Every rider who rides in the Dutch nature reserves knows the gates. Dismounting at every gate is tedious. That is why I give you the following tips so that you can also open every gate without dismounting your horse.
Tired of dismounting every time? Is it preventing you from entering the nature reserves? Does your horse not stop when you bend over to open a gate, or does your horse try to sprint through it as quickly as possible?
Practice halting while you don’t sit still. This is the most crucial exercise and also the most difficult. I use verbal commands precisely at these times. Lacos is used to responding to my weight shifting. When opening a gate, he must do exactly the opposite, namely stand still and not respond. This takes some practice.
You can start halting in the arena while adjusting or tightening stirrups. You expand that to bend over and touch your toes on both sides.
Every time your horse starts to walk you say “halt” and stop it. Try how far you can go, a little more each time.
You cannot expect him to step away directly on your leg aid. You were just hanging upside down and accidentally pushing him with your leg and he had to stand still.
When opening a gate, you move with your horse in the direction of the gate opening. That means your horse has to step sideways to turn with the gate. You must therefore have your horse sensitive on the leg aids when using lateral movements.
Practice this on a flat sand path and zigzag from side to side, without accelerating.
Lacos does not flinch when a gate touches him because he has to push the gate of the feeding station open in the HIT Active stable. He pushes that gate open with his chest and then walks through it. That gate closes with a “bang” behind him because it has a spring on it.
Horses that are not in a HIT Active stable or are not trained in front of a carriage and are therefore not used to it, find this difficult. You can practice this with spook training.
You need this maneuver when you push the gate open. The gate then opens in your riding direction.
Once you have the gate open and go through it, the gate must be closed again, so you need to practice to turn the forehand. That way you can see what happens when the gates closes.
Some gates close by themselves due to gravity or because the gate is bent, others you have to push and hang in the lock. You need to use common sense at each gate to determine if you can open this gate without dismounting.
You need this maneuver if you have to pull the gate towards you and thus open the gate in the opposite direction of which you are riding. Practice to turn the hindquarters as short as possible to close the gate again. This is the most difficult way to open a gate from your horse, as you can get caught if the gate closes on its own.
Keep calm at all times and do not get caught with your leg or the flank of your horse when a gate closes. Especially if the gate opens opposite to the direction which you are riding in, this can cause dangerous situations.
You might also be interested in reading this article and the video footage of our 2-day trailride along the river IJssel in the Netherlands.
How do you open the gate from your horse, do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments.