Rider's Aids - Anne-Katrin Hagen - ebook

Rider's Aids ebook

Anne-Katrin Hagen



The Rider's Aids are the be-all and end-all of riding. Without them, no understanding or communication with the horse is possible. The aids must be conveyed to the horse both clearly and distinctly, and yet unobtrusively: as fine aids. How to learn and employ these aids is dealt with in this concise guidebook in plain, easy to understand terms, amply supported by clear illustrations.

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Anne-Katrin Hagen





Rider’s Aids






Copyright of this edition © 2004 by Cadmos


Copyright of original edition © 2003 by Cadmos Verlag GmbH, Brunsbek


Project management: Editmaster Co Ltd.

Translated by: Claire Williams

Design and setting of the print edition: Ravenstein, Verden

E-Book conversion: Satzweiss.com Print Web Software GmbH

All rights reserved

Copying or storage in electronic media is permitted only with the prior written permission of the publishers.


ISBN 978-0-85788-708-5



What type of creature is the horse?

Riding is another word for communicating with your horse: you make it clear to your horse what he should do, and when all goes according to plan he does it. And in addition no one should see what you did to get him to do it. This involves the precise application of aids and this equates to good riding.

NoteThe horse originated on the plains and is a herd animal of flight.

To be fair to such an animal, it must be given the opportunity to move freely. Ride daily and turn out as much as possible. A horse’s instinct to run away is expressed in different degrees of intensity in today’s horses. It does no good whatsoever to punish a horse that spooks easily or seizes any chance to take off. You would in fact achieve the opposite. The only course of action is for the rider to build up trust with the horse.

If you want to win over a herd animal, you must take over the role of leader. That means you must earn the horse’s respect in all situations. If your horse gets stroppy when being tacked up, fidgets when being groomed, barges when being led – all must be consistently stopped as they threaten your position as herd leader. Clear commands such as “Stand up” “Halt” or "Hoof”, supported by clear signals, all help to exert authority. A tug on the head collar with “Stand up”, a raised hand with palm turned towards the horse’s head for halt, and a firm grip on the tendon for “Hoof”. If the signal is obeyed then praise in a softer voice should follow.

NoteEven if you love your horse, avoid treating him as a person. A horse is a horse and thinks and behaves like one.

How do I communicate with my horse?

To make yourself understood by your horse the riding aids are applied to his receptive zones:

• The mouth for the aids from the rein or hand. These aids work through the poll, neck and back though to the hindquarters.

• The sides of the neck and the withers for praise, reassurance and scratching.

• The back for the seat and weight aids.

• The arch of the ribs on both sides for the leg aids.

The horse’s receptive zones


1. They hear everything! But best of all praise and reassurance.

2. They are not sharp sighted, but can see light, shadows and movements (especially of monsters) precisely.

3. Distinguishes between good and bad plants and indicates “I like you” or “I don’t like you”.

4. Is very sensitive and should not be mistreated by rough hands!

5. The preferred area for praise and stroking.

6. The many nerves and muscles here sense the distribution of the rider’s weight.

7. Here the horse is receptive to the rider’s leg

8. In these places the horse’s skin is very thin. No dried sweat or sand should be left here to rub


The seat and leg aids are central to riding. These aids should flow from the hindquarters over the back up the neck, over the poll and down to the mouth along the length of the horse from back to front. It is possible to strengthen the leg temporarily with the use of spurs and touch the hind legs gently with a whip to make it more active. The voice is used to calm, praise and when necessary occasionally caution. All of these opportunities to make yourself understood by your horse through correct use of the natural and artificial aids assume that the rider is in the right position.

NoteGood riding begins with grooming as the entire coat and the skin underneath are very sensitive. Just watch what happens when a fly lands on a horse.

The dressage position

There are three different positions or seats: the dressage or normal seat; the forward or jumping seat, and the jockey seat. Since the last one is only used on the racetrack or by riders in three-day events, we will not touch any further on this one.

NoteThe correct position is the foundation for good riding, regardless of the discipline.

If a rider sits in this natural and relaxed way in the saddle, it should be possible to draw a vertical line from the ear through the shoulder and hip down to the ankle.

What does the correct position look like?

In the dressage seat you should sit deep in the saddle evenly balanced on both seat bones and let your legs hang down loosely. The balls of the feet should rest on the stirrups. The heel should be the lowest point of the rider, with the feet parallel to the horse so that the calf (and not the heel) lies flat against the horse’s body. If you are wearing spurs you can be sure that your leg position is correct if the spurs are positioned to the rear and down, and not unintentionally digging the horse in his ribs. When the heel is down and the calf is flat against the horse, the ankle will be able to absorb movement up and down the leg. This is vital.