View Full Version : Short arms . . .

Aug. 18, 2009, 09:10 PM
I'm a former huntseat rider, used to leaning forward, hands very low. I'm doing a lot better in the leaning forward department, but can't get out of the habit of trying to keep my hands just inches from the withers. When you're sitting up straight and riding in a sofa (dressage saddle vs. close contact hunt seat saddle), it's impossible to get your hands in huntseat position without putting your shoulders forward!

I do have short arms. Does anyone else have this problem?

As a rule, how far should your hands be above the horse's withers?

I have taken lessons, but my dressage horse broke and is now back with his original owners, basically retired. Now, I'm training my daughter's new 4H horse who will be doing english, western and dressage. I guess it doesn't matter much about my shoulders, but it bothers me!

Aug. 18, 2009, 09:15 PM
Your upper arms should be hanging by your side.

Your hands end up in front of you the distance that your forearms are long ;)

In other words, it's not about your hands. It's about your upper arms. Your forearms are only a connection between your elbow and the reins :)

Aug. 18, 2009, 09:59 PM
Another short armed former hunter rider here! My trainer had me do a exercise on the lunge last week which helped me, we knotted the reins, and she had my hold my hands out as if I was hold reins, and practice opening and closing my elbows with the motion of the trot. Then she had me pick up the reins and practice the opening and closing of the elbows again and keeping my hands together. If I start to lock my elbows, my trainer has me grip the front of my sheepskin pad for a few strides until I get the motion again.

Aug. 18, 2009, 10:02 PM
Another way of thinking about it is that your upper arm from shoulder to elbow is hanging softly straight down. It is flexible in both the shoulder and the elbow joint, allowing it to softly slide back and forth against your side. you can feel it against your clothes. By concentrating on flexible and free joints, the rest of your lower arm and hand float with the movement of horse's mouth.

If you are tipping forward, the slide of the arm against the fabric will be quite brief or not there at all.

What I like about this analogy is that I don't get rigid in my back and shoulder and I don't have the lag time from thinking too much that socks my horse in the mouth very stride. I have spent months working on this. As Malcolm Gladwell says in his book, "Outliers", it only takes 10,000 times to have it set in your brain.

Aug. 19, 2009, 11:55 AM
As a rule, how far should your hands be above the horse's withers?
The upper arm should hang vertically at the rider's sides and the hand is carried on the straight line that runs from the bit to the ride’s heavy, bent, pointy elbow.

Aug. 19, 2009, 12:12 PM
Not long ago, there was a discussion of "Kangaroo arms" here, for further thoughts, search it!

Also, I remember a discussion about "Alligator arms" and "T-Rex arms". A common problem!

Arizona DQ
Aug. 19, 2009, 02:22 PM
I have the "short arm syndrome" as well. If I am sitting upright and correct and have my arm hanging correctly, the reins seem too long...... If I have the reins shorter, my elbows are more open or I have to lean forward ......:no:

Aug. 19, 2009, 02:25 PM
Ditto what Tonja say. Your hand ends up whereever they end up. For me my hands ends up just right before the pommel of the saddle (behind the wither) or right above the pommel. If you need to lengthen your reins so your hands are where they belong, then do it.

Aug. 19, 2009, 02:32 PM
I have the "short arm syndrome" as well. If I am sitting upright and correct and have my arm hanging correctly, the reins seem too long...... If I have the reins shorter, my elbows are more open or I have to lean forward ......:no:

Try to remember, its not the lenght of rein that matters. As long as you have a straight line from elbow to bit, your rein is the correct length. If your arms are shorter, the 'rein' will be longer, but the contact will be the same if you keep that straight line.

I have short arms too, and it took me almost a whole month focusing on nothing but keeping that straight line to fix my hunter piano hands!

Snoball 1
Aug. 20, 2009, 08:53 AM
THANK YOU KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE !!! I have gone round and round over this point with Dressage trainers over the years- obviously if a trainer is obsessed with hands out in front , above the wither, if you have short arms, which many of us do, then you are going to be pulled forward to compensate !!
Amazingly many trainers can't seem to see this, and become overly focused on the position, not the proper connection- simply amazing !
Find that proper alignment from elbow to bit, and that soft following connection, arms by sides and that's the correct rein length & hand height for you- maybe not Anky (LOL)

Aug. 20, 2009, 02:17 PM
to a degree you cant ride with the perfect seat until your horse is working correctly so that it can give you a place to sit. this includes being able to have your hands one hand above the withers... once the horse is working with lifted withers etc. then your hands can be in the right place (one hand above to be correct.

so until the horse is working correctly just work on sitting deeply and keeping your upper arms hanging vertically and not letting the reins get longer and longer and then work the horse *into* the contact.

Snoball 1
Aug. 20, 2009, 09:09 PM
Well said !

Aug. 20, 2009, 09:16 PM
Also in the short arms clique here....as in not short arms because of position, I just have freakishly short forearms for some reason! :lol:

Eye opener the day I found the trainer who knew how to correctly compensate for my short arms instead of always "shorten your reins and push your hands forward because that's where they should be..." :winkgrin: