The basics of riding
The two-point position (sometimes called a “half seat”) is where your bum is fully out of the saddle with a closer hip angle, your shoulders farther forward and your hips slightly farther backward. Two point frees up your horse’s back and improves your position when your horse makes big moves; you use two point going over any kind of jump or obstacle, going up steep hills, or even when galloping over open country.
Developing a balanced two point position is a key part of becoming a good jumping, cross-country rider or even secure trail rider. The video below demonstrates the basics of two point and highlights common mistakes, and then I discuss a great exercise for improving your two-point technique.
Sitting the trot requires you to tuck your hips under and forward toward your horse’s ears, absorb the bouncing of the gait through your lower back, stay totally quiet with your hands and still with your upper body–all while staying relaxed!!
It might sound like a tall order, but that’s what this video is here to help explain.
A few pointers for the sitting trot:
1. Keep your core engaged. I say “engaged” and not “flexed” or “hard” because your abdomen still needs to be flexible, but it can’t be “gooey.” Your ab muscles help balance your horse, and they keep your upper body from flapping around as your lower back and hips rock with the bounce of the horse’s trot.
2. Sitting trot means turning up and down motion into forward and back motion. It’s not that you magically stay still while your horse is madly bouncing away underneath you, but rather that you take the motion that before you used to post up and down and use your hips and lower back to change it into swinging towards his ears and back.
3. Even as you let your hips rock back and forth, don’t let your lower back arch too much. If you let the top of your pelvis tilt forward and you lower back really arch, you will both lose the strength of your seat and hurt your lower back (I’ve now learned this the painful way…). That’s why I say think about tucking your hips and almost “scooping” toward your horse’s ears. This motion lets your hips take the bounce without sacrificing your lower back.
4. Practice, practice, practice! It’s the only way to get good at the sitting trot. Have someone video you so you can see where you might be going wrong. I’ve learned so much about my riding from making these videos… ;)
Riding bareback is, for me, a fabulously fun way to improve your riding while having fun with your horse. First, riding bareback really improves your seat, balance and overall riding strength. You have to be much more in tune with your horse and his rhythm to stay on, and without the saddle in the way you can feel what’s going on so much better. Also, if you can ride bareback, it opens up all sorts of fun activities, like swimming with your horse, playing pony tag or even pony capture the flag. And I think there’s nothing better than having fun with a horse ;)
Of course, you have to practice to get good at riding bareback, just like you have to for everything involving horses. I suggest starting out just at the walk, maybe even on a lunge line or with someone leading you. Trust me, it will feel TOTALLY different the first time you hop on a horse without a saddle. You’ll probably feel like you’re just going to slip right off, especially because horses’ skin is so wiggly. That’s why it’s nice to have someone lead you the first time you try, so you can just grab mane to help you feel secure. Try not to grip with your legs too much, or you’ll just tell your horse to zip right off with you.
So, check out the video below for a few more tips and an example of me riding bareback. Then go for it yourself! Once you try it, though, you may never want to ride in a saddle again ;)
Understanding how a trot works helps us ride it better! A trot is a two-beat gait, meaning the horse’s hooves hit the ground at two distinct points. In this video, I break it down so you can see these different phases of the trot. Many English riders “post” a trot. Posting means rising up out of the saddle for one beat of the trot and sitting for the next. You can see me does this movement with Noah in the video. A “diagonal,” something that confuses many beginners, simply refers to which front leg of the horse you are following. For example, if you are posting on the right diagonal, you will come out of the saddle when the horse’s front right leg is moving forward. On the left, you rise with the left front leg. The “correct” diagonal is to rise and fall with the leg on the wall!
Watch the video to see in detail everything I’m talking about here. Enjoy!
In this video, I show you how to properly lunge a horse. Lunging is a great way to exercise a horse, as well as work on communication.
- lunge line
- watch for timing workout
- saddle if desired
- side reins if desired
- make sure you’re properly dressed too!
Remember, small circles can be tough on a horse’s joints, so you really shouldn’t lunge for more that about 30 minutes.
Reins aids aren’t just a matter of pulling–HOW you pull is very important. The goal is to apply pressure straight back on the bit, rather than push down or yank up. By keeping the bit, your wrists and elbows all in a straight line, you maintain the most control over your rein aid and also engage the biggest and strongest muscles (your back muscles) rather than trying to rely on your biceps/arm muscles.
I’ve had a lot of questions on how to correctly do a half-halt; this video shows you how to properly so all rein aids, including half halts.
Now, don’t be afraid to practice this motion a lot in the mirror to begin with, or have someone video you practicing in the saddle. Seeing myself in this video and where I get my arms or back out of alignment is really helping me improve ;)