Quiet Riding

Horses and Riders Working in Harmony


Horses in the Fog

Aids / Cues

[As additional resources, links to book reviews and book purchasing information can be found beneath the quotations when this information is available.]

Aidss / Cues – General

"...the horse must never be afraid of the aids..."

Alois Podhajsky, The Riding Teacher
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"...the rider must preserve the sensitiveness of the horse's mouth and make use of the reactions of the horse's body to the rider's legs and the distribution of his weight."

Alois Podhajsky, The Riding Teacher
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"...the degree of the aids should vary according to the temperament and the sensitiveness of the horse as well as to the standard of training he has reached."

Alois Podhajsky, The Riding Teacher
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"Aids are not the same as cues. ...riders who communicate with their horses via cues are working with a very limited vocabulary. Riders communicating via the aids have a full, rich vocabulary with many shades of meaning. In order to take a horse to the upper levels in any sport, you need this larger vocabulary."

Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Cowboy Dressage
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"Success or failure of the rider's physical aids depends on their synchronization with the horse's footfall."

Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Cowboy Dressage
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"The correct timing of each aid is dictated by the footfall of the horse's four feet, by the lateral swinging of his ribcage and the swinging of his back."

Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Cowboy Dressage
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"The horse can be quickly conditioned to any sensory signal."

James Fillis, Breaking and Riding
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"The hands...have the most control over the horse's head, neck, and shoulders. The legs control the ribcage and hindquarters of the horse. The seat (the rider's pelvis, hip & seat bones) can be used as a restraining aid, driving aid, or to balance the horse, and much more."

Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Cowboy Dressage
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"He [the horse] must be placed correctly and left along so that he can succeed. Once he is properly positioned, it is not desirable to continue giving the aids which direct the exercise, but merely to use those necessary to intervene in controlling the action."

Nuno Oliveira (translated by Phyllis Field), Reflections on Equestrian Art
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"Good dressage lies in the concordance of the aids."

Nuno Oliveira (translated by Phyllis Field), Reflections on Equestrian Art
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"...only the one who has the ability to execute cues or aids in a correct and timely manner will succeed in getting cooperation from the horse, educating the horse, and making him a better athlete and partner in the process."

Donna Snyder–Smith, The Classic Western Rider
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"Invisible cues are the height of good horsemanship.

Nancy Cahill, The Classic Western Rider
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"The signals that you use to communicate with your horse are called 'aids', and that's exactly how I'd like you to think of them. You'll communicate with your horse by 'aiding' or 'helping' him to understand rather than regarding your signals as rigid commands."

Joyce Harman, Cross-Train Your Horse, Simple Dressage for Every Sport
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"Unless you're giving a specific aid, your legs should lie quietly on the horse's sides."

Jane Savoie, Cross-Train Your Horse, Simple Dressage for Every Sport
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"There should always be a marriage of inside and outside aids — don't use one set of aids and abandon the horse by not using the other set of aids."

Jane Savoie, Cross-Train Your Horse, Simple Dressage for Every Sport
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"...you have two seat bones, two legs, and two hands with which you can give aids. It is the way that you combine these six aids as well as the various actions of seat, leg, and hand that allow you to be very subtle and specific with your requests."

Jane Savoie, Cross-Train Your Horse, Simple Dressage for Every Sport
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"We should alert our horse to our intention by 'knocking' first. That way our partner can prepare himself to listen for and respond to our wish."

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Dancing with Horses
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"By passively going forward, by passively following his [the horse's] movement, we are providing the horse with a disturbance-free and balanced flow of movement that is interrupted when we give a short, subtle, but nevertheless emphatic, aid The horse will respond instantly in order to re-establish the disturbance-free flow of movement. Once this occurs, the rider immediately returns to passively following the movement of the horse."

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Dancing with Horses
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"...the seat is the most important channel for effective communication."

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Dancing with Horses
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"In the end it is the rider's seat, his pelvis, which is in most direct contact with the horse and it is, therefore, only logical that it is here that the most important information is transmitted from one being to the other."

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Dancing with Horses
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"This agreement of legs and hands is the combined perfection of all the aids."

François Robichon de la Guérinière, The School of Horsemanship, Part II
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"The [horse's] sense of touch is the most important of all [senses] because it is through this sense that a horse is taught to obey the slightest movements of the rider's hand and legs."

François Robichon de la Guérinière, The School of Horsemanship, Part II
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"The aids consist of the different movements of the bridle hand, the click of the tongue, the whizzing sound and touch of the switch, the movements of the rider's thighs and calves, the gentle pinch of the spurs, and finally, the manner in which the rider shifts his weight in the stirrups."

François Robichon de la Guérinière, The School of Horsemanship, Part II
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"As every single body aid we make is felt by the horse through his back and sides, this form of aiding is as natural to him as those we employ to move him about in the stable."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"Only one method complements the way in which the horse moves naturally so the rider must know how to sit over his centre of motion and to act on those parts of his body which are capable of making a mechanical response."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"It is of little use knowing how to apply the aids if we have no awareness of when they should be given."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"While most riders are aware that their legs encourage the horse to move forward (acceleration) and that their judicious use is the key to releasing energy, fewer riders realise that the leg, together with the seat, can transform this energy ...in order to collect, redirect or...stop the horse going forward altogether. To be able to find such control, however, we have to become as close to the horse as we possibly can, not only through the seat but also through an adhesive thigh, knee and leg. The idea of adhesion is very different from the idea of grip."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"...timing and synchronisation must come into the equation as no single aid is of value unless asked for at the propitious moment."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"When we require more impulsion...we must take care that, in applying the spur or the lower leg to the girth area, our seat does not slide back, which would hollow the horse. Instead, we must send the seat bones forward more which can be done by bringing the shoulders back but supporting the hips through the lower back with a waist-towards-the-hands feeling."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"...a mere letting down of one seatbone, the forward flexion of one loin muscle or the increase of weight into the stirrups are all powerful aids."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"...riders must always return to the correct, upright, neutral position after giving an aid. Staying in an asking position, such as the driving seat, after the horse has complied is to punish him if he has already given his all."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"...all the aids should be mere nuances. They are developed by feel and they cannot just happen overnight. The silent language developed between horse and rider takes years to perfect."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"Horses do what the 'feel' we have asked them to do, not what they guess we are trying to say."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"Riders need to be clear in their own minds that the head and upper body basically affect the forehand, while the seat and legs take charge of the quarters."

Sylvia Loch, The Classical Rider
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"...when what we say verbally or what we say through sets of signals we have taught the horse conflicts with our more subtle body language, horses tend to believe our body language, often at a remarkably delicate lever."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"A horse that responds unexpectedly quickly to our aids can trigger our resistance to the very movement we asked for."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"It's a contradiction to ask the horse to do things that would normally create lift, and then interfere with movement because of our rigidity. If we force the horse to move out even though we clench on its back, a logical horse, feeling its back in something like a vise grip, might conclude we want its legs to move more, but not its back."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"Our timing when we apply aids can make a tremendous difference in the message we convey to the horse."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"It makes a big difference if you ask a horse to activate a hind leg during the flight, support, or push-off phase...."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"A horse might easily respond to a badly timed aid by doing something other than what you thought you asked it to do."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"If the horse experiences the rider as generally very quiet in relation to its movement, the messages we do send are more likely to be understood as messages."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"When gymnastic development comes first, accuracy and obedience and therefore performance and safety will improve as the horse becomes more physically able to comply with our aids."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"We often call our communication with the horse 'aids' more out of convention than from taking the term in its literal sense: a way to assist the horse to do what we have in mind."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"...there is a universe beyond thinking about aids as signals, just as there is much more to any interesting conversation with friends than sending each other signals to sit, stand, smile, and walk."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"The horse's motion will give us perfectly timed aids if we let it."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"Aids are always supposed to improve your seat, not disturb it."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"The difference between a limiting aid and an active aid is that limiting aids do not agree with something the horse started; active aids encourage something we do want."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"The most sensitive hands in the world will still confuse the horse if they send messages that conflict with other aids."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"It is always better to reinforce aids by making them quicker before we consider whether making them harder is likely to work."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"Once a horse knows a command, it is a bad idea to ask more than once without some enforcement of one single command."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"Strong aids do not compensate for poorly timed or conflicting aids...."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"...using conditioned responses to cues has some basic disadvantages in comparison with using to our advantage what the horse is already doing anyway. Rather than adding whatever set of signals we decide we like to what the horse must learn, we can just activated or delay what particular feet are doing anyway."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"If we can convey when we want particular feet to speed up or slow down, our aids become dance-like communications that every horse can understand easily."

Kathleen Schmitt, The Seamless Seat
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"It is extremely demanding, and not achievable for everyone, to learn the ideal: to sit with an independent hand; to swing supplely with the movement; to sit at every moment balanced in the center of gravity; and to be able to influence the horse with very fine, specific weight, back, leg and rein aids."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"Horses react out of instinct, experience and observation."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"The horse's response [to constant fiddling of the rider] is to tighten; the rider then has more problems getting through to the horse with her aids."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"The rider's muscles have to be loose and the joints mobile in order to feel the movements of the horse and to influence the horse with artfully measured weight, back, leg and rein aids."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"Only when you give clearer aids can the horse understand and follow them."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"The less pressure used, and the softer and more independent the seat, the more the horse will wait for and 'listen' to the rider."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"If a horse doesn't react anymore to the leg, rider's seat and/or rein contact, the cause is usually not in the horse, but with the rider."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"The goal of training is for the communication to become increasingly subtle until you give almost invisible aids coming almost exclusively from the seat."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"As a result of the rider feeling quiet and calm, the hose begins to wait. Then the rider begins — very carefully at the beginning — driving from her supple seat. It is sensible to creep up carefully with the driving aids for both the young horse and a horse in retraining."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"A horse that can stretch and is balanced accepts the aids and can be ridden from a supple seat to a sensitive contact."

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, Balancing Act
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"It takes practice and experience to become such a voice of authority. Do not get discouraged. It will come."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"Be consistent, asking him with the aids as you see him start to come off them but relaxing them the moment he starts to obey so he stays responsive to them."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"Body control, not strength, is needed to use any of the aids."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"Your back is an important part of your riding anatomy because it ties all your aids together, giving you harmonious control of the horse."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"Always relax an aid and apply it again if needed. Never aid continuously. Aid in rhythm with the horse's rhythm or in the rhythm yo desire."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"Flow into all these aids so you do not assault the horse with them. If your aids flow, then he can flow into the necessary changes; helping both of you to maintain your physical and mental equilibrium."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"Use your rhythm to maintain his; stay relaxed so you don't upset his balance; plan ahead so your aids can flow."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"When he accepts all the aids, we say he is 'between our hands and legs' or he is 'on the aids.'"

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"Aid rhythmically for fluid performance."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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"If you practice the proper combinations of aids during all your training and riding, it becomes reflex action just like the moves you make in driving a car."

Mary Twelveponies, Everyday Training: Backyard Dressage
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Aids / Cues – Leg


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