Here is a link to our FAQ
, which also includes a link to a collection of different discussions. I guess you will find a lot of information over there already.
Concerning the riding, I think there are many different opinions and probably you will get completely different replies by other people. This is because AND is not a method but a study group, with people sharing what works best for them, instead of promoting a "One Best Way".
Personally, I do not start by introducing cordeo cues because I do not use a cordeo for cueing. Instead, I usually work on the horse's reaction to my bodylanguage as a first step (a description is here: Encouraging politeness
). Concerning the riding, I would not ride a horse that is younger than four, but if he is old enough, I am less of a perfectionist than many people would advise. Actually for me, all there needs to be before I start is:
- a basic willingness of the horse to attend to my cues
- an understanding that he is being rewarded for doing what I am asking
- an unambigous stop sign (for us that's me breathing out loudly, or blowing air)
- a basic level fitness (which your horse can reach with the groundwork exercises described here in the forum, but in other ways as well. My own favourite fitness program is going for long walks in the hills)
Once I am on my horse, the second thing I would do (the first is giving a treat
) is to make sure the stop cue works from up there as well, check that frequently, and reward very much each time he stops so that this becomes his default response. This is our way of keeping me safe when riding even when we have not worked out a perfect and orderly set of cues yet. Other than that, I would - just like in groundwork - simply experiment with my moves and reward the horse for his reactions to them, whatever that might be. In that way he is teaching me the correct cues. After the first (about three) sessions in an enclosed area, I would start riding out in the forest, where the horse has a path to go, so that on one hand there is a purpose of walking forwards (many young horses seem to find that difficult in an arena), but at the same time no decisions about direction have to be made yet because the path clearly defines that.
Good luck, and if you have further questions, just ask!