Riding a horse that leans on hands...
   

       The Horse Forum > Riding Horses > English Riding

Riding a horse that leans on hands...

This is a discussion on Riding a horse that leans on hands... within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse leans on my hands
  • How to stop a horse leaning

 
LinkBack Thread Tools
    09-08-2010, 09:48 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Riding a horse that leans on hands...

I take weekly lessons at a really good stable. I started on a dead broke, been there done that school master. Then once the instructor was certain I knew what I said I knew, I was put onto a more spirited gelding, who still had been there done that, but would take advantage of you if you let him. So the last two mounts have been good learning horses, and more than within my capabilities.

Last week I got there, and the instructor said that I was ready to start riding a different horse, who was greener. So I go to get the mare that I am now riding. She is 7, been broken for 2 years, and named Ellie. The first thing she did was step on my foot (pretty sure the toe isn't broken, but it's still hurting after 5 days lol) so we had to have a little 'chat' about personal space. So once she realised I was boss, she didn't give me any more issues from the ground.

Once tacked up, we went into the arena, and I got on. She is very forward, which I like, since I hate riding with a crop (I am a sped and my hands go all wonky and I can't use it properly lol). She is very leg sensitive, which is also good. However, she leans on my hands. After just a few minutes riding, my hands were sore already from her constant pull. I found that if I dropped the contact every 3 or 4 strides she would not lean as much, but this isn't really an ideal solution is it?

Anyone have any tips? I am focused on dressage, so I need that contact. I don't thinkI have heavy hands, because I used to but I thought I had fixed it. What else can I do?
     
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
    09-08-2010, 10:19 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
heavy on the bit

Hi Chiilaa,

How long have you been riding? It takes some time to develop a sensitivity to the bit and how to "dialogue" with the horse. I like a forward horse, too. However, sometimes a horse runs forward in an unbalanced, "falling" sort of way, almost as if she is trying to run out from under you. Is her head in the air or does she come behind the bit and lean down on it? Both are evasive manuevers. Running out from under the rider, especially with head high and back hollow can be an indicator of discomfort from an ill fitting saddle or a sore back, or just a long ingrained habit.
You have to get her to come off the bit. And then she has to know that if she stays off the bit, she will be rewarded with soft hands and light contact. But, it is her responsibility to come off first and yours to reward immediateely.
Here's a suggestion,
Start out with very light contact, maybe even drooping reins. As you pick kup the contact, if she braces against you, then take up more contact in one rien than the other, creating a tiny feeling of bend, usually to the inside. Use the inside rein to ask for the bend and put on more, and more pressure with that rein (you can sort of vibrate the rein as you make it stronger and stronger). Do NOT release until she gives something in return, a release in the poll or better yet, a tucking of that side of the jaw inward. When she does , immediately give her a ton of release, do't worry about "throwoing her away". For awhile, your release has to be really noticeable. Then you do it all over again. When she IS on the bit, and carrying her own head and soft, remember to follow the mouth . Think of your hands as actually going through the rings of the bit itself and have the bent tops of your thumbe actually pointing at her mouth, this helps to keep a straight line from elbow, through thumbs to mouth.

The secret is in using UNEVEN rein pressure . Horses feel trapped in exactly even pressure and can brace nicely against it. To break up that brace, you need to have more asking/pressure on the inside rein than the outside. Once she gives, you must be prompt in rewarding her. The outside rein stays steady and eventually becomse kind of comforting to the horse.
In a horse that is really leaning on the bit, running right through my hands, I screw any dressage form and bend that horse right around until she gives in her mouth and her hind quarters unlock and she steps under herself. She sounds like a braced up horse and for that, one needs a lot of lateral work, bending , bending bending, ONE REIN active, one rein passive.

Wish I could show you what I mean. My explanations , when I read them, are hard to make sense of . Sorry, I do the best I can.
One thing I copy from my trainer is when I really insist the horse give to the bit and he DOES, I say, and I mean literally say, "Thank you" and this helps me remember he complied so I need to reward, NOW!
     
