Tuesday, June 20th, 2017



Elizabeth_Poppie_trotting_posture

There are a lot of terms trainers use when talking about how a person sits on the saddle and how the rest of the body moves in relationship with the seat.

Whether it’s called an independent seat, fluidity, balanced seat, or any other term, it means how the rider moves with the horse and influences the movement of the horse. The goal is to be balanced in the saddle.

Proper position

The correct posture is to line up the ear, shoulder, hip, and back of the heel in a straight line. In this picture, the rider has the proper position in the saddle. (Note: the picture is on an angle, so it appears that the ear is in front of her shoulder, but in reality, it is not.)

The rider is also relaxed; her elbows are at her waist. With the exception of her looking downward, this rider has a good position.

Moving with the horse

When the rider is relaxed and in the proper position, she is moving with the horse. As the horse takes a step forward, her hips and pelvis moves with the horse without creating and resistance. If the rider is tense, the pelvis cannot move freely and the horse cannot move freely.

This causes a chain reaction or vicious circle between the horse and the rider. The rider asks the horse to move, but is stiff or tense in the saddle, the horse may move slowly or not at all, the rider gets frustrated by the horse’s lack of movement and gets even more tense as she tries to drive the horse forward with her seat. The horse feels the cue to move forward but the tension, now in the back, shoulders, and hands of the rider creates resistance and the horse doesn’t respond to the rider’s cues.

Sitting tall

This is one of the most difficult concepts in riding. Most of the time when we are told to sit or stand tall we throw our shoulders and hips back which causes our back or spine to arch forward. Now we are out of balance. Sitting tall means the spine is aligned as straight as possible. The rider’s back is neither arched forward nor hollowed, nor is it hunched over causing the shoulders to move in front of the hips.

One of the exercises that I give my students is to stand with their shoulders and hips against a wall, then move the small of their back toward the wall. To do this, they need to engage their core muscles. By strengthening their core, they will have proper posture in the saddle and ultimately be able to ride in harmony with their horse.

Linda Watson-Call is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.
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I never thought I’d be the proud owner of a horse that goes to college, but earlier this month Angel (Angelita’s Image) stepped into the trailer that took her to Meredith Manor is West Virginia!

One of our Program Aids, Christa, had been working with her for over a year. Late last year she was accepted to Meredith Manor. During a session she expressed her disappointment that she would not be the person to “finish” Angel since she would be leaving soon for college. At that moment I had an idea. I knew some other colleges that would allow the students to bring a horse; I even heard of a few colleges that would allow horses to attend even if their owner wasn’t attending that school. So, why not ask if Angel could go too? After all, she still needed some training and Christa had really bonded with her.

So we began getting all her supplies together and having the vet come out to give her the required vaccinations for her new adventure.

When the big day came, Angel loaded in the trailer like she was an old hand at travelling. Truth be known, she has not travelled much at all, but she wasn’t going to let the transport compnay know.

Angel new home_tFrom all reports, she was a big hit when she arrived. Unloaded, refused to walkAngel at Window_t through the mud, and made herself comfortable in her new stall. When Christa visited her the next day, she was very happy to see a familiar face.

The back of her stall open to the paddocks so she doesn’t feel confined when she spends time in her stall.

Angel has been assigned to an advance student who is making sure her ground training is on target. They will teach her all she needs to know to be a great program horse. And best of all, she will continue to be with Christa!

We’ve even given her a Facebook page that will be updated with her progress. You can find her at Angel (Angelita’s Image).

It will be two years before she returns in her cap and gown.

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August is proving to be a busy month for us. We decided to promote our facility with an Introduction to Horseback Riding Lesson and received a great response. We also had our fourth Test Ride a Pony Day.

Leading a Pony
Leading a pony

No matter what we call it, the results are the same. Tons of happy riders, most of whom are on a horse for the very first time! And smiles circle the arena as the riders learn how to steer their horses as well as how to stop and make their horses walk.

Each session starts with learning how to groom a horse. Once the horses are groomed and saddled, the riders learn how to lead their horses. Once mounted, riders over seven are allowed to ride off lead line, but those under seven are led. But even being led doesn’t mean that the leader does all the work.

Steering the horse

Steering the horse

Sometimes it’s the four- and five-year olds who outshine the older riders.The very shy ones whisper “walk on” and are amazed at the movement they feel as the horse begins to walk; the exuberant ones shake the reins and yell “yee haw” to get their mount moving. It doesn’t take long before everyone knows the difference between right and left. Soon they are easily weaving the cones or making their horse stop at a cone. Too often, we see the look of disappointment when we have them stop the horse because the lesson is over.

The highlight of every ride for both the riders and the horses are giving the horse a treat. All treats are given with in a bowl – never by hand – proving a built-in safety lesson for the young riders.

Learning to ride

Learning to Ride

As the smiling riders leave the barn, we wonder if we shouldn’t provide this opportunity more often.


If you thought “horse”, you are wrong.  Thanks to one of our volunteers, we got the ramp we have been waiting over four years for!

Matt, who has his own business, K & D Homes, volunteers in the evenings.  When he learned that we needed a ramp, he jumped at the opportunity and within a week, completed the work necessary.  We even had enough lumber from last year’s barn building to build it!  We now have a very sturdy, quality ramp for our riders.

Thanks Matt!

Besides ramps, Matt tells me he can take care of any remodeling needs.  Check out his Website – K & D Homes – to find out more.

ramp in our arena

ramp in our arena