Pony Working Forwards
Horse Working ForwardsWhen your horse is going forward correctly they should be a pleasure to ride. You should work in perfect harmony together without resistance. It should look natural as your horse does all you ask without apparent effort.
Acceptance of the BitWhen your horse accepts the contact of your hands through your reins, it is known as ‘accepting the bit’. Your horse’s whole body responds to the influence of your hands from their hind quarters through their back to the bit. There should be no resistance to the bit. Your horse should respond to your hand (fingers) aids willingly and without hesitation.
ImpulsionImpulsion is the energy the rider asks for and the horse gives them. Your horse goes forward actively but does not necessarily increase their speed (see also Balance, Rhythm, Tempo, Speed and Impulsion).
Using Your Legs
Forward drivingTo encourage your horse to go forwards and build up their energy you use both your legs on, or just behind, the girth. Ideally your horse will respond to light nudges but occasionally a stronger kick may be necessary.
SupportiveTo maintain your horse’s impulsion, or forward movement, you rest your legs on your horse’s side in a supportive role. When you place one leg a little further back it guards your horses hind quarters from drifting out to the side (see also Aids and Circles and Turns).
Using Your Hands
Allowing handsIf you learn to ride with feeling hands you can give and receive messages from the horse’s mouth and allow the natural movement of the neck and head. The aim is for a light contact between your hands and your horse’s mouth, although sometimes you might need to use a stronger contact to give your horse a ‘check’ or to block the forward movement.
To help you learn how to use allowing hands, practise in the walk. Watch as your horse’s head nods and ears move. Allow your hands to move back and forward following the nod and you will find your rein contact remains constant. Your arms and shoulders should be relaxed with your spine stretched upwards. If your arms are relaxed they should be able to move independently of your body.
Strong contactIt is possible even for your strong contact to be an allowing/forward one, with energy flowing forwards towards your horse’s bit. You should not need to pull back or even fix your arms and hands for more than a stride or two as this restricts your horse’s natural movement.
Non-allowing handsTo stop the forward movement you clench your fingers on the reins and tighten the muscles in your arms so that they cannot be pulled forward. This way you block the forward momentum and can achieve movements such as going from trot to walk or coming to a standstill.
Using Your BodyBy keeping your body balanced, upright and following the movement of the horse in walk, trot, canter, and transitions you allow your legs and hands to maintain your horse’s forward movement. This also means that your horse will be able to focus on the aids you are using.