THE REASON WE do things a certain way with the horses is that they do so much better knowing what to expect. This increases
the chances of everything working out safely with the horse. Try to always set things up to succeed.
SO, THE REASON WE…….. . . . . . .
ARE CAREFUL PUTTING THE BIT IN AND TAKING IT OUT OF THE MOUTH is so we do not bang the teeth. If you have
ever hit your teeth with a spoon, you have an idea of what the horse feels from a bang with the bit. This also keeps the horse so it
will cooperate with the bridle going on their head and coming off.
BRIDLE the way we do is so the horse will accept bridling without a fight and this way we don't cause the horse discomfort.
Putting our right arm over the horse's head encourages the horse to lower the head as we offer the bit. It makes it easier for us to
get the bridle onto the horse. If you don’t consider the horse, you can cause it to fight putting on the bridle and taking it off. We
call this kind of horse ‘head shy’.
CARRY THE WHIP STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN WITH OUR BODY is so the horse won’t react to it and so we do not send a
wrong message to the horse. If using a saddle, there is a way to carry it on the saddle – western on the horn, English between
saddle and horse’s back.
CHECK PLACEMENT OF THE SADDLE is to make sure it is sitting in the correct spot behind the horse’s shoulder – NOT ON
THE SHOULDER. This allows the horse to use their leg fully and prevents a sore from occurring.
CHECK TIGHTNESS OF CINCH AS WE CINCH UP is to be sure it is comfortable for the horse as well as tight enough to be
safe for the rider. Too tight is as bad as too loose.
CHECK TIGHTNESS OF CINCH FIRST THING AT ARENA to make sure it is at the proper tightness for riding. It will usually be
a little looser after getting to the arena so the first thing we do it tighten it so it is safe for us to ride.
COOL THE HORSE DOWN and encourage it to walk at the end of the ride is to bring their breathing and body temperature back
to normal. It is not good health management to put a hot horse back into his/her pen immediately after exercise. They will
probably go take a big drink of water and this could cause illness.
DON'T TOUCH WHEN WE COME FROM BEHIND is that the horse may react to the touch by kicking out at us. This would be a
normal behavior triggered by the horse's natural programming. The horse has a blind spot directly behind it and a human
approaching can go out of their sight in this area. When we suddenly appear again, it might trigger the horse’s fight response and
get the human kicked.
FACE THE HORSE TO THE FENCE IN THE ARENA is to let the fence help act as a horse holder - barrier - so the horse does
not move off while the cinch is being tightened, being mounted or dismounted. In order for this to work, face the horse to the
fence at a 90º angle.
FEED TREATS UNDER THEN UP TO THE MOUTH is so the horse knows the treat is coming and keeps its mouth at a angle
which promotes safety for your feeding hand.
FEED TREATS WITH A FLAT HAND is to keep the horse from biting our fingers. They do not bite deliberately but if you have a
finger or thumb sticking up, it is the tallest thing on the hand and easy to grab.
DON’T PULL OUR FEEDING HAND AWAY WHILE THE TREAT IS IN IT is so the horse does not grab at our hand thinking the
treat is leaving.
FOCUS ON THE HORSE WHEN WE RIDE is because the horse is your teacher and you need to pay attention. The horse has
lots to teach every time you ride. If you aren’t focused, you will miss the lesson.
FOLD THE EXTRA LEAD LINE OR END OF REINS is so we can drop them if we need to and not get our hand hung in them.
FOLLOW THROUGH WHEN THE HORSE ARGUES is so the horse remembers he/she is expected to do what the rider asks.
If we quit while the horse is winning, it will make things harder for the next rider and for us the next time we use the horse.
GIVE CUES IN A CERTAIN ORDER is that is how the horse has been trained and therefore knows what to expect. The word is
first, sound second and physical pressure third. Example: walk, kissing/smooching sound then pressure with the calf of your leg or
kick with your heel.
GROOM AFTER UNTACKING is to freshen up the horse before putting him/her away. If the horse is sweaty, brushing helps air
circulate through the hair quicker.
GROOM AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RIDE is to make sure there is no dirt or debris on the horse to make it uncomfortable
when you put the saddle on or get on. It is also a good time to examine the horse for any health problems.
