PDA

View Full Version : how to stop bad hands



Dawnfarm
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:03 PM
Hey all... I have a student who I can NOT get to stop pulling on the horses mouth. I have tried everything I can possibly think of. Holding a crop under thumbs, hooking fingers under breastplate, holding cups of water, putting her on different school horses that are not so strong, etc. Every time she is about to "get" the feel of the horse coming through from behind... right at the moment when the horse resists just a bit before giving.. instead of just waiting for the give so she can give back she yanks on the bit. If you have her ride not asking for anything she see saws her hands and gets the horses head wagging... which I can stop most of the time now... She understands the theory how the horse is supposed to come from behind, she can tell you what is "supposed" to happen physiologically, I can't seem to get her to feel it... I am at a loss. She is so close you can see it. But this has been going on way too long... I have also tried a slew of different exercises and I am out of ideas. Just looking for some fresh ideas if anyone has had this problem. Hope the answers help someone else too
Thanks :sadsmile:

Hampton Bay
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:20 PM
You can try having her ride with no gloves in some rougher reins, either web or rubber. Hard to pull back against that without rubbing your hands.

Dawnfarm
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:41 PM
unfortunatly she rides without gloves most of the time...in rubber reins... and has gotten blisters...

MelantheLLC
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:46 PM
Take away the reins. Put her on the lunge until she can get downward transitions from seat alone.

Dawnfarm
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:47 PM
Is there a forum anywhere for instructors/professionals? I have looked and not found any through any organizations...

Dawnfarm
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:54 PM
I did that too.... for weeks.. she got them really well... gave back reins... I almost took away the reins and made her ride without them around the arena, not on a lunge... hmm I may just do that again.. thanks

MelantheLLC
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:59 PM
I also once had an instructor (in England) tie elastic bands, the kind you use for sewing, onto the bit as reins. Then he knotted the real reins and handed me the elastic ones.

Lemme tell ya, in a crowded arena, THAT was an experience! :lol:

GreyStreet
Jan. 17, 2011, 11:19 PM
You don't say how long it's been. I think, in reality, that people forget how long developing actual "feel" really takes. I have been riding for several years under various methods of instruction and have only now really begun to "feel" the correct contact. I finally feel like I'm getting all my parts to work together correctly! Coming into riding years ago as an adult, I also did a lot of reading up and studying on the sport. I could tell you exactly what *should* happen but that didn't mean I could replicate it for you! Developing a real feel and understanding in your BODY, not just your mind, won't happen in the same time frame for everyone.
I think it seems like a simple concept to those who have been practicing it and feeling it for a long period of time, on several horses, but to someone who is just learning and developing, it certainly feels elusive!

Dawnfarm
Jan. 17, 2011, 11:21 PM
hmmm I really like that one... too... I really like that one... that had to be fun...lol

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 17, 2011, 11:38 PM
are you really sure your student wants to change?

Jocko
Jan. 18, 2011, 01:39 AM
You can have her ride one handed ... western style. It's harder to pull with only one hand. It will also stop the seesaw action.

I do this when I start to get "bitchy" with my hands. If my ride gets better, even for a few steps, I know that I have been nagging my horse with my hands.

kalidascope
Jan. 18, 2011, 02:19 AM
What about reversing her reins, so that they are coming in to the top of her hand over her index finger. Like the girl in this http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2801452030075098054TqydQE photo is. Much less pull that way, and harder to 'fix' (the bad fix) your hands.

goeslikestink
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:29 AM
Take away the reins. Put her on the lunge until she can get downward transitions from seat alone.

echo dont give her any reins until she can use her seat and get her balance

also look at her stirrup lenght as odd or wrong size can throow your position out which will effect your balance

as she sounds like shes supporting her weight through the bridle area therfore tilts , leans or hangs on to the horse head, be heavy in hand or handset etc

look here page one on my helpful links pages also look at link 4 and 5
then shoot down to bottom and see other training methods as ther are some simple exercises you can do with her and the hrose
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178116

dwblover
Jan. 18, 2011, 08:58 AM
I had bad hands for years when I was a younger teen. Not necessarily pulling hands, but way too much contact. I finally found an instructor who saved my hands! She had me ride with my thumb and forefinger only on the reins. I was not allowed to touch the reins at all with my other fingers. That way, I could NOT make a fist or tighten my biceps. It taught me to have a forward-thinking, following contact.

alicen
Jan. 18, 2011, 09:16 AM
I finally found an instructor who saved my hands! She had me ride with my thumb and forefinger only on the reins. I was not allowed to touch the reins at all with my other fingers.

I love learning stuff like this!

Char0308
Jan. 18, 2011, 09:25 AM
Have you thought about Rein-Aids?

http://www.rein-aid.com/

johnnysauntie
Jan. 18, 2011, 09:30 AM
You don't say how long it's been. I think, in reality, that people forget how long developing actual "feel" really takes. I have been riding for several years under various methods of instruction and have only now really begun to "feel" the correct contact. I finally feel like I'm getting all my parts to work together correctly!


This, exactly! My instructor feels everything when she rides. I feel probably about 2% of what she observes. And it's taken me a while to develop that little bit of feel.

I too used to snatch my horse's face. We did very focused lessons in which I practiced following contact - not even thinking about anything else, really, just focused on learning the difference between the horse pulling, and the horse seeking contact, and me either softening or following.

Self carriage was also part of the equation.

GimmeQs
Jan. 18, 2011, 11:31 AM
At my suggestion that I didn't have a following contact, my trainer once had me hold the reins upside down, so that my pinkies were on top and my elbows were out to the sides (for a period of several minutes, at walk, trot, and I think canter).

I think this worked for me because I still had all the tools of "normal" riding - could stop, turn, h/h, etc. But the motion that I had gotten used to over the years (and my muscle memory), was different and so I didn't have the same habits, and could feel the effects of different hand/arm actions.

Dawnfarm
Jan. 18, 2011, 11:41 AM
oh I understand it takes years to develope the correct feel... and to get all the parts working together...and I will be the first person to say I think some of this is fear based (last instructor put her on some doozy of horses when she was oh 12 or so and she came to me with it BAD) but she has been riding with me for a couple of years and I have gotten some things through to her and she is a lot better... I am thinking the elastic or rein aid may actually help mechanically.... we have been working a LOT on self carriage concepts lately (trying harder to go that route)... and following and how to get to long and low... (she still yanks back and forth too) I also like the thumb and forefinger thread... so simple and I didn't think of that one... what I am seeing is this... a student who understands intelectually what she is supposed to do, she helps out with the younger kids sometimes and can tell them what to do without telling them to yank the horses mouth off.... but keeps sabotaging herself and her feel... I'm not talking a little bit here... I"m not talking nuances that take years to feel.. if it was just that I wouldn't be begging for ideas lol and she is a teenager and still in the broad strokes mode... just a nice training level frame thats balanced that you can push up to higher level... later... think horse in training level frame wagging head all over the place.. everyone knows... the ones you groan about at shows and feel bad for the horse? The question earlier of does she want to change is a valid question and I have been asking it myself... I really didn't want to go into this so full fledged... I feel bad enough posting this publicly, anyway, but I needed a fresh outlook on it... and an instructor friend said here would be a good place... I think its because she's young that its, I guess, scaring me... I want to get a good break on it Now while she is young enough to re-wright the muscle memory...

Alpha Mare
Jan. 18, 2011, 12:54 PM
Another tactic is to bridge the reins (take the tails in opposite hand) so you really can't move the hands any farther apart.

One thing that helped me as a tense, overthinking-not-feeling adult rerider was to focus on my ELBOWS and keeping them steady at my sides with 'give' for horse's head at walk and canter. You can practice this at the walk easily, making sure the arms move to follow the head, but also that the posture is straight up and the balance remains centered. Thinking about the elbows, and keeping them neatly next to my body, yet flexible, helped me with the 'feel' more than another tactic for my hands. (you can do this with bridged reins also).

In the trot the hands should be steady but elbows will open/close with posting.

Make sure the shoulders are back, seat is soft and there is light contact - so much of the 'on the bit' is the seat/posture. Then transitions, walk-halt (4 or 8 times, as long as it takes for horse&rider to do correctly), then trot-walk-trot, then trot-halt-trot. And when they're really good canter-trot-canter.

I am not an instructor but a rider who has had to have many, many corrections and offer this suggestion as something that 'got through' to me.

coloredcowhorse
Jan. 18, 2011, 01:22 PM
I took the reins off the bit, made a loop with cotton sewing thread and tied the reins to it and it to the bit.....hands got really soft really fast. Scared the poor student half to death but she got out of the horse's mouth and learned to sit balanced rather than using his face to balance herself. (was in indoor arena and horse was a total baby sitter but was getting frazzled with the constant banging his mouth around).

eponacowgirl
Jan. 18, 2011, 01:45 PM
I used bungee cords between the bit and reins to teach a student to soften. Can't pull if there's nothing to pull on. :)

cyberbay
Jan. 18, 2011, 02:12 PM
You may have done this already, but any chance the rider can hook pinkies through martingale or b'plate strap or pommel and keep her hands fixed there while riding a downward transition? She can then feel the pulling she does in the stress she puts on her own fingers.

I do wonder if there is an emotional component to the not pulling -- it sounds on the money about the fear she may have buried in her about those bad past-trainer experiences, where pulling was the only thing the student may have had to save herself. Which makes me wonder if someone other than a 'trainer' works with her on this concept, she might 'hear' it better?

Char0308
Jan. 18, 2011, 02:25 PM
I actually have a fear issue I have been working through as well as bad hands, something that helped with both was to have my trainer in the middle of a circle encouraging me to just ride around the circle and let my body flop around kind of like a wet spaghetti noodle feeling throughout my whole body and making transitions off and on throughout the circle only by letting out a deep breath, letting my floppy spaghetti body just melt down more, and no rein action. I also talk, sing, and make funny noises on and off to distract myself from nerves on days when my horse is a little fresh feeling, which makes me tense. Has really helped me to loosen through my body and therefore loosen my hands some too; we are now trying to add a little form back into my position but still continue noodle body feel as much as possible especially in my core and arms.

CZF
Jan. 18, 2011, 02:31 PM
Would those elastic inserts help her develop a soft feel?

http://www.horsetackreview.com/article-display/26.html

Ibex
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:07 PM
I'm a "grabber". Yes I admit this. Learning to ride very forward on a loopy contact like a well ridden hunter helped me a lot... in my case it's nerves and the fact I'm a control freak and I need to learn that if I let go the world as we know it will not cease...

questomatic
Jan. 18, 2011, 03:40 PM
What about some study and practice of the Alexander technique? If repetition with her body isn't working maybe you need to approach it through the mind.

princessfluffybritches
Jan. 18, 2011, 05:49 PM
I'm with Alpha. If she keeps her elbows glued to her hips, so to speak, then she will be forced to use her seat/thighs and/or fingers tightening to get a down transition. And the hands are left to learn feel.

eventer_mi
Jan. 19, 2011, 10:21 AM
Two suggestions- one of which has already been made. Force her to keep hold of a pommel strap (long one, so her hands are in the correct position). This isn't ideal, as it makes her carry her hands too far back, but it will mitigate the grabbing.

The one I like to use is from Mary Wanless - I use a polo wrap, wrap it around my waist, and take hold of the loose ends in each hand as I hold the reins. Tell her to keep a constant pressure on the wraps, so that she is in effect pushing her hands forward, and with her hands, she pushes her core forward as well, which will help if she grabs as a loss of balance (however minute it may be). This works wonders for me in sitting trot and canter, and shows you how bouncy and backwards your hands are.

Char0308
Jan. 19, 2011, 10:43 AM
CZF. The inserts you linked to are the same as the rein-aid I already suggested. :O)

hundredacres
Jan. 19, 2011, 11:09 AM
I used bungee cords between the bit and reins to teach a student to soften. Can't pull if there's nothing to pull on. :)

I don't understand how this works. The horse does get relief, but the rider is still yanking, right? How would you teach someone "feel" if they aren't actually feeling the mouth? I ask because I've seen it done before but it seemed backwards to me - as opposed to the thread on the reins, where the rider BETTER stop yanking or she won't be able to steer.

easyrider
Jan. 19, 2011, 11:31 AM
Many good suggestions here. Another suggestion: have her hold the reins with her index fingers alone.

walktrot
Jan. 19, 2011, 12:15 PM
What about some study and practice of the Alexander technique? If repetition with her body isn't working maybe you need to approach it through the mind.

Or Centered Riding, which has a lot of Alexander method in it.

CZF
Jan. 19, 2011, 12:19 PM
CZF. The inserts you linked to are the same as the rein-aid I already suggested. :O)

Oh sorry! I missed your post.

