Just For Fun

Posted by in Blog, relax, releasing tension on Nov 17, 2012


Do you ever look at a rider and wonder why their horse puts up with them when your horse seems to get upset by your every move? It’s frustrating to watch someone who appears to have not a care in the world bouncing around an arena on a horse that appears to be oblivious (and yet is moving beautifully!) when you’re trying your hardest to work on your leg position, your contact or your seat.


Those horses you think are the most tolerant horses on the planet are often some of the happiest! There’s a reason they seem unbothered by their rider’s faults. It’s because however bad you think they look they’re relaxed. If you’re always up there fiddling and adjusting your position how can your horse possibly relax?


Trying too hard is a huge cause of tension in riders. Not only do you stiffen up as you focus on sitting up, holding a steady rein contact or looking straight ahead it also makes you constantly doubt yourself. If you’re always correcting yourself how can you relax and feel confident?


Nobody can relax to order but the main thing to do is stop trying! It’s great that you want to do your best – of course you want to help your horse – but next time you ride just ride! Go out for a hack and enjoy yourself or go in the school and trot or canter 20 20m circles on each rein without thinking about it – which means forget about your horse’s head position or yours! It’s harder than you think but you’ll feel a real difference in your horse by the end.


Schooling is about the partnership between you and your horse not about how much you can achieve in one session. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Take time out to really enjoy your riding and it won’t be long before he does the same. If he’s happy he’ll relax his back, his jaw and his quarters – isn’t that what you’ve been trying so hard to do all along?


Good luck and enjoy your schooling.





  1. Nov 18, 2012

    You’re so right. Think it doesn’t help when in a riding lesson a teacher keeps telling you to get on after a horse to make it do what the RI is asking for and you can’t for whatever reason just adds to the stress. What would you advise then? Yesterday I had a good 20 mins then to have a bad 10 mins where I just couldn’t get in to canter

    • Lorraine Nov 18, 2012

      In your situation Irene I’d go with your instinct. If you know and feel that things aren’t working (for whatever reason) I think it’s important for you and the horse to stop and do something you can do.
      Plugging away at something that clearly isn’t going to happen is demoralising and soul destroying. Not only does it spoil your ride it also sets up negative vibes for next time.
      It really is all about the partnership between you and the horse. If you’d have a good 20 minutes prior to that it seems a shame to battle on with something you don’t feel able to achieve when actually going over old ground – that was going very well – would have left you both with a far greater sense of achievement.
      In that situation remember that if you say “No” there is very little any RI can do about it!
      Often – in RI’s defence – instructors are trained to ‘encourage’ pupils to push themselves in order to succeed. I find out of a riding school situation this happens less often because the relationship between you, the horse and the RI is stronger. OK that’s not possible for many riders but never forget that this is your hobby – it’s only RI’s job! I’d take a deep breath, smile and say “Thanks but maybe next time. I’d like to finish on a high so I want to come back next week.”
      When things go that wrong too I think it’s important to accept it as a bad day – don’t ever doubt your abilities. You’ve had really positive days before so try to forget it and start your next session with a clean slate.
      I hope this helps 🙂

  2. Dec 5, 2012

    Man….I WISH I could do this!

    Every time I get on Ryleigh lately, he wants to mess with me. And because I am the way that I am, he always wins. The moment I mount, he stands beautifully and waits for the ‘walk on’ cue…..and that’s where the good ends and the bad begins. He will go to the left all day long….even small circles. But when I try to turn him to the right, he tosses that head up and usually takes a few steps backwards…..and then I get so tense and nervous and I’m ready to get off. I’ve got that “what’s he gonna do” stuck in my head.

    His teeth are fine….I had them checked. He’s just found a new way to mess with me and take advantage of my fears.

    So I avoid getting on him. I have no idea how to get on him and ‘just relax’. 🙁 And I think I’m close to giving up.

    • Lorraine Dec 6, 2012

      Don’t lose hope! I have every faith in you and him. I know you well enough to know you’ve checked everything so all you have to do is go left! Seriously. Two or three times a week get yourself up there and ride one or two circuits on the left rein. It’s OK to be wary. If he’s happy to do that then that’s fine. Get your confidence back a bit before you push him. Staying on one rein won’t hurt him – it’s not as if you’re riding him for an hour on the left rein only. You can always lunge him or get someone else to ride him for you. Remember not to do too much lunging or you’ll have him too fit for you.
      Then what you need to do is ‘creep up on him’! Change the rein in walk across the diagonal – then turn up the centre line straight away. This gives you the smallest distance to go on the right rein. He won’t even know he’s done it. Gradually extend the distance you take until you can do the whole short side and then change the rein across the diagonal again – making it a figure of eight.

