The "Trick" To Picking Up Your Reins...
Ok, I wanted to start a new thread because I didn't want to take over MyBeau's discussion about her horses movement with this topic. So I thought I'd start one seperately to discuss this one aspect of a dressage test that gets so many lost points in this one act.
It was Spyder's comment that got me thinking...
The trick to picking up your reins is a well schooled horse. Your horse needs to stay balanced on his hind legs and not come onto his forehand in the free walk. Then you put the buckle in your left hand, make a space for the reins in your right, pull up and grab where your reins need to be to move onto the next movement.
How do we get the horse so he is light and responsive enough to pull his neck up quickly and come back to the medium walk?
Perfect practice. Before you offer the free walk to the horse, develop a very good medium walk and then let the horse chew (read: not pull!) the reins down and continue to hold a contact. When the horse is consistently showing that they can stay connected in the free walk by holding the contact (however light) can we then give them the buckle and allow them to march on with no contact. Before the medium walk, we apply a half halt (so put our legs on - legs should not be on during the free walk!) and half halt again during the rein shortening stride(s) (it should take one stride by the time you have it "down").
Thanks, MIE, I'll be watching this thread with interest :)
I'm stuck self-helping myself until the trainer's indoor is rebuilt!
i put both my reins in one hand & smoothly slide the other up the reins, then switch hands. i dont jerk them or surprise them though, & like anebel said, practice a lot !! also the timing is very important, i let the horse have the whole diagonal to stretch down & dont pick up until the ending letter.
A good half halt just before allowing the horse to stretch down for the free walk, for just an extra bit of haunch engagement. I do not ride on the buckle. I allow just enough to go through my hands to give a little slack, then bring my hands slightly forward to give a bit more.
To get a good free walk depends on the horse. I often use alternating leg aids to encourage the shoulder getting ready to go forward and extra boost of energy. Some sensitive horses need very little.
A key to picking up the reins is not to wait until you get to the rail to do it. I start creeping up on the reins halfway between X and the rail. By the time I am at the rail, contact is back on (if that is where it is supposed to happen) and it happened so subtly the horse had no reason to object. I see WAY too many people take up the reins so abruptly, they unsettle the horse. Much of my slack is hand position.
omg kim my trainer and I were just working on this!!! :) the trick she taught me was to pick up the inside first and start asking for your horse to supple while picking up the outside rein to avoid the popping up of the head that so many naturally do.
And what anabel said about letting the horse chew down rather than grab and dive when you're starting the free walk is 100% correct too! :)
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The only problem anebel is that in the early tests the horses are not that well balanced or trained.
What I see so often is the rider picks up one rein (usually the outside) and tends to pull the nose/horse in that direction. Then they pick up the other rein and pull the nose that way. Most often the head/neck goes up, balance is lost and since that transition is part of the movement points are lost so.................
This will take practice but once learned it makes this transition so much smoother.
So put the hand you are going to use so that the thumb is touching the fingers and you have a "hole". Take the other hand and slide both reins through that "hole" as far as you can (without jabbing the horse in the mouth). To ensure the reins will be short enough have the hand with the "hole" go up the neck a bit. How far up will depend on how short you want the reins and the length of the horses neck. This you will have to experiment a bit to find the right spot.
At this point close that hand to not allow anymore rein through and take the other hand that was sliding the rein through and separate the reins so one is in each hand. As you apply some pressure on the rein and bring your arms into the "normal" position ( and assuming the horse adapts to the bit pressure) the horse should drop its head evenly and straight to the right position and you should have a horse balanced and ready to transition to anything else withing 2 steps.
Wow, that makes alot of sense Spyder.
Usually in my tests, I get the undesired response, so this is something I really have to work on.
I pick up about 90% of the inside rein first, so the contact is not made. Then I fish up 90% of the outside. A split second before I make the contact, I sneak in a tiny shoulder-in as I'm getting that last 10% on both reins. The slight lateral movement keeps his head from popping up and creates a little hind end engagement at the same time. Seems to work well so far. We're still working on refining it.
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