Getting the horse used to the rider can be done in a few steps; always taking the next step only after the horse has become completely confident and relaxed in the previous step.
1. Lean on the back
The first step is to get the horse used to pressure on its back. First, the rider should jump a few times up and down next to the horse while resting his hands on the back of the horse. If the horse stays standing calmly, the rider should get a leg up to lean over the horse’s back.
2. Hang over the horse’s back
The second step is to hang over the horse’s back. The horse is saddled with a bare back pad. This is soft for the rider and if the horse spooks the rider can slide off easily. During the hanging over the horse, the horse can be touched all over its body to get used to unexpected touching.
3. Hang over the horse while moving
It is a big change for the horse to carry weight. By walking short distances with the horse in hand while a second person hangs over it, the horse will move easier with weight. The rider moves arms and legs to get the horse used to unexpected movements.
4. Sit on a standing horse
Then, the rider slides his leg calmly over the back of the horse and sits while bended forward over the neck of the horse. This way the back of the horse does not get the full pressure right away and the rider can still slide off easily when the horse becomes uneasy.
5. Sit up straight
When the previous step has gone well, the rider can slowly sit up straight. The horse should also be rewarded frequently with goodies. This makes the horse chew and relax its jaws, which causes relaxation in its entire body.
6. Sit while moving
The next day or some days after, the horse is asked to move by someone leading the horse from the ground. The rider should take a light seat (supported on upper legs to lighten the pressure on the back muscles of the horse). Around the neck of the horse you can hang a neck rope on which the rider can hold on without disturbing the horses head.
7. Riding with saddle
The horse is already used to the saddle therefore this is nothing new. Repeat the previous steps with saddle, in between the steps make the horse move without weight on its back so it can release its tension.
8. Carrying the rider
To carry a rider the horse should have been prepared through groundwork. Through groundwork, the horse has already learned to step under the point of weight with its inside hind leg. This can now help it carry the rider and keep its balance. And through longeing the horse is now prepared for the next step in which it will have to walk without the same support on a bigger circle.
While longeing a horse with a rider on its back, it’s the person longeing the horse who gives the horse the aids and decides the tempo. The only thing the rider should do is some gymnastics (moving arms and legs) so the horse does not spook from the rider.
10. Starting to ride
As soon as the horse accepts the rider completely and is accustomed to the weight on its back, the horse is properly used to the rider. Now the riding can begin, in which the horse learns to take aids from the seat, legs and reins and learns to walk without longe.