There shouldn't be any fiddling with the reins.
I've seen instructors tell their students to spreads their arms back to their knees and either seasaw with the reins or fiddle fiddle fiddle to get the head down. THIS KILLS ME.
Or I've seen instructors tell students that if they just kind of "tickle" the reins enough, they will get the head down. Still incorrect but not as nerve grating as the first.
When the horse is stepping through, ribcage flexed over your leg, motion and impulsion coming from the back end, listening and understanding the halfhalfs in your seat and leg, his head will settle down when you apply a positioning rein (your inside rein) and a half halt rein (outside rein).
When you rise, you position with the inside slightly. When you sit, you half halt with your outside rein. Your legs tell the horse which way to go, along with your seat and sometimes an adjustment in the reins. Your seat and legs also determine the horses rhythm, with the reins coming in last for fine tune or reinforcement.
The idea of the positioning rein is to bend the horse around your leg, which drives him forward and into the outside rein where he will meet the half halt, which will tell him what to do next depending on what your other aids are asking.
It's really quite complex and the pressures with leg, seat and rein differ with every stride and every direction and angle. Your weight aids are also considered.
But can you get a "proper headset" with holding the outside rein while fiddling with the inside? No. You'll get a fake headset.
You can not teach this in one lesson, especially with a horse and rider who have never done it before, or have the coordination and muscling (yet) to do this.
This is just a very small step to true collection. People believe that if the horses head is down, he is collected when really what they've achieved is a "round frame" if they are doing it correctly. People believe that if the horses stride slows, he is collected when really what they have achieved is a form of balance and rhythm.
Dressage is tricky and there's a reason why it takes people about 10 years of constant, correct, everyday study to get anywhere near where they want to be with it.
You can't teach that in a single lesson.
Sorry, I kind if went off on a rant there. I'm just a humble trail rider these days, but some things really just grind my gears.
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Last edited by Copperhead; 06-12-2013 at 12:35 AM.