If you're just starting off riding horses for the first time, I know how frustrating it can be.

There's a lot of ups and downs when we're learning. Or if you're someone that has ridden for years, but you've taken some time off and you're just getting back in the saddle again, there's also a lot of curves, learning curves, getting back into riding after taking some time off.

So today I'm gonna be going over 10 common beginner rider mistakes. I'm gonna be talking about what causes them,why we want to avoid them and how they're done correctly, so that you can practice good habits and really improve your riding and your communication with your horse.

So Our first one is - Toes Pointed down.

 This is a really Common, Very beginner Rider Mistake. And we do this, We point our toes down when we first start learning to ride Because we're trying to hold on to the stirrup, typically we're trying to hold onto the horse. And the reason that we don't want to point our toes down is because it causes us to rock forward and that puts us in a position where if the horse were to spook or to react, we're gonna be more likely to fall over his head. It also puts us in a position where we're more likely to fall onto our crotch, which is more uncomfortable for riding over a long period of time. So what do we wanna do instead of pointing our toes down?  We want to point our toes up, so that we can have a nice long leg, we can see sitting back over our seat bones, and that way if the horse spooks or goes to jump or move, we're gonna be falling back into our seat bones and be more secure in the saddle.



The Second Common mistake that riders make is -

Putting Their Foot in the incorrect position in the stirrup.

So there's two common mistakes that I've encountered as a teacher with putting your foot in the stirrup incorrectly.

The first one is the rider that is afraid that they're gonna get their foot hung up in the stirrup. So they're riding on their toe, just you know, with their foot barely in the stirrup. The other common mistake that I run into is a rider riding with their foot too far in the stirrup. So they're riding on the bridge of their foot. They're usually doing this to try to feel more secure in the saddle. They're trying to get that foot further in the stirrup or they're doing it because they're losing stability in their leg and their foot is sliding. So either way you want to work on riding with your foot on the ball, you know, the ball of your foot on the stirrup.

And the reason you want the ball of your foot on the stirrup is because that gives you the most support up through your pelvis. When we walk, we walk by rotating over the ball of our foot, and that is a way that's really gonna help you to have nice stable legs and a nice quiet seat as you progress in your riding.


Our third one is something that I've seen a lot, and that is braced legs.


And this is typically coming from a common issue of the rider trying to get their heels down more.

And instead of pointing their toe up, they're pressing through their heel and that's causing their knee to lock and brace. The reason that you don't want to brace your knee and kind of jam your heel down like that is because it's going to cause you to one, fall back behind the motion of the horse a little bit, which is gonna put you in a less balanced position. It's gonna cause you to put more of your balance and the shock of motion into your horses low back and also into your low back, which can potentially cause pain in your horses low back as well as yours.

And it puts you in a position where you're really not as stable in the saddle because your legs are a shock absorber,

and when your knee is braced your leg can't absorb shock as well as when your knee is bent. So what you wanna do instead of bracing through your heel like that is you wanna bend your knee and just point your toe up.



Number four is gripping with our legs.

This is another common issue that we run into when we're first learning to ride or even sometimes when we're a little bit more experienced. And we do this to try to hold on to the motion. So when our horse is, you know, we're on a moving force, we're thinking, how can we stabilize ourselves? And your instinct is to grab on to that motion.

When you grip with your leg, whether it's with your thighs or with your calves, or with both, it is gonna push you up out of the saddle. Any kind of tension and squeezing with your legs is gonna push your butt out of the saddle. And that's going to cause you to be in a position where you're more likely to be ineffective with your leg aids because you're using them to grip. And it's also putting you in a place where you can't use your weight aids to communicate with the horse. So when we ride, we use our seat bones as our, one of our main forms of communication, as well as what secures us in the saddle. So when we are gripping with our legs, we are not able to use those seat bones to communicate. What we wanna do instead is relax our legs and be able to let our core support us more and keep our seat bones in contact with the saddle.


Number five is holding our reins incorrectly.

