Riding Francis: A How-To Guide

Whenever people hop on the Frankenbean, I find myself giving them similar advice. Which I will now share with you, so if you ever come to visit us and want to take a spin on the Beast you will be prepared to enjoy him fully.

Without further ado, here is the Official Guide to Francis:

  • Put more leg on. More. No, even more. Seriously, more. I pinky pinky promise he isn’t trying to go anywhere. Ever. The only reason he ever looks like he might be forward is because his rider is squeezing the ever-loving-crap outta him. He does not think to take you forward to that crossrail. Leg. Him. On.
  • Take a feel. He will be mildly annoyed, but only because he knows this means he has to work and he’d rather be eating. He is not trained to a loopy rein, he is trained to a connection. If you don’t take one, he assumes you don’t really have that much to ask of him and he will act like a beginner pony. Safe, but not particularly talented. You want the good material, you gotta start by telling him you can speak his language.
  • Now that you’ve taken a feel, put even MORE leg on. He will test you by trying to get behind your leg because moving forward on a contact is Hard Work. Set the tone early that this is Not Allowed.
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Austen learned quickly that sometimes we have Feelings about using our muscles
  • Carry a crop. You likely won’t need to use it. But he knows if it’s there or not. Somehow, he always knows.
  • Be direct with your questions and don’t be afraid to ask firmly. He is not offended by direct pressure- as long as you are fair and release that pressure when he gives the right answer. He’s not particularly sensitive and likes to have a conversation, so it’s ok to “speak” a little louder if you’re not getting a response. He also won’t be offended if you tell him it’s the wrong answer. Just try asking a little differently and reward his attempts to understand. He’s not the quickest thinker, but he will remember what you tell him.
  • Place him. It’s better to make the wrong decision than it is to make no decision. Put him at the base of the jump. Tell him that his canter is too strung out. Get your ass in the saddle and PRESS him up into the bridle. He will forgive you any mistakes, but he’ll forgive you much quicker if you don’t leave those mistakes up to him.
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Buried him to the base. Note that the ears are still up. Things are ok.
  • Pat early, pat often. He’s a really good boy, likes doing a good job, and likes being TOLD that he’s doing a good job. Lightening your seat and giving him a scratch on the withers as you come through the end of the ring is a cause for much rejoicing. A hearty “Good man!!!” and pats on the neck give him the happy feelings. Trust me, you’ll want to pat him.
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He really REALLY loves hearing what an excellent boy he is
  • Trust him. You don’t have to ride him defensively- he will not spook, and you can trust that he will do exactly what you ask of him. Seriously. He will not spook. He’s a confident horse, so you can be confident that he’ll take care of you. If you’re nervous, ask him to slow down. It’ll make his day, he loves that. He has absolutely no buck, spook, bolt, or anything else like that- his default mode is “things are ok, and they would be even better if I could nap.”
  • When in doubt, rev the engine. Francis is the living embodiment of the phrase, “the right answer is ALWAYS more leg.” I cannot stress this enough. Literally anything wrong can be fixed by adding some leg into your hand and getting the RPMs higher. It cures any wiggliness, it cures lack of impulsion, it cures sticky distances, it cures form over fences, it cures ALL THE THINGS. Any time you need a reset, loosen your reins and ask for a bit of a hand-gallop. It’s the magic button and then you can re-gather and get back to it.
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“Pls stop telling them to leg me and let me live my life”
  • He will do exactly what you ask of him. No more, no less. He is the ultimate tattle tale. He’s capable of really great stuff, but will not offer that up to anyone who doesn’t ask clearly and firmly. He’ll work for you, but only if you work for him. Don’t make the assumption that he will power up to the jumps- he absolutely will only if you tell him to. If you’re pulling and taking your leg off, he will peter right out and get lurchy. If you want to test his buttons and see what he’s capable of, be prepared to set the tone early and then sweat for it- if you can do that, he is sensitive and responsive and will do absolutely anything.
  • Enjoy the snot out of him. He’s extremely safe, extremely obedient, extremely well-trained, and genuinely enjoys his job. Toodle on a loose rein if you want, or package him up and see how sporty you can get. He’ll do it all with a smile, and he’ll make you smile too.