    09-08-2010, 10:23 PM
  #3
Trained
Actually, you are already in the ballpark with the solution with the idea of letting the reins go slack every few strides. She cannot lean on something that is not there. That being said, with a greener horse, some training comes into play on your part. Obviously your instructor has confidence in you becoming more of rider than a passenger which is great. Without seeing this mare in person, it's a little difficult to say any one thing would work, but it's a matter of throwing different things at the wall and seeing what works for your situation. The good thing about horses that are sensitive to your legs is, that they are also sensitive to everything else to. Time to add the wonderful half halt to your tool box! When you're first warming her up at the walk, let her pick up a nice energetic walk and follow freely with your seat. Make sure you have a nice spongy consistent contact with her mouth. Without changing the contact, stop following her motion with your seat. Sit up tall, sink your seat bones into the saddle, close your thighs slightly, brace your back and/or stomach muscles, and squeeze the outside rein for a moment. You have just applied a half halt. Your horse should respond to this by shortening her stride at the walk and/or slowing it down. If she does not respond, apply all those aids again stronger. Initially do what you need to do get the response. The second she answers, give with your hands. I don't mean to throw the reins away, but just give your reins an inch or so forward, so she knows she did the right thing. Work on lengthening/shortening her stride at the walk until you can do it with the slightest of aids and it should translate into the trot and canter over time. Bottom line, when she gets heavy in the reins, time to half halt. At first you might have to do it every other stride, but once she gets it, it will quickly improve. Good luck and congrats on your step up to a greenie!
     
    09-08-2010, 10:38 PM
  #4
Green Broke
Thanks Tinyliny :)

I will try the uneven pressure on saturday when I get to ride again :) It sounds like it could work well - she is getting behind the bit and bracing against it. Maybe I took the contact too early too, I was a little nervous being on a goer instead of a plodder lol.

I have been riding all my life, and I am now 26. However, I am not one of those "riding all my life, know everything there is to know" riders... I have only started taking lessons in the last 3 months :)
     
    09-08-2010, 10:40 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Thanks MBP!

I will try using the half halt more often. Definitely a great tip :)
     
    09-09-2010, 02:46 AM
  #6
Super Moderator
Thank goodness you aren't one of those Know it alls. Heck, hope I don't come off as one of those. I took some years of dressage lessons off and on and recently I do more just trail riding and Natural Horsemanship stuff. The stuff I have learned from my NH trainer is a lot different from the dressage stuff. There is a greater focus on having a horse supple throughout the body and riding on loose reins unless contact is needed. What I don't like about a lot of modern dressage is I see a kind of "dead" contact. It is static and becomes meaningless. No wonder the horse leans against it. There is never any relief, so why should she cooperate? She becomes dead to the meaning of the rein.
The wierd thing is that in order for the rein to become so meaningful that it can be used lightly, one may have to get louder at first. The horse is used to ignoring it. So, to get her to see the rein again, it may have to become stronger than her leaning on it, but just a tiny bit stronger and just long enough for her to think, "hey, maybe I should come off that pressure" and then she gets the reward that says"yep, that's exactly what I hoped you'd do" . Do that enough times and she has relearned that the rein has meaning and not to be leaned on or ignored. If you become only equal to her pulling, then the status quo only continues. You have to meet her pull and ONE OUNCE MORE. I agree with the other writer that also riding her on a loose rein is another way to break the status quo and will be a real boost to your confidence as you see that you can go with a horse moving freely. I know that I wouldn't be able to tolerate that if the horse then started to just race wildly about . I am not THAT much of a rider.
Half halts. Yeah, basically that is applying some resistance (read "pressure") on ONE rein and using the body to resist forward motion for just long enough for the horse to MAKE A CHANGE in it's balance and its way of going forward, then release.
Everything in riding is about the release. It is in the release that learning takes places. But, for a release to take place, first some change must take place. I.e. When you apply your leg to go forward, if the horse goes forward you release the pressure. If not, by God, you apply MORE until you get A CHANGE and no release until. If you give ther release before a change is made (and it can be tiny) you train your horse to ignore your signals. This applies to you saying "slow down" on the reins, or "bend". You MUST get a small change followed by an instant release.
THUS comes the beautiful dialogue of the hands to the horse.
     
