Horse Riding Aids, For A Calm And Willing Horse - ForTheHorse

Horse Riding Aids, For A Calm And Willing Horse

Horse riding aids are conventionally taught in a certain way, but does the application and obedience to the aids lead to a calm and willing horse?

How do we use the aids, and how do we NOT use the aids?

I'm going to teach you why striving for the obedience of aids is probably not your first move...

...And what to do instead.

In our Harmony For the Horse Program we guide you to helping your horse to be willing, settled in mind and body and ready to reach their potential.

CLICK HERE to discover more about how we can help you to reach freedom, achievement, oneness and joy that you most seek with your horse.

Here's how to have a Settled Horse...

This  means that... 

               ...they are willing to go forward,

              ...they are willing to slow down.

They're not in their own world either turned off or turned tremendously on ... a horse that loves what they're doing. 

The horse becomes interested in the work because the horse understands where it's going.  

I'm going to share with you how I created that with my horses, and how you can create that with your horse too.

In the past, instructors may have said to you, and I have had this as well, let me know if this resonates with you....

"Just up the phases, if you don't get a response at phase one, up the phases as high as you need to get it until the horse moves away or yield."

or ... 

"your horse has got your number"


"Your horse is taking advantage of you!"

For me, this may be the same for you too, when you love your horse and you want the very best for them you don't want them to become dull, to be turned off, refuse to go forward, be reactive, or be stressed out because of pressure.


The first thing that we need to do is to get a clear idea of when to use the aids, when to expect obedience and when to not.

It's not a blanket approach.

The answer on when to use this  is in an emergency.

But then you know what?

This actually comes under the realm of establishing boundaries and establishing your bond with your horse.

Because if you're constantly nurturing your bond with your horse, then it's less likely that you will get into an emergency situation. 

But horses are horses, things can always happen. 

Do not use the idea of obedience to the horse riding aids when you're training with your horse.  

Horses are much more intelligent than that.

It doesn't make sense that we would expect them to be obedient to all of this pressure from all of these places at the right time and have it be all perfect and have it all works.

There are more things we have to consider and there's so much more depth to it. 

For example:

Recognizing your horse's thresholds and actually seeing your horse, actually hearing what your horse is saying...

Giving your horse a voice, giving them a choice in the conversation, a choice to say no.

Then digging deep and find out why they are saying no. 

And you may get lots of No’s, and it may be disconcerting, but you will come out on the other side.

You will no longer be in blissful ignorance.

How long are you going to be in blissful ignorance following the obedience to the aids and not giving your horses the benefit that they deserve and the respect that they deserve?

So when you get a chance to work with us in our program we will take you through a process of gaining a new awareness along these lines... 

You will really get to see and know and understand your horse specifically. 

Which of course starts with understanding yourself.

And then your horse will show interest in your training and the riding…

They will choose to be with you,

choose to want you to ride.

Not because there's a consequence to not being obedient or not because they're going to be reprimanded for not being obedient,

but because they will choose. 

Our student, Deb was constantly struggling with our horse and when she went on calls with us, she would always mention how her horse didn't want to be caught, how her horse would run away,  how her horse would launch herself in the air on the lunge, or when she was In Hand or riding there was this constant anxious, chewing on the bit, which really drove her crazy.

It really irritated her. 

When we worked with her in our program, we gave her tools to use. 

Then soon she was coming to her calls, and she would say things like, 

“I can feel another epiphany bubbling up”. 

And we would laugh, and I would say, “Okay, what's that?”, and she would explain it. 

Yesterday, she sent me a message, and she said,

“My horse has become willing. The floodgate has opened. What joy! Thank you”.

When we have this outlook upon our horses,

when we can see them as not just being obedient and serving us,

but rather sentient beings, who we need to see ...

  • to understand
  • to know
  • to feel
  • to read
  • to be with

That's when we'll get the epiphanies happening, and this is what happened with Deb. 


How do you perceive your work with your horse? 

Is it a tactic?  Or is it a strategy?

A tactic is something small. 

Riding is something that you can do.

You can change from day to day. 

It doesn't have to be a thread.

Whereas a strategy is an overarching logic.

And how everything plays together. 

So when I relate back to Deb, in our program, we have a strategy that we worked on with her.

We worked through her stickiness with her horse and what she was experiencing.

And part of that strategy was to show her how to hold space for her horse. 


What I mean by that is to listen and to see the trajectory.

The trajectory is from confusion..

To clarity

To willingness.

In her message yesterday, she said, “My horse has become willing”.

So we teach you how to pay attention to those internal shifts that allow your horse to make the leap to the next level. 

So we slow things down. 

At the beginning, we slow things down enough that your horse becomes more aware of what they're doing.

Until then they can do it in a more repeatable manner. 

They can duplicate it, and they can duplicate it by themselves. 

When your horse starts duplicating these desirable movements and efforts that we're looking for that's when it's amazing! 

And that's when it becomes a real partnership.

When your horses are able to understand exactly what is shifting within themselves, because you're slowing them down enough, and you are being very specific about the things that need to be repeated rather than just saying, "Well, I was lucky that time or that was a fluke, or happenstance." 

We want it to be..

  • Identifiable,
  • Repeatable
  • Duplicatable

And that's what we have in our system. 

So your job as a guide for your horse, training your horse is to…

          ...Articulate to your horse the specific steps that are required along this journey to the final outcome that you're looking for with your horse. 

And this is what we do in our program. We help you to determine this. We help you to get clarity.

We help you to get specific enough. 

And we provide everything in context, so that it's not just out of the blue; 

"Here's something to do. I don't know if it relates to your horse or you at all, but just do it?!" 

That's a waste of time. 

The strategy is what's going to help you get there. 

It's like looking through a window where you can see the specifics, through that window, of the different shifts that you're going to look for and have happen. 

So then your horse says, “Oh! I feel differently now. I understand where we're going”.

This is what you want your horse to say. 

And then the horse will start to duplicate that for you to give that to you, without being asked. 

The horses enjoy the process and are involved with the learning with you. 

If you want support in this way, to reach your, and your horse's highest potential, then...

CLICK HERE to schedule a call with us!

About the Author Chris Adderson

Chris Adderson teaches riders and horses how to move with ease and grace to create astounding results and lifelong relationships of their dreams. She teaches valuable skills and educational strategies to get more results, quicker and faster.

follow me on:
  • […] To Improve Your Seat Feel Like Quitting Horses Completely? Horse Riding Aids, For A Calm And Willing Horse How To Achieve True Lightness And Self Carriage When Riding Mistakes Riders Make With […]

  • >