Do you squeeze then kick, or just kick, or scoot your fanny in the saddle or squeeze then tap with crop. or squeeze and then whack with the crop? Do you tap with the crop or whack with the crop and do you use the crop in front of the saddle or behind....Or do you slap your rein from side to side just in front of the saddle? Just curioius what different ideas riders have on this...

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My current mounts really like to go, so a small nudge/squeeze is enough. When I am riding a horse who needs a bit more 'convincing' that I really do want to go, then I usually squeeze then tap with a crop... but since I usually ride without a whip, just picking up the crop is often enough to make them 'wake up' and pay attention to my aids. ;)
Thanks for starting this discussion. I'm really looking forward to the responses!
As I move my hands forward (around an inch), I squeeze my calves, then release my legs. If the horse does not respond I squeeze a little harder and say WALK in a firm voice. If that does not work I put the reins in one hand around 3 inches further forward, squeeze my calves and hit MY lower leg with the crop. The next step would be using the crop right behind my leg (usually outside leg) short of sharply. No response--I would go back to basic training on the lunge teaching voice commands. I always move my hands forward, I always release my leg aid. I think I've hit a horse with the crop just a few times in the past 5 years, usually hitting my own leg (making a noise) is enough.
All of this of course is if the horse is sound and has no pain issues.
Yes, as Jackie says, the release of the leg is very important. All of my coaches like to remind students that the timing of the aid is very important... and it is the release that is especially vital. Allowing the movement with the hands and seat is also important. I agree that if a couple of squeezes, followed by one that is reinforced by the crop, does not elicit the desired response, then some work on training needs to be done... I would go back to the basics for a bit if even that amount of asking was typically necessary. (I don't want to have to nag a horse to do something).

All of the horses that I ride are good with voice commands since they also drive... but I have to try to use my voice less as I do want to compete in dressage.

Jackie, I also would often hit my leg rather than the horse... usually just the sound is enough to snap the horse to attention. ;) One of my coaches teased me for hitting myself! *lol* It does depend on the horse that I'm riding... some react to sound, others respond better to a light touch with the crop. Granted, I haven't carried a crop in awhile, lately it's more a matter of slowing the horse down! *lol*
Don't know actually..I have one that you just sit on and he goes... but my Oliver, he doesn't go.... we sort of have to ask him to change direction first, bend his head and then once he's a teeny bit off balance, he is easire to move.... if that makes sense... my trainer uses the mecate reins to get him to move if he doesn't go with just a squeeze, never a kick.... ever..... but with me, Oliver just stands still and sniffs my boots... I think he knows I don't know how to go or steer too good.... yet.... we are a work in progress. :) I got back on the ground with him actually and quit riding in January and our communication is so much better on the ground we are learning to understand each other and what the go means to both of us. :)
Good Jenn, you'll find that if he gets in the habit of responding to your "Go" command on a lead rope, soon you'll be able to transfer the lesson to your under saddle work, Do you do things like cluck or say walk when you ask him from the ground? Those would be useful aids to then put to use under saddle.

I take a soft contact on my reigns and cluck, if that does'nt work, I squeeze with my upper calves and if that does'nt wake em up then a tap with either my leg or the crop always does the trick.

If I loosen contact on the reign, I expect my horse to slow down, so I always shorten my reign when asking for up transitions or departure at the Walk or Canter.
I think so too.... we are getting our energy in sinc..... everything will come in time.. once I jump on that horse, there will be no getting off.... :) and you guys will have to come and find me....
This thrills kicking. I heard once "Kicking is just rude" ! But I see so many people doing 'kicking'.
I made the mistake of asking someone the other day what they do before they 'kick' .I got back a defensive "I know how to ride!" "I know you think I'm mean" and "You have to do that with a horse like this or there are gonna take you for a ride". "Yes, I squeezed before I kicked". This is a new horse to this young lady and I think her third ride on him. It was their first ride at the horses new home on his third day. Some other things were going on that I "think" I could see that the horse was trying very hard to do what the lady wanted but she kept pushing him to do more and do it faster. I am quite sure the horse was doing exactly what it had been taught to do and must have been pretty confused. The previous owner wanted it to be a slow bomb-proof horse for her young kids and he'd learned to do all his gaits in a nice smooth slower but not lazy manner. This new owner has had TB's and some off the track and she wants MOVEMENT. When lunging she kept flicking the whip at him to go faster when he was moving right along at a good clip. I felt so bad for the horse that I just had to leave from watching. I know this wouldn't fall into cruelty to animals or anything like that BUT I know how I'd feel if someone just kept pushing me when I was doing my best. I predict a breakdown of communication with these two unless this gal lightens up some. So now that my thoughts are out there on the printed page, I'll let you know if I end up reading the situation way off or right on. And in the meantime I know I have to just stay away from their sessions and keep my mouth and eyes shut to them. I so love it when I see a person with their horse and they are working together to master something and you can see the human encourage and praise the effort till the horse really gets it. And sometimes it seems they just aren't even physically ready to keep going on in circles when they haven't been ridden much and kept in a small pasture where they couldn't run. This is alot of work for them. The ladies face was bright red when she was done cause it was such hard'd that poor horse feel with this new exercise. I know some have the attitude that a horse can go all day and maybe they can when worked up to it but this crash course method seems just too pushy and not good for the horse.

