Horse-Riding-Tips #3

The Aids

The method that we use, explained here in horse-riding-tips, to communicate with our non verbal partner the horse, are called the aids. This is a communication based on feel and touch.Think of it much like dancing with a partner. The physical contact between the partners is a continuous system of feel and touch.


This communication through physical contact of horse and rider is maintained through the contact of the rider’s lower legs, hands on the reins, seat in the saddle and position on the back of the horse.

Through these areas of physical contact we can , through the repetition of a series of signals, teach the horse to respond in a certain way. The systematic use of these signals is key in making our communication understood. It is therefore essential that a rider develops

  • balance
  • fixity
  • suppleness
so that any physical movement of the rider is one of communication and not just a loss of balance.

Horse-riding-tips…………The Natural Aids

The seat: communicates to the horse relative to the rider’s balance, and weight distribution in the saddle and on the horse’s back. In order to communicate 'something' the rider should be able to maintain correct balance at all times so as not to interfere with the balance of the horse by displacing the weight involuntarily.

The leg: The leg aids can be used one at a time or simultaneously but their effect is dependent on the timing rather than on the strength they are used with. With an understanding of the biomechanics of the gaits we can learn how to time our leg aids to correspond with the correct leg of the horse. The leg of the rider can also address itself to the front leg of the horse or the back leg of the horse . The leg aids are used for impulsion, straightness, and lateral work.

The hands. The hands are aids only in that they connect to the horse’s mouth through the reins and the bit. The reins act to regulate the impulsion, give basic direction of travel and for the running communication between horse and rider. Although the interval between the leg aids and the rein aids becomes smaller and smaller with the education of the horse, there is never the less always an interval so that the rein aids and the leg aids do not work simultaneously.

The voice: the voice is an aid at the early stages of teaching only as it pertains to having the horse respond to a cluck to reinforce the seat and leg in driving the horse forward, or reinforcing the rein and seat aid to reinforce the regulating of the rhythm.

Horse-riding-tips.....Artificial Aids

These are the whip and the spur. These are used only to reinforce the natural aids by a rider who has a certain command of the natural aids.


When we communicate with the natural aids (or touch) we can distinguish two kinds of conversations that we are having with the horse.

Running commentary: the continuous flow of touch and feel transmitted and received by both horse and rider serve to MAINTAIN the quality of the movement and the attention of each partner.

The commands are conveyed through the natural aids to communicate to the horse a change…. in direction, …movement…or in gait

We first need to teach the language of touch to our horse. As we learn to communicate with each other we can use this language to ask the horse to perform the series of exercises that are needed to improve the horse's athletic ability and his overall ridability.

Through this communication, and with the use of the movements and figures, we can influence the horse to move his legs and use his back in a way that will improve his physical strength, his beauty and make his work of carrying his rider easier and gratifying.

The art of communicating to the horse through the aids, is a language that has been described through the ages. One of clearest and most concise descriptions to can be found here Horse Quotes-The Aids.

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