GROUND TIE is to have the horse stand still while we tack up even if we do not have anything to tie it to. We drop their lead line
straight to the ground and tell them ‘whoa’.
HALTER by putting our right arm over the horse’s neck is to encourage the horse to drop his/her head as we offer the halter.
Psychologically, it helps the horse stay still and with us during the process.
HAVE A BRIDLE FOR EACH HORSE is so they can be comfortable. It is kind of like our shoes; the bridle needs to feel
comfortable in the horse’s mouth and fit their mouth. The bit is what determines the bridle for the horse.
HAVE THE HORSE FACE THE FENCE is so the fence can serve as a ‘horse holder’. With the fence in front of the horse there
is a barrier and the horse is a lot less likely to walk forward and more inclined to stand still for you.
HAVE THE HORSE STAND STILL when we mount and dismount is so we do not get our foot caught in the stirrup and get
dragged or injured in some manner. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR YOUR SAFETY.
KEEP DISTANCE BETWEEN HORSES WHEN LEADING is to give the person and horse in back time to get out of the way if
the horse in front does something stupid. This distance also keeps you out of kick range.
KEEP DISTANCE WHEN RIDING is to prevent horses from arguing with each other; keep stirrups or rider feet from hooking
together between riders; have room so our horse doesn't get kicked or bitten. If someone is using a whip the whip shouldn’t affect
the other horses if there is proper spacing/room between them.
KEEP THE GATE CLOSED IN THE ARENA while riders are mounted. After all are dismounted, then open the gate to go to the
barn. Sometimes an open gate is an invitation for a horse to take off. They may run you over as they do this.
LOOK WHERE WE ARE GOING, NOT AT THE HORSE is so we don’t lead them into something that can hurt them or crowd
them. When we look at them, they can think we want them to stop.
LOOP AROUND THE HITCH RAIL IN THE BARN is so the horse stays in place as we tack up. The horses that we can loop are
good about standing.
MAKE SURE THE POLE KNOT IS EYE HIGH OR HIGHER WHEN YOU TIE HIGH is for the horse’s safety. If the knot is too
low and the horse has a pull back fit the horse can permanently damage his neck.
NEVER STAND BEHIND A HORSE is because that is an unsafe place to be.
NEVER WRAP ANYTHING ATTACHED TO A HORSE AROUND OUR BODY is so we can always let go of the horse if
needed. Human safety first, we will catch the horse later.
PREPARE THE HORSE FOR ACTION – walk, trot, etc. is so they can do what we ask. If we don't give them warning they can
do something other than what we want or even get crabby about it.
PULL SHORT TUGS ON THE LATIGO AS WE CINCH UP is to keep the horse comfortable during the process. Make sure to
check the tightness every few tugs to make sure the cinch is staying comfortable for the horse.
PUT A HAND ON EACH REIN AS YOU LEARN TO RIDE is that it helps with our balance, coordination and communication and
PUT LEAD LINE AND HALTER ON HORSE’S NECK BEFORE TAKING OFF BRIDLE is so we have something on them that
we can grab if they decide to walk off.
PUT OUR RIGHT HAND ON THE LEAD LINE OR REINS WHEN LEADING THE HORSE is that puts us into the correct
leading position on the horse’s left side.
PUT TACK AWAY AFTER PUTTING HORSE AWAY is so the horse is taken care of first and put away. The horse doesn’t
have to wait on us unnecessarily. Another reason is so we do not have to keep going around the horses.
PUT TAIL OF LATIGO THROUGH THE STIRRUP is to remind us to check the tightness of the cinch again after we get to the
arena. We won’t put our foot into a stirrup if something is already there.
PUT THE SADDLE BEHIND THE HORSE’S SHOULDERS is so the horse can move its leg and shoulder to the fullest as we
ride. Also, placing it behind the shoulder helps prevent sores from occurring on the horse.
PUT THE THIN BLANKET ON THE RED RAIL is so it can dry out. It may have sweat on it and I don’t like to put a wet blanket
onto a horse. That is uncomfortable.
PUT THIN BLANKET AND PAD ON THE HORSE’S SHOULDER is to put it in the correct place to protect the horse’s back
from the saddle.
