Help (equestrian)

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When riding, aids are the actions of the rider on his horse. A distinction is made between weight, thigh and rein aids. Here, the aids are not to be understood as individual commands, but as effects that interact with each other to influence the horse's posture and movement. The prerequisite for the correct provision of assistance is the independent and released seat . Independent means that the rider can compensate for the horse's movement, for example that the hand remains steady, regardless of the phase of movement the horse is currently in, and that the rider's head is balanced over his spine and does not make any evasive movements. Letting go means that the rider follows the movement with ease. The better the rider and horse are trained, the finer and more inconspicuous the aids. If a rein or thigh aid works, then the rider gives in. From the point of view of the effect, a distinction is mainly made between the driving (“driving”) and the “restrained” aids, which can, however, be further differentiated.

Aids are distinguished from aids : the voice, whip and spurs can be used to support the thigh aids. When working on the ground , long whips or short whips are usually used as aids. Whips are used as an aid for lunging and driving .

Weight aids

The weight aid is a driving aid and can be used on one side or both sides as a burden and on the other hand as a relief. In the starting position, the rider feels both pelvic and pubic bones equally. The weight aids are given by tilting the pelvis forwards, backwards, left or right and by tensing the back and / or abdominal muscles. Together with the other riding aids, the weight aids change direction or speed. In a well-rehearsed couple, it is sufficient for the rider to look in the direction of the intended weight shift in order to achieve the desired reaction from the horse.

In western riding and in the classic riding style , the horse reacts to weight aids by stepping under the rider's weight. Imagine someone sitting on our shoulders and leaning heavily to one side. In order not to fall over, we have to go in the direction the person is "leaning" in. The western horse does the same thing - it tries to find its balance again.

In the English riding style , the weight or tensioning of the cross can also be understood as an aid to yielding. This means that the horse gives way in the opposite direction in which the rider is acting with his cross, which is also intended to increase the load on the more heavily loaded rear leg. The lateral weight shift occurs by advancing the inner ischial bone or withdrawing the outer thigh, which also makes it easier for the corresponding rear foot to step forward.

There is a difference in the aids in western riding and in the classic English riding style between backward pointing or "reins-back" and "back-up": The western rider tilts his pelvis backwards and therefore sits exclusively on his pelvic bones, thus doing also the shoulder free so that it can be lifted including the neck and because he wants the horse to step under the weight of the rider, i.e. to walk backwards. In the classic English riding style, the rider clears his back. So it sits more on the pubic bone than on the pelvic bones - almost slightly bent forward.

Thigh aids

The thigh aid is one of the driving aids and can either be used to drive forwards or forwards-sideways or to keep it safe. When riding, the influence of the rider on the horse via his lower leg is called leg support. Depending on the position of the rider's leg (in front of, on or behind the saddle girth), this acts on the equilateral front or rear leg of the horse. The horse's reactions to the thigh are conditioned by reflexes and trained behavior. Depending on the activity of the thigh, a distinction is made between propelling, forward-side propelling and holding thigh aids, whereby holding here by no means means passive - a widespread misconception - but the position of the thigh and the effect intended with the use, namely the limitation of the lateral movement of the hindquarters, marked. "The guarding leg is always responsible for the forward movement."

The propelling (forwards) thigh lies directly behind the saddle girth, activates the hindquarters activity, the sideways (forwards and sideways propelling) thigh is about a hand's breadth behind the girth. In both cases, the driving takes place by exerting alternate pressure on the horse's body with the thigh. How much action has to be taken does not only differ depending on the desired result, but also depends largely on the sensitivity and level of training of the horse. The better the horse is trained / the more sensitive the horse is, the less help it should gradually learn to get along with - this applies to all riding styles in order not to "numb" a horse to the help. In western riding this is minimized so that the rider only has to give impulses to help - if he wants a change in pace or direction. Since the horse's leg to be driven cannot react if it has just picked up weight, this help only makes sense if the leg in question has just released itself from the ground or has already released.

The guarding leg of the rider lies about a hand's breadth behind the belt and has the task of preventing the curved line of the outer rear foot from stepping too far outwards when turning as the outer leg. This exposure is also known as falling out of the hindquarters or running away over the shoulder .

