Chapter 6. Equitation
56. General principles
1. The subject of equitation includes two main headings, namely, the training of the soldier to ride and the training of the remount.
These must be carried out on similar lines so that the horses, when trained, should know what is required of them while the trained man knows how to communicate his wishes to his horse.
Equitation also deals with riding difficult horses, restraining horses which have been spoilt, curing well-defined evil tendencies such as refusing, and miscellaneous subjects such as leading.
Training of the soldier
57. The standard required of the mounted soldier.
1. To be a good military horseman, the rider should :-
i. Have a well balanced and a strong seat independent of the reins.
ii. Be able to apply correctly the aids by which the horse is controlled.
iii. Be capable of riding across country.
iv. Be capable of covering long distances on horseback with the least possible
fatigue to his horse and himself.
v. Be able to use his horse to the utmost advantage in action.
vi. Under proper directions be able to train an unbroken horse and improve a badly trained one.
2. All officers, in addition to being good military horsemen and instructors in riding, must be able to train and direct the training of remounts.
58. The paces of the horse.
1. The following table shows the regulation paces.
The walk, the trot and the gallop are paces of drill.
These, with the addition of the "slow gallop", are the paces of manoeuvre.
Distance . Distance . Time taken
Pace covered in covered in to cover one hour one minute 1/4 mile
Miles Yards Min. Sec.
Walk 4 117 3 45
Trot 8 235 1 52
Canter 9 264 1 40
Slow Gallop 12 352 1 15
Gallop 15 440 1 0
2. The commands "WALK OUT", "TROT OUT", "WALK SHORT", and "TROT SHORT" are for use in the riding school to increase or decrease the pace when required.
3. i. The trot is a pace of two time on alternate diagonals, that is near fore and off hind come to the ground together, then off fore and near hind. In the "bumping trot" the weight of the body comes on to the saddle as each diagonal comes to the ground. Every leg of the horse therefore does its fair proportion of work. The "bumping trot" is, however, tiring to the rider and upsets the balance of the horse.
ii. The "rising trot" is therefore the normal method of sitting a horse when trotting. In the "rising trot" the weight of the body always falls on and is thrown up by the same diagonal. All four legs do not therefore do their fair share of work. For this reason men should be taught to change the diagonal at the trot.
Practice in changing the diagonal also helps to teach recruits to use either leg with equal ease.
iii. The "canter" is a pace of three time in which the leading fore leg and the leading hind leg are on their same side. If a horse is leading on the off pair, the sequence of locomotion is as follows :-
(a) Near hind.
(b) Left diagonal ( near fore and off hind).
(c) Off fore.
4. The slow gallop is useful for scouts and others who have to cover long distances at a fast pace.
Both the slow gallop and the gallop are paces of four time in which the feet follow one another with a period of suspension between the coming down of the leading fore-footand the opposite hind-foot. As in cantering, the leading fore-leg and leading hind leg are on the same side.
59. Terms used in equitation.
1. "Right rein", "Left rein". - A horse is said to be on the right (or left) rein when he is moving on a line which curves to the right (or left).
2. The "trot" is a pace of two time and from one diagonal to the other. "Right diagonal", off fore and near hind. "Left diagonal", near fore and off hind. Rising at the trot, the rider is said to be on the right diagonal when his seat comes on to the saddle at the moment when the horse's off fore and near hind come to the ground.
3. "True". - A horse is said to canter or gallop "true" when the leading fore-leg and leading hind-leg are on the same side.
4. "Disunited". - A horse is said to canter or gallop "disunited" when the leading hind-leg is on the side opposite to the leading fore-leg.
5. "Balanced". - A horse is said to be "balanced" when his own weight and that of his rider is distributed over each leg in such proportion as to allow him to use himself with the maximum ease and efficiency at all paces.
The head and neck form the governing factors in weight distribution, and it is by their position that the horse carries his centre of gravity forward or backward as his paces are extended or collected.
