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…


My Path to Perfection

Yes, perfection is an impossible goal, we all know this, but that is irrelevant to the search for it. In this article I hope to layout the guidelines I follow in my own quest for perfection. My personal view of the best approach to the study of classical riding–or more simply–the study of horsemanship in general, can be summed up…


The Academic Path: Recognizing and Embracing the Good

Some years ago I came to the realization that my journey in pursuit of ‘classical horsemanship’ had taken an interesting turn as a result of a conflict between what I thought I already ‘knew to be true’ and what I was starting to see when I watched more skilled riders. At this time I had been…


What Is Most Important…

What should our goals be when training a horse?  What is most important and what are we willing to sacrifice to achieve it? To some, it is the immediacy of the horse’s response that is most important, for others it is the level of power and athleticism the horse displays that is of primary import….


The Basics Of Stepping Into The Saddle

Here I go again, offering instruction in something everyone already knows how to do. Well, I have been noticing of late students, many of whom that have been riding for years, not having the proper mounting technique as I have come to understand it. Like many things involving horses, it seems the most obvious thing in…


An Alternative to Bathing Horses

With lower temperatures it becomes generally harder to bath our horses and for some of us, it is difficult to manage any time a year.  I for one have never enjoyed the bathing process unless it was a particularly warm day. However brushing alone is often not up to the task of getting that deep…


The Training Structure – When To Stop

Observation and personal experience have taught me that one of the more common mistakes trainers make is pushing the horse too hard or for too long. I have come to believe that one of the most important things one must learn is recognizing the fact that sometimes the best thing you can do is to…


Make No Demands

“Request often, be content with little, reward lavishly.” François Baucher (1796 – 1873) The day before yesterday I had one of those days as a trainer that I am not proud of. I had a very good in-hand session with Rafonna, the 12 year old Arabian mare, during which she and I communicated very clearly and…


The ‘Counted Walk’

The counted walk also referred to in the writings of classical masters as the school walk, is used to sharpen communication between horse and rider, improve collecting, balance and impulsion. I am only just beginning to really scratch the surface of the benefits of the counted walk  as a training tool. I am greatly impressed with its effectiveness for conditioning…