Improve Your Riding

With apologies to David Letterman, here are ?Six Ways to Improve Your Riding.?

6. Read online articles. If you need help on a particular problem you are encountering, you may find what you’re looking for online. Whether you’re looking for help with perfecting your position over fences, or slowing down your horse’s lope, you’ll find hundreds of resources on the Web.

5. Read books and magazines. Whether you are a horse-crazy teenager, an adult beginner or an experienced competitor, soak up information about horses and riding in equestrian books and magazines. Whether you ride English or Western, there are books and magazines to match your interest and help you improve your skills.

4. Watch videos. Well-produced videos give you a greater understanding of the principles of riding. The visual images show you, up-close and personal, the fundamentals and also the finer points of the subject in question. Videos allow you to visualize what you are aiming to achieve, as well as illustrating faults and errors to avoid. Watching videos is like taking a virtual lesson.

3. Attend clinics. Many trainers give regular clinics. These are a great way to learn, whether you sign on as a ?demonstration rider,? or an ?auditor.? Demo riders have the opportunity to ride under the instruction of trainers who they might not otherwise have access to. Auditors have the opportunity to watch several horse-and-rider combinations being put through their paces. It gives you a chance to understand that particular trainer?s philosophies and watch as he or she works with the riders to improve their form on the flat, or over fences.

If you’re interested in attending a clinic, watch for notices in local equestrian journals, or check with barns and riding clubs in your area to find out about upcoming clinics and other educational events.

2. Get out and ride! All the clinics, videos, lectures and books in the world won?t help until you spend time putting theory into practice. Whether your ambition is to move up a level in competition, or simply to enjoy your trail rides, knowing you have the confidence to handle any situations that come up, hours in the saddle practicing and perfecting the techniques you have learned will be time well spent.

1. Take lessons. And the Number 1 way to improve your riding is to take regular lessons with a good instructor. It’s very easy, when you’re riding on your own, to fall into bad riding habits or to allow the horse to train you. You may not realize that your leg has slipped too far forward as you adopt what feels like a comfortable position. Or you may avoid loping in one particular direction because your horse feels stiff and unyielding in that direction. A good instructor will be able to help you correct positional errors, solve training problems that crop up and inspire you to improve your technique, challenging you and encouraging you.

This information was adapted from an article written by Jayne Pedigo for Equisearch and appears in Tractor Supply Company’s “Trail Riding Essentials.”