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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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English to Western and beyond


I just got a Tennessee Walking horse. I have always ridden English and now I am learning to ride western. I am not real comfortable yet and I think that my horse, Shadow, is feeling it. I live in Michigan near Flint. I would love to learn more about how to work better with my horse. Any advise? Thanks for your time.


Hi Elizabeth,

Actually, I shall be coming to Michigan this summer sometime to present several clinics. I shall be in the Oxford/Lake Orion area and in the Birmingham area. Perhaps there may be interest in your area also. Please let me know if you think there is.

First off I would like to offer that there is a world of horses that has nothing to do with the human activity of riding the horse. Understanding the horse itself aside from riding it will give you confidence and self assurance that you can know your horse and what it is trying to tell you. This can only be done with time on the ground with it. I suggest setting aside plenty of time for on the ground playing, lunging and getting to know the horse itself. This is done through action and activity on the ground. It is part of what I teach during my seminars. Do you have access to a round pen? It is a wonderful tool and if you have one you can use it would be of great benefit. You can do it all at the end of a line, long and short. But, a round pen is wonderful if you have one available.

There are lots of things to do on the ground; sending the horse in and out of places while you stand in one spot. This is how I train a horse to load into a trailer, I send them in. Do you understand? I can send a horse half way around a tree and have it come back. I send a horse over a jump and ask it to jump back over to me. I send them in and out of stalls and other types of enclosures. I play with the horse at the end of a 15 foot line and have it move to one side, stop and then move to the other and stop, back up and come forward. It is truly like dancing on the ground with the horse. It will get you connected, bonded and into a trusting and respectful relationship with your horse. Once this is accomplished, I would keep it as part of your normal routine with the horse before you ride it.

Riding gaited horses is a whole different type of riding irregardless of the kind of saddle. In fact, gaited horses require a different seat altogether. Generally the rider sits back more, hands are held higher than normal, more apart and the horse is ridden into the gait. If you know an experienced gaited horse rider, ask them to give you a few pointers. It is hard to give in an email.

It is not so much about the saddle or English or western style, it is a whole different style of riding.

Of course, you can just get on and go and see what happens. However, you have a very special horse and not to understand the gait is to miss what you got the horse for and what the horse can do naturally. Consider a lesson or two from an experienced gaited horse rider. The saddle doesn't really matter at all. It will be the same in either saddle. Gaited horses are shown in both types of tack.

Please let me know your thoughts on all this. I thank you for the opportunity to offer suggestions.

Sincerely, Franklin

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