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Vidaloco 01-19-2010 03:06 PM

Do you have soft hands?
I know its often talked about, the bit being only as harsh as the person holding the reins. I have been in a shopping mood since I read the post about split v. one piece reins. I was looking for some rawhide button and loop clips for attaching the reins to the bit. Since those are a gaucho item I came across an article on old vaquero competitions I thought I would share.
There used to be competitions where the cowboys were challenged to do a series of turns and spins with only a few strands of horse hair attaching the bit to the reins. The one who could go the longest without breaking the hair won.
I think I'll try this, how about you?

smrobs 01-19-2010 03:21 PM

Huh, that is very interesting. I don't think my horses are quite that soft but that would be something to work toward. If you are interested in learning about the old vaquero way of riding (using mostly leg and seat/working toward the use of the spade bit and super soft horses), here is a site that I found and thought was a very interesting read.

The Spade Bit

wild_spot 01-19-2010 03:22 PM

Interesting idea.

I'd love to try it - But would be limited in what I can do, because I don't ride in a curb. I need a good solid contact to keep my boy together as he is lazy - I can do everything on a light rein but it's with his head poked out and without much motivation!

iridehorses 01-19-2010 03:35 PM

I was taught that you use the reins like they were attached to an egg. Pull too hard and the egg breaks. I know that when I started riding for real, I broke dozens of eggs until I learned to use my other aids. I still break an egg of two on a ride and the cholesterol is going to kill me.

MN Tigerstripes 01-19-2010 03:47 PM

Not as soft as I'd like. I would say most of it is my skill level at using my other aids. Soda needs finishing too which doesn't help, but I would say a good majority of our problem is me. It's definitely something I'm working on.

mls 01-19-2010 03:51 PM


I teach seat and legs - THEN go to your hands to cue the horse.

My lesson horses will tell me if the student is balancing off their face. They stop.

MN Tigerstripes 01-19-2010 03:53 PM

^^That is what I keep reminding myself everytime I ride. I think I'm getting better and I've noticed that as I focus more on HOW I'm asking for something, I get noticeably better results from him.

Vidaloco 01-19-2010 04:02 PM


Originally Posted by mls (Post 526564)

I teach seat and legs - THEN go to your hands to cue the horse.

My lesson horses will tell me if the student is balancing off their face. They stop.

Me too, I have to remind myself...hands last. Its harder than is sounds :lol: Its not my horse, its me!
thanks for the link Jen

nrhareiner 01-19-2010 04:20 PM

It will also vary from horse to horse also as to how soft you are. My stallion is you get to heavy with him he still take his head and toss if forward. He hates heavy hands. You can not eve use a chain curb strap on him.

My mares the more you use your hands the more she will bridle up. A friends sister was in town and wanted to ride and normally I like people ride Te and not the mares but Te was sore so he got the day off. This person was not harsh but she use more rein then the mare is use to. By the time I got the first work out of my mouth she had the mare so bridled up and pushing with her legs that the mare was rocking back and forth. Almost ready to buck b/c she was so collected that she could not move. Dose not take much pressure to get this mare to give to the bit and will come to you. Now TE if you get too heavy he just take it away.

CloudsMystique 01-19-2010 11:12 PM

Riding Saddlebreds (very sensitive) for over ten years taught me to have extremely soft hands. My current (reining) trainer actually tells me my hands are TOO soft and to "stop riding with my fingertips"... but only when I'm riding his lazy Appy who needs you to use your hands.

My MFT mare a) neck reins and b) knows voice commands really well, so I rarely even make contact with the bit. I never do when I'm trail riding. The only time I really make contact is when I'm teaching her to collect herself, which I only recently started doing. I ride her tackless and she listens perfectly, so I don't have a need to use the bit when she has a bridle on.

I try to keep my hands as soft as possible, but I also try to use my hands as little as possible. That's as soft as it gets.

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