How to calm my hands
 
 

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How to calm my hands

This is a discussion on How to calm my hands within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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        06-18-2014, 11:42 PM
      #1
    Foal
    How to calm my hands

    I nitpick my riding. I know I do. My big issues right now are my hands/arms and my legs. Legs are a work in progress- I'm going from about 16 years of western to English all of a sudden and my legs apparently don't go back far enough. (According to English riders I've trail ridden with while my western saddle was out of commission.)

    What is really starting to get bad that I really want to stop before it gets crazy is my hands. Keeping in mind I can ride with no hands, it's not a balance thing. It's like various things that happen during the ride give me reasons to readjust my hands, and then something else will happen and I'll have to move them again. And occasionally when turning a horse that plow reins, I'll move my hand out to ask for the turn instead of just applying pressure back. I just KNOW I'm moving entirely way too much and I don't know how to consciously stop it. I can correct it when I realize I do it, but as soon as I just relax and ride, it'll happen again.
    Thanks!
         
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        06-19-2014, 12:06 AM
      #2
    Super Moderator
    Personally, when direct reining and wanting the horse to turn pretty clearly to one side, like a 90 degree angle, moving your hand out, in what's called an "openning rein" is not such a bad thing. Pulling back, in any way , is what is worse.

    When you want to get the horse thinking "turn right", think about kind of activating that rein just a bit to get him to kind of tuck his jaw in toward that side and "think" over there. Using the rein as an openning rein can help if the hrose is not listening to the rein, and to your seat and legs which support the turn.

    Quiet hands are a great goal, but it does not mean they never change their position on the rein. When I am trail riding my hands change their position on the rein quite a lot. For example., if I want to give the horse all the rein he wants,so I may be riding "on the buckle", that involves a move and then another one to pick back up the reins, or to shorten them if the horse is acting like he may take off suddenly (and by shortening, I don't mean clamping down, but making them short enough that if I needed to make them short , real quick, I could. So, not having them draping down any longer)

    It's being able to shorten, lengthen, tickle the bit, open, close the hand smoothly that is important, within the hrose's rythmic striding. If you can do it that way, it's an active hand but not a disruptive hand. Whenever , by fault of having poor balance, I bog my horse's mouth, I feel just awful and believe me, it happens. I don't mean to sound as if I never get overactive with the reins.
    beau159 likes this.
         
        06-19-2014, 09:10 AM
      #3
    Foal
    http://vt.tumblr.com/tumblr_n5ffvvLl4Z1t4sx2a.mp4#_=_

    Here's a video of one of drift's 'hot days' that shows about as bad as it gets. The other day I galloped him with a friend, but didn't have my reins short enough because of how much I move my hands, and I almost couldn't stop him. (Being able to stop him from a flat out gallop without sliding or him slinging his head is a feat in itself, so I'm not beating myself up over it too much) I just feel like I overuse my hands. I'm trying to fix as much about my riding as a can before this fall/winter, because I'll be starting lessons then. (I've never had a lesson before in my life and I'm nervous/excited/somewhat petrified) I'd like lessons to be as much about controlling the horse and more advanced stuff as possible, and not about my position or stuff like that. :(

    Thanks! Your reply makes me feel normal, haha!
         
        06-19-2014, 09:50 AM
      #4
    Weanling
    "How to calm my hands
    I nitpick my riding. I know I do. My big issues right now are my hands/arms and my legs. Legs are a work in progress- I'm going from about 16 years of western to English all of a sudden and my legs apparently don't go back far enough. (According to English riders I've trail ridden with while my western saddle was out of commission.)

    What is really starting to get bad that I really want to stop before it gets crazy is my hands. Keeping in mind I can ride with no hands, it's not a balance thing. It's like various things that happen during the ride give me reasons to readjust my hands, and then something else will happen and I'll have to move them again. And occasionally when turning a horse that plow reins, I'll move my hand out to ask for the turn instead of just applying pressure back. I just KNOW I'm moving entirely way too much and I don't know how to consciously stop it. I can correct it when I realize I do it, but as soon as I just relax and ride, it'll happen again.
    Thanks!"


    First, I do not recommend pulling back on a rein to turn. You pull a lever back to turn a bulldozer by stopping the tread on that side or even reversing it. You don’t want to stop the motion on one side of a horse when you turn, you simply want to indicate what you want and let the horse perform the movement. If you must use a rein in a more direct manner, I recommend an outward motion. At the same time, there should be a corresponding release of the other rein so you are not pulling on both reins at the same time. As the horse begins his turn, release any pressure you have created. You don’t want to pull the horse in the turn, you simply want to indicate what you want and let the horse perform it.

    Regarding the general use of your hands, established habits are hard to change but not impossible. Always think of relaxation and moving with your horse. “Relaxation” does not indicate slackness, but freedom from negative tension. The more you can relax, the more your horse will relax. In this way, you can establish a communication of intimate whispers rather than loud conversation or even shouting.

    Learn to trust your horse. Give him guidance, but give him some freedom in how he obeys your direction. I learned when I was manager of a bicycle shop that my employees would never do things exactly as I would do them. I learned to be content if they simply did a good job of following my directions in their own way. If they got too far off course, I would correct them by giving them more detailed instructions. Otherwise, I would not hang over their shoulders as they worked.
         
        06-19-2014, 10:56 AM
      #5
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TXhorseman    
    First, I do not recommend pulling back on a rein to turn.

