Aids are the signals you use to communicate with the horse. The aids are always the same, regardless if you are working from the ground or riding. By moving the shoulders and hind part of the horse we can place the horse where we want it and thereby shape its body to a proper movement.
The beauty of this education system is that in the academic art of riding, we use exactly the same aids all the time, regardless if we are working from the ground or riding. We begin to teach the aids from the ground. Either you start in standing or in walk in the groundwork position, depending on what is easier for the horse.
To teach the horse the leg aids, start by touching your whip on the inside of the trunk, where your leg would be placed if you were riding. This is a signal asking the horse to move is hind part outwards, i.e. your inside leg aid. To move the hind part inwards, lift the whip over the back, pointing towards the outside hind leg. This is your outer leg aid. The outside leg aid may be difficult to understand for the horse and can be taught next to a fence. In the beginning, you can ignore the stelling and bending and just focus on pedagogy, i.e. that the horse understands the signals for moving its hind part outwards or inwards. As the horse begins to understand what you ask for, you first ask for stelling and bending and then add the leg aids. Ask the horse to move while maintaining stelling and bending.
As we teach the rein aids, we touch the whip on the horse’s withers, where the rein would be if riding. To teach the inner rein aid, we touch the withers on the inside and we want the horse to maintain its stelling and bending while moving its weight outwards. This movement of weight can easily be seen if observing the shoulders of the horse. When we want to teach the outside rein aid we are still standing on the inside of the horse while lifting the whip over the withers and touching the outside, where the rein would be, and now want to see a movement of the weight inwards.
Just as for the leg aids, pedagogical work comes first. Teach the horse to understand which movement the signal means, moving the shoulders in or out. When the foundation is laid with the pedagogical work, it is time for gymnastics. Then you ask for stelling and bending to the inside, while moving the shoulders in or out. The outside rein aid is often bit more difficult for the horse to understand. The pressure on the outside makes it easy for the horse to rebend towards the outside, to create a new inside. Then we must just ask a bit more clearly for the horse to maintain its stelling and bending towards the inside, while still touching the wither on the outside and asking for weight movement towards the inside.
When the foundation is laid with the pedagogical work, it is time for gymnastics.
- Inner leg – touch the whip in the inner leg aid area, on the belly
- Outer leg – lift the whip over the back and point towards the outer hind leg
- Inner rein – Touch the whip where the inner rein would be if riding
- Outer rein – Lift the whip over the withers and touch the outside