Overposting and quiet hands help? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-03-2019, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Overposting and quiet hands help?

So I recently moved from the schoolmaster to a show-horse. He is big and really pushy, so the owner has me keep my reins tense. The problem is that with the old horse, I could hold her loosely. I could hold my hands virtually still, for a beginner, but now they bounce all over the place when I go to post and transition from trot to walk, or when I lose my balance.

Let me preface here, that I went from a small elderly mare to the biggest gelding in the barn that is still technically a teenager. He has a much more bouncy trot, but I'm used to the old horse. So I overpost. Horribly. I try to compensate for the old horse's trot, but he doesn't need that. It throws me all off balance. Like. Badly.

My instructor says that I just need time because I made a huge jump in horse skill and energy. But I would love to try and make that adjustment just a tad shorter because I need advice on how to fix these problems, considering they're problems, to begin with. My post is not how everyone describes a post. My instructor says that those are my only real problems as I regain my balance quickly and somehow my heels are already down. Help.

PS) If anyone's wondering why she put a beginner on a pushy horse, it's because I'm not aggressive enough with horses and she's worried I will get hurt if I don't learn.
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-03-2019, 10:44 PM
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Well, your instructor is full of it. If I understand your story correctly, her reasoning is not, "I see you are getting bored with our school master - I think you'll have more fun from now on with this little fella!", but it is instead, "I'll put you on this horse to demonstrate to you how stupid you are." Well, as you can see, "being able to make a point" is not the same as "being able to teach."

As for your posting dilemma, make sure that your thighs are in contact with the saddle at all time. It'll give you lateral stability. Keep your hands near the withers, in a small box in front of you. As a crutch, you can even touch the withers lightly. However, "quiet hands" does not mean your hands are quiet relative to your body, but that they are quiet relative to the bit. Keep your shoulders loose so you can follow the horses mouth.

Transition back to the walk before you get thrown off your game, and remember how that felt for the next trot transition. You are learning a new piece on the piano. How do you do that? By playing it painfully slowly, over and over. Well, a trot is a trot, you can't really trot in slow motion, but you can get your brain accustomed to the new rhythm before it gets overloaded and you lose control.

Tense reins don't do anything for a pushy horse, because constant tension does not transmit any information to the horse. You are not holding the horse back with the enormous strength of your arms, because he's got four feet on the ground, you've got none. You need to tell him to find comfort (loose reins) when he does what you want. If you don't give him release, he won't see the point. That's how you MAKE a pushy horse - one that has realized "Damned if I do, damned if I don't." If I want my horse to cooperate, I need to show him the path to comfort. The horse has no plans to "stick it to you", the horse does what works for him, and he's looking for a comfortable spot to be in. As soon as he even tries to do the right thing, give him release - until he's naughty next time (trying to pick his own direction, speed, or what-have-you). Always be thinking, "How can I make this a win for both of us?" and not "How can I break his will and make him submit?"

I'm not sure I like the outfit you are taking lessons at....
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-03-2019, 10:56 PM
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A couple tips that might help:

When you post, do as little as possible to actually DO the posting. Let the horse push/bounce you up on the rise, and use the muscles in the backs of your thighs to ease the sitting part of the post so that you don't slam back down.

As you rise, think of pushing your hands slightly down and then let them go back to neutral on the sit portion. This will counteract the tendency for your hands to want to bounce up with you. You'll *feel* like they're going down, but they'll actually be level as long as you don't overdo it.

If possible, ask to do lots of trot work without stirrups... on the EASY horse. That will help strengthen your seat and leg and core for working on the bouncier horse.

In your instructor's defense: there are horses who require stronger rein contact. I ride one of them. Compared to the other very very soft-mouthed lesson horse, she's like holding up the front of a freight train. That's the contact she seeks and likes. One might interpret that strong contact as "tension" but it's still possible to be light and subtle with her even though you're holding more weight in your hands. If the instructor thought your hands and seat weren't developing on the easier, lighter horses, I could see why she'd want to put you on a horse where the holes in your training would show more and you'd have to adapt.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-03-2019, 11:11 PM
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Use your core when you post. The core will control the arc of your post and will help keep it from feeling like you are flopping back and forth. Let the horse take you forward in the post, then gently sit down. Don't try to help. Almost feel like jelly where you are just along for the ride.

