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Riding your new horse

However much groundwork you have done, it is not unusual that as soon as you get on, your horse hollows and up or out goes the head or he sets himself against you. Don’t worry as this is typical as his memory of being ridden takes him back to his racing days.

If your horse has not been ridden for a long period then, in the interests of safety, have someone hold your horse, ideally on a lunge rein, whilst you mount and then lead you away just to make sure he is happy having someone back on board. If there are signs of tension or his back comes up, and if this does not subside after a couple of minutes, jump off, lead him around then re-mount. Should the situation persist seek outside advice.

Experiencing difficulty in mounting is a very common so mounting practise is called for including getting your horse used to a mounting block, standing him by it, climbing up and down it and then finally getting on him. Remember that the racehorse doesn’t do ‘stand still and wait’ so initially you need to get on as quickly as possible.

Opinion differs as to whether a horse should be allowed to walk away the moment the rider is in the saddle or whether he should be taught to stand at this point and await instruction to move off. The former is probably the better option for you as at least you are on board and halting and standing will be incorporated into your training programme; some horses can initially get themselves quite stressed about standing still so it can sometimes be a lengthy exercise just getting on.

Rider position tips

Remember, the racehorse is taught to go faster when a firmer hold is taken on the reins so the more you move your hands to tighten your grip the faster you will go! They are also taught to lean into the pressure of the jockey’s hands when they run.

How to sit

Remember to sit up, no slouching or tipping forward as this serves only to put you horse even more on the forehand than he already is, sitting to far back (the armchair seat) restricts the horses back. Try and keep your legs down the girth, typically riders have the lower leg too far back and this is not helped if you are riding too short, this does not allow correct application of the leg aids or for the riding with a lighter seat during early retraining. Keep your hands low and held a few inches apart as our former racehorse are used to a bridge rein, keep a bend in you elbows to help with a elastic tension free contact also thumbs should be uppermost on the rein to help feel an even contact down the rein.