    Learn to trust your horse. Give him guidance, but give him some freedom in how he obeys your direction. I learned when I was manager of a bicycle shop that my employees would never do things exactly as I would do them. I learned to be content if they simply did a good job of following my directions in their own way. If they got too far off course, I would correct them by giving them more detailed instructions. Otherwise, I would not hang over their shoulders as they worked.
    Just pulled out 2 quotes from your reply here.

    First off, I never said I pulled back on him or planned to. I said 'apply pressure'. Which, if you have ever ridden a horse, you know is 2 entirely different things.

    And who said I didn't trust my horse? 2 months after he was rescued, I went to the barn and worked him on crutches with a fractured ankle. (When I break myself, I break myself GOOD) I frequently ride him bareback and bitless, swim him, have chased down crazy horses with him, etc. We've jumped 3ft. Now quite frankly I don't have a death wish, so if I didn't trust him none of that would be happening. With Drift, you can't always give him a lot of freedom. He will walk all over you on his bad days if you don't get on him about what he's doing. (Sassy pants attitude gelding much...) On his good and his normal days, I can drop the reins and be riding bareback and do pretty much anything under the sun with him. Just sometimes he'll come out with the intention of being hell on hooves and if you give him all the freedom in the world, he will BE hell on hooves. This isn't a movie, I can't just let go and gallop him down the beach into the sunset every single day of our lives. Some horses are just LIKE that.

    (Please note this is just drift. Ray plods along no matter what anybody is doing so obviously this doesn't pertain to him or other various horses I've worked with. My original post was in general terms, but since you started singling out one horse I figured I'd reply to that. Now we can go back to giving me ways to make myself calm my hands, which was the question in the first place. )
         
        06-19-2014, 11:28 AM
      #6
    Weanling
    Please note, my replies are designed to provide general information for anyone interested. Without being present while you ride and watching your techniques, I do not feel I can be more specific to your individual situation.
         
        06-19-2014, 11:42 AM
      #7
    Green Broke
    Overall, I see a horse that doesn't follow his nose. Drifts his shoulder. And does not have good body control.

    I don't think you have a hands issue. You have a training issue.

    Right away in the first clip in your video, you are asking him to move the left. He is moving his nose in response to the reins, but his shoulder (and body) are still moving to the right. He has a disconnect between the reins and his body.

    You need to use your LEGS to control his shoulder and body. Rely less on your reins.

    Your hands should be the very last cue you give your horse, after your seat and leg aids.
         
        06-19-2014, 01:23 PM
      #8
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by beau159    
    Overall, I see a horse that doesn't follow his nose. Drifts his shoulder. And does not have good body control.

    I don't think you have a hands issue. You have a training issue.

    Right away in the first clip in your video, you are asking him to move the left. He is moving his nose in response to the reins, but his shoulder (and body) are still moving to the right. He has a disconnect between the reins and his body.

    You need to use your LEGS to control his shoulder and body. Rely less on your reins.

    Your hands should be the very last cue you give your horse, after your seat and leg aids.

    He does the head turn thing quite often.. He has only been properly trained for 2 years now. (Rescued horse that wouldn't let us within 6 feet of him) The video is pretty old and we've been working on it. For about a year now, he's only been doing it when he has his hot headed pain in my butt days. And when he gets like that, he thinks that giving leg cues to turn means to GO. I prefer to not get in tug of war battles with horses because I'm weak and know I'll lose, haha.

    My thing that's bothering me is that I can ride even my friend's horses and my hands still move a lot. It seems like the only horse I don't do it with is Ray, which is really weird.. My hands only move with him if he tries to eat and I get him back up.
         
        06-19-2014, 03:36 PM
      #9
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PandaJinxes    
    He does the head turn thing quite often.. He has only been properly trained for 2 years now. (Rescued horse that wouldn't let us within 6 feet of him) The video is pretty old and we've been working on it. For about a year now, he's only been doing it when he has his hot headed pain in my butt days. And when he gets like that, he thinks that giving leg cues to turn means to GO. I prefer to not get in tug of war battles with horses because I'm weak and know I'll lose, haha.
    Have you ever taken any formal riding lessons? (Western or English)

    I think that would be something that would benefit you. You don't have to take lessons every single day, or anything like that, but take a couple a month with a reputable trainer.

    Based on your response above, it sounds like you could be handling your horse is a little different way to get better results.

    When he's not having a "hot headed day", can you move his hindquarters with your leg? His shoulders? His ribcage? Will he break at the poll and be soft in the bridle?
         
        06-19-2014, 06:39 PM
      #10
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by beau159    
    Have you ever taken any formal riding lessons? (Western or English)

    I think that would be something that would benefit you. You don't have to take lessons every single day, or anything like that, but take a couple a month with a reputable trainer.

    Based on your response above, it sounds like you could be handling your horse is a little different way to get better results.

    When he's not having a "hot headed day", can you move his hindquarters with your leg? His shoulders? His ribcage? Will he break at the poll and be soft in the bridle?
    I haven't, but will be starting this fall. That's why I'm trying to fix my position and hands now, so I can focus on learning more about how to train and efficiently ride.

    When he's not acting hot, yeah. You can move him any way and anywhere you want. He doesn't do anything to protest, not even annoyed tail swishes or pinned ears or head tossing. He's soft and responsive. Just some days he gets moody or SOMETHING, and stiffens up, tosses his head if you try to slow/stop/back him, etc. On days like that, he's different on the ground as well. Hard to catch and walks around faster than normal, like he just wants to go and get the ride done and get back. He's been getting a lot better about it, but still just randomly gets like that.
         

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