Any Suggestions for Quiet Hands?

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Any Suggestions for Quiet Hands?

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    07-01-2011, 07:01 PM
Any Suggestions for Quiet Hands?

I'm really finding it a challenge to keep my hands quiet at the rising trot. I know that they need to be quiet, and it is better than it was, but I think I am still bounding them too much. When I come up, they come up. They don't come up as much as they used to, but they're still coming up. If I try to force them down it does weird things to the rest of my posture (I think doing this may be creating tension through my upper back, possibly some other undesirable effects as well).

My lesson horse has pretty big movement. I noticed when I recently rode a smaller horse with a shorter trot that I was better able to keep my hands near his mane throughout...but that horse was small enough that I didn't feel like I could get a good leg on him (I felt like with a good stretch I'd be able to rub my feet together). So the bigger horse with the bigger movement it is.

I'm at the point now where not being able to keep my hands quiet is limiting the horses I can ride, so I'm grateful for any suggestions on this!
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    07-01-2011, 07:34 PM
Relax your shoulders first - allow them to drop down your sides - and from there you elbows will drop and so will your wrists and then your hands.

You sound like you are really tense when you are riding - try to ride with your hands on the horses neck - make this the position you ride in - put your hands in front of you and don't move them - the feeling of having the neck there as a reminder will help !
    07-01-2011, 08:35 PM
You need to develop muscle memory to train yourself to keep your hands quiet. There are a few things that you can do and a favourite of mine is to get people to hold onto the velcro tabs on the front of their saddle cloth, just slip your little fingers under them and keep some tension on them. As you ride, you'll really feel how much you want to rely on them initially to keep you stable. After repeating them a few times, most people will start to build muscle memory as they now know how it feels to have the hands still.

Another one is to carry a dressage whip or long crop, lay it over your hands, thumbs on top and focus on keeping it parallel to the ground and square with the horse's shoulders.
    07-01-2011, 11:54 PM
Thanks guys!

Midnight Angel, you are right! I do get tense...the lesson horse has a tendency to gum-neck and bulge his shoulder, so at every turn I'm having to do hold him with his outside rein while giving him direction on the inside rein (and keeping his speed up with a heel on the rising part of the post), and while trying to keep the hands quiet. It definitely feels overwhelming from time to time and probably I am picking up some tension in my shoulders. :)

Kayty - when you are talking about the velcro tabs, do you mean the ones on the saddle pad that wrap around the forward girth billet? (I am also rolling laughing with your second suggestion, because that sounds an awful lot like an exercise I did in a ski lesson - we took our ski poles and held them out in front like we were butlers with a tray, and had to keep them there while making a bunch of turns on the way down the hill. And, come to think of it, for the VERY same reason! It was a way to keep from flinging our hands, arms, and shoulders into the turns, and to just initiate the turns with our legs and weight.)

    07-02-2011, 04:20 AM
Yep those are the ones ;) Either that, or hook your little fingers under the front of the pad. Your hands will be a little lower than ideal in this position, but it's better than nothing.
OR, if you have a monkey strap on your saddle that works just as well.

Haha yes, I've done that too going skiing, it's amazing how similar the two sports are - the exercise in riding is for exactly the same reason, to teach you not to rely on your hands (while also making any movement in the hands more obvious and therefore easier for you to correct) and to use your seat and legs to make turns, transitions etc. In downward transitions, don't let the whip come any further back than the pommel of your saddle.
    07-02-2011, 04:35 AM
Interesting that you should mention skiing. Skiing and riding have a LOT in common. REally? You might ask. Yes. In skiing you want a quiet upper body, firm upper body and you balance over your skis, but the balanc eis always changing. YOu ride your skis but always stay in correct alingment. AND, when turning, your upper body stays facing downhill while your legs absorb the motion and turn under you. YOu bring your skis back under you rather than move your upper body over your skis. There is power in the abdominals and core muscles skiing, and there is in riding. When your core gets storonger, you will better be able to quiet your hands.

But think of bringing your body to your hands. So, if you want your hands to do less, your body may need to do more.

You can also tie a shoe lace to the d ring of the saddle and use it as a hand stabilizer, keeping it in your fist along with the rein to keep a steady distance to the saddle, no matter what.
    07-02-2011, 09:40 AM
Riding IS very much like skiing...only both the ski and the snow (that is, the horses) have Opinions and feel comfortable expressing them. At this rate I will be Queen of the Mogul fields by next winter, and I'll just be grateful that the bumps don't decide to change shape when I'm heading for them, or get scared by a squirrel and jump out of my way!

I do get it about the separation of the upper/lower body. I've been trying to think of a way to import what I know about skiing into this, and I think these suggestions may be just the thing!

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