How to fix a bad habit?

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How to fix a bad habit?

This is a discussion on How to fix a bad habit? within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • How to fix bad habits in horses
  • Bad habit; pulling on my horse's mouth

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    01-11-2009, 04:02 AM
How to fix a bad habit?

When I trot and post I usually throw out my reins because I don't want to be balancing on the reins and I do not want to pull on the horses mouth. But when I realize this I try to keep my hands and elbows in the right position and I end up balancing on the reins. So how do I get a happy medium. I am fine when I don't use the reins but once I have them I feel like I am pulling back too much and my seat gets worse.
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    01-11-2009, 08:54 AM
Green Broke
It is very difficult to strike that "perfect" balance...I think that posting with your reins loose is a good practice for you since it forces you to balance with your seat and not with the reins. But once you've got that down, try gathering the reins up in stages -- maybe start from completely loose, then gather a little more, and a little more, until you have full contact.

As far as I've ever been taught by my trainer, you shouldn't be pulling on the horse's mouth, just maintaining very slight pressure there so that the reins aren't going back and forth between loose and tight. But it just takes practice that's for sure! Does your horse put his/her head out really far and low or high and in like a dressage frame? Sometimes the "low and far" heads are the hardest to handle with the reins, my mare does that because she hasn't been fine tuned in dressage quite yet, and she always seems to be pulling on the reins because of it.

Maybe you could try having someone longe you and your horse while you ride without reins and practice balance, then gradually gather them up a little at a time? Then at least you're not worrying about steering and all that, you can just focus on the balance and the reins.
    01-12-2009, 07:40 PM
Originally Posted by Hoofprints in the Sand    

Maybe you could try having someone longe you and your horse while you ride without reins and practice balance, then gradually gather them up a little at a time? Then at least you're not worrying about steering and all that, you can just focus on the balance and the reins.
^ I agree 100% with this. Lunging without reins works amazingly. It literally forces you to use your leg muscles to develop a strong seat. Holding your arms out on either side of you, also helps you to balance, without the reins.

It sounds like you are really depending on your reins to help you balance when you ride. The reins should only be used as a subtle aid to help you "steer" (hate that word, but I can't think of anything else at the moment) and to establish contact with your horse. A rider's seat is incredibly SO much more important. Focus on loosening your reins, as Hoofprints suggested, and scoop your butt into the saddle, using your inner leg muscle. (This is esp. Hard at the sitting trot -- your back needs to be straight, shoulders rolled back). If you're posting, post subtly up and slightly forward. Don't use rely on your reins to push you up. You should have plenty of weight in your heels. Riding without stirrups is also a great exercise. Good luck!
    01-15-2009, 12:33 PM
Try getting your heels way down and imagine a string attached to your head going to the ceiling pulling you upright nice and straight. This might help you get centred and balanced. Keep your posts small, big lofty posting can toss you forward.

It takes practice, and chucking your reins is a good exercise. When you start to collect them back up roll your shoulders back and keep your fingers and arms soft. Your arms need to be able to move with the horse, getting tense and stiff can also pull you forward and then your leaning on the reins trying to get your balance back.

Good luck with your lessons.

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