Best Advice Ever Given?

Just curious… what’s the one bit of advice, reading, or visual that improved your riding? For me, I always go back to the drawings of Centered Riding.

“Don’t let a grazing, flight animal make any of the decisions.”


“Hard to see on a galloping horse.”




The L program

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Sit on your butt and lift your hands.


Not a piece of advice, but an experience:

Doing groundwork with a horse after watching 6 hours of that at a Buck Brannaman clinic.

Watching from the sidelines, I got the concept. I watched folks do better and worse in the ring and though “Yeah, how hard can it be to line up my feet with their feet and control those suckers with great accuracy?”

Then I went home and discovered that just because you can watch professional ballroom dancers waltz, doesn’t mean you can do it. It was hard to get my feet to line up with one or the other pair of the horse’s legs that I wished to control.

But the point Brannaman made was that the only time a horse can move a leg is when it’s in the air. Also, if you’d like that horse to put his foot back down somewhere other than along the path it was taking, you would do best to tell him that as he’s picking up that foot; give him plenty of time, the whole time the foot is in the air, to rearrange his body to move the leg somewhere new. Last, the reason to ask a horse to move a leg “somewhere else” while the foot is in flight because if he’s standing on it, the only thing he can possibly do is brace against your aid or request so that he doesn’t fall over.

And after I got better at moving horses’ feet with accuracy on the ground, I also found it easy to ask a horse to move a leg to a new spot, starting with the beginning of the flight phase of its stride, when I was riding. I don’t know how and why my work on the ground helped me with that timing and feel under saddle, but it did like no other instruction ever has. And now, when I ride, I ride “slowly” in the sense that I only worry about asking a horse to move a leg at the moment he’s picking that up; the rest of the time, I just let physics take its course and leave the horse alone to maintain his own balance. I can’t believe how much time I have in between aids. It’s really a peaceful but accurate way to ride.


“Before you do anything else, find ‘neutral.’”

Sounds simple, I know, but this idea has turned out to be surprisingly useful in an amazing number of situations.


You and the horse: only one of you can be rational.


When I first started jumping, my first instructor explained staying balanced by saying that if the horse were magically removed from under me, I should land on the ground, on my feet, and not fall forward or backward. I’ve passed that on to anyone struggling because it’s easy to see in a pic or video, and it’s relevant at any level.


. . . and it’s probably not gonna be me. :wink:


~~a horse convinced against his will is of the same opinion still
*a turn of an old phrase, origin undetermined and i use it on all the animals i train dogs, llamas, whatever.
~~ask for agreement/don’t force compliance
~~consistency, persistency, insistancy (insistency in my logic means not giving up on the concept until we …me and horse…have it right)


“Don’t get too greedy. You’ll advance faster that way.” I have a much better feel of how to ask more these days and not push them past their limit than when I was younger based on this advice. My horses do seem to advance much more quickly as a result and I don’t have to fix quite so many man-made problems :wink:


huh. not sure i agree. but i’m not a clinician…what do i know

Are you sure? Perhaps I haven’t understood correctly.

But if you ask my mare (and she’s just clearer than other horses but the same as they), you can always find a rational motive behind what she does. I might not agree with the way she prioritizes things, but she’s certainly smart, in touch with reality and self-preserving. If those things don’t add up to “rational,” I don’t know what does.


I stand corrected.

Sorry, I’m sure I didn’t explain that well.

This has to do with physics, not that one Brannaman guy per se.

What he was talking about and I meant was getting a foot to move laterally (usually, but you can also get it to move forward or back, land closer or farther afield from where it left the ground). That’s because horses legs are built to move on that fore/aft plane only from the shoulder and hip down. So if you were standing still and wanted your horse to move off in a leg yield, for example, how could you possible accomplish that except by asking that when he lifted a foot to move, he move his body so that it will come back down to the ground farther to the side than it left the ground? IMO, the difference between good lateral work that seems easy and gliding when you ride it, and that which feels forces is the rider having a feel for when to ask the horse to “move the relevant leg” sideways at the right moment in the stride.



Before you can learn to influence your horse you have to first learn how to not interfere.


Don’t get in a hurry. Advice from my mentor and father figure and possibly the best horseman I’ve ever known. Makes sense all through life - especially for me, who tends to get in a hurry!


From the instructor during my lesson in a clinic, when my youngster pulled one of his bolt and buck routines: “Don’t fall off!” :wink: