In the horse world, there are many things referred to as “green”. Green riders, Green horses, Greenbacks… but what does the term actually mean? We see it on Facebook and overhear the term everywhere we go when there are horse folks around, and it seems everyone has their own definition depending how well versed in the industry you are. To some, Green means “unstarted”. To others, it means vices and not “beginner” friendly. To most, it simply means “new” in the sense of learning.
To me, a green horse means started, but still needing to be refined. There are several things I look at when determining a green horse and the same goes for many horsemen and horsewomen from all disciplines. There are expectations that must be met that make a green horse truly “green”. I explain those expectations as the seven basics of every horse, the Seven Basics of Horsemanship
Seven Basics of Horsemanship
No matter the horse or discipline, there is an expectation of seven traits that make a horse ride-able. We need to be able to get movement from our horse, we need to be able to stop movement as well. We must be able to turn in any direction and we also must be in control of how fast or slow we go. That being said, to me the Seven Basics of Horsemanship is simply: Throttle, stop, start, left, right, back, forward. These principles are the same expected from a “green” horse.
Movement- This is where stop/start/back/forward fall under. If I cannot control the movement of the horse, I am not riding I am just along for the ride! A green horse should absolutely know when/what is being asked of him/her and be aware of the movement.
Directionals- This is where left/right fall under. Directionals are taught in several different ways, but the most common is the pressure/release or movement away from a pressure source. When we pick up the left rein, we expect the horse to turn left (and vice versa). A green horse should have this well understood.
Throttle- This is speed control in any direction from any starting point. In the most basic example, a walk, trot, and canter is expected of any horse, including green horses. It does not end there though: you should be able to ask for any speed from any starting point: by this I mean a trot from a stand-still, a canter from a walk, a canter to a trot. However it breaks down, the cues should be interpreted and understood in a green horse to some extent.