Great minds think alike? :cool:

ETA: To the OP, have you tried explaining to your student that when she does that she is hurting the horse? Maybe if she thinks about it that way, she will be more careful? Colouredcowhorse has an idea - scare her into being softer with her hands! :D

coloredcowhorse
Jan. 19, 2011, 01:50 PM
Colouredcowhorse has an idea - scare her into being softer with her hands! :D


Worked for me! First time I ever rode a cutting horse I was determined to steer him around the cow and was seriously pissing off the horse (he knew his job...had won two futurities doing it!)....sales manager at the ranch stopped me and took not just the reins but the entire bridle off of the horse!! Told me to use seat and legs and if I wanted to stop him working the cow to just put a hand on his neck....scared the snot out of me and thrilled me to death at the same time...still get goose bumps when I ride one bridless.

cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony
Jan. 19, 2011, 02:21 PM
Here is some less expensive but higher quality elastic insert reins than the rein aid. I have a pair and they are great for sensitive horses, but might also help people who pull: http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=elastic+insert+rein&_sacat=See-All-Categories
I also like to tie the elbows to the sides, like suggest she wrap a polo wrap around her... or maybe offer it as a suggestion and hope she tries it on her own and if she falls she's less likely to sue... Ha ha..:lol:

BetterOffRed
Jan. 19, 2011, 02:45 PM
Here's what finally taught me about good hands- get a sensitive horse. You QUICKLY learn to get out of the horses mouth! :eek:

Or get an instructor that yells, "GET OUT OF HIS FACE NOW!!!!!!!"

Other torturous ideas that have all been used on me at some point or another:

The exercise where you hold on to the end of the reins and pretend like you are the horse and then have her use the reins. I think this is a good exercise so that she can see what she is doing, what muscles she should be using.

have her hold a whip in her thumbs

all ready mentioned but bridge the reins

hold onto a neck rein or the edges of the saddle pads

ride in front of a mirror, be video taped

get this steady hands thing or put a bucking strap on the saddle. http://www.whinnywidgets.com/steadyhands.aspx

Frankly, the only thing that is going to make her stop any bad habit is to be constantly harrassed...if she wants to change, she will get tired of hearing it for the 111th time and one day she will stop.

EqTrainer
Jan. 19, 2011, 03:01 PM
IME most people are defensive with their hands because they know subconsciously that if they were to let go, that they would fall off.

So until they learn to use their seat and core properly, they cannot truly learn to stop pulling, no matter how badly they want to or intellectually understand what they should be doing instead.

I would work on developing her core stability and put her issues with her hands on the back burner. I think you will find that once she feels safe/secure, she will be more receptive to learning how to change.

AnotherRound
Jan. 19, 2011, 04:35 PM
A bunch of things:

1 - make sure she is not riding pinched at the knee - if so, her balance is off and she will tipple back and forth - bad bad bad - should ride with upper thigh and lower leg but no knee

2 - put running martingale rein stops where you want her hands to be - I've had to do this - I put them between my third and fourth finger like a second rein, and it forces me to KEEP my hands in one place. Doesn't stop jerking if she's going to, but helps...

3 - buy those 5 dollar wrist supports at the drug store - like for people with carpal tunnel to use on the computer - it will stop her from twisting her wrists and bending at the wrists - all these will eliminate some of the extra movement.

4 - have her wear one of those back shoulder blad support tings to keep her shoulders back

5 - if you use all these things, 1, 2, 3, the ONLY way she can jerk a horse's mouth is by pulling back with the shoulder and elbow as fulcrum - straight back - and that's almost how she SHOULD be riding - only not jerking his mouth.

If all else fails, put her on a horse who won't tolerate her shenanigans - and dumps her if she yanks on him.

Also, have her hold the bit in her hands and then you hold the reins and mimick what she is doing to the horse, she'll be able to feel it in her hands and her eyes might go wide.

Last, try behaviour modification. If she jerks, once, she has to get off the horse and stand in the middle of the arena for one minute. The second time, for two. Good way to waste your lesson. That way, if she wants to, she can try to learn not to do what she's doing. And I mean at the first hint of a jerk that goes through her arm. That would be my experiment.

cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony
Jan. 19, 2011, 05:21 PM
Last, try behaviour modification. If she jerks, once, she has to get off the horse and stand in the middle of the arena for one minute. The second time, for two. Good way to waste your lesson. That way, if she wants to, she can try to learn not to do what she's doing. And I mean at the first hint of a jerk that goes through her arm. That would be my experiment.

I'd just get a remote control shock collar and put that on her, or a high power fire hose and just spray that everytime she pulls. :yes:

hundredacres
Jan. 19, 2011, 05:32 PM
I'd just get a remote control shock collar and put that on her, or a high power fire hose and just spray that everytime she pulls. :yes:

:lol: That's the best idea yet :).

