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Tobias
Oct. 4, 2010, 06:07 PM
It seems kinda hard to measure exactly how much pressure you have on the reins when you are riding. But I am just curious, how much should you have?

When I was taught, I was taught to gently hold the reins so I can tell that there is something at the other end, but not necessarily pulling. I was taught that when the horse gives to the bit, I release it to reward them, in the end my horse can carry his head in the right position with just enough pressure to keeps the reins still. If that makes sense.

My sister's trainer, seems they are pulling awfully hard to get him to collect. And then there no giving on the rider's part when they do hold their head. when I get on him I feel like I am pulling (with enough pressure to whoa my horse) to hold his head, or like I have to carry his head.

Is it a breed difference thing, that one is more sensitive? TB versus Friesian.

So about how much pressure do you have when riding?

CHT
Oct. 4, 2010, 06:19 PM
The amount I pull depends so much on the horse and the request I am making. I do want to make sure that the amount of leg I am using coincides with the amount of hand (the more I take on the reins, the more I activate with the leg).

When I give, it is not a big give, it is just a lessenning of the backwards pull. I do not want to Drop the horse, or give to it so much that it thinks it should stretch down to retake the contact.

I have no idea the amount of weight I have at the end of the reins though; somewhere between the weight of a toilet paper roll and a small can of soup, with stronger takes when needed.

I do find though, that a rider with a weak leg will tend to want to pull harder to acheive results; so perhaps when you ride the horse it is that your leg isn't as strong as the trainers, so the horse ends up balancing on the reins rather than up off your legs.

Dressage_Julie
Oct. 4, 2010, 06:23 PM
It sounds to me like you were taught properly... You want the horse to reach for the bit, so there will be some pressure... if you release you want to horse to seek out the contact thus the stretchy trot/canter in the tests. It definitely shouldn't feel like you are pulling backwards.

naturalequus
Oct. 4, 2010, 07:51 PM
It isn't a breed thing, it is a training thing. You should never feel like you have to hold your horse's head in place or hold your horse up. Unless you are riding front-to-back.

Personally, I do not instigate pressure or weight on the reins. I work my way progressively up the training scale and contact happens naturally as a result of the exercises and patterns my horses do. The horse balances and collects itself and picks up the contact itself as a result of progression up the ladder.

In such a fashion, the hands remain soft and guiding. Any pressure or weight applied is applied by the horse and not the rider's hand. There are existing threads here on this board in regards to what that amount of weight (initiated by the horse) should feel like. I am unsure as to how to explain it - it should feel like the horse is independant and not leaning on your hands (else he is not balancing properly and independantly as he should be), but they should be picking up some weight (say 5lbs each rein??). Someone on this forum described it as a motorboat where all your power is pushing from behind and your hands are light and guiding the steering. My hands are soft and half-open and until the horse picks up contact, yes, are light enough to only tell there is something in existance at the other end. Once the horse picks up contact, my hands remain half-open but match the horse's weight so as to support him (not to be confused with holding him up).

Personally, I do not release when the horse picks up contact because he is already seeking the contact as a result of progression up the training scale and will continue to do so via the training scale (releasing could simply be 'dropping' the horse when they have finally done what they thought they should as a result of the natural progression through their training, and it is not necessary given they should naturally continue to seek said contact anyways if you continue to allow them to do what they did to get them there). However as the horse first picks up contact, same as when they first achieve relaxation or suppleness, I reward with rest and decompression after a few steps (etc) and progressively ask for more.

Your hands open and close however they do not move (they are not rigid by any means, they move with the horse, however they do not pull or release) and you are never pulling backwards. Be careful, it is about the body but not where the head or where it is. Ride back to front. Finally, your legs support and refine the collection. They remain quiet and support the horse's bend, push the horse inside-leg-to-outside-rein, etc and then refine by helping softly further activate the hind legs beneath the horse, accordingly and when appropriate.

ETA: I just wanted to add that not every horse, as pointed out, is going to have the same 'weight' but it will be similar weights between different horses and a similar 'feeling' due to similar results.

Percheron X
Oct. 4, 2010, 08:20 PM
I think it less mysterious to think in terms of maintaining a steady contact, rather than how much contact.

