Riding without your Hands. How?
 
 

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Riding without your Hands. How?

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  • Riding horse only using seat
  • Ride no hands horse

 
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    03-13-2011, 03:06 PM
  #1
Weanling
Question Riding without your Hands. How?

I have been doing dressage for about a year now, and the one thing that has consistently stayed the same is that I still use my hands to move around the ring.

My trainer is always telling me to use my legs first. But i'm really having trouble with getting any response from my horse when I use my legs. I'm obviously doing something wrong, my horse is quite sensitive so I highly doubt he can't feel what i'm doing.

So here's my question:

How do you turn, make transitions ( both upwards and downwards), or halt using as little hand action as possible?
     
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    03-13-2011, 03:13 PM
  #2
Showing
I use the seat/legs to ask for the cues. But we are learning together from ground zero, so I guess it's easier to pick for them what I want. Is your horse well trained? If so, it may be confused with your signals. BTW, I also use my voice at time for the transitions to back up the physical cue.
     
    03-13-2011, 03:32 PM
  #3
Foal
Wow! I'd be kind of scared riding hands free even though I LOVE being around horses and am not afraid of them.
     
    03-13-2011, 03:33 PM
  #4
Trained
Your trainer, being on the spot should be helping you though this one.

My trainer has me doing the following.

For direction changes, imagine that you have headlamps on your hip bones, and you need to light your way around a turn, all you have to do is concentrate on getting the headlights to light the way, as you move your hips your legs naturally fall into the right place to assist the turn.

For downward transitions, my one is to breathe out and sink deep. And stop going with the movement.

Halting is just another downward transition.

I practice these things a lot when warming up or down, or in the round pen when the snow is to deep to do much, just hold the buckle end of the reins and practice changing direction and slowing down and speeding up.
     
    03-13-2011, 03:34 PM
  #5
Weanling
I hope someone has an answer, because I have trouble with this too. I can make horses move laterally using my seat but I have problems turning without a direct rein aid.
     
    03-13-2011, 03:54 PM
  #6
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by butterflysparkles    
Wow! I'd be kind of scared riding hands free even though I LOVE being around horses and am not afraid of them.
It's not too bad if the horse is well trained.
     
    03-13-2011, 03:57 PM
  #7
Super Moderator
Your instructor wants you to ride withou hands? I think maybe she means with your hands being a backup or support to the seat/legs. I know I have the same trouble. All I can visualize when I read your post is that you want to have your legs create the energy, your seat modify or control it and your hands keep the energy and confirm to the horse when he has done the right thing.
Charles de Kunffy has a great saying about that, and I tried to find it on Google, but no luck .
So , when you ask for a down transition, you would put a little leg on to engage hind end, make your seat still and kind of anchor with your core, and hold your hands pretty firm to keep the forward energy from falling out the front. It's the core of your body that will really stop the horse, by "stopping" itself.
     
    03-13-2011, 04:37 PM
  #8
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
I use the seat/legs to ask for the cues. But we are learning together from ground zero, so I guess it's easier to pick for them what I want. Is your horse well trained? If so, it may be confused with your signals. BTW, I also use my voice at time for the transitions to back up the physical cue.
He is well trained, so I don't really have a clean slate to work with, but he's very smart so as long as i'm consistent it isn't to hard for him to pick up something new

Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Horse    
Your trainer, being on the spot should be helping you though this one.

My trainer has me doing the following.

For direction changes, imagine that you have headlamps on your hip bones, and you need to light your way around a turn, all you have to do is concentrate on getting the headlights to light the way, as you move your hips your legs naturally fall into the right place to assist the turn.

For downward transitions, my one is to breathe out and sink deep. And stop going with the movement.

Halting is just another downward transition.

I practice these things a lot when warming up or down, or in the round pen when the snow is to deep to do much, just hold the buckle end of the reins and practice changing direction and slowing down and speeding up.
Thanks for the advice! I've never heard of the headlight visual so i'm excited to try it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
Your instructor wants you to ride withou hands? I think maybe she means with your hands being a backup or support to the seat/legs. I know I have the same trouble. All I can visualize when I read your post is that you want to have your legs create the energy, your seat modify or control it and your hands keep the energy and confirm to the horse when he has done the right thing.
Charles de Kunffy has a great saying about that, and I tried to find it on Google, but no luck .
So , when you ask for a down transition, you would put a little leg on to engage hind end, make your seat still and kind of anchor with your core, and hold your hands pretty firm to keep the forward energy from falling out the front. It's the core of your body that will really stop the horse, by "stopping" itself.
Thanks! I always forget to use my core in downwards transitions. The problem I find when I don't use my hands is that my horse sort of ' nosedives' into the walk or halt especially. Is this just a matter of not using enough leg?
     
