Book Review: Getting the Most from Riding Lessons
By Jayne Pedigo

In all the best horse movies, such as National Velvet, International Velvet
and Sylvester, the heroine has a top trainer to help her achieve her goal,
but if you are like many beginning riders, you struggle to get the most of
your once-a-week lessons. Does it sometimes seem that you are taking one
step forward and two steps back?

Getting the Most from Riding Lessons, by Mike Smith, is an ideal companion
to your weekly instruction. It's intended to complement and reinforce the
techniques introduced in your lessons.

The book is geared toward the English rider and the author uses a unique
and entertaining tool in the book. He introduces horses from his own lesson
barn, such as Sprite, Foxy and Guinness, emphasizing the fact that an
important part of becoming a confident, accomplished rider is learning to
ride different horses.

Each chapter covers a different skill, taking the reader from the first lesson,
meeting the horse for the first time and learning to mount, to advanced skills
such as jumping. Photographs and diagrams illustrate the book throughout,
enhancing reader understanding of the techniques being presented.

Practicing with Rein Aids
The rein aids will begin to make more sense as you practice them, and if
you practice enough, they'll become second nature. Try to practice with the
same horse, in the same place, at the same speed. Consistency will help
you distinguish the differences in how the various rein aids affect the horse.

Do not, however, try to practice the different rein aids without breaks
between them. The horse might get confused. He'll anticipate what you did
the last time or two, and think that's what he's supposed to do again. That's
because horses are creatures of habit. They relish repetition.

Instead, try practicing one rein on a circle a few times, and then walk in a
straight line. This will help clear your mind as well as your horse's. Then
reenter your circle, in the same place and at the same speed, and try
another rein aid.

Excerpted from Getting the Most from Riding Lessons, © 1998 by Mike
Smith with permission from Storey Books, Pownal, Vermont 05261,
800-441-5700 Dept. YP.   www.storey.com
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