You want your elbows to hing as you rise, loose shoulders. You can push the hands into the neck or hold a neck strap/piece of mane. Doing so, specifically at the trot, protects the horses mouth and forces you to keep your hands separate from your body. Your hands can't bounce if they are in the neck, and you can't post if you keep your arms straight and braced with the hands in the neck. Then, you can raise the hand.

Nothing wrong with putting a rider on a horse to teach them a specific lesson, as long as they aren't over faced.
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-03-2019, 11:35 PM
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I agree it sounds like the trainer has made a smart move and while the OP is having some problems she's not struggling overall. Hopefully someone has some good advice but I agree that you just need time.

Learning to ride a horse like this will increase your skills exponentially I would try to think of yourself as lucky to be at the point your trainer thought you were ready. Keep your chin up. Keep working on it. Half of riding is a mind game, and I completely sympathize with feeling like you're being thrown around but it sounds like you're doing really well and have the right attitude and you WILL get better. The fact that you're ABLE to overpost vs getting thrown bounced off is huge, good for you!

That said, if you're not having fun or feel unsafe DO speak up, being overhorsed doesn't teach you anything positive. You want a challenge, not a struggle. It's ok to come back to this later when you feel more ready if you decide you aren't yet.

My best advice is a lot of transitions, get the horse slow and under himself and listening and it will also give you a better feel to be able to move with him. You can try a sitting trot, but only if it helps you, I don't know if you've tried a sitting trot on a big moving horse before. And just focus on your posting as if you don't know how. Count in your head even. Idk if this horse is a candidate but riding on the lunge line may work well for you.

@mmshiro it doesn't sound at all like that to me..
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Last edited by Yogiwick; 07-03-2019 at 11:41 PM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-04-2019, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the tips. I have a lesson on Friday, so I'll attempt to properly post.

I should say that when I've ridden him, it's been during a group lesson with 4+ other horses (One of which is a very antsy Saddlebred that we're always stuck behind. He also wants to pass everyone, and with my fast posting it doesn't help.) in the arena and the owner, who I'm pretty sure he's terrified of. On Friday, I will hopefully be riding him again, but in a private lesson. The instructor said that we'll be going back to a walk and fixing my seat because he's such a sensitive horse. As for the tense reins, I am going to try making them tense then slowly loosening them to the point where I still have significant contact, but they're not yanking. To keep my hands, I'll grab his mane a bit, loosely and try to pretend there's a weight on my wrists, while my elbows are a ball-jointed doll.

And yes, I don't know if I made this clear, but it was the instructor and owner who put me on him. They're trying to move the 'better' riders off the schoolmaster, but then the horse after her is another, younger schoolmaster(Who I skipped completely), then you go onto the stronger show-horses. They put me on him mostly because he doesn't get any exercise and I needed more a challenge. The schoolmaster didn't move under any amount of pressure, crop, leg, clicking, etc... and the instructor didn't want me to lose any motivation, but still make improvements. He gets exercise, I get experience.

Also, to the person who recommended stirrupless lessons, you cannot ride the schoolmaster without stirrups. She is a very slow moving horse and as I stated before, doesn't respond well anymore. Even on the lunge. They were supposed to school her, but they didn't.
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-04-2019, 02:28 AM
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I know this won't go over too well, but you have a good instructor, and good lesson horses, really it IS a matter of time. Be assured that you WILL find the way to adjust to this new horse. It just takes time. Really
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-04-2019, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by A-Rider-Called-Carvide View Post
Thank you all for the tips. I have a lesson on Friday, so I'll attempt to properly post.

He also wants to pass everyone, and with my fast posting it doesn't help.)

On Friday, I will hopefully be riding him again, but in a private lesson. The instructor said that we'll be going back to a walk and fixing my seat because he's such a sensitive horse.

I needed more a challenge.
So, these things I specifically kept from your post all jumped out at me...

