View Full Version : working on my hands?
22nd Oct 2002, 08:16 PM
I have been taking lessons for about 8 months now & my seat & legs are coming along nicely. However, I'm still not entirely comfortable with my hands. I feel as though my cues are still too - big (for lack of a better word!) especially doing turns & things. I have just started doing a lot of jumping and am working on navigating a jump course w/the twists and turns.
Anyway - to make a long question short - does anyone have any exercises that they find really helped them with their hands? Certain flatwork exercises or anything? I am trying to find the perfect balance between having nice elastic contact w/his mouth and being able to control him & give him directions w/the mimimum cues possible.
(for background, I take private lessons w/an instructor on various school horses. She's not as concerned as I am but I have such a fear of being heavy on a horse's mouth. Right now we're starting to alternate - 1 week we work on jumping, the next setting forms & bending)
23rd Oct 2002, 03:02 AM
Are your hands flopping around too much? Or are you leaning on the horse? I'm a bit confused!
23rd Oct 2002, 04:51 AM
please tell us exactly what is wrong with your hands. It seems like you are either too heavy with your hands, or too light.
23rd Oct 2002, 04:07 PM
Sorry for being unclear! Its more just that I feel my hands are a bit out of control. It is as though I'm not giving subtle enough looking aids to him. You know when you seem high-level showjumpers going round a course? You don't really see their hands moving around very much. Mine do! That's what I want to fix!
I think my hands probably alternate between too light & too heavy! I have a bad habit of letting the reins curve a little bit instead of being a straight line from mouth to hands (too light) & then when I need to give him new directions I need to do a lot of adjustments (too heavy) which makes my hands fly all over the place. Hey - I think I've just diagnosed my problem:)
Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had some good exercises to help work on their hands & maintaining good bit contact or does this just come w/practice, practice, practice?
24th Oct 2002, 04:34 AM
well, I can't think of any exercises. Sorry. All I can say is, try to remember to keep a good, light contact with his mouth. Not so light as there is slack in the reins. There should be no looping in the reins, but the horse's head shouldn't be pulled up really tight. Keep your thumbs up, and about 5 inches apart. I know this is a lot to remember at first, but it'll become natural. First try keeping your hands in position and keeping good contact with the horses mouth by going from halt to walk, to halt again. See if you can keep your hands in the same position, but if you focus too much on your hands, too much concentration can sometimes do more harm then good. So just try, but don't over concentrate. Some things come over time and practice.
24th Oct 2002, 11:13 AM
Try doing lots or trot on a very light rain and feeling the horses mouth. You could also get a pair of rain and practice at home. Hold the rain like you are ridding close your eyes and have your friend move the reins back and forward then tell them to do every thing they can think of jumping up and down jerking swayinf from side to side and try to keep you sholders elbows and wrists lose enough to have a light contact
Apart from that i would like to say. Those top showjumpers did not start with steady hand and they cirtanly did not have then i 8month. Just keep practicing and try not to worry about them and one day you will ride and notice how much better you are now. Just relax and keep the sholders back and relaxed.
24th Oct 2002, 12:55 PM
Personally, I think that learning to use reins effectively and kindly is the most difficult element in riding and, in my experience, it's one of the issues that seems to be given the least amount of time by instructors. While tons of time is spent on seat, leg, balance and posture - and, to a small extent, even general rein contact and hand steadiness - so little is given to learning how to maintain an ongoing, subtle conversation with the horse in a seat-to-reins way. It's a language unto itself.
It sounds as though you have diagnosed your own problem and your skills will undoubtedly improve as you practice.
25th Oct 2002, 07:17 PM
Part of the problem at first is that until you have a nice secure seat, your hands won't be able to work independently; if you have any reliance at all on your hands for balance, you can't use them properly. So all that work on legs and seat isn't actually wasted.
I also think it's very important that novice riders should have the chance to ride schoolmasters who will give them the right responses and the right feelings when they get the aids right - any aids, not just rein aids. There's really no better way to find out if you're doing it right.
26th Oct 2002, 01:54 PM
Mikka, you are so right! I have just started riding with a German trainer and she has made me realize that I have never been taught before how to use my reins properly, and exactly how to time and release the aids.
We are working on a lot of circles, bends, changes of direction and transitions within them.
The difference in my horse in just three weeks is unbelievable.
9th Nov 2002, 06:45 PM
Hi all, I havent posted in a long while........
I too cannot keep my hands in the proper position, but alot of it is the horse.In trot she raises her head so high up, causing my hands to move higher. Difficult problem,,
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