6. "Collected". - A horse is said to be "collected" when his head is raised and bent at the poll, the jar relaxed and his hocks brought well under him, so that he has the maximum control over his limbs and is in a position to respond instantly to the least indication of his rider.
7. "Go large". - A rider is said to "go large" when he is moving round a riding school or manage.
8. The aids. - The signals by means of which the rider conveys his intentions to the horse, and which the horse learns to understand and obey.
9. Lateral aids. - The aids applied by the hand and leg of the rider on the same side of the horse.
10. Diagonal aids. - The aids applied by the hand and leg of the rider on opposite sides of the horse.
60. How to hold the reins and lengthen and shorten stirrups
1. The reins should be normally held in the left hand only, curb reins outside. In the case of beginners, and in riding young or awkward horses, both hands should be used.
Occasionally the left hand may be required to be free, as in leading another horse, in which case the reins of the ridden horse can be held in the right hand.
The rider should maintain an even bearing on the horse's mouth, play being allowed from the fingers, wrists, elbows and, if necessary, shoulders.
2. Reins in the left hand :-
3. Reins in both hands. - Whether using single or double reins, first take them in the left hand as described above. Then place the right hand on the right reins, little finger between the two right reins (inside the right rein if only one), and remove them (it) from the left hand, the slack of the reins passing between the first finger and thumb of each hand. The hands should be about four inches apart.
To give somewhat lighter hands for training remounts, the slack of the reins may be allowed to come out of the palms of the hands between the first and second fingers of each hand.
4. Two hands on the reins. - When riding with four reins in the left hand, the rider may find it necessary to assist himself in controlling his horse by placing his right hand on the reins. This can be done by placing the little finger of the right hand between the two right reins close up to the left.
5. Curb reins. - To take up curb reins, place all four reins in the left hand. Pass the right hand under the right curb rein and grasp both cheek reins, pulling them forward through the left hand till the centre of the reins is resting on the third finger of the left hand. The cheek reins will then hang down between the curb reins and the horse's neck.
To take up all four reins, grasp the end of the cheek reins with the right hand and draw them through the left until they are the required length.
In riding on the curb reins, the ball of the foot should be placed on the stirrup and the rider should not rise to the trot.
6. On certain occasions, such as in increasing speed or riding across country, reins should be shortened.
To shorten the reins. - If riding with all four reins in the left hand, grasp the slack of the reins with the right hand and draw the reins through the left hand until the desired length is obtained.
If riding with two reins in each hand, take all the reins in the left hand and shorten as above.
To lengthen the reins. - Allow sufficient rein to slip gently through the fingers.
7. Recruits should be well grounded in the proper method of holding the reins and in changing them from one hand to both and vice versa ; also shortening and lengthening at all paces. To make men handy in this respect, they should have constant practice ; some of this should be given when they have drawn swords or sticks in their hand.
8. The importance of keeping the reins supple and unpolished should be impressed on all recruits.
9. To shorten or lengthen stirrups. - To alter the right stirrup, first place all reins in the left hand. With the right hand take hold of the spare end of the stirrup leather, first finger close to the buckle, disengage the tongue and guide into the required hole, then pull the buckle up close to the D from which it is suspended, and replace the end of the leather. To alter the left stirrup, reverse the above instructions.
61. General Considerations
1. In so far as is possible, a recruit should receive his earliest instruction on a dummy horse, or on a very quiet horse, so as to give him confidence from the beginning.
2. The objects to be attained are to give him :-
i. Balance, and instruction and practice in using his thigh and knee to maintain
himself in the saddle.
ii. A correct seat.
iii. Instruction in holding the reins and using his hands.
iv. Instruction in using his reins and legs to apply the aids.
3. In the early stages of riding to give the recruit confidence, both reins and stirrups should always be allowed. The stirrups may be strapped together under the horse's belly for the first few lessons. This should not be done for long, however, as it tends to cause an improper grip of the knees, obtained by forcing the feet outwards instead of by gripping inwards with the muscles of the fork. If snaffle bridles are not available, the reins should be attached to the cheek rings of the bit and the men should be allowed to hold on to the saddle when in difficulties. Alternatively they should be provided with a neck strap.