REINFORCE STANDARDS OF HORSE BEHAVIOR is so the horse remembers the high standards he/she is expected to
demonstrate at all times. If each of us is not consistent with this, the horse will begin to take advantage of people. Eventually it
may exhibit behavior that can hurt someone. It doesn't mean we don't love them, it does mean that we love them enough to help
them be their best at all times.
REVERSE TO THE INSIDE OF THE ARENA is that we can see most of what is happening in the arena as we make the turn. If
we turn toward the fence we have a period of our back being turned toward the activity inside the arena.
SADDLE THIS WAY is so the horse is as comfortable as possible during the process. When they know what to expect from
‘their’ human, they can stay relaxed with you.
SET UP TACK BEFORE BRINGING IN HORSE is so we do not have to keep going around the horses and we can accomplish
our tasks efficiently and quickly.
SHUT THE GATE IN THE ARENA BEFORE GETTING ON is so the horse doesn't see the opening as an invitation to leave the
arena. We have more control in smaller riding areas.
SHUT THE GATE IN THE PEN BEFORE YOU CATCH THE HORSE is so the horse sees a barrier if he looks that direction.
He is much more apt to stay in the pen and let you approach. An open gate is an invitation to leave the pen.
SHUT THE GATE IN THE PEN BEFORE YOU TURN THE HORSE LOOSE is so the horse sees a barrier if he looks that
direction. Turn your horse away from the gate so he isn’t looking at it before you take the halter off. An open gate can be an
invitation to leave the pen. Horses have been known to run out the gate after they are turned loose and people can be hurt.
SIT IN BALANCE is so we don’t fall off and to help the horse perform competently under us. As we ride the horse it makes a big
difference in how the horse receives our messages.
TALK TO THE HORSE is so he/she knows where we are and we don't surprise him/her. Doing this keeps us much safer in
his/her space since we are not acting like a predator and the horse knows where we are. Talking also makes a connection with the
horse before we ever get onto his/her back. Talking also helps us keep our focus on the horse and what we are doing.
TALK WHEN WE GET THE HORSE OFF THE RAIL is to make sure they know we are there. If they have been tied for a little
while, they may be dozing.
TIE HIGH IN THE BARN is because some of the horses move around a lot and drop their head to look for treats.
TUCK IN THE HALTER TAIL is so the horse will not rub the halter off. If the tail is not tucked into the buckle a horse can rub the
UNTIE THE HORSE BEFORE TAKING OFF HALTER AND PUTTING ON NECK is so the horse doesn’t get away from you.
Also, if the horse is tied hard with the halter around the neck and they pull back they could damage their neck as well as get very
USE A BRIDLE, BIT AND REINS is to have physical communication with the horse.
USE A LEADING POSITION is to have the best control of the horse’s movements when we are on the ground and leading them.
USE A METAL CURRY COMB MARCH TO MAY is the metal curry comb helps the shedding process. This is the time the
horses shed their winter coats.. Each horse is different – for some we think it will never end and others it is hard to remember they
had winter hair.
USE A PAD is to protect the horse's back from the saddle
USE A RUBBER PAD ON SOME HORSES is because they are really round and the pad helps the saddle stay in place better.
We only use it so there is rubber pad against the horse and against the saddle.
USE A SADDLE is for our comfort in riding.
USE A STOOL TO GET ON is for the horse’s comfort. We pull on the saddle each time we get on and that stresses the horse’s
back. I consider this very important as many different people are getting on and off.
USE A THIN BLANKET is to keep the saddle pad clean.
USE A WHIP is as an additional tool to add to the pressures for communication. It is used as an extension of our hand/arm for
guidance only as needed, not to inflict pain.
USE AN OVERCHECK on the ponies is to keep them from putting their heads down to the ground when being ridden. This
makes it a bit easier for the rider to control the ride. The ponies are quite strong.
USE CUE PACKAGES is so the horse knows exactly what we want him/her to do. If we are clear in our instructions, the horse
can perform what we ask. If we are not clear, such as leaving a piece of the package out, the horse will only give what it thinks it
has been instructed to.
USE SPECIFIC WORDS AS WE GIVE THE HORSE DIRECTION is to let them know exactly what it is that we want from them.