How does anyone else see this? I mean besides that I have to mind my own business and keep my mouth shut!
Ooh don't! I haven't had a riding lesson in a while but my previous instructor used to tell me off for not kicking. I have always felt it really wasn't necessary. If a horse can feel a fly on its skin it can damn well feel my legs squeezing! But it isn't just about kicking, as I now understand. It's also about alignment and opening the shoulders to make sure you're not blocking the forward you are trying to achieve.... Much more complicated than I ever thought. I'm not averse to using a whip, but using it in time as a back up to my leg 'request' and not as a punishment. But I would rather do that than kick seven bells out of the poor creature. Seems more like a 'bite' or a 'nip' and something they would understand.

When I was riding my horse he used to take the mickey, strolling around like he had all the time in the world, while I was working really hard to get him moving forward. God my legs used to ache! One time I got off him, got into the car - manual shift - and could not move my feet off the pedals to press down the clutch!!! I know NOW that there were probably lots of reasons for that, but I also knew that he could look like a floating angel capable of beautiful gymnastics when there was no-one on his back, even if he looked like a big fat hippo when I rode him.

Jennifer's post made me laugh (sorry if it wasn't meant to Jen!) because my horse also used to turn and just look at my boots, as if to say 'yeah, what?' when I asked for forward. As you can see by my profile photo he is a cheeky boy.
Well kicking is fine if you dont like to carry a crop, but like Fiona just said, a pop with the whip resembles something they understand more so than a blunt kick. It's very easy for a horse to become desensitized to kicking but the sting of the crop always wakes them up.

Sometimes when you board at places like you do. It's best to "live and let live". Unless there's anything you really feel you need to speak up about, no-one likes to be told how to do it.

I received so many criticisms when I boarded, everything from my horses weight, to what I should do on him, to how often I should shoe him, on and on... it was horrible, and I vowed never to be like that.

I dont tell people much about what I think of their horses or them as horse people
I agree. One of the hardest things to do is to not judge other people, even when we think that what they are doing is wrong! I have also received a lot of criticism and opinions over the years, yes, my horse's weight was also a point of contention, plus the fact that he's barefoot, I didn't ride him enough, hard enough, well enough, with enough leg, rein, etc, etc.

Studying with Chris Irwin has opened my eyes to a lot of things that I now feel decidedly uncomfortable with that I see on a daily basis as common practice with horses. That can be very tough! I currently believe in leaving well alone and walking away if I don't like what I see. Like Over Fences says, unless there is something you feel REALLY strongly about, you will just drive yourself insane if you try to intervene in all situations. :-) It isn't about being 'weak' or avoiding conflict, it's simply about being discriminating about the battles I choose to engage in.
Yup, I totally agree with what you are saying here.
I believe it is necessary for me to more of a loner and save myself a lot of stress.
Another balancing act in life.
I showed someone yesterday that Cash will lift his head when I tell him "head-up" and then "kiss" and he'll turn his head for a kiss. She called it a monkey act!
Had a great ride tonight with lots of transitions up and down walk/trot. And canter transitions on the lunge line. The humidity today was 90% and very buggy. The fly predators did work wonders this year. Now everyone at this barn is all for them too
I came to the conclusion that all I could do was set a good example. It rarely did much good as far as influencing others. At least my horses appreciated it.

Directly criticizing other people's riding gets the same type reception as if you told them that their grandkids were ugly, dumb, and totally without any talent.

Sometimes all you can do is pray for the horse.


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