4. When trotting is begun it is advisable to teach the recruit the bumping trot first, both with the stirrup under the ball of the foot and under the instep. Some lessons in rising in the stirrups may also be given at the same time. It must be impressed on the recruit that no effort is needed and that he must allow himself to be thrown up by the movement of the horse.
Trotting without stirrups is a useful exercise for teaching balance and for stretching and strengthening the recruit's riding muscles, but it should be used with the greatest discretion and only practised for very short periods.
5. It must be impressed on the recruit that riding is largely a matter of balance, the grip of the legs being as a rule light, and only tightened to steady himself in an emergency.
The grip should be that of the knee and thigh, the lower part of the leg hanging down naturally, but kept steady. The body must give to the movements of the horse, with the loins and joints supple.
62. The seat
1. It must be thoroughly explained to the recruit that riding is a combination of "balance" and "grip". With this end in view it is of vital importance that the pupil should be placed correctly in the saddle and the functions of the various parts of his body thoroughly explained.
He should be instructed to relax all the muscles of his legs, to sit down in the lowest part of his saddle and at the same time to sit evenly on his seat. This having been accomplished, the placing of the leg follows.
2. Grip. - To secure the maximum benefit of "grip", the instructor should place the pupil's leg in the saddle with his knees at the height best suited to his build and, in placing the leg, should draw the large muscle at the back of the leg to the rear, so placing the flat portion of the thigh against the saddle, from which position the maximum power is gained. If placed in the above manner, the weight of the body is on the seat, and the importance of its being so placed should be impressed on the pupil from the beginning.
The leg from the knee downwards should hang slightly behind the perpendicular. The inside portion automatically comes in contact with the flap of the saddle ; this contact can be developed into grip, care being taken that only the inside portion of the calf is used for this purpose. If the back of the calf is allowed to be used, this will at once take the thigh and knee away from the saddle, and will minimize instead of accentuate the grip.
In explaining the use of the lower part of the leg for gripping purposes, it should be pointed out that it has other functions to perform, and the pupil must, from the beginning, be instructed to have the lower part of the leg perfectly free to be applied as required.
3. After having placed the leg itself, it merely remains to place the foot correctly. The pupil should be instructed to keep the toes raised and heels pressed down at all times. This is extremely important in order to attain the maximum benefit from the riding muscles, which are braced tight by the fact of the toe being raised, the tension being entirely relaxed directly the toes are allowed to droop.
The toes should point naturally. If the leg is properly placed, it will usually be found that they turn slightly outwards. Care should be taken that the beginner does not try to turn his toes inwards from the ankle, which merely has the effect of putting him in a constrained position from which no benefit is derived.
4. Care should be taken to fit the stirrups to the length suitable to the build of the rider. A man with a short thick leg requires his stirrups shorter in proportion than does a man of equal height with a flat thigh and a thin leg.
The following will be found a good general rule for fitting stirrups. First allow the man to sit loosely in his saddle and let his legs hang freely down, then let him squeeze the saddle lightly with his knees and raise his toes, and then adjust the stirrups so that the bars are in line with the soles of his boots. The stirrups are intended to be an aid and convenience to the rider ; if they are too long, he will lose his seat by leaning forward in his endeavour to retain them ; if they are too short, the seat becomes cramped and the rider is prevented from using the lower part of the leg correctly.
5. In riding at attention the feet should normally be pressed home in the stirrups ; in ceremonial the stirrups should be on the ball of the foot (except at the gallop) ; at all other times it should be left to the discretion of the rider ; both positions should therefore be practised.
In either position care should be taken that the feet are well pressed down against the bars of the stirrups.
