How to teach soft hands to children - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 47 Old 09-18-2013, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by lchad View Post
Omg so many great ideas! I see I need to be more clear.
Since day one she has been on the leadline or lungeline. I do let her off the walking the horse. I have played so many games...Simon says, red light/ green light, spoon and egg, magazines under her arms to keep elbows in. Carrying balls and placing them in buckets, etc. She is very trusting while playing games and will do anything I ask without the reins.

She can be a bit on the nervous side but for the most part I think she spaces out. She will look at the other horses grazing while we are playing a game. I change up games a lot to keep her interested.

I have her in an English saddle. Tucker had a French link bit. He does neck rein but I want to teach English.

I also have used a grab strap and make her hold that. Sigh.....

I will shorten the reins and see if that works. I like the knot idea.

I like all the suggestions made. I will try the marbles and candy move.
I don't think mom would approve me putting the bit in her mouth but that comment gave me a chuckle.

Today I actually had a more "serious" conversation with her. It didn't help.

I will get a rope halter with rings and get rope reins. I'm desperate.
She's been riding weekly since May. Shouldn't all these tactics have worked by now?
You know, I bet you this issue won't go away until she grows a little bit older. She is quite young, and the instruction you are giving seem to be quite good. If you've already done all the things you said you've done, it might just be time that she needs and I stick to activities that you know wont bother than angel of a horse she is riding. The most successful thing I've done when I used to teach pony club, is to keeo knots in the reins, and just have the kids hold onto that length of rein no matter what. It was honestly the best option until they really learn to seperate that shoulder-arm-and hand from the rest of their posture.
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post #32 of 47 Old 09-19-2013, 07:37 AM Thread Starter
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I wanted to update all of you. I used the side pull and rope reins Tuesday and Wednesday with great success. The horse was MUCH happier. I worked with all the students to build leg strength and muscle memory by standing in the stirrups and working on balance. The eight year old had a very good lesson yesterday. We did many things recommended here and she did so much better. 5 minutes prior to the lesson being over her hands started drifting and it was so obvious she was tired. So at that point, I took the reins did a game and called it good.

Thank you all, you really made a difference. The horse also thanks you! :p
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post #33 of 47 Old 09-19-2013, 08:38 AM
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That's fantastic. I'm glad to hear your horse has some relief.
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post #34 of 47 Old 09-19-2013, 08:42 PM
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I didnt read threw everthing so I am sorry if this has already been posted but for beginners I use mecate reins made of tail hair. they are more prickly than the ones made of horse hair. I use them becaues the really remind you what you are doing with your hands. If you grasp them too tight then they start poking you. If you keep a soft hand and are not pulling then they are comfortable. I know you are teaching english so I dont know if you would want to try that or not.

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post #35 of 47 Old 09-29-2013, 10:55 AM
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Use a string instead of reins. She'll quickly learn not to pull so hard!

Or lunge her for a bit with no reins?
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post #36 of 47 Old 09-29-2013, 10:59 AM
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This just popped into my head for keeping the softness.
Has she held any baby chickens or rabbits or anything else that requires to be very gentle with her hands when holding? Tell her to act like she is holding on of those in each of her hands.
Then maybe if she still pulls on the reins then get something that resembles that animal and have her hold onto that and the reins.
I don't know if it will work, but it is sure worth a shot!

And I like the idea of leading her around first so she can get her balance better.

🔫 Don't Tread On Me 🐍
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post #37 of 47 Old 10-11-2013, 02:07 PM
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My instructor gives little dumbbells to kids (obviously light) to hold, and so their hands are occupied, this helps with their balance at first. This is all done at a walk and sometimes at a trot depending on the person, and on a longe line.

Also, she would tie a rope loosely around the horses neck and let the kids hold on to that until they learned not to pull/rely on the reins.

Good luck :)
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post #38 of 47 Old 10-11-2013, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!! Things are going better. The roping reins and side pull have been fantastic. More time and more concentration have been the key.
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post #39 of 47 Old 10-11-2013, 05:43 PM
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Although it seems you've mostly settled this issue, have you tried "rainbow reins"? At the camp I work at, we start all of the kids (both disabled and able-bodied) with them. That way, you can just say "hold the green" or "hold the red" section. I'm sure you could also put colored duct tape on the reins to achieve the same effect.

I never personally went through a "rough hands" phase as a child because I was "conditioned" to have soft hands. Before I even started riding, my mom taught me that bits hurt when you are too rough with them. She would put an old bit she had in the crook of my elbow and have me squeeze my arm around it at different pressures. Maybe try that (with parental permission) if you haven't already? I was a serious worrier of a little kid and was always afraid of hurting the horse's mouth because of it. I drove my first trainer NUTS because I was always dropping the reins!

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post #40 of 47 Old 10-11-2013, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't tried those reins. It wouldn't matter what reins. If you had her hold a section, she'd end up with her hands by her chin. I ended up having a big heart to heart with her. She is a child that had a wandering mind. One minute she was with me, the next her mind was gone looking at who knows what. I finally changed tack and then had a serious but soft conversation. I just told her that she had to concentrate and really try to do her best to think about her hands. I also spoke to her mom to try to remind her that it was important she have soft hands. That made the biggest impression. Now when her mind wanders and i see her begin to pull I am able to bring her back. The problem is 75% solved and the remaining 25% is very minor. She is now more focused and doing well.
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