How to ride with soft hands with a horse with a strong head? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-18-2014, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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How to ride with soft hands with a horse with a strong head?

Charlie has a strong neck and head but i want to ride with softer hands so I dont have to tug on the reins so much to get him to turn or stop. What should I do? Is it more about using seat and legs more than your hands?
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-18-2014, 09:41 PM
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Yes, it is about teaching a horse to listen to aids other than hands, which starts with knowing when to GIVE(release the pressure).

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post #3 of 5 Old 06-18-2014, 09:46 PM
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I agree ^^ it is all about pressure.

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post #4 of 5 Old 06-18-2014, 11:25 PM
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it can also be making sure that there are no physical issues , such as teeth having sharp points, saddle not fitting, back being out, or pain of any kind, that make a hrose move this way.

next, it's looking at how your hands connect to his mouth. if you really think of your hands as literally holding his mouth, and speaking to him that way, then you must pay attention to :

1. Did I mean to say something? or am I just yanking and pulling mindlessly to keep my balance?

2. When do I release the pressure? Do I stop the contact when he hears me and responds correctly or . . .
Do I stop the contact when he ignores and resists?

If 1. then your horse is bracing and strong to protect himself.

if 2. really watch yourself and when you release the pressure. for example, if you ask your horse to stop, . .you stop your body first, making it firm like concrete, and then you stop your hands, closing down on the rein and making them firm, and if the hrose does not stop , make them as firm as concrete.
Horse feels this, he stops. BUT . . . does he stop and still lean on the rein? and if so, do you release becuase he stopped? if so, you are rewarding him for being hard on the rein. you need to reward him when he backs off the bit , even if it's just a shift of his body backward a bit, so he is not fighting the bit.

he gives, you give more. if you give when he has not, he learns the easy way to get a release is for him to hang in there with a hard mouth and neck, adn you'll give him that much wanted release.
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-19-2014, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by WinstonH123 View Post
Charlie has a strong neck and head but i want to ride with softer hands so I dont have to tug on the reins so much to get him to turn or stop. What should I do? Is it more about using seat and legs more than your hands?
Learning to ride with your whole body will definitely improve your riding experience on any horse.

The first step in doing so is to assume a good seat. While positioning may vary depending on the activity, assuming a good classic seat is the starting point. This is much like learning notes and chords in music before trying to play a complicated composition. A few people learn to play by ear, but most learn through the traditional process.

The next step is to learn to move with your horse's movements and to keep your weight centered over your horse's center of gravity. Later, you can learn to alter your horse's center of gravity.

As your body moves with your horse's body, your horse becomes accustomed to your two bodies moving as one. Then, when you change your body movement, your horse will begin to change his to match your movement.

For example, if you are moving with your horse's body, your main cue for stopping with be to simply stop the movement of your body. While this works best when the horse is relaxed, you always want to use this cue. I don't recommend tightening your body, just stop its movement.

When using the reins in stopping, don't think of pulling on them. Think of stopping the forward movement of your hands in relation to the ground or some other stationary object. Let the horse bring your body towards your hands. In this way, the horse is putting the pressure on the reins. He has the choice whether to increase the pressure or to stop. When he does stop, release the tension as a reward, letting him know he did what you wanted.

If a horse tries to lean on the bit, I try not to get into a fight about it. I give on the reins, even to the point of letting more rein slip through my fingers. Then, as the horse lifts his head, I regather contact. I try to make him understand that I will not hold him up, and that he must support his own weight. At the same time, I am telling him that I will demand a light contact so we have a connection of communication through the reins.

When turning, I bring my outside leg back slightly and rotate my body in the direction of the turn. This is much like walking with a friend with your arm around her shoulder. You turn and she turns without thinking about it. There is no need to tug her to make her come with you. Of course, this assumes you and your partner are relaxed and enjoying traveling together. If your horse does not turn with this simple method because he is too tense, you may apply a leading rein with the inside hand. If you do so, however, you should give with the outside rein so you are not pulling on both reins and giving your horse something to lean on. Also, when your horse gives to the leading rein, relax the tension. You want to guide your horse into the turn, not pull him through it.
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