The rider maintains a steady contact even while the horse may try to evade in by tossing his head, rooting, or by any other movement be it desirable or not....

Once the horse realizes he can't evade the contact, the horse can then be asked to maintain the contact himself. Once the horse agrees to maintain the contact, the rider can give to the horse an amount necessary where the rider by her skill can still maintain a steady contact, and the horse will continue to be sensitive to it.

The contact is the "phone connection" between the riders hand and the horses mouth, If the rider can't feel the horse, the horse cannot feel the rider.

There is a limit as to how little contact can be maintained because the reins themselves have weight, and at some point the rider will be only be carrying one end of the weight of the reins, and the horse carrying the weight of the opposite end, no continuous communication will be posable, and there will be nothing to give forwards for the horse to stretch into.

So it is really the laws of physics that determine the lowest posable level of contact posable where a proper line of continuous communication can still be maintained.

Perhaps riding at the barest minimum of contact may be a goal for some, but for most I think the level may be greater.

Ultimately the disposition of the horse will determine the minimum amount of contact that the particular horse feels he requires to be able to continue listening to his rider clearly, and he should eventually seek out that level by his own will.

But it is by the will and the ability of the rider to allow the horse to discover his preferred level of contact by making every variation of the rein aids have the same meaning for the horse each time the rider performs the aid.

The rein aids then become like the words of a language to the horse, and as the words are spoken clearly into the contact, the horse responses by listening.

Then to give your reins to the horse will cause the horse to stretch out as the horse attempts to reestablish his "phone connection" by his own willingness to engage.

My opinion would be to consider any rider who might always tend to ride with heavy contact as a rider who may not yet have the skill to "keep" a steady contact any more lightly, and this would be the area that the rider might endeavor to improve upon.

Although certain horses may desire a heavy contact for various reasons. e.g. A less sensitive draft horse may desire more contact then a TB...

netg
Oct. 4, 2010, 09:56 PM
My horse (TB) and my mom's horse (Friesian/Andalusian) both like the same very light contact when they're accepting contact. They're actually at fairly similar stages of learning to accept contact, though my mom's horse is reaching it far faster, as she simply had never been asked to really accept contact that I can tell, whereas my horse was a curler/evader.

Our contact is such that, essentially, when I want a stretchy/chewy circle there's just enough contact that if I allow the reins to slip through my fingers the horses reach slowly out/down to try to regain that contact, and barely pull the reins through my fingers as they go because the friction of the reins slipping isn't a lot less than our contact. I prefer very light contact, so as I'm the one teaching them, this is what we get. However - it IS contact, at least at times (see statement about both still learning above). There's a big difference between an engaged hind end pushing into your hands and any slight change in your hands/legs/seat causing a response from the horse and a horse going along on his own and pretending you're not there with no contact. If I choose to have more firm contact, I can make that decision, too. I simply don't respond as softly, and the horse will lean back equally for the most part. I think most horses who are heavy in the hands are due to a rider - maybe not the current rider, but someone in their training.

naturalequus
Oct. 4, 2010, 10:11 PM
Horses will reflect a rider's hands and a heavy horse typically means heavy hands. However that is not to be confused with a light horse picking up several lbs of contact (who is essentially extremely light, responsive, and sensitive).

mbm
Oct. 5, 2010, 12:35 AM
you should never feel like you are pulling back, nor should the hands be dead.

but your feel on the reins should always be "forward thinking" and the contact should be ultimately what the horse needs to do as asked.

the more the horse is asked to collect the lighter the contact should be - altho the contact may get heavier as the horse learns.

but pulling and heavy contact is a no no.

there are lots of good books on the subject that can give you a really good basic foundation in understanding.

mbm
Oct. 5, 2010, 12:37 AM
The amount I pull depends so much on the horse and the request I am making. I do want to make sure that the amount of leg I am using coincides with the amount of hand (the more I take on the reins, the more I activate with the leg).

When I give, it is not a big give, it is just a lessenning of the backwards pull. I do not want to Drop the horse, or give to it so much that it thinks it should stretch down to retake the contact.

I have no idea the amount of weight I have at the end of the reins though; somewhere between the weight of a toilet paper roll and a small can of soup, with stronger takes when needed.