    03-13-2011, 05:03 PM
  #9
Teen Forum Moderator
Really, dressage is just that. Riding without hands. Riding was origonally supposed to have five different aids. Sound, seat, butt, sight, hands. Hands and sound were both sort of 'back up' aids, only to be used lightly. To become a really good rider, you have first first master cueing your horse with your legs and seat. I'm sure that if you're doing dressage,you atleast understand that if you sit deeper your horse with round out and slow down, or if you turn your whole body in one direction, the horse will follow. That's most likely what your instructor means. She/he wants you to use all five parts of communication. The instructor that I work with emphasises this also, and often has all of us completely untack our horses in the roundpen, and work on figure eights, trot circles, and sometimes even poles while bridle/saddless. It really helps you understand the meaning of horseback riding! XD (and hurts your butt, if your horse's trot isn't smooth o.-)

Just try to think of your aids in this order. Seat, sight, leg, hand, speech. Seat being the most important communication line, and speach being the least. Work on each individually if you have to, but once you have all five together- riding really can be beautiful =]

Here is a very good (and slightly extreme) demonstration of the seat, sight, leg aids. ^_^

     
    03-13-2011, 08:23 PM
  #10
Trained
Hmmmmm Endiku...dressage is just that - riding without hands? *raises eyebrow*. Sorry mate, can't agree with you there.
When we talk about our 3 main/basic aids, we are talking the seat (so from your backside to your head, can also include upper leg depending on who's teaching you), the leg (calf, heel if required) and hand (shoulder to hand itself).

Ideally, and not only in dressage but in all english disciplines, we ask the horse to react first to our seat, then our leg, and THEN our hand. Because we always ask with the seat first, out seat becomes our strongest aid - and when you think about it, our seat is the biggest area of our body, so of course its going to have the most influence of the horse. To effectively use our seat, we NEED excellent core strength. Our seat is used to slow the horse, to collect the horse, to steer the horse... for everything.

So say we're asking for a walk to halt transition. The horse is actively walking forward into the bridle, and we want to ask him to halt. We first 'close' the seat. So stop your body moving with the motion of the walk. We then 'close' the leg. Closing the leg lightly onto the horse's sides encourages the hind legs to stay travelling so that when they stop, they come under the horse and 'sit' rather than being left behind and tipping the horse onto the forehand. A DOWNWARD TRANSITION IS STILL A FORWARD MOVEMENT. Hold your core/seat, and only if the horse does not respond by slowing/stopping, do you 'close' your rein. Closing the rein is not a pull back action though, you are simply taking up a little more weight in the rein. Do not allow to close to be a constant, so if the horse does not respond initially, add a little more weight to the rein and continue in this fashion until you get the halt.
If you allow the rein to be a constant through a transition like this, you then teach the horse to lean and become numb to the pressure.

In dressage, we always have a contact with rein. Riding with loops in the reins is in fact, despite popular and 'uneducated' belief, undesirable, as there is no connection to the forehand from the hindquarters. The rein provides the link to the bridle from the hind legs, and 'completes the circuit' of engagement and throughness. Hence, dressage is absolutely NOT 'riding without reins'.

As for turning with no reins. Try this. I want you to put your horse on a 10m circle using ONLY your seat and leg. Throw your reins up his neck for this exercise, no contact - just to prove a point that seat and legs are what influences the turn not rein, we are not asking for a connection in this exercise.
So walking on a straight line, actively forward. Say your want to make your circle at the letter B in the arena on the left rein. Turn to look at your horse's inside (left) hip and put your inside (left) leg on the girth. I'll put money on it that your horse will turn ;)
Now of course this is exaggerating the use of seat to perform a turn, but it shows that your body really does influence the horse significantly. When riding a 10m circle on my own horse, I simply ride my inside hip a little forward, slightly weight my inside stirrup, take my inside knee and thigh off the saddle while closing my outside knee and thigh onto the saddle, and turn my shoulders to match the turn of the circle. The horse follows and performs a dead straight, accurate 10m circle.

Now if I were to ride this 10m circle using my reins, say by pulling on my inside rein. As soon as you touch your inside rein, you immediately lose the inside hind leg. So you have already started your circle unbalanced and crooked. The horse's quarters are to the outside. Now when you lose the inside hind and pull on the inside rein, you're also going to tip the horse's weight onto its inside shoulder, and to compensate, it then has to bulge through the outside shoulder to balance. The neck becomes over bent to the inside... and you have made a real mess of a 10m circle.

It is the rider's responsibility to keep the horse upright and straight in every exercise that it performs. Whether a 20m circle in trot or a canter pirouette, the horse MUST be upright and straight in consideration of the exercises demands.
And keeping a horse upright and straight physically CANNOT come from the rider's hands, it MUST come from the riders seat and a little of the leg.
The rein just cannot, on its own, prevent the quarters from swinging, the shoulders from dropping or bulging, and maintain the bend. Physics, the rein just can't do that! It is merely a supporting aid, one which completes the circuit of connection.
     

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dressage, hands, leg aids

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