The Aids

The aids

As I am a dressage riders it is easy to think about the aids as small symbolic commands given in an arena to make the horse dance with us. But it also require aids to bring a scary horse out of one of those burning forests in California. In a situation as extreme as that it is much more important that the horse accepts and obeys the aids than what it is on a pleasant ride on the arena.

Both situations have one thing in common: The horse will follow us and do what we want if we can convince him it is a good idea. Maybe that is my first advice in how to teach the aids: Make the horse consider it a good idea to obey.

Writing that, many many readers will presume I mean to use violence. I am old enough to know that violence ... Read more

Vocal aids

At my childhood riding school in a Gothenburg suburb we where taught there was a difference between oral aids and “linguistic” aids. I think it is a good thing to separate them as I think they come different to the horse.

Most of our vocal aids are not words, it is more like cave man sounds that many non riders find kind of funny that we use as they consider them uncivilized and embarrassing. Though, it is not cave men only who click their tongues, gobble and chirrup like riders do: Also our infants use the same oral repertoire when they try to get our attention, and so do their parents while addressing the infant. So those sounds are a universal human language. We all use them in situations where words has no ... Read more

The weight aids

We can use or moves and positions to control the horse when we are working him from the ground and when we ride. We do it pretty much the same from the ground as from the horse back: We show the horse speed, direction and rhythm. The weight aids are hard to discuss as when you try to move your body in a natural way – you can't do it natural any more. Try to breath naturally where you sit right now. I guess you failed. As soon as you think about how to breath you start controlling it and can't do it natural any more.

One “group” of weight aids actually is about making the horse loose his balance, and try to catch it again. That's when we move our center of gravity forward, backwards or to the side. Most horse ... Read more

The aids we give with our limbs

One group of aids left, and that is the first we learn to use when we start riding: The aids we give with our limbs; our hands, legs and feet and what may be attached to them as whips, spurs, reins and bits. Most of what people say about aids only makes sense about those limb aids. Here it is correct to use the words “walk away from pressure” and “release is the reward”.

Those aids are not the same if you work the horse from the ground as from the back.

Think about how you push a car: Feet in the ground, hands on the trunk, lean forward and then push. Now try to climb up on the car roof and push the car from there … It won't work as you have no contact with the ground.

It is same ... Read more

Most important of all

As an end of this series about the aids, I want to tell what a lady told me 20 years ago, and that was quite an aye opener for me: Most of the time when we ride the horse does what we want, so most of the time we need no aids. I think that is one of the hardest things to learn for any rider: To be satisfied and follow the horse and avoid any impact when he does right. It is so easy to be there with a new correcting aid, instead of relax, smile and enjoy the ride.