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riding and horse training, there are no absolute rules. What may work wonders
with one horse and one rider in one situation may be completely wrong in another
set of circumstances. Learning how to ride a horse "on the bit," for
example, is excellent for dressage lessons in a ring, but the same principles
would be difficult and inappropriate to use when shinnying down a rock slope.
Similarly, the recipe-like instructions that are included
in many how-to books on riding are based on ideal situations and must be modified
each time they are applied. For example, at the very beginning of things, the
instructions for mounting may direct you to keep light contact with your left
hand on the reins. But if the horse backs up as you begin to mount, then you must
loosen the contact on the reins, perhaps to the point of slack reins if that is
how the horse has been trained. You must adapt ideal rules to each situation in
order to "get the job done" in this case, to mount. The ideal
provides you with a safe, tested, recommended method a base to start from,
a goal to work toward but sometimes the ideal is not appropriate if followed
to the letter. Ideal principles must be interpreted and adjusted according to
your physique, skill level, mental attitude, the horse's physique and level of
training, and the tack being used.
When comparing western,
hunt seat, saddle seat, and dressage styles of riding, the NO ABSOLUTES rule is
particularly obvious. Since there is much variation among riding styles regarding
training techniques, tack, rider position, and intended purpose, it would be futile
to try to set an absolute standard for the proper length of the stirrups, for
example. A dressage-length stirrup might be dangerously long for jumping and an
endurance-length stirrup would be inappropriate for cutting. Additionally, for
security a beginner rider in any discipline often rides with shorter stirrups
than a more advanced rider.
In spite of the wide variation
in riding styles, some basic concepts of rider development and horse handling
are common to all forms of riding. Your goal might be to develop your own personal
and effective riding style. Universal concepts and principles will be applicable
whether you are a beginning or advanced rider.