A lesson on Friday, private will give you the individual attention you need to help you to acclimate to a much larger horse, their stride, their power in motion and make you more comfortable handling from the ground and astride.
Your trainer is recognizing a huge change to what you are accustomed to and the chance to work these things needs some seat time and some more one-on-one coaching/instruction.
Getting you comfortable up there will also get you to relax and ride together and not be so tense and rigid.
Your instructor sees you able to handle more and getting bored and complacent where you can be moving forward in your abilities with a more forward moving horse...it is far different a feeling to not need to nag a horse who moves out than always be dragging along the back of the pack..
A time of transition is happening, that is good.

The speed of your posting does make a difference to a sensitive horse...
You say you post fast...slow down...
Speed of posting is a cue on a well trained horse to move along faster with more impulsion..
You stop forcing the post...allow the horses motion to push you off and settle you back in to the saddle.
It takes time to get the feel of doing this...once you learn it, feel it...you can rate the speed you move at on any horse.

And finally...
If you get stuck or trapped behind a slower moving horse, circle or cut the ring...
Be the driver not the passenger astride that horse.
Make some decisions to help a horse with a longer stride not be "trapped behind" a slower animal.
If you are riding in a ring, ride deeper into the corner can give you several extra strides distance between you and the horse is front of you...
Learn to position yourself or reposition yourself and do it as many times as needed so you can work in a comfortable motion not caught behind or needing to rush ahead...remember you are the rider, the driver and make the choices of where that horse is in a ring...
In the show-ring you want to be seen, be alone, so you have a spotlight and no distractions around you when watched...practice that at home, it becomes second nature.

Enjoy your new challenge, sounds like the instructor has seen something "special" in you.
She wants you to excel in riding. She has confidence in you you are up to that new challenge.

Excuse my manners...
WELCOME to the Forum!!


The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....

Last edited by horselovinguy; 07-04-2019 at 08:56 AM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-04-2019, 10:11 AM
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I'm a western rider, mostly. And I mostly agree with @mmshiro although there isn't a lot to be done about it.

"He is big and really pushy, so the owner has me keep my reins tense."

That was what I tried learning to ride on Mia. Try to control her through the reins. She soon figured out how to ignore the snaffle entirely, any time she wanted. It turned her from a sometimes bolter into a confirmed, frequent bolter. Fixing that took some serous work and risk while doing it. Larry Trocha, a western trainer, says horses always get duller in the mouth with time. I like Larry Trocha, but I find that view tragic. Horses get duller in the mouth due to too much pressure, held too long and without hope of release. Horses should get SOFTER with time. MORE responsive. If they don't, we are ruining them. As many lesson horses ARE ruined.

"it's because I'm not aggressive enough with horses"

That is horrible terminology. Please replace "aggressive" with "directive and gently persistent". I flew in two-seat fighters in the Air Force. As a newbie, they told me I needed to be more aggressive. But "aggression" is not what they REALLY wanted. They wanted me to be more confident and willing to provide direction.

The same is true with horses. Knowing what you want and how to communicate that to the horse is a good thing. "Quiet Persistence" is how we QUIETLY teach the horse. "Aggressive" needs to be tossed out of our vocabulary! Denny Emerson is a truly great competitive rider with a lifetime of achievement. He wrote:
"So, how should I have obtained the response? He didn't listen to my light leg pressure. Why shouldn't I use more if he fails to respond? Well, because of what I just said. Harder and harder pressure makes him more nervous. The way to get him to move is not to bang on his sides, but to 'pester' him until he moves.

I have never read any book about riding that talks about 'pestering' a horse. They always use the terms like 'Apply the aids,' as if the horse will magically understand what the heck that means.

But think. Why does a horse swish his tail at a fly? Because the horse knows the fly will bite him if he doesn't get rid of the damn thing. The horse is not terrified by the fly. The fly isn't an attacking mountain lion. It isn't even a stinging wasp. It's a fly. Even an annoying fly will get a horse to respond, but it is not a panicked response.

