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‘On the bit’ – Rider Biomechanics

By on May 3, 2014

‘On the bit’ a.k.a ‘The Seeking Reflexes’

Rider Biomechanics can be a key skill set and knowledge base that makes ‘on the bit’ doable and ultimately less stressful.

Ideally, the rider would gradually pass from being a kind passenger to being an active, effective rider, able to influence horses, so that they worked ‘on the bit’. This would happen as a by-product of her increasing awareness and skill which, over time, transform her body into a far more effective tool for molding the horse into shape. Seemingly of their own will, her horses would happily cooperate, rearranging their carriage and movement to become the beautiful “dressage horses” most riders so envy.

In practice horses don’t make it that easy for their riders. But I have seen many horses begin to offer their learning riders exceptionally good work, without the riders’ having to struggle and fight to achieve it, or having set it up as a glorious—and probably unattainable—goal.

My work on rider biomechanics now includes insights from a number of different coaches. Some are subtle and cutting edge, and can only be taught to advanced riders. Others are simple fixes we all wish we had found years ago, as having those pieces in place makes everything else so much easier! My work has also been enriched by collaborations with Functional Anatomist Tom Myers, and Australian horse trainer Andrew Mclean. Tom’s concept of ‘muscle chains’ has helped to clarify my own inuitions making the rider/horse interaction very understandable. Andrew’s work on ‘Equine Learning Theory’ shows how to get horses understanding go, stop, right, left, and yield – and having those baselines in place (from operant conditioning) makes the rest so much easier.

‘On the bit’ – The Mental Problem

My original book Ride With Your Mind, which is out of print, has a chapter called ‘On the bit – The Mental Problem‘. This clearly discusses the typical issues facing riders learning how to get their horse ‘On the bit’.  Head on over to http://onthebit.org/on-the-bit-free-chapter to get a free copy of the chapter and learn what mental issues could be holding you back.


  1. Carol

    May 26, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Just wanted to download the free pdf (so I can read it in bed) but couldn’t find it anywhere. Could you advise me where I can get the on the bit free chapter. Tried it on the link and it kept running through the same thing all the time, didn’t get anywhere.

    • Mary Wanless

      May 26, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Hi Carol,

      I just sent you an email, when you register via http://www.onthebit.org/on-the-bit-free-chapter you should get an email tell you to confirm you registration. Then you will get one more email with registration instructions. Don’t hesitate to contact us via email.


      Peter Dove RWYM Technical Guy

  2. Maeve Butterly

    May 26, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I am doing your 2 day course in September and I was trying to become a member of ‘on the bit’ so to be more prepared but I cant seem to become a member. Is there a link you can send me ? 🙂

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