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Whimsically Smart
Apr. 18, 2009, 01:34 PM
Hi everyone,

I have a bad habit of turning my hand to the inside and down when I'm riding and trying to soften my horse's mouth, and no matter how much I think about it it seems to happen when my horse is being strong. I ride in the hunters and eqs and I know I need to fix it. Any tips or ideas on how to make it better?

This is a picture of what I'm talking about when my horse is being like this:
http://www.new.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=652480&l=764b712ecb&id=514509555

Sorry about the facebook link.

superpony123
Apr. 18, 2009, 02:24 PM
Oooooo I know exactly what you mean! I used to have the same problem too. So. Annoying. It was hard to break the habit, but I still do it some times, I admit. Tell your trainer to be very harsh on you, because that's the only way I managed to stop myself. I had this problem about two years ago, and my trainer would literally say "stop right there, you're turning your wrist in and down." He would make me stop what i was doing if I didn't fix it immediately. He wouldn't let me jump unless I went some certain amount of time without him needing to remind me constantly. Not that it really hinders your jumping ability all that much or makes it unsafe or anything, but it's a good motive to keep reminding yourself that you need to keep your wrists straight.

Strictly Classical
Apr. 18, 2009, 03:28 PM
Cute horse - you make a nice looking pair!

The first step in fixing a problem is realizing that there is an "issue" in the first place! Now, you will have to remain conscious about your hand position. It will take many repetitions of the correct hand position; you will revert back to the old habit occasionally. Be kind with yourself when you forget, and just remember to correct your hands.

You have what I like to call puppy dog hands. The classically correct hand position is a softly closed fist with your thumb on top. The thumb gently holds the rein between your thumb and first finger. Try not to have a harsh, hard, locked fist. Neither should it be so soft that the horse can snatch the reins away from you.

When you turn your hands down [like you have in the photo] you change the whole effect of the bit in the horse's mouth. The snaffle is designed to work on tongue pressure and on the corners of the horse's mouth. The classically correct hand allows you to carry on a conversation with the horse via the reins and the correct placement of the bit. Turn your hands downward and you cause the bit to press against the very sensitive bars of the horses mouth. This can cause, at the least, discomfort - it also holds the possibility to be painful if pressure is prolonged and not released. This, in turn, can cause resistance and tension in the horse. In the facebook photo, the horse is above the bit. This will cause his to be tense in mouth, jaw, poll, and likely he has inverted the back.

Talk to your trainer. I'm not sure that the best route to correcting this is for him/her to be punitive with you. It will only keep you more on edge, more tense and that will carry over to your horse. Rather, constant, gentle reminders when you lose the correct hand position will, I think, go a long way to helping you stay aware of what your doing with your position. Also, try to stay aware yourself when you are riding.

I ride alone much of the time - in effect - I am my own trainer. I am not a h/j rider, but a dressage rider. I have come to the point, over the years, in my own riding that I am constantly going through my "positional" checklist whenever I am in the tack. I adjust as necessary whatever feels out of place. Even the tiniest adjustments to my position can have a dramatic effect on the way my horse goes for me.

Sorry this is so long - just my random thoughts on the issue. :p I hope there is something here that can help you.

rugbygirl
Apr. 18, 2009, 04:21 PM
Big key for me is this.

You wrist is not a break. Straight line from bit ring to elbow. You soften by moving your elbows "back", not by flexing your wrists. Think of balancing a tray of glasses on your forarms, gently moving at your elbow back and forward. Your wrists are supple, and your arms are supporting their own weight, but not PULLING or redirecting the reins (by curling your wrists).

One, unbroken, supple line from bit ring to elbow. When you want to "work" your horse's mouth is comes from your elbow, not your wrist. TINY, controlled moving your elbows straight "back" along that same bit ring-to-elbow line.

Does that make sense? This was a huge epiphany for me in September, with a Dressage trainer. Major difference in my riding.

fair judy
Apr. 18, 2009, 04:22 PM
hold the reins only in your thumb and forefinger for a while. also try riding with a driving rein technique. you have to engage your other angles, shoulder and elbow. even if you cock your wrist while holding the reins as i am suggesting you will not be able to set your horse's jaw against your hand without involving the rest of your arm. as soon as you develop more confidence and muscle memory, your bad habit will be easier to break ( instead of your horse's poor mouth)

imaqine that you are riding with handcuffs on that only let your hands go a certain distance from each other. ....... or bridge your reins so that if you drop one hand, the other hand feels that movement.

also, many riders break or roll their wrists in order to take up length in their reins. your reins are certainly a bit long in this photo. this habit is also a result of the en vogue habit of carrying your crop up on the rider's hip.