With the thigh aid, it is not the force used that is important, but the right time and the right position of the leg. Both - time and location - can vary slightly and must be optimally adjusted by the rider to the respective horse, which requires both experience and sensitivity. A thigh pressure applied too sooner or later or in the wrong place cannot trigger the required reflex. Too strong, constant driving of the thigh can dull the horse and make sensitive work impossible.

Rein aids

Rein aids can give in, accept, hold out, keep and point sideways. Rein aids act on the horse's mouth or head and must never be given alone, but always "only in conjunction with the weight and leg aids". The rein aid can only work “over the mouth, neck, neck and back down to the hindquarters” in a well- drained horse.

The rein can put and limit. Position: the inner rein hand is raised slightly in contrast to the outer one, so that the horse cannot "fall" inwards over the shoulder into the circle, and adjusts the horse to the line of movement (e.g. circle line). Limiting: The outer rein has a limiting effect so that the horse is not bent too much - that is, "looks" too much inward and can possibly break out over the outer shoulder and thus run in the opposite direction. You drive the horse with your inner thigh to the outer rein.

It is usually never pulled on the reins, whatever the Riding - it is only if the following is given, given by light finger play an impulse is carried to the desired reaction of the horse, the reins will be softened slightly as "praise" , for which a slight opening of the fingers is often sufficient.

When it comes to one-handed western riding - neck reining - a different rule applies. "Neck" comes from English and means "neck" and "rein" or "reining" "rein / rein". The horse reacts to the rein placed on the neck by giving way. Since Neckreining requires a high level of training for both horse and rider, the horse has already learned to "bend" in the desired direction with just one hand and the correct other aids and to give way to the pressure of the rein.

When driving dressage to Achenbach , the horses are always on the bit. Turns are initiated by giving way with the outer line . Starting up and changing to a higher gait are announced by taking both lines (half parade) and triggered by giving way with both lines. Here the leash aids have a driving effect.


Through the interaction of the aids, half and full parades can be given.

Use of aids

By touching a riding crop or a whip, you can influence the horse to draw attention. Depending on the intended use, dressage whips, jumping whips, touching whips or lunging whips are used.

“The voice is primarily a tool to increase the horse's trust.” On the one hand, it should have a calming effect and, on the other hand, like touching, it has the character of a stimulus. With the help of the voice, commands are given to the horse from the ground and from the horse's back. These aids are important when lunging a horse and in other daily training; they are not allowed in the dressage test. Young horses that have already learned from their trainer what "stand / hold / whoa" or "back / back up" means while working on the ground, have it easier under the saddle at the beginning, thanks to the newly added leg, weight and rein aids classify and execute. Further tuning aids are explained in the article on driving commands .

Above all, spores should "enable finer thigh aids [...]" and, if necessary, "increase the effectiveness [of the thigh aids]". Their use is not required in the dressage test . In training, one should repeatedly make sure of thigh obedience by riding even more difficult lessons without spurs.

Riding in

The break-in is initiated with a half parade to draw attention. The cross is then tensed, thigh pressure is exerted on both sides and a yielding rein aid is given so that the horse can start.

In the case of young horses, a voice aid can also be given at the same time as the weight aid, as long as they do not yet understand the correct use of the aid. After several repetitions, the young horse learns to pay attention to the rider's aids and no longer needs the voice aid.

Individual evidence

  1. Guidelines. 1994, p. 70.
  2. a b c guidelines. 1994, p. 85.
  3. Guidelines. 1994, p. 71.
  4. Guidelines. 1994, p. 73.
  5. Guidelines. 1994, p. 74. - The term “driving” is used in two ways, once in a broader and once in a narrower sense.
  6. Guidelines. 1994, p. 75.
  7. a b c guidelines. 1994, p. 78.
  8. ^ Basics of riding ,
  9. Basic training for young riding horses: From foal training to the first tournament start, Ingrid Klimke and Reiner Klimke , Franckh-Kosmos-Verlag, 2012, ISBN 3440124835


  • Guidelines for riding and driving. Volume 1: Basic training for rider and horse . Edited by the German Equestrian Association, 26th edition. FNverlag, Warendorf 1994, ISBN 3-88542-262-X .
  • Peter Spohr: The logic in the art of riding. Olms, Hildesheim / New York 1979, ISBN 3-487-08187-3 .
  • Monte Foreman, Patrick Wyse: Monte Formeans's Horse-Training Science. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 1983, ISBN 0-8061-1583-1 .