In a way, we riders need to be mildly annoying flies..." - Denny Emerson, Know Better to Do Better, Mistakes I Made With Horses (So You Don't Have To)
Great book for less than $15 on Amazon. Tough to do with school horses though because school horses are perpetually ridden poorly. All their riders are learning to ride. It is expected. Also sad, because it teaches students to ride badly, using more pressure, more punishment and "aggression" instead of giving helpful advice to the horse and quietly persisting until the horse yields to the "mildly annoying fly".

Now, your question about how to post with quiet hands: Hands move out of synch with the horse because the rider's body is out of synch. Ride in two point if your instructor will let you. Stand in the stirrups with plenty of contact between your leg and horse, just off his back. Use flexing in your joints to absorb most of the up down shock of the trot while staying steady. Take hold of the mane with one hand if need be until you get used to the balance in two point.

Once you can ride balanced in two point, your hands will easily stay where you want them. Like an unstable leg, hands that are not steady are a symptom, not the problem!

Once you learn the balance in two point, KEEP that balance - balance is balance after all - keep it and merely fold and unfold your body when posting. If your body stays balanced over the stirrups as you rise and descend - not fall, descend - then there is no change in balance forcing your lower leg or hands to move around.

How to Test Correctness of Rider's Position: If the rider is in balance as a result of his upper body's being properly inclined forward, he is able at the walk, trot or gallop, WITHOUT FIRST LEANING FARTHER FORWARD and without pulling on the reins, to stand in his stirrups with all his weight in his depressed heels.

In executing this exercise the seat is raised just clear of the saddle by stiffening the knees but keep them partly flexed. The upper body REMAINS inclined forward at the hips. At the trot on hand should touch the horse's neck LIGHTLY to assist in remaining in balance. At the walk or gallop [canter] the rider, if his seat is correct, should be able to stand in his stirrups without the aid of his hand. A rider, who can execute the above exercise at all gaits and without first changing inclination, is in balance and never "behind his horse". The majority of those NOT in this position partly maintain their balance by hanging on to the reins, thus unnecessarily punishing their horses' mouths as well as their backs." - US Cavalry Manual
If you sit on the horse and use his effort to thrust you up and forward, then your balance is changing dramatically. Since your balance is changing, the hands and legs move around. We then try to stop that movement with muscular tension or gripping. That can hide the symptom but doesn't solve the problem.

Two point teaches you to keep your center of gravity aligned with your horse's - and your horse shifts his center of gravity when turning, slowing or accelerating - so two point while he does those things teaches you to adjust your balance to stay "with your horse". If you stay with your horse thru the motion of posting, your legs will be stable and your hands won't need to move around - because your balance isn't moving.

That said, I don't know if your instructor will let you work this way. I'm also not an instructor, competitor, teacher, etc. Just a backyard rider.

And every book I've got discusses posting as requiring the horse to push you forward and up - which strongly implies you go from "behind your horse" to "with your horse" back to "behind your horse" every couple of strides. No one teaches posting as staying in balance at all times and merely folding and unfolding your body. But when I manage to do that, it works for me. "Works" as in my hands and leg are stable because my balance is. And no, I don't find it easy to stay "with my horse" while riding. But when I fail, it is revealed by unstable legs and hands. Fixing my balance fixes my legs and hands.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-04-2019, 10:31 AM
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You sound to be over horsed, and that is not a good learning experience. You might be able to overcome this, or you might not. No way to know without seeing a ride.

I will say though, @mmshiro has said it best, the horse is not getting the rein release it needs to understand. Learning how to feel a horse through the reins and adjust the contact as needed is a skill that takes time and experience.

Also posting is a movement, as shallow as you can make it, of going towards the hands, and then gently sitting. Only when one is able to consistently follow the horse in posting can one begin to improve the trot by altering the posting.

IMO, you were placed on this horse, skipping the middle level horse, more because the instructor wanted more students at a time on horses rather than assessing your abilities and mounting you appropriately. I can't tell for sure without a video of you riding, but from your description this is what it sounds like.

My advice would be to try out other riding establishments (doesn't mean you have to leave this one) to see if another instructor might be a better fit for you. Shop around.
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