Horseback Riding Tips

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Horseback Riding Tips

Postby TRMichels » Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:48 am

Tis is from my book Huntning Northern & Western Game Animals of North America; because you may have to ride a hosre to get to your hunting area. It is copyrighted, for use only as reading.

I am a former horse trainer and riding instructor.


Mounting the Horse
The first step in riding properly is to adjust the length of the stirrups to fit your legs. Get on the horse and have someone set the stirrups so that you clear the saddle by 2-3 inches when you stand up with the balls of your feet on the stirrups. This clearance allows you to "post" properly while the horse is trotting. Posting is the up and down motion western style riders do to keep from bouncing in the saddle. A rider who posts while a horse is trotting makes it more comfortable for both himself and the horse. When you check your stirrups, be sure to check both sides, because people often have one leg longer than the other. If the stirrup adjustments don't allow you to have both legs feeling comfortable, have someone punch additional holes in the stirrup leathers, so that you do feel comfortable.

When you get on a horse properly you should do it from the left side of horse, facing the rear of the horse, not facing the side of the horse. Stand just in front of the saddle, next to the horse's shoulder, and take the reins in your left while you grab the saddle horn, so the horse can't get away from you, and so that you can balance yourself while you mount the horse. Then grasp the stirrup and turn it around so that the backside of the stirrup is facing you, and place the ball of your left foot on the on the stirrup.

Next, grab the back of the saddle, shift your weight to the left foot in the stirrup, and pull yourself up while swinging your right leg over the horse in one easy, fluid motion. Don't jump into the saddle or sit down hard in the saddle because it may "spook" or scare the horse. Once you are in the saddle put your right foot in the other stirrup. You may have to lean over and grab the stirrup to get your foot placed properly in the stirrup, with the ball of your foot on the stirrup. Do not put your foot all of the way into the stirrup because it may get stuck, an riding on the ball of your foot is the best way to use your muscles as shock absorbers while you are riding.

You are now on the horse. But are you in control? This is the time when, unless you keep the reins running to the bit in the horse's mouth tight, it may decide to walk off. This is why you get on the horse form the front. If the horse does decide to move, the movement should help to throw you up and into the saddle, If you are facing the rear of the horse if it does decide to move, you will be standing, or lying in the dust. Be sure to maintain complete control of your horse at all times, especially when you get on and off.

Controlling the Horse
When you are in the saddle you should not hold the reins in your dominant hand; you want your dominant hand free to hold a rope, your weapon, or push branches out of the way when you go through the woods. This is why most people do not hold on to the saddle horn. If you are right handed, hold the reins in your left hand. You can run the reins through your closed fist, with your thumb up and pointing toward the horse's neck or slightly sideways, or you can run the reins between your first and second finger with your thumb pointing forward. The reins should be loose enough between your hands and the bit in the horse's mouth to allow the horse to bob its head up and down as it walks, but not so loose that the horse feels you are not in control.

Most western horses are taught to "neck rein" which means you don't pull on the left rein to make the horse go left; you pull both reins lightly to the left, and the slight touch of the rein on the right side of the horse's neck causes it to move away from the pressure, meaning that the horse turns left. To make the horse go right, lightly pull both reins across the horse's neck so that the left rein touches its neck. When you want to turn you should also shift your weight slightly toward the side you want to turn to, while pressing your leg against the side of the horse you want it to turn away from. If you want the horse to go left you press both the reins and your leg against the right side of the horse. To stop the horse pull straight back on the reins, lean slightly back in the saddle and say "whoa". To get the horse to go let the reins go slightly loose, lean forward in the saddle, and say "get up" or cluck with your tongue, and squeeze the horse's sides with both legs. If the horse doesn't move, kick it with both of your heals.

Riding Techniques
As I mentioned earlier you should ride with the ball of your foot on the stirrup, with your toe level or pointing slightly up. Riding with the toe pointing down puts a lot of strain on the lower leg muscles. On the other hand, riding with your toe pointed up allows your lower leg muscles and Achilles tendon to act as shock absorbers. It also pus much of the pressure on your upper leg muscles, which are stronger and better able to handle the pressure and strain.

When you are traveling downhill, lean back in the saddle, and swing your legs and stirrups forward, toward the horse's front legs. If you are traveling up hill, lean forward in the saddle in the saddle and swing your legs toward the back of the horse. Shifting your weight in the saddle will help both you and the horse keep your balance. You want your horse to keep its balance, at all times.

When you are traveling on rough terrain, crossing streams or rivers, or going up and down hill loosen up on the reins and let the horse have its head, so it can see what is ahead of it, and use its head and neck to balance itself. Usually a horse can pick its way through rough terrain and woods by itself best, but if it heads into some place where you won't fit you may want to use the reins to guide it to a more suitable path. If the horse gets too close to a tree you can usually push on the tree with your hand to give you enough room to clear your leg. When you come to stream crossings and have other horses behind you, and all of the horses need a drink, move your horse to one side or all of the way across the stream, so the other horses can drink too. If you don't move your horse out of the way the horses behind you may move into you and create a wreck.

When you are hunting with a guide, it is usually best to follow the he picks. Stay close enough to communicate with the guide, but far enough back to avoid swinging branches as your guide and his horse push them out of the way. If you need to go under a branch, lean forward along or beside your horse's neck. Be as quiet as possible as you go, because game animals may be accustomed to the sound of horses, but they may become alarmed at the sound of human voices.

Be aware of the Horse
Be aware of your horse's actions and reactions at all times. If it suddenly stops, raises its head, and pricks up its ears it has noticed something. It may be the elk or mule deer you are looking for. IF the horse seems nervous or edgy, trembles or jumps sideways it may have just spooked at a piece of paper or a ground squirrel, or it may have sensed a bear, mountain lion or rattle snake.

If the horse's ears go back flat against its neck, it is mad. If it is near another horse it may be getting ready to kick or bite. It's time to take control of the situation and head off a dangerous situation. Giggle the reins, talk to the horse, or slap its neck to get the horse's attention and let it know you are still in control. If the horse's eyes open wide and you can see the whites of its eyes, it is afraid. If it swishes its tail from side to side it is annoyed. If the tail goes around in a circle the horse is mad. If you feel the horse hunching its back it may mean the horse is getting ready to wake you up with a few playful hops; get ready to hang on. If the horse's head goes down between its legs when it hunches its back, get ready to bail out or grab leather, because it is probably getting ready to "come unglued" and do some serious bucking to get you off it's back.

Hope it helps some of you.

May Yahweh bless you and your family, and out COFA ministry,

T.R.
T.R. Michels
TRMichels@Yahoo.com
Trinity Mountain Outdoors Hunting Magazine Website
www.TRMichels.com
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Postby Rebel Hog » Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:15 am

Excellent Tips!...........................

Now hunt high on horse back in 4ft of snow......Never again!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

I would have paid any helicopter pilot $1000 to have picked me up! :grin: :grin: :grin:
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Postby Mike Brooks » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:50 pm

Great article, any others for this topic?
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Postby TRMichels » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:10 pm

If you will be extensively riding horses on a hunting trip (every day for an hour or more), and you do not ride or ski regularly - take some riding lessons - and ride for at least an hour 2-3 times a week fro at least 3 weeks, so you get your leg muscles in shape.
T.R. Michels
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Trinity Mountain Outdoors Hunting Magazine Website
www.TRMichels.com
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Postby Mike Brooks » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:24 pm

What are best horses for packing?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not into your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5
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Re: Horseback Riding Tips

Postby Mike Brooks » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:03 am

We have some guys that may be bringing some horses this year, anyone know how long it takes a horse to get used to elevation? Not sure...
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