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Tips, Tricks, Etc!

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Content Moderator Saturnia ♄ || Settling in! (: 💕
October 16th, 2019 10:20:40am
2,231 Posts

So, probably most of y'all don't know. But, I just got a job working at a local horse stable on the weekends! (Yes, I work 7 days a week and yes I am dead inside, but I LOVE being around horses). 

So, most of my job is usual stable hand tasks, but I also will be giving beginner lessons, trail rides, etc. I've realized that trying to teach someone everything that I already know is quite difficult because I have to put myself in the shoes of a beginner and explain every little thing. It's an interesting challenge because it's making me look into more stuff. 


It got me thinking : If you could tell a beginner anything about horses, horse care, or riding in general, what would you tell them? I'm intrigued to see what others think is important to share with new riders/owners/etc. 



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Master Administrator Samantha
October 16th, 2019 10:49:08am
4,333 Posts

Okay, so I do have a few suggestions!

Have them hold the bit in their hands with reins attached, and you walk behind them holding/steering with the reins. A horse's mouth has a similar amount of nerve endings as our hands. So this can help them realize what is an effective amount of pressure and what hurts.

If they're a little more experienced, I took a clinic with a trainer who had me do a posting exercise where I would stay up two beats instead of one. So up up down, up up down, etc. He told me that the amount of unbalanced I feel doing this is how my horse feels with me on his back all the time if I'm not balanced. And it has really helped me with balance and leg muscle to continue doing it. It's definitely hard, but helpful.

I would also do some stuff on the lunge line with them, having them drop the reins and hold their arms out, or close their eyes, so they can really get a feel for the horse. See if they can tell which leg is moving at what time, since that will help them tell diagonal later. Also, on the ground, teach them to lunge a horse properly, because eventually they will need to.

No stirrup work. Even if it's just walking. This can really help with balance.

Also when I was learning to ride (and honestly a few times since then, haha), my trainer would put a dollar bill under each of my knees and if I managed to keep the dollar bill there, I got to keep the money. I never actually got to keep the money I don't think, haha. But it definitely makes you more aware of how tight your legs are. A small towel would also work.

I'm sure other people here will have more good suggestions! There's a lot of groundwork stuff you can do with people too, but I'm sort of blanking on anything that would be helpful beyond the basics of grooming. Although teaching all of your students how to properly fit a bridle and saddle/girth is good!

Oh! Also, teach them how to tighten their girth and change their stirrup length while mounted. That can save your life in the field or on a trail. (And I don't know what type of riding you do, so learning to get on from the ground might not be possible, but if the horses are short and/or the saddles are western, it wouldn't hurt - but I say this as a short-legged person with a 17hh hunter who literally no one could mount from the ground, haha.)

Also, emergency dismounts! If you have cooperative horses, have your students practice getting on and off quickly (with both feet out of the stirrups), and when they can do that, have them do it at the walk, and then at a slow trot. I don't know if you ever learned the "proper" way to fall (I didn't), but if you did and you think you can safely teach it, knowing how to tuck and roll out of the way is invaluable.


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Content Moderator Saturnia ♄ || Settling in! (: 💕
October 16th, 2019 3:52:34pm
2,231 Posts

Those are all really great tips/tricks,Sam! Thank you for taking the time to type all of that out, that is super helpful! 

The riders are doing a mix of English And Western, so literally any tip is full game and appreciated! 



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Administrator 🍂~Broken Vow~🍂
October 17th, 2019 1:43:02pm
6,117 Posts

Head up, shoulders back, heels down!
Have their legs be beneath them, not kicked out in front, or kicked back behind the girth! (Better balance & position that way)
Breathing is key! Looking where they are going is also key!
When teaching diagnals for posting trot - "Rise and fall with the leg on the wall"
Following the leader type excercises and lunge lessons help too!
I fully support starting from the ground up! So learning how to halter and lead their horse. How to properly groom and tack up their horse. Then ride time!

There's soo much more but I'm having trouble thinking on the spot. xD



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Content Moderator Saturnia ♄ || Settling in! (: 💕
October 17th, 2019 2:38:35pm
2,231 Posts

Haha I understand the on the spot thing!

I teach from the ground up as well. I start with the absolute BASICS and then work my way up because I feel that if they don't know how to groom. tack, halter .. then how are they going to be able to ride one day when someone isn't there to do all of that for them! 

That's all great advice, BV! Thank you!! 



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Equ » Autumn is in the air🍁
October 20th, 2019 8:29:43am
927 Posts

Some of what I know to add to BV and Sam's statements that I'd emphasize to new riders:


Like Sam said, it's important to do groundwork. You can never go wrong with this one. It not only helps you bond with the horse and "get a feel" for them, but it also helps the horse out too. I'm going to assume the facility has all ranges of horses, so this is what I recommend:

- Greens in the herd? Be sure they are de-sensitized! Green horses are more likely to spook, which if you are an inexperienced rider, can be quite traumatic. Simulate multiple different scenarios from loud shows to multiple people and horses moving around the stable alley. This keeps everyone safe.

-Have any "high-strung" ones? Don't cut corners. It's a lesson, not a race. Lunge or don't ride! Too many times have I seen a major accident narrowly avoided due to the rider having a horse that needs to be lunged and neglecting it to "save time" so they could be first in the ring. 


There's a lot in this category. But I'll spare the mucking stalls, keep hydrated, feeding lecture as I'm assuming this is just for riding lessons and known. But I will put an asterisk here on cleaning the tanks: Do NOT use Bleach! We had a horse who was victim to this that was put down (it ravaged her skin and was eating it away. We tried every method possible and we couldn't stop it). Just use a wire cleaning brush to scrape off the algae.

