Category: Training Discussion

Bits, Bit Use and Bitless – A Classical Perspective

Over the years, I have had many conversations pertaining to bit use and misuse and the choice several horse owners have made to go with one bit option or another, or to forego the use of a bit entirely. These discussions have ranged from horror at how one trainer abuses the mouths of the horses…


The Vital Role of the Warm-up

When we work horses, especially young ones, we ask them to give us not only their total focus but also for a very high degree of physical exertion. As with human athletes, our equine partners require some time to develop the physical and mental strength needed for something as gentle as a simple hack through…


I was not going to ride today.

It is cold and damp today, as it is all to often in Oregon in the winter. My hip and lower back have not been happy with cold and damp since my fall from Hector at the first of the month and the recovery seems to be taking forever. On such days as this my…


Modern Lessons From the Classical Masters

This article was inspired by a comment recently made by a reader of a past article, in which I referenced the “Masters” of classical horsemanship from a few centuries ago. “What I want to question is why the halo over the classical masters? Why do we hold them as the benchmark? We have representations of…


Rethink This the Next Time You Ride

Something interesting happened recently that served to drive home a central aspect of riding repeated time and time again by the classical masters; something that I myself try to teach to my students as a matter of course. I was giving an introduction lesson to a pair of prospective students. It is my standard practice…


Low Hands – A Classical Position

How many of us have been reprimanded for not ‘keeping our hands low’ when we ride? It is one of the mainstays of equitation along with ‘heels down’ and ‘eyes up’.  I don’t think I have ever met a person who was not taught this. I have also never had a rider be able to…


The Nature of Lightness

Oh sure, this will be an easy article to write… Lately I have been thinking about what is meant by being ‘light’ when we ride our horses. I have come to the conclusion that this is a one of the most difficult topics to have a discussion about because the word ‘light’ seldom means the…


The Horse’s Vision and Its Effects on Horsemanship

Our horses see the world very differently from us in many ways. These differences, due to structure and placement of their eyes, have profound influences on how they react to visual stimuli and should be thoughtfully considered during their training and indeed in all aspects of horsemanship. These differences include field of view, color perception,…


Developing The Independent Seat: Learning To Feel The Horse At The Walk

I maintain that one of the most important abilities any rider can learn is to be consciously aware of how the horse moves under them. Ideally, we should be able to determine which foot is moving and how in a given gait. As we gain more experience and our riding skills improve, we should eventually…


The Qualities Of Herd Leadership

“The trust between human and horse is based on the same behavioral rules that regulate social life within the herd: Those who have obtained a higher rank in the herd assume at the same time the responsibility for the weaker members.” Kurt Albrecht von Ziegner This was not written by one of the popular American ‘Natural…