WorthTheWait95
Apr. 18, 2009, 04:26 PM
^ Yes to the driving rein suggestion and checking your rein length. It does double duty by letting you get a feel for an automatic release while jumping too.

I used to have this exact same problem with my right wrist and it was a huge problem to break.

My trainer actually ended up taping a ruler on the inside of my arm so I couldn't break my wrist over. He made me ride that way for several days until I learned I COULD soften without breaking my wrist. It was probably another year after that before I could prevent myself from reverting back to that occasionally. I don't know why but I always think of my arms as a hose now, if you kink the hose the water stops flowing. You have to keep a straight line from bit to elbow to maintain an even flow of water...seems to help me stay on top it for some reason.

Good luck, it was probably the most frustrating thing I've had to deal with in my riding so far b/c you don't even realize you're doing it.

theroanypony
Apr. 18, 2009, 04:40 PM
Currently dealing with the same problem. No help, other than a good ole "I know how you feel". It's so frustrating. I think knowing that you may be making the bit more comfortable for your horse by keeping your thumbs up is a nice thing to have in mind. I'm going to have that in my head next time I ride, I love making my pony as happy as possible!

Whimsically Smart
Apr. 18, 2009, 06:34 PM
Thanks everyone! My trainer is very helpful in telling me nicely to straighten my wrists when I break them, I don't have as much of a problem when I'm in a lesson, but when I'm on my own, all hell breaks loose.


When you turn your hands down [like you have in the photo] you change the whole effect of the bit in the horse's mouth. The snaffle is designed to work on tongue pressure and on the corners of the horse's mouth. The classically correct hand allows you to carry on a conversation with the horse via the reins and the correct placement of the bit. Turn your hands downward and you cause the bit to press against the very sensitive bars of the horses mouth. This can cause, at the least, discomfort - it also holds the possibility to be painful if pressure is prolonged and not released. This, in turn, can cause resistance and tension in the horse. In the facebook photo, the horse is above the bit. This will cause his to be tense in mouth, jaw, poll, and likely he has inverted the back.

Thank you SO much for explaining this! In the picture my horse was more just nervous about entering the ring and has her head up, however that picture is EXACTLY how I try to fix the problem of her being tense and having an inverted back. When I break my wrist I seem to be able to keep a softer feel and she will round up, therefore I'm in a vicious cycle, I do something wrong my horse rewards me with what I was asking for. :no: I'm guessing she rewards me because of the fact that I am pressing against the bars of the mouth and as soon as she releases and rounds up I'll give with my hand. (I didn't know that when I break my wrist the bit presses on the bars before this post)


also, many riders break or roll their wrists in order to take up length in their reins. your reins are certainly a bit long in this photo. this habit is also a result of the en vogue habit of carrying your crop up on the rider's hip.

I have certainly noticed this as well (and my trainer has pointed it out) but for some reason I'm constantly letting my reins slide through the fingers of my left hand (the worse one)


My trainer actually ended up taping a ruler on the inside of my arm so I couldn't break my wrist over.

I have seriously considered doing something like this..


I don't know why but I always think of my arms as a hose now, if you kink the hose the water stops flowing. You have to keep a straight line from bit to elbow to maintain an even flow of water...seems to help me stay on top it for some reason.

That's a good analogy, and may just help me :D


Thanks again everyone!!

Wizard of Oz's
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:48 PM
I have the same problem. Still haven't fixed it all the way:). My problem is the opposite of yours, though. I "break" my wrists when I'm flatting on a loose rein, and when my horse gets strong, I don't break my wrist because I need to use my arm correctly to control my horse.The driving rein thing is helping me a lot. Good luck!

Whimsically Smart
Apr. 18, 2009, 07:58 PM
I have the same problem. Still haven't fixed it all the way:). My problem is the opposite of yours, though. I "break" my wrists when I'm flatting on a loose rein, and when my horse gets strong, I don't break my wrist because I need to use my arm correctly to control my horse.The driving rein thing is helping me a lot. Good luck!

I do that as well.....:(

BigEq
Apr. 18, 2009, 08:18 PM
I used to have this problem, and my trainer suggested I use a wrist brace. Worked like a charm! I just wore it over my gloves whenever I schooled, any horse, and within maybe a month of doing that my wrists stayed straight.

