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Riding Aids

Riding aids are the cues a rider gives to communicate what they want the horse to do

Riding Aides Explained

Riding aids are catagorizied as natural aids or artificial aids.

The aids are how you communicate with a horse and control him. Natural aids are a part of the rider and include use of the rider’s hands, seat, legs, and voice. Artificial aids are man made objects that help to reinforce your natural aids. Aids should be used very softly to start out with and used more strongly if the horse or pony does not pay attention to you.

Natural Aids

Natural aids are a part of your body.

Natural riding aids

Natural Aids

The rider’s body including legs, hands, seat, and voice are considered natural aids.

Your seat and weight either follows the horse’s motion or influences the horse’s balance.

Voice should be low and gentle.

Artificial Aids

Artificial aids help out the natural aids.

Artificial Aids

Whips & Spurs

Spurs, Bats, Crops,  Dressage Whips are considered artificial aids and are used to support the natural aids.

A whip is sometimes called a stick.

Always start out with soft and light natural aids. An aid should be applied briefly and then let go. If the horse or pony does not respond than use a stronger aid but remain brief. As soon as the pony obeys you, relax the aid.

Riding Aids Game

Drag the riding aid into either the natural or artificial aid boxes.

How to Correctly Apply the Aids

t

Ask

Apply the natural aid clearly and gently.

Allow

Give the pony time to respond to the aid.

y

Tell

Use a stronger version of the initial natural aid if the pony does not respond.

z

Demand

Follow up the natural aid with an artificial aid such as a crop behind the leg.

Correct Use of the Aids Example

When you ask for a transition from a walk to a trot, use the aids in the following order:

Ask: Squeeze both legs gently at the girth.

Allow: Wait for the pony to respond.

Tell: Use both legs stronger at the girth if the pony does not begin to trot.

Demand: Use an artificial aid such as a spur or a crop behind the leg.

Order of Riding Aids Game

Drag the and drop the riding aids into the correct order.

Horse Riding Aids Explained

Starting and Stopping

Both Leg Aids

Leg Aids to Move Forward

Squeeze with the legs once to move forward, squeeze again if the horse does not respond, give a gentle kick or cluck to encourage the horse to move forward if there is still no response.

Both Hands Reins aid

Rein Aids to Slow Down or Stop

Squeeze both hands toward you then relax them to slow down or stop.

Basic Leg Aids

Leg at Girth

One Leg at the Girth

Pressure from one of the rider’s legs at the girth bends the horse while asking them to move forward. It can also be used to keep the pony from falling into the center of the arena or cutting corners.

Leg at Behind Girth

One Leg Behind the Girth

When a leg aid is applied behind the girth, the horse moves sideways.

Leg Aids Do:

  • Ask the horse to move forward
  • Put the horse in front of the rider’s leg
  • Correct backwards movements of the horse
  • Give support and provide direction on lateral (sideways) movements
  • Soften the horse’s mouth.

Basic Rein Aids

Use the reins with a gentle give and take without yanking or holding.

Leading Rein

Leading Rein

A leading rein, also called an opening rein, gives the horse direction without taking away from it’s forward movement. The rider’s hand opens away from the horse’s body and leads the horse in the desired direction. This rein aid is used one hand at a time.

Direct Rein

Direct Rein

A direct rein is the most basic use of hands on the reins. The rider’s hands move forward or backward and do not move sideways. For example, to apply a left direct rein, the rider moves the left hand straight back toward their left hip. The line from the rider’s elbow to the bit is straight at all times.

Leg Aids May Be Used In the Following Ways

As your riding skills become better, you will learn there are more advanced uses of your aids.

Urging

Applied at the girth to encourage impulsion. Impulsion is the movement of a horse when it is going forward with controlled power.

Both of the rider’s legs may be applied at the same time to urge the horse into an upward (more forward) transition or to lengthen its gait.

_

Holding

Applied at the girth to keep a horse from falling in. May also be used to move a horse laterally (sideways).

Applied with one leg at a time, often used on the inside of a bending turn. A holding leg can also keep a horse on a straight track in order to maintain a straight line.

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Displacing

Leg pressure slightly behind the girth. Used to move the horse’s haunch on turns and for lateral movements. May also be used to keep the horse from falling to one side.

Advanced Rein Aids

Use the reins in a gentle give and take. Your hands can control the forward motion of the pony, guide the direction of travel, and position the pony’s head and neck.

Neck Rein

Neck Rein With One Hand

The outside hand moves inward toward the horse’s withers and the outside rein presses against the horse’s neck, which pushes the horse away from that rein. This is an advanced aid that can be helpful when turning the horse.

Neck Rein

Neck Rein With Both Hands

Both hands move in the direction of the desired turn. The outside hand moves toward the horse’s withers and the outside rein presses against the horse’s neck, which pushes the horse away from that rein. This is effective for advanced control of the horse’s shoulder especially on tight turns.

Indirect Rein

Indirect Rein

An indirect rein controls lateral movements including bending and turning. The rider’s hand does not cross the mane line in the center of the neck.

There are two types of indirect rein aids:

Indirect rein in front of the withers: Moves the horse’s weight from one shoulder to the other. With a left indirect rein in front of the withers, the rider’s left hand moves toward the rider’s right hip.

Indirect rein behind the withers: Moves the horse’s weight from one shoulder to the opposite hind leg. In a left indirect rein behind the withers, the rider’s left hand moves toward the horse’s right hip .

Take the Riding Aids Quiz

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Welcome to the Riding Aids Quiz!

Name
Is your voice considered a natural or artificial aid?
What are the natural aids?
What are riding aids?
What are considered artificial aids?Check all that apply.
What is the aid to ask a horse to move forward?
What are the aids for asking a pony to slow down or stop?

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