Many riders seem to forget that they are sitting on another living being when they’re riding their horses. I often see riders gathered in a group, chatting with each other while their horses are still confined into a frame by the riders’ hands. The riders are taking a break, but they’re not letting their horses have one.
Also, I notice riders clashing their aids by applying conflicting pressure. For example, if you try to bend your horse to the right by applying your right leg in an at-the-girth position, then you must relax the pressure of your left leg so that the horse can displace its ribcage to the outside of the bend. (See “How to Bend a Horse” in the “Horse Articles” section of this site.)
The same goes for applying the hands. If you pull back on the right rein to turn the horse’s head to the right, then you must ease off the left rein so that the horse is able to turn its head to the right.
Don’t forget that your horse has feelings, too, and can become frustrated and angry if you’re not sensitive to its needs. Horses are generally compliant in nature, allowing us to accomplish incredible physical feats on them, while they could easily rebel and throw us off or just completely resist doing what we asked, if they had a mind to do so.
Their kind nature deserves to be reciprocated with kind treatment. Only when you approach your horse with a spirit of generosity can you fully reap the rewards of this remarkable partnership between man and animal.