two hours of trotting and in a saddle, you will become fatigued. Your body and muscles are tired, and  you are only partially finished. Your riding will get sloppy and that will affect your horses ability to perform. Let me put it this way, if you are on you horse bouncing around at  a fast trot, your horses back will become sore, his balance will be off, and you are both at higher risk for injury. So be sure to prepare for this. It isn't called an "endurance" ride because its short and comfy!

Some exercises you can do to increase your strength and flexibility include:

Squats: This will help you to post, rather than three point (standing up, which is bad for the horses back in long distances)

Bicycling: This will also build your quads and help with strength needed to stay put.

Planks: Lay on the ground in push up position, but drop to your elbows. Try to hold it for a minute. If you need to start on your knees and elbows, that is fine, just work up to elbows and toes. Work your core. The stronger your core is, the quicker you can respond to spooks and abrupt movements of your horse that might other wise have put you on the ground. Once you do this in push up position, turn to each side to work your obliques.

Leg Lifts: Lay on the ground (back down), put your hands under your rear, and lift those legs slowly and drop them back down slowly, try to get to 25 of them.

Push-ups: I know that these aren't the most fun, but, if you can do 10 or 20, you can build your back, shoulders and chest muscles, all of these are needed to be a stronger rider.

A good short workout plan including these exercises, and a bit of cardio can really improve your riding and your overall health. We often become so wrapped up in our horses well-being and conditioning, that sometimes we forget our own.

Caring for Your Horse Post Endurance Ride

You just completed your first endurance ride (or you are on your 45 minute stop). Your horse has pulsed down and you completed! Congratulations are in order for you and your horse. You head back to camp to unsaddle, but you have no idea how to care for your horse after putting him or her through their very first horse marathon. You look around and see people with all sorts of rituals that each one of them aware by. You wonder what works, but also realize you may not have the equipment that you need to take care of your race partner. Here are a few pointers that might help alleviate soreness or stiffness in your horse.

- Get a sponge and sponge your horse with cool water on the neck, front legs, and shoulders. DO NOT GET IT BEHIND THE CINCH. Let the rest of your horse cool naturally. Many people keep blankets on their rump to keep them warm in the rear.

-If it is chilly out, put a blanket on your horse, he is sweaty and will be very cold.

- Give him some electrolytes. There are several brands, I prefer the pastes in a tube so I can be sure my girl gets all that she needs.

- Give him some grain, alfalfa, hay, or beet pulp. Let them eat! Again, if it is cold, consider giving him some warm beet pulp soup. Take warm water, and mix it with a scoop of beet pulp. This will rehydrate your horse and warm him up.

- Next you want to cool their legs off to reduce the heat and draw it out of the legs.  Some people put ice boots on the front legs. If you do this, don't leave them on for more than 20-30 minutes. Others prefer gel (Main and Tail Mineral Ice) or clay based poultices that cool the legs, such as a cold clay medicated poultice. You could also quilt wrap, then polo wrap the legs, and leave it on for 24 hours. If you use the poultice, you want it to stay moist as long as possible. Some people layer wet paper under the quilted wrap to assist in keeping it moist.

- Check your horses back for stiffness. Run your fingers down each side of his back, if he flinches, he is stiff or sore, and you might have a saddle fit issue. If that is the case, get some guidance from a professional fitter before your next ride.

- Lastly, don't be surprised if your horse is stiff the next day, or even when you get him home and unload him from the trailer. Just give him some hugs, kisses, rest , lots of hydration, stretching, rubs and treats. You might also consider investing in a horse massage as well. If you are in the Central Texas area, there is a great equine massuese named Donna-Michelle who is very reasonable and might even teach you some techniques.