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ohmyitschelle 05-05-2011 09:44 PM

Have my hands improved? Critique Please.
So I've had some great help on this forum before... and I just recently got told to focus a little more on my hands. I've tried, granted this is the first ride of working on them, but I just want to ensure I'm going in the right direction!

Background: my mare and I have been on a 2yr hiatus after a freak accident. We're both overweight and working on losing it currently. I'm a partially disabled/damaged rider, as my right knee/leg is in poor shape from the accident and ongoing knee issues. I try to not let it be a problem with my riding, and do strengthening exercises daily.
Honey has been in a fair amount of pain that's recently been addressed by a chiropractor. She was brought back into work SLOWLY with three weeks worth of walking. We've just started trotting again, and it hasn't been great until yesterday's ride where everything clicked. She is fresh in the trot, and zooming, and I have the bad habit of collecting my reins when she does so. I just wanted to get the trot a little more consistent and then focus on slowing down.

Please no comments on saddle fit/weight issues/myself fitting the saddle. I've heard it all before. Whilst I respect constructive criticism, I'm working with the best of my capabilities. The saddle goes forward because she is barely withered and a barrel. It gets better each week. And I'm losing weight so I can fit into this saddle. I've saved for 6yrs for an Isabell, and finally have one. This is the only saddle that I've found to help aide my ability to ride.

I welcome any constructive criticism otherwise. I'm the type of rider who is aware of my limitations and am working incredibly hard to improve. What I see is that I need to add some length in my reins, work on relaxing my elbow more and get some riding boots so I can have a more effective ankle ;) I also perch forward a little now and then too. But my main concern here is my hands, and stopping with the bracing. Thanks in advance.

Old pictures... before saddle change/chiro.

Newer pictures in new saddle/after chiro...

Yesterdays pics - with working on my hands...
^ My favourite photo.

Thanks again ^_^

lifeisinhorses 05-05-2011 10:52 PM

only in the last pictures (yesterdays) did i notice change in your hands... get your hands out of yyour crotch! :) shorten your reins, not meaning your grabbing the horses mouth but for your hands must be more forward

Spastic_Dove 05-05-2011 10:57 PM

You look much more comfortable in the new saddle, that's for sure!

Right now your elbows have no bend in them. I would be focussing on getting more bend in your elbows and bringing your hands slightly up


Once you bring your hands up, you may want to shorten your reins a tad as was already mentioned.

Kitty74 05-05-2011 11:03 PM

Better, but still, keep at it--if you do it enough it'll just become habit. Also, try to get more bend in your elbows. i know it feels weird but keep bringing them up and forward. I like your enthusiasm and keep at it! :)

gypsygirl 05-05-2011 11:04 PM

i see a lot of improvment in your hands and overall position, great job =]

GeminiJumper 05-05-2011 11:16 PM

I see a tad bit of improvement so good job!

What you need to work on is your arms. You need more bend in your elbows. Think about bringing your elbows back. Your arms right now have a locked elbow and you are creating a straight line from your shoulder to your hand. Bring your elbow back to about a 45 degree angle or slightly more open. Having bend in your elbow allows you to have "give" in your arm should your horse try and yank the reins out of your hand, your arms can move with him without sacrificing your position and him pulling you forward. Plus, you want pressure on the reins to come from your elbow. Not wrists flexing down or to the inside.

Spastic_Dove posted a good picture to go by.

ohmyitschelle 05-05-2011 11:29 PM

Thanks everyone...

lifeisinhorses: yesterday was our FIRST attempt at it, so yeah, I imagined everything else was dodgy :P

When riding on a loose rein at the walk, I have a great bend in my elbow - its just when we add in the faster gaits that I take up rein and effectively lose my elbow bend. Lifting my hands felt a good kind of odd, and Honey was awesome to trot on - we had no arguments. I just wanted to make sure I was on the right track... and continue to work on it and my elbow bend.

A pic at the walk ...

Thanks again everyone!

GeminiJumper 05-05-2011 11:34 PM

That is the bend you want! Now just put your thumbs up on top.

If you are locking your elbows as you move up in gait, you are probably getting nervous/tense.

The reason it felt good lifting your hands is because it gives you the feeling of riding correctly, like the fancy dressage horses. It also helps you to sit back up and tall. Lifting your hands and putting bend in your elbows can help get your horse's head up. Lifting and squeezing with your legs and keeping contact with the bit can help him to move up into the bit.

Spastic_Dove 05-05-2011 11:35 PM

If your thumbs were on top in that pic it would look lovely and she looks very relaxed.

I don't think it should be difficult at all for you once you get a hang for the feel of it. Do you have anyone who can be eyes on the ground for you to let you know when you have it right? That always helps me at least...

ohmyitschelle 05-05-2011 11:42 PM

Thanks Gemini, that's exactly my train of thought on it. I didn't feel like I was being tilted forward and all my core muscles woke up very quickly :wink: Needless to say today and last night, I was well aware of my stomach muscles haha! There were times where I felt my elbows come back, and relax, but Honey tried to canter off each time. Like I said she's fresh. And the chiro's plan strictly forbids cantering for another 3 weeks. So I think I get so hung up on trying to keep her back in the trot because she's using the paddock like its Addington Raceway, that I tense up.

There were moments where I slowed her down and we got a really bouncy, active trot that I really liked. But sadly, my ginger has the speed button on, and its a bit of "let her trot it out until she's not so fresh" or "fight her to stay back in the gait and lose consistency as she keeps changing tempo" ... bit hard really to know which to choose haha!

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