Fixed Hands v Busy Hands problem!

Discussion in 'Training of the Rider' started by marchhare2006, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. marchhare2006

    marchhare2006 Cornish Pisky


    For the last few months, every time I've had a riding lesson, I've been told off for having 'fixed hands' but I've not know how to correct this. It's really noticeable as every horse I've ridden lately has gone around with its head in the air, if not actively shaking its head so I'm obviously doing something wrong.

    However, my real confusion started last night when my instructor told me to use my hands in a completely different way than I'm used to. She told me to keep moving my writsts in and out with my thumbs on top so that the tips of my thumbs were pointing at each other and then out again. This did seem to stop the horse fighting my hands so much, but it felt like it was encouraging me to stick my elbows out and also, my hands felt 'busy' as she told me to keep doing it, not just when I was making a turn.

    I've always thought I should sponge my fingers to make a turn, rather than move my wrists, but now I'm confused because I'm obviously doing something wrong, but I'm not sure that this is the correct solution. Please help!
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2006
  2. cvb

    cvb Cucumber

    bear in mind that the wrist movement is probably just a remedial thing to unlock your hands, and not something you would be doing long term !

    I think you are saying she had you rotating/turning at the wrist ? Did I understand right ? I suspect she is just stopping the brace you have there.

    If she actually had you moving all your lower arm, it sounds like she might think the brace/block is above the wrist...

    If you have a braced wrist/arm, the sponging is not going to have the same effect.

    One thing you could try is to find a friend, and a pair of reins. Stand opposite each other, with knees slightly bent as if in "dressage" riding position. Both take up the reins as if you were riding. Then in turns, one is "horse" and one is "rider"... and feedback how it feels. Try sponging, try the wrist movement, and ask the friend what it makes them want to do (give, soften, resist etc )

    One interesting thing is to try this with and without core muscles (stomach) engaged. Even tho its nothing to do with your hands, it makes a real difference to the quality of the contact !
  3. marchhare2006

    marchhare2006 Cornish Pisky

    Thanks for this reply. The action she told me to use was just in the wrist, but I found it hard to keep it in the wrist and it made me feel like I wanted to stick my elbows out. I'm probably exaggerating how much she told me to move them, but the general idea seemed to be to move my hands inwards slightly and then out again and to keep my wrists moving. I'm very confused because I thought you were supposed to keep your hands still!
  4. cvb

    cvb Cucumber

    OK - but if you have a choice of

    - still but fixed
    - moving but soft

    which are you going to choose ? and which is more likely to give the real result you want, which is still but soft ?

    you seem to be seeing this as an end in itself rather than the *means* to the end...
  5. marchhare2006

    marchhare2006 Cornish Pisky

    I guess so - it's just that I don't want to end up with even more bad habits! So I'm worried if I get used to doing that and I'm not doing the right thing, then I'll never be able to stop.

    You are right though, it did seem to work, as the horse stopped fighting me so much. It just felt really strange and I was worried about my elbows.
  6. cvb

    cvb Cucumber


    you probably noticed your elbows more, were more aware of them, because with a fixed wrist you had got used to *not* feeling them. Freeing up the wrist will have 'reconnected' you to your arm and you will get a renewed flow of information about where the arm is.

    It's as if we "park" the arm by fixing it, and stop paying it any attention !

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