Action Rider of the Month – Linda Riley

Linda Riley and Squire. Photo credit: Larissa Allen Photography

Linda Riley’s Arabian gelding is a great example of the versatility of the Arabian breed. She has adjusted her goals and activities to what was best for her horse, and fortunately he was a willing partner to her many fun adventures.

Linda explains, “Squire has been with me since 2001. His registered name is Canterbury’s Squire. He is a purebred Arabian gelding that was born in 2000. I am a young 63 years old and have been riding since I was 6 years old.

“We started out with the intentions of Squire following in the hoof prints of my last half-Arabian and become a Hunter/Jumper. It was not to be. At two years old, Squire ended up having surgery on his hocks from growing too fast. We instead decided to pursue the avenue of parades, drill team, and trail rides.

Linda Riley and Squire on parade. Photo credit: Larissa Allen

“The Red Hats and Purple Chaps provided the ideal opportunities for that. Squire was on their original drill team and performed at the Kentucky Horse Park and many other venues during his Drill Team career. He also paraded with the Red Hats and Purple Chaps group in a number of parades including the Pegasus Parade in Kentucky and the Chicago McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

“In 2009, right before one of the big parades, Squire was diagnosed with Neurosarcoma Cancer. He underwent surgery and chemo treatment for this and has, so far, been a cancer survivor.

“We decided to settle our lives down and joined The American Competitive Trail Horse Association. This was the opportunity to compete on six miles or so of trails with judged obstacles about every mile. We earned points to qualify for certain prizes, but unfortunately, I had an accident with my shoulder that side lined that goal.

“Currently, after a couple of years of surgeries and physical therapy, Squire and I are going to just enjoy some peaceful trail riding. Thanks to Action Rider Tack we have a very comfortable saddle to do this in. Great tack that is a breeze to keep clean, and clothes from them that keep me comfy too. We might change the way we ride, but hopefully we will continue to ride until we cross that rainbow bridge.”

Are Your Reins Too Long?

We recently had a customer call to say they didn’t like the E-Z Ride Stirrups with Cage. The E-Z Ride Stirrups with Cage have been on the market for quite some time with lots of happy customers, and are designed so the rider’s foot cannot slide all the way through the stirrup, and it is considered a safety stirrup. So I asked, “Why don’t you like them?”

E-Z Ride Stirrup with Cage

The rider had a very good reason. Her horse turned its head around and was biting at the stirrup – no idea why. While biting the stirrup, the horse actually got his teeth caught on the cage! After he ran sideways for a bit, he stopped and let his rider disengage his teeth from the cage. No one was hurt. Whew!

Safety has to be the number one priority with horses. It’s important to develop safe habits while riding and being around horses. We sometimes become a little careless, or I should say carefree, when we ride our horses. We know them, we trust them, and we know what they can handle. However, the Martians can still land – unpredictably. And when they do, train wrecks can happen.

I have ridden with trail riders who give their horses a long rein, and allow them to move their heads from side to side looking at the scenery. I’ve heard the term “wag” their heads for this behavior. While this is ok on a limited basis, basically, I feel a horse should keep its head straight and look in the direction of movement at all times. This might require continuing to correct the head position by returning it to straight ahead repetitively, but it is safer in my opinion.  It results in less tripping, and the horse can see what’s ahead, and perhaps avoid a surprise. It’s also a better way to cover the ground. A horse that is made to travel straight will stay in forward motion with less energy, it’s just more efficient.


Riding with the slack out of the reins, keeping your horse’s head straight can prevent mishaps out on trail.

This horse that turned his head around to grab the stirrup had too much freedom and the reins were most likely too long. I’ve never heard of a horse getting his teeth caught on the stirrup, but I have heard of a horse catching the bit on the stirrup or other part of the saddle. This can also result in a serious train wreck. And it’s avoidable by not letting the head get turned that far around.

While we are discussing the head having too much freedom, a long length of rein also can allow the horse to grab bites of grass as you go down the trail. Then it can get out of hand as the horse is constantly reaching for the grass, stopping forward motion, and yanking the reins out of your hands at times. Too long of reins can also make it more difficult to stop a spook. When you have a proper rein length, you can often stop the spook just by re-establishing contact quickly, and preventing a 180-degree spin of a badly spooked horse.

In short, (pun intended) -keep the reins at a reasonable length. It’s a habit that can prevent an unpredictable mishap.