6. A good position depends on a good balance, a firm seat and complete suppleness of the whole body.
63. The hands
1. The value of good hands must now be impressed on the recruit.
To have good "hands" on a horse is to possess the faculty of "give and take" which causes him to go comfortably whatever his temperament. This faculty appears to come naturally to some men, but to most it is difficult to teach and requires constant thought and practice on their part.
The principle factors which go to produce good hands are i. a firm seat, ii. suppleness of fingers, arms and shoulders, iii. quickness to anticipate the horse's intentions and to give to him at the right moment.
2. There are times when the whole arm from the shoulder must yield to the horse's mouth, other times when he should be humoured almost entirely from the fingers or wrist. The hands should be pointed across the body, not held straight to the front in a stiff attitude, for the whole essence of sympathetic handling is that the wrist must be supple enough to act as a spring, alternately applying and relaxing the pressure on the horse's mouth.
The hands must be independent of all movements of the body ; this is impossible without good balance and a firm seat, which will enable the rider to have perfect control of himself in all circumstances.
3. The hands act by means of the reins and the bit on the horse's mouth. The pressure which they exert on the reins must be light but firm, steady without stiffness, and an elastic contact must always be maintained with the horse's mouth. It can be either light or strong according to the mouth or the work required. On a young horse the contact is a steady even feeling ; on one with a light mouth it should be of the very lightest.
4. The hands either act, resist or yield. They act when they increase the tension on the reins, e.g. when halting. They resist when they remain firm or still, e.g., when collecting a horse at the halt. They yield when they follow the movements of the head and neck, e.g., when jumping. The hands govern the position of the forehand, as indicated, acting on the mouth , neck and shoulders ; indirectly they also act on the quarters by placing the shoulders in such a position that the hind quarters care obliged to change their direction.
64. The action of the reins
1. The reins act through the mouth on the horse's head, neck and shoulders, and thus affect his movements and balance. The results which they produce depend on their position and the degree and the direction of the tension exerted on them.
The rein or leg opposite to that which is acting should be used to regulate the effect of the acting rein or leg according to the type of turn required. Lateral control of the horse by means of the rider's leg and reins will be taught during the bending lessons (Sec. 67).
2. For practical horsemanship the action of the reins may be directed as follows :-
The direct rein. - When tension to the right (not towards the rider's body) is exerted on the right rein, the horse's head will be turned to the right. On an increase of the tension the neck and shoulders will follow the head and, if the horse is stationary at the time, he will turn to the right on his centre. When the left leg is applied as the rein is felt, the movement of the hind quarters will be prevented and the horse will turn on his haunches.If the horse is in motion at the time of application of the rein and the rider maintains an equal pressure with both legs, the horse will turn to the right, the hind-feet following in the track of the fore-feet.
65. The aids explained
1. When a recruit has acquired balance and a proper seat, he should be taught how to use the aids to direct and control his horse.
From the beginning he should be taught that he must be able to make all movements of the reins, body and legs independently of each other, so as to combine them in any way required at the moment.
2. The inestimable value of "hands" must be impressed on him. The hands must be absolutely independent of all movements of the body. The feeling exerted on the reins should be light and firm, steady without stiffness ; an elastic contact without force should be maintained by them on the horse's mouth.
This is impossible without the good balance and firm seat which will enable the rider to have perfect control of himself in all circumstances.
3. The aids are :-
i. Natural. - The hands, body voice and legs.
ii. Artificial. - Whips, spurs, martingales, dumb jockeys, nosebands and other
appliances used by trainers.
The recruit will be taught the use of the natural aids which are required to control the ordinary properly trained horse.
4. i. The hands, by means of the reins, control the horse's forehand, i.e., his head, neck and shoulders. They guide him, check him or assist to increase his pace. They alter the horse's balance by moving the head and neck up or down or to one side. They achieve their object by acting, resisting or yielding. (See Secs 64 and 69.)
ii. The body is placed between the fore and hind legs and, by moving it backwards or forwards, the weight on the forehead or hind quarters is lessened or increased. By leaning it to one side, the weight is increased on that side of the horse.
iii. The legs. - The pressure of the legs should be applied behind the girth, and at the same time the knee must be kept close to the saddle. The chief use of the legs is to put the horse in motion, but they also guide the hind quarters or keep them in place. When the pressure is applied with one leg only, say the right , it has the effect of passing the hind quarters to the left or of preventing the horse from inclining his quarters to the right.
iv. The voice is of great assistance in controlling a horse. Talking quietly has a soothing effect and shouting a frightening effect on him.
The recruit should be taught to use his voice, a particular tone and word being used to denote that a certain movement is required.
v. The whip and spurs are a reserve force which the rider has at his disposal. They should be used only when the horse does not obey the pressure of the leg, or as a means of punishment.
5. It is of the utmost importance to use the aids in harmony with one another. The hands, legs and body should co-operate smoothly towards the end to be attained, e.g., if the legs act to put the horse in motion, the hands must yield to allow him to move forward.
In training a recruit or remount the action of the hands and legs should be quite distinct and separate at first. As training progresses, the interval between the two should be deminished until it is almost imperceptable.
6. Before demanding any movement of a horse, the rider must so poise him or place him physically in such a position that it is easy for him to carry out correctly the desired movement, e.g., when a turn to the right is being made, the body should be inclined slightly back and to the right. This lightens the forehand, assisting it to be brought round, and at the same time follows the natural tendency of the horse, which is to turn to the side towards which the centre of gravity is moved.
66. Simple aids for turns and circles at all paces
1. When the recruit can walk, trot and canter in straight lines, turns and circles may be introduced. In turning and circling he must be taught to lean his body slightly in the direction in which the horse is moving and slightly back.
2. When the recruit is thoroughly confident and can perform all the above exercises correctly, he may be taught to ride without reins and with a loose rein. These exercises, if carried out on quiet and reliable horses, are useful in teaching the recruit that the seat of a good horseman is at all times independent of his reins.
3. Walk or trot. - Close both legs to the horse and ease both reins slightly. As soon as the horse advances at the desired pace, relax the pressure of the legs and feel the reins as required.
4. Halt. - Close both legs and feel both reins, at the same time bringing the weight of the body back. As soon as the horse halts, relax the pressure of the legs and the feeling of the reins.
5. Turns. - All turns should be made on the haunches.
Right turn. - Collect the horse and lead the forehand round with the right rein supported by the left against the neck. Close the left leg, if necessary, to prevent the haunches flying out. Lean the body back and slightly to the right. The off-hind leg is the pivot of the turn.
Left turn. - reverse the above.
1. Jumping should be practised throughout the remount’s training. Every effort should be made to cause the horse to like jumping by constant reward for good behaviour.
No horse which shows the least signs of soreness should be jumped and all remounts should be examined daily for splints or signs of lameness. Jumping a horse with tender feet or sore shins may cause him to become a consistent refuser.
2. The fences should be absolutely stiff so as to make the horse realise from the beginning that he cannot hit them without suffering for it. As many different varieties as possible should be employed, including a large proportion of ditches.
3. Lessons should be begun in a "lane". For a considerable time the fences should be kept very low, from one foot to two feet high, and the horse should be made to go freely down the lane, being led by their trainers on either side alternately. In doing this the horse should not be frightened or unduly hurried, but when they are accustomed to the lane and realise what is required of them, they should on no account be allowed to hesitate or stop.
It is desirable in a manege to school horse to either hand alternately, e.g. to the right one week and to the left the next week.
In a lane it is generally advisable to let an old horse give a lead to a young one and thus give confidence to the latter.
4. When first ridden over fences, the remount should for preference be ridden at a trot. This allows him to balance himself and jump off his hocks. He must not be pulled up too soon after jumping a fence. The fences should be very low to begin with, as described in para. 3 above.
A neck strap should invariably be used at this stage to assist the rider to maintain his balance and obviate the risk if interfering with the horse’s mouth.
5. During the first few lessons, after a horse has successfully jumped a fence, the rider should dismount and give him something to eat. A lasting effect on him will be produced by early and pleasing impressions of this type.
