You read a lot nowadays about ‘bombproofing’ your horse. They have to be kidding! I don’t care what kind of training you give a horse, if you get into a nest of bees your horse is going to react, right?

That’s not to say that ground-training methods for building your horse’s confidence and trust in you are not excellent, and well worth doing. Of course they are. But the best bombproofing you can do is to bombproof yourself! I’ll bet that most of you have never thought of it that way, but there are all kinds of things you can learn, especially early on in your riding career, to keep you out of trouble when the horse loses it.

For example: practicing the seven steps (read my books<S>) until your body centers and grounds itself quickly and automatically as your horse moves. (Example; I had four intermediate middle-aged ladies on a trail ride when a bird flew up under the lead horse’s nose. All the horses did a rapid 180 degree turn and prepared to leave. I was at the rear and could block them, but not one of the ladies lost her seat or even her stirrups. They immediately reestablished control and 4 sheepish horses continued on their way.)

Two: learning to release the reins smoothly and rapidly when the horse snatches, so that you don’t get pulled out of the saddle and scare both of you. (Note: you do have to have long enough reins, and most modern reins are too short to allow a complete release. I make my own out of western split reins, conway buckles and snaps)

Three: learning to emergency dismount at any gait. Doesn’t mean you have to practice jumping off at the gallop, but if you are comfortable doing so at the walk and jog, you can do it at higher speed if you’re in real danger. Of course the trick is to see the danger coming and get off first. If you think you’re too old, I have had students in their 50’s and 60’s who were able to execute a good emergency dismount, and I (who am a good deal older) can also do so. (Caveat: If you are really fearful/phobic, your body can start dismounting all by itself every time the horse sneezes. Phobia is different from fear, in that it is not rational, and often needs professional help)

Those are the major safety exercises which I think every one should know. None of them are difficult; they just take practice.

So, what else is new??<G>



Bombproof??? — 4 Comments

  1. Funny you should mention the 180 turn. Just happened to me yesterday. My first trail ride, we’d been out approx. 3 1/2 hours, Mo and I did very well I even remained seated nicely, reins not horn in hand while jumping a few small creeks.
    At the tail end of our ride Mo spotted the trailer and decided he wanted to be there and NOW. I began a one rein stop before he was off and running, instead of stopping after disengaging however he did a complete spin. I did loose my stirrups and unfortunatly my thigh muscles cramped and my legs were froze in place. As he straightened and began taking off I did manage somehow a calvary stop sans stirrups and for some reason never felt I was coming off. I know my muscles cramped for two reasons 1. I’m not used to that much riding, and 2. I’m sure being my first time on trail I kept my legs tenser than they should’ve been. Back to your book for sure :)
    Oh, I give a lot of credit to my horse being a smooth TWH. Even his spinout was smooth. I imagine if it hadn’t been, I’d have been up, up and down on the ground.
    Susan O.

  2. Hello Gincy,

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing your book, “How your horse wants you to ride.” Today I had my first lesson since reading your book, and it felt so much better. I am 38 and I have been taking lessons once or twice a week for two years now, from maybe a dozen different barns and trainers, and no one has ever mentioned any of the things in your book! All I’ve heard for two years is “keep your leg on” and I’ve been exhausted after every lesson… even after two years, sometimes my legs get so sore that I could barely walk the day after a lesson! I realized after reading your book that I have always been just a little bit afraid of letting the horse “go” and have always been tense and subconsciously holding back. Therefore, I always had trouble keeping the horse going. Today, instead, I thought about the 7 steps and relaxing my legs and letting the horse move forward instead of squeezing him all the time like a poor lemon. It was so much easier once I got out of the horse’s way! Today my instructor said I was riding the best she’s ever seen, and I really kept my horse moving, probably, she said “because your legs are stronger now.”
    Ha ha! I was barely doing any “squeezing” at all. I tried tensing my legs and moving my thighs into to the “A” position and right away my horse slowed down, even though I was still using “lots of leg” with my calves.
    I live in California and I most of the barns are jumping barns that cater to little girls. I watch the little girls with amazement because the horses respond so well, and thanks to your book I think I can understand one of the reasons why…the little tykes are too small to interfere with the horses movement or balance, no matter how they ride!

    I am now going to start looking for a barn that teaches dressage and centered riding, even though everyone has told me it is “so hard.” I think it my wind up actually being easier!

    Thanks again for your work and experience!

  3. Hi Veronica,

    I’m so glad the book is helping you!

    I don’t know how teachers rationalize that grippy leg thing. Let ‘s face it, you could be the world’s strongest person, but if you go out fox hunting for 4 or 5 hours, or competitive trail riding for 8 or 9, there is no way you can keep your muscles tight for that length of time!!
    So, if you believe in grippy legs, after an hour or so I guess you just fall off!!

    And of course, it doesn’t work in any way whatsoever. It makes your contact muscles hard, so you bounce more. It makes the horse tense. It lifts you up off the horse, rather than allowing you to sit into him. It makes the horse dead to your leg aids. And finally, as I just pointed out, you can’t do it for any extended period anyway!!!

    Relax and enjoy


  4. I just read this eight years after your last update. I am returning to riding after a 30 year hiatus, and I always was told to keep a grippy leg. I am / was worried about getting back into shape and being the “good” rider I used to be. Needless to say I have already started reading both “How your Horse” books, and I am now definitely looking forward to my new adventure. Thanks for the inspiration and your continued good work.

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