I do find though, that a rider with a weak leg will tend to want to pull harder to acheive results; so perhaps when you ride the horse it is that your leg isn't as strong as the trainers, so the horse ends up balancing on the reins rather than up off your legs.


do you really pull on the reins? or are you just joking?

horsefaerie
Oct. 5, 2010, 01:16 AM
Just enough to talk to the horse.

Rockin H Transport
Oct. 5, 2010, 01:42 AM
This is a very, very interesting thread.

I'ts pretty amazing to read the different interpretations of the same feeling, or the feeling of trying to achieve the same interpretation =)

Eiterh way, it's pretty cool!

Tobias
Oct. 5, 2010, 03:00 AM
Thank you all very much, I have learned a lot, and I look forward to what other people have to say as well.

I think maybe it may have a lot to do with me, versus my sister, she is a bit stronger in her legs, even tho I have to use a lot of leg on my TB, you have to use a lot more on her horse, (but we are working on that) just to keep going sometimes. (I'm stronger in the seat, back, shoulders...brakes department, lol)

I want to watch her ride more and see how much contact she has. I do think that her training is a lot different than mine, because I can not figure out what you do to get her horse to collect. But not the way I do with mine. I know most ways are similar, but I'm still trying to figure it out.

When I said that I release the rein as a reward when my horse gives to the bit, I don't necessarily drop it, I just soften my hands more vs. holding him. I don't know, I think sometimes it depends on how my horse is that day.

It is very interesting to learn everyone's ways. Thanks again!

mbm
Oct. 5, 2010, 03:06 AM
re: the legs thing...

the rule is that you never ask more with your legs than you can carry with your hands, and you never have more weight in your hands that you generate with your legs.

in other words: the hind end creates the weight in the reins - not your hands!

the rider should start with a *light* soft, following contact and thru correct development the horse will learn how to use the light contact to correctly use its back etc.

as the horse develops more and more the horses frame will shorten and at that time the reins will get shorter since the rider will need to shorten them to keep the same feel.

but trying to develop or ride collection by pulling is the complete opposite of what should happen and will destroy any collection the horse can give. (if you define collection as bending of the joints of the hind end)

please read some books on the subject instead of asking on a BB where you have no idea of who is giving you the info or how correct it is!

please go buy "The Complete Training of the Horse and Rider " by A. Podhasjky, or another really good one "The training of a young horse, the first 2 years" by Anthoney Crossley. that is a super book and is really really clear and concise.

you can get both books for pretty cheap used online.

Bats79
Oct. 5, 2010, 06:25 AM
I can't believe the number of horses that I ride nowdays that have been "pushed" into one hand by a rider with a strong leg that is too far back. As they push the horse's hindquarters in / across the shoulder bulges out into the rein and the horse gets heavier and heavier. It's not a deliberate move on the rider's part to make the horse heavier in their hand, but they have no idea why it is happening. Too much "drive" from a crooked rider.

I also find it surprising how much more forward horses become when they are "freed" from a blocking hand. That doesn't mean dropping the contact but allowing the horse more freedom of the neck by finding a better moment of self carriage and developing it.

Petstorejunkie
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:12 AM
I got to do the Jane Savoie riding simulator thing at WEG which DOES have sensors in the reins ;) just watching the other riders was very educational, let alone riding it myself. I got to SEE what was going on with my left hand that i'd been arguing with for a few weeks.

you want enough contact to keep the rein from popping, and a clear communication flowing back to your elbow. depending on the horse rider pair and the level of balance education, that amount of pressure to create that contact will vary.

naturalequus
Oct. 5, 2010, 09:43 AM
I think maybe it may have a lot to do with me, versus my sister, she is a bit stronger in her legs, even tho I have to use a lot of leg on my TB, you have to use a lot more on her horse, (but we are working on that) just to keep going sometimes. (I'm stronger in the seat, back, shoulders...brakes department, lol)

You should not have to use a lot of leg on a horse - that is a sensitization problem. Horses (any horse) can be taught to be light rather quickly. It is one of the basics, part of the foundation that should be addressed prior to 'specialization' and asking for higher-level work such as collection.


