Depending Less on the Reins
   

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Depending Less on the Reins

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  • Squeeze reins or pull to turn horse
  • Using legs to steer a horse

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  • 1 Post By Valentina
  • 1 Post By rascalboy

 
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    07-02-2012, 08:42 PM
  #1
Foal
Depending Less on the Reins

I have a few questions. I've been reading up on bits and rein contact and it occurred to me that I am extremely guilty of depending too much on the reins for steering and transitions. While I do use my legs and seat for steering, I've always been taught to use the reins for transitions and I doubt I'd be able to get very far trying to steer effectively without reins. Also, I saw some videos of people riding bridleless and I wondered... If I were to get on a horse without a bridle, would I be able to control him? The answer is an obvious no.

I'd like to get to a point where all steering and transitions work is dominated by my seat and legs but I'm not sure how to get there. For one, I'll be honest; I have no idea how to transition between gaits using my seat. Also, while I do use my legs and hips to steer, if I were to let go of the reins I'd be pretty much helpless. So here are my questions:

1. How does the seat affect pace and how can I do downward transitions using my seat?

2. How do I improve my steering while depending less on the reins?

3. How should rein contact be used in a more effective way (yet not be depended on)?


Thanks everyone!
     
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    07-02-2012, 10:13 PM
  #2
Yearling
I'm going to answer all three of those questions with a single book recommendation: "Centered Riding" by Sally Swift. I read that book, work on that stuff, and when I get to the end, I start over again from the beginning, and find something new and valuable every single time. The part I was reading this morning addressed exactly this issue - how to depend less on the reins/bit and more on control of the horse with your seat. Unfortunately, the answer in the book is at least 3 pages long, and I can't see a good way to summarize it neatly. But you won't be sorry, I think, if you get yourself a copy of the book and use it.
     
    07-03-2012, 05:14 PM
  #3
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by emeraldstar642    
...So here are my questions:

1. How does the seat affect pace and how can I do downward transitions using my seat? If you lean forward horse will go faster (on forehand), leaning backward can also cause them to rush forward, to perform a down-wards transition press STRAIGHT down (NOT forward and down) with BOTH stirrups while doing a stomach crunch and STOP following with your hips. For teaching horse I also exhale at the same time. If that gets you almost there (but not quite) - when first teaching horse squeeze bothe reins and reward halt by unsqueezing reins (but not moving rest of the body). Rider should be sitting extremely straight - not leaning back and not leaning forward.

2. How do I improve my steering while depending less on the reins?
Horses tend to follow weight - so to turn left look left and if that small weight change doesn't cause horse to turn left try adding more weight into the left stirrup. Also when turning use more outside rein to keep outside shoulder from popping, which means rider ends up using more isnide rein getting more neck bend, less turning.

3. How should rein contact be used in a more effective way (yet not be depended on)?

Use rein to get horse to soften jaw, carry itself (less on forehand/nose) and for subtle cues.

Thanks everyone!
Answered in red above.
Back2Horseback likes this.
     
    07-03-2012, 08:12 PM
  #4
Foal
^^ Thanks! That was very helpful. :)

ThursdayNext: I'll look into getting that book for sure! I'm always looking for new books to help teach me things like that. Thanks for the recommendation.
     
    07-03-2012, 08:13 PM
  #5
Yearling
This book is AWESOME. Can't say enough good things about it... I got my copy from amazon.com.
     
    07-03-2012, 08:30 PM
  #6
Foal
Alright. I'm going to look into it :P
     
    07-04-2012, 01:21 PM
  #7
Weanling
Really, you just need to always be aware of what your hands are doing. Always try to pair a rein movement with a leg or seat cue. Eventually rely less on the reins and more on the leg/seat cue.
Most horses will slow down when you sit and squeeze with your knees. Pair that with the reins and eventually work your way down to being able to halt just by twitching your knees.
Most horses will turn when you look where you want to go. By leaning one way or another, the horse will follow. Pair that with reins until you don't need the reins anymore.
Also realize that you shouldn't be direct reining. Meaning, if you want to go right, you shouldn't just pull on the right rein. You should press the left rein against the neck, move the right rein 'out' ('open' it), look where you want to go, and and use leg to shift the horse. There should really be no 'pull back' motion at all to turn the horse.
It takes a lot of trial and error, as well as practice. I'd suggest taking a few lessons with a dressage traininer. I think you would really benefit from it.
Mckellar likes this.
     
    07-04-2012, 08:30 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by rascalboy    
Really, you just need to always be aware of what your hands are doing. Always try to pair a rein movement with a leg or seat cue. Eventually rely less on the reins and more on the leg/seat cue.
Most horses will slow down when you sit and squeeze with your knees. Pair that with the reins and eventually work your way down to being able to halt just by twitching your knees.
Most horses will turn when you look where you want to go. By leaning one way or another, the horse will follow. Pair that with reins until you don't need the reins anymore.
Also realize that you shouldn't be direct reining. Meaning, if you want to go right, you shouldn't just pull on the right rein. You should press the left rein against the neck, move the right rein 'out' ('open' it), look where you want to go, and and use leg to shift the horse. There should really be no 'pull back' motion at all to turn the horse.
It takes a lot of trial and error, as well as practice. I'd suggest taking a few lessons with a dressage traininer. I think you would really benefit from it.
Thank you Just wondering, since I ride lesson horses... do all horses know what steering that way (as in, not direct reining) means? Like, if I try to steer simply by pressing one rein against the neck and opening the other, will most horses know what response I'm looking or get confused? And if the latter, how do I communicate what I want and help them understand?
     
    07-04-2012, 08:40 PM
  #9
Started
Okay, this is how I was able to ride my horse bridleless.

1- get her responsive to my leg. When I would touch the left rein, my right leg would come into contact with her and vice versa.

2- When coming down from a trot to a walk, I would sit deep in my saddle, with my shoulders just a smidge behind my hips while pulling gently on the reins. Eventually she learned my sitting deeper meant "slow down"

3- Then we worked on neck reining. I got on her bareback, with nothing but a leadrope tied around her neck. I would ask her to turn with my legs while applying light pressure with the rope.
When I wanted to slow down, I would just sit deeper into her and she'd slow down.

After two months of random practice we can do our xcountry, trails, ring work all bareback and bridleless

I have a super responsive and calm horse.
All you need is to be consistent, and someone there nagging you to do it.

Lessons would be SUPER helpful
     

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