What should I do with my hands and reins during a jump - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-23-2020, 05:29 AM Thread Starter
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What should I do with my hands and reins during a jump

Hi I am a beginner jumper but I’m quite confused about what to do with my hands and reins when approaching a jump and over the jump and after the jump. I know I have to keep contact as I approach the jump or the horse may choose to depart to the side before the jump as has happened to me before. My instructor tells me to use a bridge rein holding method. He says this is safer. However when I’m approaching a jump I need to adjust the length of the reins to keep contact and I just can’t fiddle with the bridge fast enough to make the necessary changes. And it takes all my focus away from the jump and everything else. He says that when I go over the jump I should grab onto my horses mane. However my horses mane is very wispy and I find myself scrambling for it and my grip on it isn’t very strong so this is another distraction/ stress in the middle of everything else. And another instructor told me just to press down with my hands on his neck as I go over these (admittedly little ) jumps. I have also tried a neck rope and I find I’m scrambling for this as well trying to find it without looking down. But for all that I can see why I would need some sort of hand anchor to keep me from jerking up and hurting the horses mouth especially when he takes off too close to the jump and it’s a very upward directed jump that he gives unexpectedly. I watched a girl yesterday who kept her hands anchored on the horses neck quite close to the withers on either side. She never moved them through the whole approach and jump and this seemed to be very neat. When I try this I feel like I’m leaning too far forward the whole time. So you can see I am a bit confused. Any help appreciated. Thanks Rod
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post #2 of 4 Old 09-23-2020, 11:08 AM
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As a beginner, the safest and kindest way is to do a crest release, which it sounds like your instructor has told you to do. This is where you reach forward up the neck, reins slack, hands resting on the crest. You want your hands down in the neck during the release to give stability and so they don't float. You don't want to lean on the hands, though. There shouldn't be any weight in the hands as your weight should be in your stirrups and leg. It sounds like what you described in the last part is leaning down on your hands which is tipping you forward.

You shouldn't need to be adjusting your rein length on the approach to the fence. Make sure you are organized before heading to the fence, You can always approach with slightly shorter reins, but long arms. Then if there's a need to, you can bring your hands in closer to maintain the contact. Ideally, you should also not have to worry about a horse running out from a fence as a beginner. You should be able to find your straight line and start releasing before the fence, giving you time to find your body and hand position, and the horse should continue on the line. If it's a repeated issue with the horse running out of the fence, you need to ask your instructor to take a few steps back. Either the horse you are on isn't suitable and you need a different mount, or your approach to the fence is incorrect to the degree you are causing a otherwise appropriate horse to run out (ie, turning with too much inside rein, horse was never straight to the fence to begin with) and you need to address those issues before adding jumps to the mix. There's a time and place for a school horse who will run out if not ridden correctly, but that time is not when you are a green beginner.

I suggest you spend some time on the flat practising your release. In your two-point, at any gait, practice reaching forward into your crest release, hold that for a stride, then return your hands back to neutral. This will also help you learn to release with the hands and not the body. You can also do this over poles, using the poles as your 'jump'. It sounds to me like you are getting too overwhelmed with all the other aspects of jumping like steering and speed. Breaking it down should help your body learn the feeling of the release.

I'm not a huge fan of neck ropes for crest releases as I find they are too close to the wither for a proper release. Try grabbing the mane again, even if you can just hook a finger on each hand. If possible, you can do a small braid in the mane where you want the release to give a stronger visual aid and something more solid to hold onto.

Without seeing what the other girl you watched, I can't say exactly what she was doing as your description may not match exactly what was happening. It sounds like one of two things: she was not releasing at all and was incorrect. Without a release, the horse can't use their neck over the fence. When jumping little sticks, it's not a huge effect, but as fences get bigger it will show up in poor form and performance. Plus, it's not very pleasant for them regardless of the height. Alternatively, she could have been using an automatic release where the hands follow the mouth forward so the reins do not slack but the rider maintains contact the entire time. Depending on how much the horse moves for the jump, there might be minimal movement of the hands. The automatic release is more advanced and requires good balance and feel. While it's something to aspire to, you should leave this technique until you are more skilled.
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post #3 of 4 Old 09-23-2020, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hi ApuetsoT. What a great reply! That is so helpful and practical. I will definitely practice the things you suggest. Thanks for giving me a way ahead. Rod
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post #4 of 4 Old 09-29-2020, 12:09 PM
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Lots and lots of two point in trot and canter, walk as well, to build strength and stability. Work on balance so you are not leaning into you hands while the are placed on the neck. You may find with enough two point in various gaits having a place to put your hands becomes unneccessary and you can concentrate on other things.

Having a horse learn with you is not ideal and this is your horse that is new to this as well, correct? Better to build your skills separately and then come back together to form a team.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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