6. Once horses go freely over jumps, they should not be sent over one after another, but should be jumped singly.
7. If a horse is inclined to rush his fences or pitch on landing, he should be jumped over fences of different heights placed close together at varying distances.
8. Great attention should be paid to the "going" in jumping courses. Cinders or sawdust make the best going.
9. No horse, however promising, should be hurried in his training or made to go over jumps to fast.
10. It may be advisable to longe some horses at first, but in this case precautions must be taken to prevent their mouths from being interfered with or the reins from getting entangled in the jump.
68. The bending lesson
1. The bending lesson includes the "pass" and the "half pass". The lesson reaches the recruit to apply the aids lightly but firmly, and emphasizes the importance of harmony between the legs and hands. The bending lesson should be done at a collected pace.
2. In all lateral movements the forehand must slightly precede the hindquarters and the horse should never be allowed to step backwards.
3. The bend should be made from just behind the poll, the neck being kept straight from the withers to the top joint of the neck. The horse should always be bent in the direction in which he is moving and his jaw should be relaxed. When the horse is correctly bent, the rider, sitting square in the saddle, should be able to see the cheek and eye of the horse on the side towards which he is moving.
4. The following are the movements made :- "Right shoulder in", "Left shoulder out", "Left shoulder in " and "Right shoulder out", to move round the school.
"Right pass" and "Left pass", to move straight across the school.
"Right half pass" and "Left half pass", to move diagonally across the school.
5. "Right shoulder in ". - This is done when the horse is on the right rein. Collect the horse, lead the forehand towards the centre of the school with the right rein, supported by the left, the left leg closed against the horse's side until his body is at an angle of 45 degrees with the wall, hind feet one yard clear of the track round the school. Then change the bend of the horse to the left with the left rein, supporting his forehand with the right rein, and, by an increased pressure of the rider's right leg, cause him to move in a direction parallel to the side of the school, placing the off leg in front of the near leg. The rider's left leg exerts pressure sufficient to keep the horse up to his bit.
On reaching the corner of the school, the horse will be made to go forward and turn in the usual manner, being brought to the shoulder again after the corner is passed.
To halt, feel both reins and close the left leg.
"Left shoulder in". - Reverse the above.
6. "Left shoulder out". - This is done from the "right shoulder in". Turn the horse a complete turn to the left as described in para. 7 below, so that his body is at an angle of 45 degrees with the wall of the school, head facing towards the wall. Then bend the horse to the right with the right rein, supporting his forehand with the left rein, and, by an increased pressure of the rider's left leg, cause him to move in a direction parallel to the side of the school, placing the near leg in front of the off leg.
On reaching the corner of the school, turn the horse on the haunches.
"Right shoulder out". - Reverse the above.
7. The turn from "right shoulder in " to "left shoulder out".
Circle the forehand round with the left rein and the hindquarters with the left leg, the right rein and leg being used to support. The horse should turn on his centre.
Care must be taken that this turn is not made on the forehand by sufficient pressure of the right leg being applied.
8. "Right half pass". - This is done when the horse is going round the school on the right rein. Bend the horse to the right with the right rein, supporting his forehand with the left rein, and, by an increased pressure of the rider's left leg, cause him to move in a direction diagonally across the school, placing the near leg in front of the off leg.
The horse's body should be straight and on line pointing up and down the school, movement being made diagonally across the school on a line making an angle of 45 degrees with the side of the school.
On reaching the side of the school, the horse will be made to "go large" on the left rein without further word of command by applying the aids for ordinary forward movement.
" Left half pass ". - Reverse the above.
9. " Right pass ". - This is done when the horse is going round the school on the right rein. The right rein bends and leads, the left supports, the rider's left leg causes the horse to place the near leg across the off leg, the rider's right leg supports and keeps the horse up to his bit. Movement is made directly across the school in a direction at right angles to the wall. On reaching the side of the school, the horse will be made to " go large " on the right rein without further word of command by applying the aids for ordinary forward movement.