      It’s also OK to know that he’s taking advantage of you 🙂 And so?! Don’t beat yourself up over it. That can make things pressured and so much worse. You spend the night before worrying about how and what you’re going to do. Then you feel sick before you ride because ‘you know you have to battle through it’ and then you get on – he throws a tantrum – and you get off again! Sound about right? Honestly I’ve been there – really. I once had to ride a horse that threw everyone off! I was meant to take it through a field and school him in another one. I refused and took it 1 metre at a time. I turned back towards home before he started to argue. Yes I knew he was taking advantage of me but in the end I got him to that field and was able to school him – and stay on! And guess what? I only went and bought him!!
      Robin I know you want to do this so badly – and I know you’ll get a huge sense of achievement out of it when you do it but take your time. As much as you need.

      Having said that be fair to yourself – life shouldn’t always be difficult. Why don’t you go off to a riding school somewhere and ride a few other horses. See how you feel. You’ll either think “This is great and I need a different horse” or you’ll be desperate to get back to Rye. It’s OK to admit defeat sometimes. There’s absolutely no shame in it. There is often a lot of pressure from friends and well meaning others to battle on when actually perhaps you need to take a step back and think whether this (he) is really what you want. Although I wish you well with your beautiful boy I also know there’s a lot of fun to be had in slinging the tack on and heading out on a horse that just does everything you ask 🙂

      Whatever you do keep in touch. Either decision will be the right one because (as I keep telling everyone!) it’s your money, your time and your hobby. Your choice!
      I really hope this helps. Lorraine

      • Dec 6, 2012

        Wow. It’s so funny that you wrote a suggestion on what to do ‘the next time I get on him’ because that was last night (before you wrote this) and I did exactly that! I got on Ryleigh and after asking him to walk off, I asked for a few left circles, and as we were just coming out of one, I tricked him and asked for a right circle…..and he went! We did lots of right turns and circles last night and I even pushed him to the wall, kept him on it and when he tried to take me off the wall, I insisted he go right back to it!

        I was on his back last night for over an hour….the longest ever! And I realized something last night…when he starts that “I don’t want to go right” stuff and I’m trying to pull his head around to the right when he’s forcing all 1000lbs of weight through his neck and telling me NO, that’s ALL I was doing. I was concentrating so hard on that that my legs were still…..I wasn’t pushing him forward!

        So, getting him to turn to the right I pulled on the right rein and bumped with my outside leg and as soon as he made the effort, I bumped with both legs to continue on…….AND HE COMPLIED!!! For over an hour!

        I don’t know WHO I was last night, but another funny thing happened. While lunging, he decided he was in the mood to give me his normal Ryleigh Lunging Crap. You know, just stopping and turning into stare at me with that look of “I dare you to try to get me moving again”. He was just about to do it and I caught him, got after him in an assertive way that I had never done before and you should have seen the look! He was like “Oh crap…..she means this!” and he didn’t stop at all after that. It was THE most defining moment I can rememeber. 🙂

        I’ve been on other horses. Super well trained horses that know their job and let me learn. My favorite is a little reining mare at our barn – Louise. And she does help my confidence.

        No doubt Ryleigh is smarter than I am….but since he’s not a horse with a grudge – meaning, while we argue about things, he doesn’t do awful things to me and has never done anything more with me on his back (like a rear or buck) than get naughty and challenge me…..knowing I’ll probably get off and he’ll be done working.

        It’s not just about my fears…..but also trust. In each other. And last night I gave him a HUGE part of me. After we were done “working” and I was letting Ry just wander around the quiet arena, I made sure I was balanced, dropped my reins to my horn and let him carry me. We went up one wall and I turned him with my leg and then I halted him. That was enormous for us. And I’m not saying that tomorrow evening I’ll feel comfortable enough to do that, but last night, I trusted him. 🙂

        I made a commitment to Ry the day I brought him home….that he’d be with me until he took his last breath. (He’s been tossed around so much) So no matter what, we WILL get through it all. Someday.

        I won’t give up on us.

        • Lorraine Dec 7, 2012

          I’m so excited for you! It’s great when things just work like that – everything just clicks into place 🙂 You deserve everything you get because from the first time I met you you’ve known that it could work – you just needed to find out how.

          The way you describe turning him is so similar to towing a trailer! How many people end up in a knot because they forget to straighten up and then put their foot on the gas? You’re right – keep asking and he’ll either just turn himself in on himself and get stuck or he’ll get confused and start to stress.
          Just keep on doing what you’re doing because he cares as much about you as you do about him. He’s a really kind horse and one day I just know you’ll have a photo on Facebook of you cantering over the hills 🙂
          Good on you. Lorraine

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