I can not figure out what you do to get her horse to collect. But not the way I do with mine. I know most ways are similar, but I'm still trying to figure it out.)

Get yourself a really good classical coach. Work on exercises (Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping by Islay Auty, 101 Progressive Dressage Exercises) that progressively work up the Training Scale and encourage the horse to start balancing and collecting naturally and on their own. It shouldn't be something you are creating in the horse - you simply set the horse up via patterns and exercises and the horse initiates all else.

Eclectic Horseman
Oct. 5, 2010, 09:55 AM
Depends on the level of training.

In the beginning, you are looking for contact that is steady and relaxed. You want the horse to telescope his neck out and reach for the bit and find his balance. If he starts to hang on the bit, then the weight needs to be redirected to his haunches though various exercises (like leg yield) which he should perform while keeping the contact steady.

Then you are ready to start to teach the half halt. Depending on how heavy the horse has gotten on the bit, you may need to make a stronger or longer half halt when you begin schooling the hh. You need to make sure that the horse keeps his neck long and low and does not drop the contact, shorten or raise his neck and come above the bit and hollow his back. You need to make sure that the horse keeps the same forward energy and does not drag his feet and slow down. All you are trying to do is to get the horse to rebalance more of his weight back toward his haunches, which will lighten the forehand and make your contact lighter.

The more the horse is rebalanced to the haunches, the greater degree of collection and the lighter the contact. If the contact becomes lighter because the horse has shortened his neck, or come behind or above the bit, then it is incorrect.

esdressage
Oct. 5, 2010, 12:34 PM
There was a nice illustration in Dressage Today to help people visualize the feel they should strive for in the reins. It was of a person pushing a shopping cart slightly downhill, and the caption said that your feel should be similar, holding enough that the cart doesn't roll away downhill, but still always keeping that sense of forward momentum.

Percheron X
Oct. 5, 2010, 01:48 PM
Shopping carts remind me that I need to go shopping...

netg
Oct. 5, 2010, 01:58 PM
There was a nice illustration in Dressage Today to help people visualize the feel they should strive for in the reins. It was of a person pushing a shopping cart slightly downhill, and the caption said that your feel should be similar, holding enough that the cart doesn't roll away downhill, but still always keeping that sense of forward momentum.

I love that example! It also allows for various amounts of weight in the cart, so those who prefer a contact which isn't as light can still understand the difference in feel between stronger contact and holding the horse up. :)

SmartAlex
Oct. 5, 2010, 02:46 PM
With my horse, my "pull" needs to be measured in ounces, certainly less than a pound. He will hold my hand in an equilibrium which feels more like "balance" than "pressure". If his mouth feels like it weighs more than the incoming mail, I have too much hand or not enough seat or leg.

naturalequus
Oct. 5, 2010, 03:10 PM
There was a nice illustration in Dressage Today to help people visualize the feel they should strive for in the reins. It was of a person pushing a shopping cart slightly downhill, and the caption said that your feel should be similar, holding enough that the cart doesn't roll away downhill, but still always keeping that sense of forward momentum.

That's a wonderful example of the balance and lightness necessary!!

Tobias
Oct. 5, 2010, 04:36 PM
Love the shopping cart idea! So the amount that my sister seems to be holding is more than a heavy shopping cart on a steep hill. But I'm not sure.

I don't really care if I can't ride my sister's horse the way that she does, I know that I am riding my horse the way that I was taught, and that makes me happy. I appreciate everyones suggestions for the books, but I really have NO money now to buy a book...for my sisters horse.

I just thought it was odd how she rides, and was curious how other people ride. I did the robot horse thing too at a show once, the contact needed was very light and it was great!

Thanks again for everyones opinions, I will keep checking in.

esdressage
Oct. 5, 2010, 04:41 PM
I appreciate everyones suggestions for the books, but I really have NO money now to buy a book...for my sisters horse.

I don't know where you live, but larger public libraries might surprise you with their inventory. Also, Amazon has an amazing used book marketplace. I just bought my daughter a "used" textbook (didn't look like it had even been cracked open) that normally retails close to $100 for $20 with free shipping. If you're really hungry for info, either of those would be a great avenue to find some amazing reading material!