The horse's body should be straight and inclined in the direction in which he is moving only just enough to allow the near leg to be carried in front of and across the off leg. The horse must be kept well up to the bit and no tendency to move backwards must be allowed.
" Left pass ". - Reverse the above.
69. Indirect rein (reins in one hand)
When the right rein is carried over the horses neck to the left without increasing backward tension, the horse's nose will be turned to the right, but the action of the rein pressing against the right side of the neck will cause the weight to be thrown on the left shoulder.
If the horse is stationary at the time, he will turn to the left on his centre. An increased pressure of the right leg will cause him to turn on his haunches.
If the horse is in movement and both legs maintain an equal pressure, the hind feet will follow the track of the forefeet.
It is by means of the "indirect rein" that a horse is turned when all four reins are held in one hand.
70. Leading horses
1. In riding one horse and leading another, the led horse should usually be on the near side, so that, by keeping on the left side of the road, the ridden horse will be placed between the led horse and the traffic. The led horse's reins should be held in the left hand lying flat against the reins of the ride horse.
If the led horse is fresh, his reins should be held short in the left hand, about a foot from his head, the ride horse's reins being held in the right hand. If the led horse tries to break away, he must be given in to at first, being gradually brought under control ; otherwise he will pull the rein out of the leader's hand or else pull him off his horse. Leading horses on the off side should also be practised.
2. When two horses are being led, one should usually be on each side of the rider.
3. When three horses are being led, one should be on the near side and two on the off side. When two horses are being led on the same side, the reins of the outer horse should be passed between the jaw and the back strap of the head collar of the inner horse before being gathered up.
4. If the led horse is saddled, the stirrups should be prevented from swinging about by being slid up that part of the leathers which is next to the saddle. They may be further secured by passing the lower end of the leathers downwards and inwards through the stirrups.
71. Instruction in the gallop
1. Recruits should be taught how to ride at the gallop.
2. There are two alternative positions which may be adopted :-
For this he should take the weight of his body off the seat bones and lean the upper part of his body forward, the weight being taken by the knees, thighs and stirrups ; the reins must be shortened in order to keep continuous touch with the horse's mouth.
3. Recruits in the later stages of their training should be given constant practise in galloping at a uniform pace without allowing their horses to pull and should be taught to pull up quickly and quietly.
72. Riding awkward horses
1. Although the object of the training of a recruit is to teach him to ride a properly trained horse well, recruits should be given the opportunity of riding awkward horses before being finally dismissed.
Care must be taken, however, not to test their nerve too highly and to give individuals only such horses to ride as they may be reasonably expected to control. At the same time it must be realized that a man who has only just completed his training may have good but unconfirmed habits spoilt by being made to ride horses which do not respond properly to a correct application of the aids.
Such riders will not tend to improve bad horses, which should be ridden by accomplished horsemen if it is intended to eradicate their faults.
2. It should be impresses on the recruit that quiet and determined handling gives better results than roughness or punishment.
A horse, before he does anything wrong, usually gives a slight warning by momentarily letting go his bit so as to allow himself to adopt the position of the body which he requires. The rider should be prepared to take advantage of this warning.
There is usually a cause (apart from real vice) for misbehaviour on the part of a horse. It may be due to faulty training, fear or a defect of confirmation which makes it difficult for the horse to do what he is asked. A frequent source of trouble is bad hands on the part of the rider.
3. Kicking and bucking. - Keep the horse moving and so prevent him from contracting the muscles which he requires to enable him to kick or buck. Sit slightly back without stiffening the body, keep the horse's head up and distract his attention by playing freely with the bit.
4. Rearing. - The first essential is to have the reins loose. The rider should lean well forward, assisting his balance by holding on to the horse's neck. A horse which is known to rear should be ridden with a tight standing martingale.
