M ost riders will remember the first time they were put on a horse and handed the reins – the instructions on how to move the horse forward, turn left or right and stop were probably fairly simplistic. Kick the horse to move forward, pull back on the reins to stop or slow down and pull the reins in the direction of the turn, and in essence there is some truth in these simple instructions, but riders can aspire to train and ride with more refinement and, in so doing, learn to be more specific in the request for body control from the horse. Learning to control various parts of the horse’s body goes a long way to ensure a safe, enjoyable and stress free ride. The primary and most influential body parts of the horse that control their movement are the shoulder and the hip. To truly understand the importance of these two parts, working with the horse on the ground will show the influence the shoulders and hips have on movement. This work also enables a thorough understanding of what the handler is asking the horse to do before putting that work under saddle. The horse seen on the ground is the horse that will be ridden so if the horse on the ground is distracted, has high energy levels and is just not paying attention – that is what the rider will experience, and more, when mounted! Common sense says that riders should not put themselves in that position, and that control on the ground should be established before attempting to ride the horse. In this way both rider and horse will benefit from the training Continued