Also, using the correct word helps us be sure we are asking for what we actually intended. Common words used are walk, trot,
back, over, whoa.
USE SPURS is to help with communication pressure on the horse that doesn't listen to our leg/heel pressure, not to inflict pain.
USE THE HORSE FROM THE HORSE'S LEFT SIDE is that in America if a horse can be handled and ridden, it is 'understood'
that it has been handled from the left side. Here, we handle from both sides. If the rider forgets about the ‘left side rule’ the horse
should handle the exception with good manners. The halter has the buckle on the left side of the horse's face.
USE THE LEADING POSITION is to have control of the horse when we are on the ground. The leading position puts you on the
horse’s left side. Not all horses will let you on their right side.
USE THE MARTINGALE on Shag is because he may toss his head. The normal rider reaction is to pull up on the reins when a
horse acts up. If the horse is tossing his head up, pulling the reins up will bring the head higher. This way, when the rider pulls up
the position of the martingale rings causes the pull Shag feels to be a downward pull.
USE THE WORD FIRST is the word warns the horse of what we are going to do.
USE TIP SHEETS is to be sure we are working off the most current information regarding the horse we will ride. It is the rider's
responsibility to use this reference. Check it each time you come to be sure there have been no changes. Each sheet is updated
with the date of last revision.
USE TWO HANDS WHEN HANDLING OUR HELMET is to keep it from dropping. If it drops on the floor, it will have to be
replaced. Make sure the helmet box is ready for the helmet when you take it off. HELMET – FROM BOX TO HEAD AND FROM
HEAD INTO BOX. Set it down gently in the box.
USE SIDE STRAPS is to give additional support to keep the saddle in place on the round backed/mutton withered horses and
ponies. They are used with designated saddles and horses and ponies.
WARM THE BIT IF IT IS COLD is so it will be comfortable going into the horse’s mouth. Check the temperature with your bare
hand. If it is cold, hang the bit in the sun. If the sun is not out or it is not warm, plan to use the hair dryer to warm it up.
WARM UP AT A WALK is to make sure the horse is not anxious about anything. It is much easier to deal with horse anxiety at
the walk then when the horse is going faster.
WARM UP BOTH DIRECTIONS IN THE ARENA is to let the horse see things on both sides. The horse sees what is on the
right with the right eye and what is on the left with the left eye. He/she doesn't see collectively like we do. Warming up this should
minimize the potential for the horse spooking as you go faster.
WARM UP THE HORSE at the beginning of the ride is to let him/her see if anything bothers it as he/she goes around the arena
as well as get their body limbered up. Once in a while, tack could be pinching and the horse will let us know. This is the time to get
your balance and get the horse to relax and move.
WEAR A CERTAIN TYPE BOOT is to keep our feet from sliding through the stirrup. We also want it to slip off if for some
reason it got caught in the stirrup.
WEAR A HELMET is to protect our head in case the horse hits us with theirs or we fall off.
WEAR CLOSED SHOES AROUND A BARN is to protect our feet from being stepped on and germs.
YOU DON’T VISIT WITH EACH OTHER unless I give permission is so you can focus on the horse which is your teacher. If you
are visiting another person, you will miss most of what the horse is telling you.
YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON THE HORSE for every step of the ride is so you will feel when he/she perceives a problem or
wants to make his own decision rather than follow your leadership. You can then take appropriate and timely actions to take care
of any problem.
YOU USE THE SAME SADDLE EACH TIME YOU RIDE is because it is assigned to you. If you are a kid, you use the same
one until it gets too small then we find another.
YOU USE THE WORD ‘WHOA’ is to tell the horse to stop. That means the horse’s feet are to stop moving whether you are on
top of the horse or on the ground. On the ground you need to say the word ‘whoa’, then pull the lead line or reins toward the horse’
s chest then stop your feet. If you stop first, the horse may step on you. Be sure to make the horse’s feet stop moving if you use
the word ‘whoa’. If we don’t they will soon learn that we really don’t mean it.
SPECIAL INFORMATION REGARDING MS WENDY You will see me do some things I tell you to never do. The reason is the
horses have to be reminded of the good behavior I want from them and the only way is to create situations that could cause
problems. I am paying attention to them if I stand behind and talk to you.
© Wendy Toombs 2013