5. Refusing to leave the ranks. - If he cannot be ridden out, he may be led out or backed out by hand. In trying to ride the horse out, the ranks should be opened slightly and the rider should use his legs firmly and quietly and keep contact with his mouth. When the horse has left the ranks, the rider should make much of him and repeat the lesson at once. Sometimes turning a horse round quickly three or four times and then at once pressing him forward in the required direction may have the desired effect. Very bad cases must be retrained .
6. Refusers. - A very frequent cause of refusing is nervousness on the part of the rider, who, by checking the horse just before the jump, causes him to stop short or swing round. Another common cause is jobbing the horse in the mouth while actually jumping or landing, caused by the rider having a loose seat and keeping himself in the saddle by the reins.
Horses which continually refuse should be examined to make sure that the refusal is not due to some physical defect.
The horse should be taken slowly and collectedly to within a few lengths of the fence and then put straight at it by the rider increasing the leg pressure. He must be kept well up to his bit. If the horse swerves round, he should be turned back the opposite way to face the fence again.
He should be rested from jumping for several days, be made to go well into his bridle and taught to obey the leg. When jumped again, he should be taken over small fences and the rider should dismount and make much of him immediately he has jumped.
The rider must note carefully how the horse refuses, whether he swings his quarters or turns his forehand, and use the aids suitable to the occasion.
A horse which continually refuses from temper or stubbornness should be taught afresh.
7. Rushing fences. - A horse which rushes his fences is best cured by being made to jump fences of different heights placed close together in a jumping lane. He may then be ridden over small fences in the open also, placed close together at varying heights and solid. The rider must never allow the horse to go at a faster pace than he requires. If the horse shows any signs of becoming excited, he should be halted and reined back collectedly.
A horse may also be circled round in front of a fence as though he were not going to jump it. When he settles down, he may be jumped over the obstacle.
8. Pulling. - A horse may pull owing to a sore mouth or from having been allowed to contract the bad habits of leaning on the hand or getting the head down. These habits may be corrected by frequently halting him, reining back and making him stand still.
To prevent the horse from leaning on the hand or pulling a dead pull on the reins should be avoided, tension being alternatively applied and relaxed ; riding with a feeling on three reins only often has the desired effect. The grip of the knees should be tightened to increase the firmness of the seat and on no account should a pull be exerted by pushing the feet forward and leaning back.
A runaway should be treated in a similar manner. Bad cases must be restrained.
9. mounting a restive horse. - With the left hand gather up the reins loosely and seize the cheek piece, holding the stirrup iron in the right hand. Place the left foot in the stirrup and transfer the right hand to the pommel, off-side waist or other part of the saddle. The rider should now be able to mount without difficulty. At the first opportunity such horses should be systematically trained to stand still.
73. Loose rein riding
1. Every lesson, from the very beginning, should include a certain proportion of loose rein riding.
2. The practice of riding with a long loose rein is an essential part of a remount's training. It teaches the young horse to move forward freely without attempting to pull and to balance himself and his rider's weight without assistance, and is a good preparation for the final stage of his training when he is ridden with only one hand.
It also has a steadying effect on a badly broken or pulling horses by showing them that they have nothing to fear from the bit.
3. It should be started at a slow walk in a ride in the school and eventually be done at the trot and canter independently in the open.
4. The reins should be allowed to slide gradually through the fingers until they are quite loose and the horse's head is perfectly free. If the horse attempts to increase his pace, he should be checked by a slight upward shake of the rein and by their voice, care being taken always to use the same tone of voice. In riding with four reins in one hand, the disengaged hand may be lightly dropped on the reins in front of the other hand. If the horse is very unsteady, he should be halted and then allowed to go quietly forward, the rider again easing the reins.
5. At first the horse should be allowed to carry his head as he likes so long as he does not pull. When the horse has learnt to go at all paces and to turn with a loose rein, he may be taught to carry his head at the proper height by raising the hand and giving it a combined forward and upward movement.
6. Riders should sit easily in their saddles, retaining a light grip with the knee and thigh, the lower part of the leg being kept away from the horse.