TL;DR add a metric crapton of leg and enjoy riding the Best Horse Ever(TM).

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20 thoughts on “Riding Francis: A How-To Guide

  1. Nicole C 12/20/2018 / 10:13 am

    He sounds like a very similar ride to my big bay gelding. Honest as the day is long, safe and reliable, but you have to ask him to work, otherwise he will just kind of toodle around and not put any extra effort in. He has been phenomenal for me to be able to gain lots of confidence after riding a very difficult horse. Although I was in for a bit of a wake up call when I tried riding a much more sensitive mare who strongly objected to how *loudly* I was trying to talk to her lol

    Like

    • hellomylivia 12/20/2018 / 10:16 am

      Aw then I love your big bay gelding too!! I know exactly what you mean- it’s a huge confidence boost to have such a forgiving ride, but it’s suuuuch a major adjustment to any horse that doesn’t like that much feedback.

      Like

  2. Centered in the Saddle 12/20/2018 / 11:03 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Francis and Duke sound like long-lost (fraternal) twins. The answer is always more leg, and he will work exactly as hard as you ask him to…or slightly less.

    Like

  3. Holly 12/20/2018 / 11:25 am

    Riding Frankie is one of my favorite memories. So big, so much fun. And I totally made him a beginner pony and didn’t make him do anything because that I couldn’t make that sweet face do any more work than absolutely necessary.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 12/20/2018 / 2:09 pm

      He gets away with too much cause he’s cute!! He loved getting to play with Auntie Holly ❤

      Like

  4. roamingridersite 12/20/2018 / 12:25 pm

    He is such a great gelding. It is very nice of you to share him with others. So many people in your shoes wouldn’t. I think this would make a great blog hop and I may write it up for Gem.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 12/20/2018 / 2:10 pm

      I love seeing people have fun with him! I hope you do a version of this too, it’s so cool learning how different everyones’ steeds are 🙂

      Like

  5. Austen 12/20/2018 / 12:59 pm

    Omg I legit forgot about those photos! Haha! He was such a good boy, even if he was highly displeased with having to work on his vacation! ❤

    Like

    • hellomylivia 12/20/2018 / 2:10 pm

      omg he was like WAT Y U DO THIS. Secretly he was probably happy to have someone competent up top hahaha

      Like

  6. Stacie Seidman 12/20/2018 / 3:00 pm

    That’s it. I’m inviting myself down there to come ride Frankie because he’s exactly what I like to ride. Plus I just read the manual, so i should be good to go right?

    Like

    • hellomylivia 12/20/2018 / 3:04 pm

      You’re now a certified expert, you’ve read the course materials!

      Like

  7. Boss Mare Eventing 12/21/2018 / 4:53 pm

    This is so cute. I love pat early, pat often. More people need that mantra.

    My advice to people who ride Penny – just hold on. LOL

    Like

  8. Rachel - For Want of a Horse 12/26/2018 / 2:47 pm

    You realize that I sit here and just drool over Mr. Franklin, right???? That sounds like I dream ride! Don’t get me wrong I love my Winifred but I wish he would be a bit more like Francis. Winifred is definitely a pull ride but yet somehow you still need to leg him. Unlike Francis, he would much prefer that if you do not see the right distance that you just sit your ass back and let him find it but then be prepared for when he does take off. Lol. Sure they are complaints and our horses are very different but at least they teach us to be better riders even though it is in different ways.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 12/27/2018 / 9:43 am

      Haha I drool over Frankie too, and it’s been almost 3 years!! They do teach us so much ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. carey 01/10/2019 / 2:52 pm

    Btw, I love this and I’m stealing it.

    Like

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