Horseback Riding
Horse Back Flatwork

From: Horseback Riding

See also: Horse Flatwork Books and Mounting
Position | Lunging | Jumping | Dismounting

Horse Picture

Flatwork Introduction

The walk is the most basic movement of a horse in flatwork. The different types of walk are collected walk, medium walk, extended walk and free walk on a long rein.

How To Ask For The Walk Pace:

The next pace up from walking is trotting. This is a two time rhythm which means that the horse moves its legs in diagonal pairs, for example when the near hind and off fore are elevated off the ground, the off hind and near fore will be on the ground supporting the horse and propelling them forwards. Types of trot are working trot, collected trot, medium trot and extended trot.

Asking For Trot

The next pace up from trot is canter. This is a three time movement which has a moment of suspension in between each canter stride. The horse can be on one of two canter leads depending on which rein they are on. On the left rein the horse will pick up left lead canter, this is where the horses off hind strikes off first followed by the near hind and off fore together and the near fore being the last footfall to go down. The different types of canter are working canter, collected canter, medium canter and extended canter.

On the right rein the horse strikes off with their near hind first followed by the off hind and near fore together and the off fore being the last leg to go down.

Types Of Canter
Working canter, collected canter, medium canter extended canter and counter canter.

Asking for canter:

Menage Layout
In the schooling area there should be markers placed around the edge as follows, below is the layout for a school which is 20 meters by 40 meters.

Riding School Layout:






With every trot change of rein, the rider must also change their rising trot diagonal. This allows the horse and rider balance more easily on the turns and corners of the rein that they are riding on. This is because as the horse turns for example to the left, then the rider should be sitting when the horses near hind and off fore and on the ground and the off hind and near fore are up in the air, by doing this the rider has their weight on the near hind which allows the horse to push through from behind and balance whilst on the turn.

By looking at the horses outside shoulder and watching it move forwards and backwards will help the rider to see whether or not they should be sitting or rising to the trot stride. When the horses outside shoulder is back it means that the rider should be in the sitting part of the rising trot, and when the outside shoulder is forward the rider should be in the rising part of the rising trot. To change a rising trot diagonal the rider simply stays sitting for one extra sitting trot beat and then continues with rising trot. The more experienced riders should not need to look at the outside shoulder but will be able to feel through their seat, if the diagonal is correct or not.

Turning Your Horse

Turning To The Left
The rider first checks their position, then to turn the horse to the left, the rider looks to the left and turns slightly through their waist and shoulders into that direction. Then using the inside rein (left) the rider applies gentle pressure to ask the horse to look to the left, the rider should just be able to see the horses inside left eyelash, if the rider can see all of the horses left eye then they have over bent the horse. The riders outside (right) rein controls the amount of bend to the left and also controls your speed. The riders applies pressure on the girth with their inside (left) leg to encourage the horse to maintain forwards movement and to bend to the left where the bend gets pushed into the outside rein for control. The riders outside leg moves a couple of inches back behind the girth, pressure is only applied with the outside leg if the horse starts to fall out to the right during the turn to the left,it is at this point that the outside leg gently squeezes to help control the hindquarters.

Turning To The Right
The rider checks their position, then to turn to the right the rider looks to the right and turns through their waist and shoulders to the right, then using the inside (right) rein, gentle pressure is applied to ask the horse to look to the right. The outside ( left) rein controls the amount of bend and the speed at which the turn is done. The rider applies inside leg pressure on the girth with their right leg to encourage the horse to keep forwards movement, while the outside left leg moves back behind the girth to control the hindquarters through the turn.

Before turning your horse use a half halt to prepare them for the turn this helps to lighten the forehand and engage the hindquarters it also helps them to know that you are about to do something and therefore makes them more attentive to the aids when applied.

During the turn a half halt can also be used to rebalance a horse and stop any rushing from occurring, If a turn to the left is being ridden then the outside right rein will be used for the half halt and if a turn to the right is being ridden then the outside left rein will be used to ride the half halt.

Changes Of Rein
In any schooling session, several changes of rein are required. A change of rein is where a complete change of direction occurs. This helps to keep the horse supple on both sides as well as preventing boredom. There are seven official changes of rein, which when ridden correctly will allow the horse and rider to smoothly change the direction in balance and harmony. The seven changes of rein are

The three main sizes of circle, that are used when schooling or in competition are the 10 meter, 15 meter and 20 meter circle. When schooling they can be ridden anywhere in the school where space allows.