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View Full Version : Exercises to improve feeling of straight line from hands to bit?



M. Owen
May. 20, 2010, 09:24 AM
Does anyone have any suggestions of how to improve my ability to feel whether I have a straight line from hands to bit? When I watch other people ride, I can see what a difference a straight line makes. When I ride and my trainer corrects me, I know my horse will go better.

I have a tendency to let my hand drop down too low and I don't feel it (tends to happen when I am riding courses in the corners). Any ideas? Would doing the "driving hand" exercise help?

Lucassb
May. 20, 2010, 09:42 AM
If your hands are routinely too low, you may want to think about bending your elbows rather than lifting your hands. For some reason, that always helped me.

Doing turning exercises over small jumps can also help develop an independent hand with a straight line from bit to elbow. We did quite a bit of that exercise in the Linda Allen clinic here recently. It really helped! By the end, we we all pretty much had it down pat:

myalter1
May. 20, 2010, 09:52 AM
a really simple exercise is to use 1/ 2 the ring and walk your horse on a serpentine from the rail to quarterline, to centerline to quarterline to the rail. Make sure you are getting him/her as straight as you can on the straight parts of the serpentine. In the middle, before you are going to make the turn, 1/2 halt and start to push your horse over into your new outside aids for the turn, making sure you don't push him/her off the straight line. this exercise is harder than it looks. repeat until your horse moves off your leg/stays straight/turns the corners from your outside aids. A very good friend of mine who is a GP dressage rider gave me this exercise and it is one of my favorites. It not only helps with straightness, it helps with getting them on your outside aids and makes them supple. Hope my explanation was not too confusing.

RugBug
May. 20, 2010, 12:13 PM
I'm perplexed because I don't know if I've ever heard of an exercise to address the straight line from bit to elbow specifically. I don't remember ever doing one but maybe I was and didn't realize that was what it was for? :lol:

If you are having an issue with it, tell your trainer to focus on it...and remind her each lesson. If you are corrected enough, you will begin holding your hands where they should be and it will start feeling correct...and then soon it will be second nature.

Madeline
May. 20, 2010, 12:33 PM
You could always try riding for a period of time holding your reins driving style.

netg
May. 20, 2010, 12:36 PM
As long as your elbows are bent some.... are your fingers closed fully on the reins? Silly as it sounds, lack of bend in elbows and fingers which aren't closed (my problem I'm trying to kick) seem the two most common reasons for not having that straight line.

llsc
May. 20, 2010, 04:03 PM
My trainers favorite, keep a crop on top of your hands/wrists while you ride around. You have to keep your elbows bent and while you can pull back with one hand, you can't drop one down low or you are hopping off constantly to pick up the crop. No one is allowed to retreive it for you, because that's too easy. Works great for giving you the correct feel for where to carry your hands.

When you can't do the crop thing, just imagine yourself holding a plate full of food and try not to spill it.

medical mike
May. 20, 2010, 08:04 PM
One is that your hands dropping is purely from the shoulder to elbow
or
Two, you are in some fashion slowing down the horse and the hands dropping as you focus on getting him/her going
or
and most likely you are lacking strength in some part of your body that is showing up as hands dropping.

If you have ONE exercise to do, standing horizontal row.

REgards,
medical mike
equestrian medical researcher
www.equicsion.com

rwh
May. 20, 2010, 08:33 PM
For me, bridging my reins (in either hand) brings my hands back to where they should be when they're too low. Intermittently I have to re-bridge them to get my hands back at the right place. Worth a shot.

findeight
May. 21, 2010, 10:57 AM
You are probably dropping your shoulders and that is allowing you to bury your hands.

Heels down for a strong anchor, sit up and keep your shoulder behind your knees and sit into that horse a little on the corners, relax your elbows and that rein should flow right from shoulder to bit.

And STOP thinking about this detail. It's not something you can fix independently of developing a strong overall position.;).

You must be an Adult ? Right? You are overthinking and trying to pigeonhole one body part when it is the whole body that creates this.

If you insist on an excercise? Try putting a crop behind your back through your elbows. That forces everything from the waist up into proper alignment and requires a strong base of support below the waist. You have to use your shoulders to halt or steer, memorize what that feels like and take that to your flatwork when you remove the crop. It will show you where you need to work to develope that total body position to allow that straight line...which is NOT the only way and is NOT always the best or most correct depending on what you are doing.

touchstone-
May. 21, 2010, 12:45 PM
You could always try riding for a period of time holding your reins driving style.

This.

Sebastian
May. 21, 2010, 02:44 PM
You could always try riding for a period of time holding your reins driving style.

Ding Ding Ding!!!! That's the one. This removes your hands and wrist from the equation. Forces you to connect through your elbow.

Seb :)

Release First
May. 21, 2010, 05:10 PM
In order for your hands to be too low, your reins must be too long. It is simple geometry. Shorter reins won't necessarily solve the problem but you can't truly fix it without shortening the reins.

jrzeqrider
May. 21, 2010, 07:13 PM
Ding Ding Ding!!!! That's the one. This removes your hands and wrist from the equation. Forces you to connect through your elbow.

Seb :)

A timely thread for me as all I've heard from my trainer lately is "ELBOWS! ELBOWS! ELBOWS! You can't do everything with your hands!" so I'm definitely going to try these ideas. Can someone describe "driving style" for me please?

jewll27
May. 21, 2010, 08:27 PM
My trainers favorite, keep a crop on top of your hands/wrists while you ride around. You have to keep your elbows bent and while you can pull back with one hand, you can't drop one down low or you are hopping off constantly to pick up the crop. No one is allowed to retreive it for you, because that's too easy. Works great for giving you the correct feel for where to carry your hands.

When you can't do the crop thing, just imagine yourself holding a plate full of food and try not to spill it.

we do this too only mine makes us put the crop under our thumbs but I like yours better! Im gonna have to tell her about that:winkgrin:

M. Owen
May. 22, 2010, 09:25 AM
Thanks for the thoughts everyone. I saw some videos from a show yesterday and it looks like what happens is I let my left rein get too long (opening fingers a bit over jumps I suspect) and then heading into the corner, I drop that hand to balance because my rein is too long.

And yes, I am an adult rider (although been riding for about 25 years) and overly analytical. Hey what can I say, I do computer system analysis for a living- it is just how my brain works. I am also very visual, so seeing the videos helped.

Ponyclubrocks
May. 22, 2010, 10:33 AM
A timely thread for me as all I've heard from my trainer lately is "ELBOWS! ELBOWS! ELBOWS! You can't do everything with your hands!" so I'm definitely going to try these ideas. Can someone describe "driving style" for me please?

Also called "upside down reins". This is a great exercise. Think of having your hand open, palm facing up. Rein lays across your palm then you close your fingers and your thumb holds the rein on top. This is a fantastic exercise for people who do not follow the motion adequately as well as helping to create a straight line from bit to elbow. My trainer also uses this rein position to teach the automatic release over fences.