Rider to Rider: What Bad Riding or Horse-Care Habits Would You Like to Change?

Readers own up to their pet peeves and not-so-virtuous practices.

My riding goals are also my life goals. Since hitting a “certain age,” I have gained weight, which leaves me without energy and losing the muscle tone to be an effective rider. My goal is to implement a diet and fitness plan that will help me maintain my ability to ride well into my “later” years. I may never be an “A” circuit competitor or show at more than Beginner Novice in eventing. But what I do I want to be able to do well and I do not want to surrender my love for my horses and riding to being old and fat.
Victoria Tennis, Utah


Looking down!
Susan Holmes, South Dakota

I’d love to see riders stop using hoof dressings. A healthy and well-cared-for hoof will regulate the absorption and evaporation of water on its own, even in wet conditions. So I think it would be great for riders to modify their horse’s diets and not sand the hoof before applying hoof polish (which destroys the periople that helps regulate this moisture balance) to fix the problem instead of slathering on the temporary solution of hoof dressings.
Amanda Nicole, Florida

If I could only correct the flaws I hear over and over when I school: Relax your elbows, Kim; look up; ride around your horse, Kim, not on him; ask for more; soften your hands; don’t lean in on the corners; shoulders back; land in your heels. God bless my husband who has not fired me as a student! I test out fairly bright, but I’ll be darned if I can remember everything I need to do without him standing there.
Kim Cronenwett, via Facebook

Draw reins!
Erin Lane Wallis, via Facebook

I talk too much to my horse when I’m training her, so I’ll be talking less and teaching more.
Becky Scott Grizzle, Georgia

I need to stop nagging my poor pony with my legs, look up and relax the contact in my arms.
Kat McMullen, New Jersey

I’ve had my horse for five years, and, as a beginner, I learned to control him with my hands. In recent lessons, I’ve learned the importance of using my weight and squeezing/shifting muscles to direct him. In fact, I was able to stop my horse by squeezing my core and sinking into my heels. I felt like I was riding a different horse!
Anna Smegal, Minnesota

Many riders do not take the time to properly groom their horses. They think it’s fine to just brush wherever the saddle goes. To me this is a sin; brushing is the most important thing you can do off of your horse. Brushing deeply on a daily basis brings out a shine that no coat polish can. Also, it is a way of finding any cuts or scrapes you would not see otherwise. Nothing is better to bring out the natural oils in your horses coat then a nice deep curry, hard and soft brush and finishing with a hard rub with a towel. If everyone took the time to deeply groom their horses, show prep would be much easier and all of our horses would be much shinier!
Richelle Holnick, Pennsylvania

I need to be more in the moment with my horse and less in my head. I wish I would stop worrying about what might happen and focus on what is happening and how I can improve it. Sometimes when I’m cantering on a new lesson horse, I hyperventilate out of fear. I feel like I don’t have control, and that negatively affects my equitation. I’d like to do my best with what I have now rather than going over a list of what-ifs in my mind and regretting it later.
Sarah Walker, Ohio

I have a habit of opening my inside rein before kicking with my outside leg to get a lead change, so my horse gets the lead up front but not behind. When I try to fix it, he swaps to the wrong lead again and then I have to start all over.
Maia Selsky, Texas

I tend to grip, not sit, so I am training my body out of 10 years of riding one way into another. It is definitely not the easiest thing to do, but I am determined to master it.
Rebecca Lux, South Carolina

Read more answers to this Rider to Rider question in the September 2011 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.

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