Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

1. True or false: A quick way to calm a nervous horse—and your own jitters–is simply to hold your breath for a moment.

T / F

2. ‘Soft hands’ are the mark of:

A) an anxious horseman

B) a master horseman

C) a novice horseman

3. True or false: A ‘fetal crouch’ is the correct position for a young child in the saddle.

T / F

4. A horse that’s ‘framed up’ is:

A) improperly blamed

B) stiff, unbendable

C) nicely collected

5. True or false: A relaxed ‘chair seat’ position on a horse is undesirable.

T / F

6. A horse that’s ‘soft in the face’ is:

A) responsive to the bit—a pleasure

B) crazy in the head—fear-inducing

C) exceptionally fine-boned–beautiful

7. True or false: A ‘pushbutton horse’ is a bully that pushes the buttons of a timid rider.

T / F

8. Common term for a reliable, confidence-building horse.

A) coaster

B) digger

C) packer

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. F is correct. Holding your breath is the exact opposite of what you want to do, as your horse can sense it–and it unnerves him. By contrast, deep, regular ‘belly breathing’ will help calm you both.

2. B is correct. Soft hands make possible the sensitive rein connection that’s a hallmark of good horsemanship.

3. F is correct. The dreaded fetal crouch is wrong for a rider of any age; it occurs when fearfulness causes you to slump forward, hang on the reins, and grip with your legs—at which point any horsemanship is impossible.

4. C is correct. A framed-up horse is a delight for anyone to ride.

5. T is correct. A ‘chair seat’—relaxed or otherwise—is not the position you want in the saddle, as it props your legs too far forward where they can neither absorb their fair portion of your weight nor cue your horse most effectively.

6. A is correct. ‘Soft in the face’ means responsive to the bit, which can make for a light, delightful ride.

7. F is correct. A ‘pushbutton horse’ wants to please you, not bully you. He’s so well trained that he responds willingly to every cue.

8. C is correct. A packer is one step beyond a ‘pushbutton horse’ and the best confidence-builder in the world. If you have a genuine confidence problem, get yourself a packer!

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