Equestrian Rider Aids

From: Equestrian and Horse

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Dressage Training

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Equestrian Riding Aids

Riding Aids
The rider uses aids as a means of communicating their wishes through to the horse. Aids can be either natural, which use the riders own body such as the hand, leg, seat and voice, or the aids can be artificial such as the use of whips or spurs. Aids are used in different amounts either on their own or as a combination of aids to get the desired result.

Each horse has its own sensitivity to the riders aids with some horses requiring very subtle aids and some requiring stronger aids from the rider but regardless of the horses sensitivity the rider must always use the least amount of aid pressure that is necessary and without being aggressive or causing the horse any harm or discomfort.

All horse riding aids should work independently from each other allowing the rider to control every part of their body and therefore quickly make any adjustments to their position allowing them to fully take control of the horse.

Natural Riding Aids
The natural aids that the rider uses are the hand, leg, seat and voice aids.

Hand Aids
The riders hand aids are used to communicate through to the horse via the reins and then on to the bit. When the rider takes hold of the rein there should be a light flexible tension called a 'contact', that is held through the rein to the bit which sits in the horses mouth, this contact will make the rein stay in a straight line which if the rider is sitting and holding the reins correctly then it will produce an imaginary line that runs from the horses bit directly through the rein to the riders little finger, wrist and then onto the elbow. The use of the hand aid must always be used in conjunction with the riders leg and seat aids, the hands themselves should stay raised above the horses wither and kept level with each other without crossing over the horses neck. The hands can produce:

Voice Aids
The use of the voice is invaluable as a training aid and can be used for riding, handling and lunging. The word used along with its tone and length of time that the word is held for can indicate many things from an upward transition to a downward one, an aid for collection and as a reprimand or a word of praise. A well schooled horse will quickly recognize and respond to voice cues. The use of the voice is not permitted during a dressage test.

Seat Aids
Riders seat allows collection, balance, steering, forward movement and control of the horse to take place, as well as providing the rider with stability and balance when on board. The seat is a combination of the riders seat bones, pelvis and hips.

Leg Aids
Leg aids are used in conjunction with the riders seat and hand to communicate to the horse the direction, the type of gait and the level of activity that is required by the rider. If the riders legs are well positioned they will also provide the rider with balance and stability. There are two lower leg positions, which are on the girth or behind the girth, the use of these will allow the rider to initiate upward and downward transitions, lateral movements and collection.

Artificial Riding Aids
An artificial aid is a piece of equipment such as a whip or spur that the rider uses to backup a natural aid.