Why does it matter how we hold our reins? Well holding our reins in an incorrect position, whether that's holding your, you know, your palms facing up or your fists facing up or your elbows are falling out, any of these positions,

other than the correct position, which is thumbs facing up and wrists slightly in, is going to have a negative influence on your upper body. We keep our thumbs up because it allows our shoulder blades to stay relaxed and down. And this helps to keep our upper body in better balance when we ride. And it also allows us to have clearer communication when we're using our reins. So remember when you're practicing with your reins to keep those thumbs up. I always imagine like I'm holding a mug of hot chocolate in my hand.


Number six is straight arms.

So this is a really common issue. Not only just for beginner riders, but even some more experienced professionals. The reason that we wanna straighten our arms when we ride is because a lot of times we don't have

very good shoulder strength. We don't have good strength in our traps to bring, to open our collarbones, let our shoulder blades drop and bend our elbows. So we end up riding with our arms straight. The other reason that we can end up riding with straight arms is because we're worried we're gonna pull on our horse and we're trying to give the reins more by straightening our arms. But actually when you ride with your arms straight, your elbows straight like this, it actually causes you to have less give in your arms. It's gonna leverage you forward. It's gonna create a lot of tension up in your neck and in your shoulders. And it's gonna cause you to be slightly off balance all the time when you ride, which is gonna throw off your communication. So instead of having those arms forward, what you wanna do is you wanna open up your collarbones, drop your shoulders, and have a nice bend in your elbow. This is gonna keep your hands relaxed. It's gonna keep your arms relaxed and flowing with the horses motion if you do use your reins.



Number seven is pulling on the reins to stop.

This is a classic beginner rider mistake. We make this mistake because we think we have more control by pulling on the reins to stop or to steer our horse, when actually we don't have very much control by pulling on the reins. It pulls us forward out of the saddle, and throws our horse out of balance, and makes it actually more difficult for the horse to stop. So we wanna stop instead by engaging our core to our low back and stop through our seat. And here you can see how Scarlet stopped, even on a loose rein with just off of my seat.

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Number eight is pulling on the reins to turn our horse.

So the reason that we don't want to pull on the rein to turn our horse is when we pull on the rein, we end up leaning into the direction we want to turn our horse into, which makes it more difficult for the horse to turn in that direction. It also causes us to fall forward, which puts us out of balance. So if our horse were to go to react, we're more likely to fall off. So what do we wanna do instead of pulling our horse into the turn? Well instead of doing that, we wanna make sure we're riding from our seat, our legs, and then our reins, that we're staying nice and straight in our turns, and allowing our horse to easily lift us and navigate that turn smoothly.


Number nine is riding in a chair seat.

Why do we tend to ride our horses in a chair seat? Well, there's a couple of reasons. First off, we might just lack the strength to sit up straight. We might, you know, be feeling like we're just having trouble balancing or we might be just a little bit too relaxed and not properly educated on sitting in good posture. So when we sit in a chair seat with our legs forward, you know, and braced out like that, we're in a place where we're adding a lot of extra weight to the horses back, we're putting a lot of extra pressure on our spine and our low back, which over time is gonna create issues in our knees and issues in our back, and it's also creating potential back pain and issues in the horse. So we want to be sitting in correct alignment, where our core is supporting us, so that we have a nice aerobic frame, we're absorbing the shock of motion through our core, and this is protecting our back, and is protecting our horses back as we ride.


Number 10 is Leaning forward.

This is of those really common mistakes that a lot of beginner riders make. And the reason that we tend to make this mistake is because we're nervous or we're fearful. And the other reason we could make it is maybe we lack a little core strength. But it's very common when you're nervous because when you lean forward, it makes you feel more secure. Like you're gonna stay in the saddle better, but it actually has the opposite effect. When you lean forward, you're bringing your seat out of the saddle. So if the horse were to spook for any reason or get nervous, you are gonna fall over his head. When you are sitting correctly, which is with your ear, shoulder, hip in alignment, you're engaging your core, stretching up nice and tall. When you're sitting in that in a correct position, it's allowing you to be more secure in the saddle if your horse were to spook, it allows you to see out in front of you better, and also communicate more clearly with your seat in your legs to have a more effective ride. If you're struggling with any of these mistakes that I covered in this video, remember to take your time and to break them down into simple steps and work on them a little bit each day. It takes time to build new muscle memory, and all of us in riding, we're always working on improving, so it's ongoing learning process. So be kind to yourself during that learning process and make sure that you simplify your goals, so that they're achievable.

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