Velvet
Jan. 19, 2011, 05:35 PM
Try teaching her "feel" from the ground. Have her hold one rein in her hand and you hold the other end (acting as the horse's mouth). Then tell her to just HOLD, not pull. Then drop the contact from full pressure, to a pound of pressure on the rein. Have her watch what her hands do--which will be to pull back to her stomach. Any release when pulling creates a backwards jerk of the hands.

Start over. Have her be the horse's mouth and YOU be the rider. Have her pull a bit against you, and you just hold. Then have her release most of the contact and show her that your hand follows the motion and doesn't jerk back. Not only will she see it, but she'll feel some of it from her end of the contact.

Now switch back and practice having her hold and you resist and then soften and teach her from your hand how to find the feel. It's easier to practice and teaches a HUGE lesson to the rider on feel.

You can also teach a leading hand rather than jerking or pulling. You can then put her back on the horse and you take the reins near the bit and practice one more time with her in the saddle.

Seriously, this is the best tool I've ever used and I learned it from someone who taught me. You can't forget the feel and it makes it 100x easier to start to find it on the horse and learn to check yourself from pulling. (See sawing and waggling use pulling, so you'll cure that at the same time.)

kdow
Jan. 19, 2011, 05:56 PM
What about taking the horse out of the equation entirely and asking her to do some work (possibly not with you) in body awareness? That's basically what the Alexander technique is, but a good yoga, pilates, or dance class will also help. It's about being aware of what you're doing with your body and learning to pay attention without having to focus on it.

That might help her become more aware of what she's physically doing so she can stop tensing up before she can get into the horse's mouth.

I mean, generally you learn to ride by riding, but it sounds like you've tried most of the mounted exercises without much luck, so that's why I'm thinking go a different route.

ise@ssl
Jan. 19, 2011, 06:04 PM
I would suggest that you MAKE HER speak out loud as she's riding. Tell her an instruction and have her repeat it back to you as she's doing it. This oral exercise does pattern the brain - it's a form of training that many athletes us in various sports. I know some Three Day trainers tell their students to do this cross country to maintain a steady focus on the horse and the course.

jevousaime
Jan. 19, 2011, 06:09 PM
I used to have very bad hands!

What my instructor did, was tie my arms around my body, where there was a rope around my biceps and chest. I couldn't hardly move my arms so I was forced to learn to use my whole body (more properly) while riding. Maybe this isn't all that safe, but it did help me tremendously. Now, I have the softests hands. Probably too soft! I find myself sometimes almost forgetting about my reins and when I decide I need them a little, I have too much slack and needs to shorten my reins!

sarah88
Jan. 19, 2011, 06:43 PM
This has probably been my biggest issue as a rider. one thing my trainer did that has been HUGELY helpful is to hold the reins close to the bit and face me. I would tend to 'drop' him when he would give and then panic and snatch them back when I realized i had dropped them. When I was actually working I couldn't feel the movements I was making. I felt like i was still. when I pretended i was the horse and my trainer moved the reins I started to realize how such a small move on my part could make such a huge difference in my contact. When I felt what my horse would be feeling I became much more sympathetic to him and make me focus that much more. By being still and simulating the small squeezing of my fingers that i need for him to soften I was able to feel what needed to happen and to translate it to when I was actually working...Good Luck I can sympathize as to how difficult this can be, not bc the rider doesn't want to but because it can be so hard to feel that something is incorrect when you have been doing it a certain way for so long...

MelantheLLC
Jan. 19, 2011, 07:09 PM
I don't understand how this works. The horse does get relief, but the rider is still yanking, right? How would you teach someone "feel" if they aren't actually feeling the mouth? I ask because I've seen it done before but it seemed backwards to me - as opposed to the thread on the reins, where the rider BETTER stop yanking or she won't be able to steer.

I don't know about the rein-aids, but the reason the sewing elastic "worked" was because it took away all sense that you could control the horse with force on the reins. You couldn't. All that a pull would do was stretch the elastic. No way you could drag a horse left or right or set its head, the way you can with leather reins.

But if you could keep your hands steady and even, without pulling, then a soft squeeze (in combo with a seat aid) was a change that went down the elastic, which the horse could apparently recognize as an aid, and respond to as a *aid* rather than because it was being pulled by force.

Does that make sense? If the horse is used to being pulled and forced around, it might not respond at all, but these were schooled horses and they did.

In any case, if I were the instructor, I'd ride the horse with elastic reins first myself to see how it responded. It would certainly be a check on what the horse actually understands.