Under saddle: enjoy a good ride with your horse

Under Saddle
The riding exercises with a horse imply to get the feel and set the cues that will let you enjoy every ride, without fear, without discomfort either for the horse or yourself.

It’s a rhythm, a harmony—you want your body and his body to become one.

Think Harmony With Horses, Ray Hunt


Tip: I always start my sessions by five minutes of groundwork.
Horses are just like us humans: their mood can change a day from the other and I bet you would rather like to notice your horse is in bad mood from the ground than from above his head after a good buck!
The following exercises are presented in order of difficulty for the horse (or should I say for the rider). Yet, always keep in mind that you should adapt this program to your horse and to its needs.

First, the horse should flex the head lightly and softly.

Using this one-rein stop, we teach the horse to stop when simply switching from position one or two to three.

Soft Feel
As soon as you feel safe and comfortable with your horse, the soft feel is a key to shape and build the horse’s body.

Plus, it will help to save your money: no gimmicks!

Untracking the Hind
You will use three methods to make the horse yielding its hindquarters to your leg, to your hand and eventually to your feeling: flexing the head and push with the leg, soft feel and the leg, leg yield only.

Walk, Trot & Canter
This exercise is designed to teach the horse how to respond to our cues to walk, jog and canter smoothly. We will look for nice transitions, regular gaits and straight moves.

Tip: I gradually get the horse used to new environments and situations.
Always start to work in a safe environment (indoor and closed arena), then move to a round-pen or an outdoor arena, next ride a few hundred meters on the road down the arena... and here you go!

The first pack of four exercises is designed to build the basics of horseback riding, as you need to control the speed of your horse, to be able to move forward or to stop whenever you decide so.

The second pack of two exercises is designed to control the direction, to make sure you are the captain onboard and your horse waits for you.


The objective is to split the weight of your horse equally on each quarter, working its balance.
First, the short serpentine to find rhythm, then the open serpentine to find harmony and feel.

Moving the Front
The goal is to yield the hindquarters first, then to move the front legs through.

Eventually, legs will be enough to move the front end around, pivoting on the hind.

Once you have been able to perform all this with your horse, some of you may not wish to go further and will rather enjoy riding and maintain that good level of horsemanship.
That is okay, as it can be pretty hard and time consuming to achieve such a program.

For those who want to go further, it is possible too. There are a lot more exercises that will help you to fine-tune with your horse.