Good Manners on Horseback

Hi. I'm back now from my vacation, which was very enjoyable and relaxing and I'm ready to really get into the Uberstreichen Exercise lessons with you which continue on Thursday. Before then, I'd like to show you some rules for riding, which I think come from the Renaissance period. I'd like you to tell me what these rules bring up for you in the way we go about riding horses today, riding with each other and the consideration we bring to our own daily life? I would like my students to become aware of and understand the importance of consideration of conduct in the moment. To me, consideration is more valuable than the goals and opinions that often get in the way of the journey. So as you read the rules below, think how they might apply to your life and the people and animals you share your journey with.

By the way, you can hear my interview with Mark from last Sunday on the subject of Rollkur and the Uberstreichen Exercises by going to Dressage Disgrace.

So, until Thursday, let me leave you with the rules for 'Good Manners on Horseback'.


What distinguishes a well ridden horse is lightness. What distinguishes one that rides is courtesy. Being a rider is to be a gentleman - GONDRAND

One will never mount his horse before the lady to be accompanied. One should help to mount when asked.

The lady leads the hack and rules the gaits as well as their speeds.

The rider that accompanies a lady should never commit her to speed up the pace.

One should walk on her right side, staying back a length of horse’s head. In this way, leading his horse with the right hand, the rider will be able to help the lady with his left hand without brushing her legs when she rides side saddle.

One must constantly be ready to bring assistance in the event of danger and ensure at all times that no part of the tack is disturbed, and, if necessary, remedy it immediately.

In some cases, the rider should not hesitate to change side, if by this, one must avoid to the accompanied Lady, the dust raised by his horse’s feet. He may also remain behind to get this result.

When on muddy grounds, one will have to keep his distance not to splash the lady.

When the Lady’s horse is afraid of an object, the rider must position himself between her and this item. He should even be in front, if the lady’s horse refuses to do so.

If the Lady is not feeling sufficiently safe, it is good, in this case, to lead her horse with a dark coloured line fastened to the bit and over the horse’s head.

In a word, it is not enough that the rider is gentleman, pleasant and wise; he should know how to preserve the lady from all accident, to save her from a dangerous position and be able to help her if requested for advice.

When one is companying a more senior or older rider, one must leave the lead to them. One may also, without derogate, help them to mount, if no staff is there to do this.

Regardless of the rank or the age of the rider, if he has a difficult horse, it is beautiful, suitable, worthy of a good heart to help him to get on its mount by holding with one hand the cheek pieces and with the other the stirrup.

When hacking, the prime place is always on the right hand side; if there are many people, it is at the centre of the group.

One gives the place of honour to his superior or at equal rank to the oldest person to whom it belongs only to decide of the speed.

In the company of a man of high distinction, one must remain behind at a horse length.

A military accompanying its General can come to its sides on the invitation and in this position, leaves two horse head lengths advance, unless a contrary order.

In these respects should not be those of a subordinate, but only of a lower rank, simply leave a single length of head advance.

If when hacking, the paths become too narrow to walk by pair, one should slow down or stop in order to place one self behind the accompanied person. If his horse refuses to go forward, one can pass first, but only when it is prompted.

When several people are hacking together, it is suitable to adjust the pace on the rider who has the least trained horse or which paces are slower.

If one mounts a horse which is producing lots of foam, he must be put under the wind to avoid splashing everybody.

One must avoid touching the boot or knee of the rider or the horse that walk to one side.

Especially when one has a sweaty horse, one should avoid moving closer to its neighbours, as well as taking care not to splash them when passing through mud or water.

One should never, unless it is asked, give to the riders with which one hacks, advice as it is often taken badly.

One should never stimulate his horse by clicking or wiping in order not to excite the other horses which may need calming instead.

Using the voice, when on foot, to excite a horse, unless ridden by your staff, is an impertinence or rude. Only the trainer has this right to stimulate his student’s horses and only when he is in his riding school.

One is never allowed to punish someone’s horse before been asked to. However when there is danger, hesitation is not forgiven.

One should never overtake a horse too closely to avoid being kicked. If overtaking a horse led in hand, one must do so on the side of the man who leads.

If one is forced to overtake a lady, one shall do it on the side of the rider that accompanies her, taking care to slow the pace so that she or her mount will not frightened.

One will walk to overtake a senior or older rider.

When you want to address a rider who is ahead, one will slow the pace down coming to a few steps away from him; one should avoid coming to close of the horse, because the surprised animal could then kick out. It is beautiful to give a bend to one’s horse in the direction of the rider being addressed.

When one moves away from someone, one must do so slowly, controlling his horse hind legs so that the animal does not kick out or touches the other rider’s boot. If there is mud, it should be avoided to splash the person left behind.

When approaching a pedestrian, one should walk and leave enough space in between.

One should never impose on a person one meets out hacking and that one knows very little; ten times one interferes with at least eight.

When one meets horses or cars, one must comply with the traditions of the communities; because sometimes the practice is that one leaves the right of the path to the right, and elsewhere is the left where it is necessary to give way.

On horse back, one salutes in the same way as on foot. The rider saluting with the whip is an unhindered little forgiven; he becomes even impudent if his salute is intended for a lady. It is only the privilege of the ladies to salute in this manner.