    09-10-2010, 10:30 AM
  #7
Trained
First of all, you have to determine if this is leaning, or stretching. If it is leaning, then your problem does not reside in the contact, but in the hindquarters. If it is stretching, then you just have to channel that energy a bit more effectively.
Fixing contact issues by pulling, dropping the horse etc.. is a very simplistic and uneducated way to deal with a horse that is heavy in the hands for any reason. Focus on transitions. Focus on keeping your core strong by driving your shoulders to your hips and sitting up properly in the saddle. Focus on keeping your wrists and forearms loose and keeping a conversation going in the contact with your fingers. Finally and most importantly, don't let the mare's forward going ness back you off from using your legs, just because she is going somewhere doesn't mean she is doing it correctly and with an engaged hind end. She still must push from behind and respond to your half halts (read: rebalancing aids).

Also remember that you are paying your coach to teach you and answer your questions, ask her too!
     
    09-11-2010, 03:23 AM
  #8
Green Broke
OK so I rode this morning :) Ellie was fresh and wonderful :) I took a little of everyone's advice, meaning I kept consistant contact with my outside rein - I used a LOT of half halts - and I kept my inside rein nice and used it to relieve the contact on that one side IYKWIM?

At any rate, I wanted to say thankyou all for giving me such good advice. I am having such a great time learning how to ride properly :) I have to say, I love these little issues that each horse has had, because it has taught me a lot in leaps and bounds :) And now that I have her holding herself and not being held up by my hands, I can concentrate on the next issue we have - transitions when I say, not when the instructor says so lol. Wish me luck :)
     
    09-13-2010, 05:59 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiilaa    
... However, she leans on my hands. After just a few minutes riding, my hands were sore already from her constant pull. I found that if I dropped the contact every 3 or 4 strides she would not lean as much, but this isn't really an ideal solution is it?
It's actually a good solution - to a point. ANother solution is when she starts getting heavy take inside rein and "BUMP" it straight up (NOT back) once. She will jerk her head up but you reward by placing hands where they're supposed to be - no pull, etc... After a few time getting hit in the mouth (Assuming this is a MILD bit in her mouth) she'll stop leaning until she gets too tired while working and needs to lean for support. So give her lots of long and low breaks where she can stretch but you can use the bump in long and low to keep her from hanging on the reins.

Anyone have any tips? I am focused on dressage, so I need that contact. I don't think I have heavy hands, because I used to but I thought I had fixed it. What else can I do?
See above.
     
    09-13-2010, 06:15 PM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
First of all, you have to determine if this is leaning, or stretching. If it is leaning, then your problem does not reside in the contact, but in the hindquarters. If it is stretching, then you just have to channel that energy a bit more effectively.
Fixing contact issues by pulling, dropping the horse etc.. is a very simplistic and uneducated way to deal with a horse that is heavy in the hands for any reason. Focus on transitions. Focus on keeping your core strong by driving your shoulders to your hips and sitting up properly in the saddle. Focus on keeping your wrists and forearms loose and keeping a conversation going in the contact with your fingers. Finally and most importantly, don't let the mare's forward going ness back you off from using your legs, just because she is going somewhere doesn't mean she is doing it correctly and with an engaged hind end. She still must push from behind and respond to your half halts (read: rebalancing aids).
Exactly and well said.

Stop riding the face and start riding the horses back end. Why is the horse leaning into your hands? Because the horse is unbalanced and not working correctly. You cannot fix the problem of a leaning horse by trying to remedy it with your hands, when instead you should be using your legs, seat, core.

I wholeheartedly agree with Anabel here.
     

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
My hands! Are betraying me.. Tips on quiet hands? Clair Horse Riding 6 09-14-2010 04:25 PM
my riding - heavy hands:( Pro Horse Riding Critique 3 07-26-2010 10:31 PM
horse leans around corners dynamite. Horse Riding 7 06-27-2009 02:45 PM
Riding with my seat, not my hands. Gillian Dressage 19 06-12-2009 11:53 PM



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:05 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0