- For as excited as you may be, make sure you learn about respecting the horses. Walk, not run to the horses' stall.

- Make sure you know up-front about their temperment. Are they skittish? Do they have a tendency to bite or kick? Are they a geriatric?

- Brushing the horses should be done twice: before tacking & after riding (see 'Cooldown'). This pulls out all the shavings, dirt, shedding hair, etc. That could be stuck to them and make them uncomfortable or agitated.


I agree with BV this is all very important to know and practice. This is what I used to do:

- Girth check: It is important to not have it too tight or too loose. Pull the strap halfway, then wait a few seconds. You will see the horse's heave line rise as they exhale from the tightening, then pull it to the full and appropiate tightness. This keeps it from being too loose. You should be able to space one finger between the girth and the horse's side when finished. If you cannot fit your finger, it is way too tight. This ensures the horse will still be able to adaquately breathe.

- Bit check: Before riding, check and make sure the bit is properly lined in the horse's mouth. The bit should be lightly under the tongue; make sure it is not jammed near the back of the throat or cutting the tongue that can cause unnatural foaming or bleeding.

- Hoof check: Make sure there is no debris stuck in the frogs that could make them lame or have bruises. If the horses are shoed, check and make sure there is no loose nails or signs that the shoe is falling off.

- Leading: When leading horses, make sure you always stays to the right or left side of the horse's head. You should be aligned with the horse's withers and your hand firm on the halter strap against the cheek. This allows you to maintain control without getting dragged or trampled should the horse spook at any given time. With a bridle, it is similar, but using reins.


Regardless whether it's a facility show or a long lesson day, the horses should always be cooled down before being put back in the stall.

-Make sure the reins or the lead they are using put in a "safety knot" (where it can pull-loose should the horse need to get away).

- When all tack is removed, thoroughly rinse the horse down for about 5 minutes. You should see a thick wave of white foam run off the horse, this is their sweat. 

- After rinsing, leading the horse in a circle and give small drinks of waters for about 30 minutes. Do not let them just stand and drink till they stop, they will colic or have severe muscle cramps.

- When the horse is dry and breathing is more normal, they can follow whatever procedures your facility has to stable them.

Sorry for the long ramble, but I hope this helps. :P Congrats on the new position!

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Content Moderator Saturnia ♄ || Settling in! (: 💕
October 20th, 2019 11:22:54am
2,231 Posts

Equ this is so perfect! The amount of time and detail you put in is really appreciated!! This is all super useful information and very helpful 💕💕



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a z a l i e- is basically gone lovin life as a future reiner! [blitz watching]
October 20th, 2019 11:32:37am
1,778 Posts

Tell them not to take their shoes off and hit the horse to go faster!

Literally had that happen to me when i was working at a rental stable!

I knew he was the type to wanna go run so naturally i gave him the horse that would not go any faster than a walk! Hahaha


I agree with everyone above....EVERYONE needs to do groundwork before they ever start riding. If you cant get the horse to listen on the ground, then how will you get it to when you ride?!



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Tifisati ~ New Forest Ponies
October 20th, 2019 1:17:23pm
192 Posts

We do Saddle Club at my yard so we have 15-20 kids for 2 hours and they ride for up to 30 minutes and do stable management the rest of the time.


When I get a new rider, I teach them how to hold reins properly and then I take hold of the rein near horses mouth and give a small tug using one finger.  I ask if the rider can feel that (usually no as they have the buckle of the reins) so we shorten the reins to appropriate length and I do it again. Next answer is usually yes and it demonstates where they need their hand to give direction to the horse. 

Barrells on the ground in a line is great for any level of rider - practice steering from mainly hands (beginners) to only legs (more advanced). 

We play games:

Traffic lights: red - stop. green - walk.   

Simon Says - this is good for balance in the saddle as well as teaching parts of saddle and horse. ie. touch the pommel.

Obstacle course: poles in a zigzag, halt box, barrels to weave in and out of. 



Always talk and approach the shoulder (never approach behind them)

reasons for grooming and which brushes to use seasonally

Parts of horse, hoof, muscles, skeleton

Tack parts, how to fit and put on

Health care - pulse/respiration and temperature, basic wound care, 

How to put exercise bandages and boots on properly

paddock maintenance - checking fences, what makes a safe field etc

Rugging - different types of rugs, how to fit

Leading a pony correctly and how to trot them up for vet


These are the main ones I can think of that we do (we have badges for each activity that the children work towards earning)


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Content Moderator Saturnia ♄ || Settling in! (: 💕
October 21st, 2019 10:23:45am
2,231 Posts

I really like the badge system. Tif! That is a creative way to check off each skill that they are mastering! 

Thanks for the tips, Aza and Tif! Both of y'all made some really great points! 



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Kyuubi || Mental Health Issues
October 30th, 2019 2:44:41pm
381 Posts

Have you heard of Pony Club? I have found that through PC can be very helpful with helping beginners and even upper levels too. It's something for all ages and it teaches basic horse care all the way up to pre-vet/trainer knowledge. Even if you don't have an official club you can still use it as a resource, they have manual books that help with explaining all sorts of horse care, etc. It's starts with the D level, then C level, B and A.

My trainer has me watch or teach a lot of her younger/newer students with grooming and tacking up and honestly Pony Club I feel has helped me in figuring out how to do it effectively with all ages because it's goal is to teach knowledge and have that knowledge learned then given back to the next generation per say.



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Content Moderator Saturnia ♄ || Settling in! (: 💕
October 30th, 2019 2:54:24pm
2,231 Posts

Kyuubi - never head of that, but I will absolutely check in to it! Thank you!! 



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