Jack and Paula Curtis

"Helping People Understand Horses"

The First Rides


The first rides set the foundation from which the rest of the horses riding career will be built.  If these rides are not done properly then problems will continue to surface years later.  It is essential that the horse remains relaxed, interested and confident in what the human is offering. 

The teaching process has been well under way at this point.  The horse has learned what is expected of him on the ground as discussed in the ground school pages.  By working with the horse on the ground we have learned quite a bit about his personality and temperament. By this point he has learned to carry a saddle in a relaxed and confident manner.  We then direct his attention to various destinations, asking him to liven up and ride there; once there, allowing him to let down stand and think. This is an exercise that will be revisited once we are in the saddle. This gives him the confidence to be with us and go somewhere with a purpose.  He is aware of finding a way to relax and think himself through a situation. We then do things such as jumping up and down next to him, and use progressive exercises until we determine the opportune moment to mount him.

The Beginning

During the first few rides we basically let the horse become comfortable with us on his back.  We will take his head to the left and right, ask him to raise and lower the head.  We rub on the horse a lot.  Rubbing on his neck, his haunches, his fore head etc... We then direct his attention to various objects, and ride him there.  This gives him the confidence to be with us and go somewhere with a purpose.  Many times our first rides occur on the trails where we can just go for a little ride.  Horses become very relaxed and are not intimidated by this approach.

Sessions time may vary drastically at this point.  At times sessions may only last a few minutes others a few hours.  Each time we end on a good note.  A place where the horse is 100% sure of what just took place and is happy and confident about what he now knows.

We may ride in an arena but we prefer riding outside of one.  The countryside offers many lessons to the horse and human.  Each lesson presenting itself in a real and meaningful way.  The horse gains a wide variety of experiences to draw upon and has greater success as his toolbox grows.

Below are pictures of Jack at the age of 16 (1996) starting a Mustang undersaddle for a 4-H project.

Yielding Laterally


Allowing the horse a chance to let down. Jack has expressed his clear intent by alowing the belly of the rope to contact the ground.

Mounting for the first ride.There is a nice float in the rope demonstrating that the horse is willing to stay with Jack.

The First Ride. You must be willing to go with the horse in order to direct him. (notice the dog helping to expand the horses life experience.)

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