As I said on my last post, different cultures ride in different ways. There are substantial difference sometimes regarding basic things. This post comes from my experience as a foreign rider in Britain. Having started in Greece, I noticed “it’s done” differently in Britain sometimes.
Controlling a horse: In Crete I learned that when I turn on one specific side, I need to hold the opposite reign higher. So, if, for example, I want to turn right, I will pull the right reign and I will rise a bit the left one. The logic behind this is that in this way you “lock” the neck of the horse, so that he looks only towards the direction at which you want to go. It is also useful when you walk straight on a busy road; you rise the reign which is next to the road, so that, if the horse spooks, he cannot turn towards the road.
Mounting: When we mount in Crete, we need to hold the saddle with both hands. The logic here is to make sure that the horse keeps his own balance. Unless I want to end up on the floor before I can even make it to the saddle. It is a habit I stick to in Britain as well, even if people look at me as an alien. It’s safe for me and the horse and so it makes sense to me.
Dismounting: In Crete we learn to dismount by firstly pulling our feet a bit backwards on the stirrup, then, releasing the right foot, and only releasing the left foot when we our right leg has already reached the ground. I don’t know why we do it like this. I guess has to do again with balance and safety. This way you can still have some control of the horse until you stand solidly on the ground.
Trotting: In Crete I have to rise as high as I can, stretching my legs as I move up and down. In Britain this is called over-riding and might seem uncomfortable, but it’s all about muscle power and synchronization.
Cantering: In Britain I have learned to sit deep in the saddle, while in Crete I am expected to sit lighter and lean a bit more forward.
Have you learned abroad how to ride? Have you spotted any differences between riding in your country and riding abroad? It would be interesting to find out!