Hunter Mom
Apr. 18, 2009, 09:50 PM
We had a girl at our barn who had/has terrible puppy dog hands. She fixed it to ride in a wrist brace like BigEq said. Nothing fancy - just the Ace type from the drugstore. She still goes back to it, however, when her reins get too long.

Just wondering - are your gloves giving you enough grip?

Horseymama
Apr. 18, 2009, 11:08 PM
I used to have this problem many years ago. I used roller blading wrist guards to help give me the feel of what I wanted so that I could build the muscle memory for what is correct. Also, I am a runner and when I run, I practice the position of my hands and wrists on the horse as I am running. I try to be as conscious as I can to how I am holding my wrists for as long as I can. I keep my thumbs up, fingers closed, and arms moving straight back and forth. Helps my riding as well as my running!

ideayoda
Apr. 18, 2009, 11:13 PM
Pulling down/back does not soften the horse (cause it to chew), it just breaks the horse behind the atlas and STIFFENS the jaw. Rather think you need to be buoyant and a little lifted, by lifting (keeping st line from elbow to horses mouth, or even sometimes a little upward) the horse bit will act on the corners of the mouth (rather than the bars) and the horse will chew. Once you know why aids work, it is easier to think about your body parts acting more effectively.

JB
Apr. 18, 2009, 11:14 PM
I have this problem with my left wrist - drives me nuts. I've finally figured out it's a compensation for not pulling my left shoulder back. So, when I concentrate on the shoulder being correct, the wrist issue never even pops up.

Fairview Horse Center
Apr. 18, 2009, 11:38 PM
rugbygirl and JB are on the right track. Breaking the wrist comes from carrying the contact in the wrist/forearm. Contact is carried in the elbow/upper arm and back. The wrist is just a connecting point for our hands to our arm, but should not do any of the work or communication in riding. They should just have a "posture", but when you need to use your reins, you should think upper arm/back.

lonewolf
Apr. 19, 2009, 12:13 AM
I actually took to riding with a crop held across my hands, under the thumbs. If nothing else, it helped to remind me to think about it.

It also allowed me a visual to make sure I wasn't carrying one hand ahead of the other (which was my other major flaw).

Individualblue07
Apr. 19, 2009, 12:16 AM
So that made me laugh!!! The reason... My name is Bridgette too and for a LONGGGGG time I had a HORRIBLE problem with my wrists too!:lol:

: )

Whenever I would hack, I would constantly look down at my wrists and every time if it was bad, I would re-adjust and then keep going (checking about every 2-3 minutes to begin with then later to 5).

Whimsically Smart
Apr. 19, 2009, 01:33 AM
IndividualBlue - That's so weird!.. you spell it the same too? But may I ask, how do you know my name? :confused:

I'll also focus more on my shoulder and elbow to see if that helps.

Thanks!

mom23monkeys
Apr. 19, 2009, 08:16 AM
IndividualBlue - That's so weird!.. you spell it the same too? But may I ask, how do you know my name? :confused:

I'll also focus more on my shoulder and elbow to see if that helps.

Thanks!

I'm guessing she knew your name from your facebook photo;)

JB
Apr. 19, 2009, 08:38 AM
I actually took to riding with a crop held across my hands, under the thumbs. If nothing else, it helped to remind me to think about it.

Barring a crop, you can just bridge your reins too :)

Whimsically Smart
Apr. 19, 2009, 11:24 AM
I'm guessing she knew your name from your facebook photo;)

Haha.. ya, that was a blonde moment for sure! I did figure it out last night though :o

Individualblue07
Apr. 19, 2009, 05:35 PM
haha yeah, it shows it at the top of your facebook page... lol

I do spell it the same way... I've NEVER met anyone else who spells it like mine!!!! :D

lol

ParadiseFound
Apr. 20, 2009, 12:46 AM
You could just break your wrist like I did mine!

Six weeks in a cast solved my wrist problem (and ironically I broke the wrist that I needed to fix)...however riding on average five plus horses a day with a huge cast created a slew of new ones....

Plus I did a clinic during that time and it was hard to coordinate my bright green cast with an appropriate polo. Yikes.

Tini Sea Soldier
Apr. 20, 2009, 12:18 PM
Had the ruler lesson... lived to tell the story.

Definitely something that should not be taken lightly... do it on a lunge-line on a school horse... bc falling off with 2 rulers tied to your wrists is a recipe for disaster (and possibly limb-breakage).

It does work though...although, if you're like me... I needed a few refresher courses before I totally broke the habit.