Frustrated. Q about suppling jaw/neck and hand riding-UPDATE
My horse is an older reschool. He has the giraffe head. He was previously ridden in draw reins and standing martingale. We’ve been working on dressage for just 2 months. I’m beginning to get confused with suppling the jaw/neck and the line between this and hand riding. What is the best way to do this? Obviously it depends on the horse, but I’ve seen hands low and wide, or the 3 supples like Jane Savioe recommends to sponging/massaging, etc.. All of it seems like it can lead to hand riding if you are not careful. I feel like this is where I am now. I am taking lessons, but I know at times I am not riding back to front, but I am not corrected. If fact, I am told I have to not be afraid to get in his mouth. It does not feel right. It feels like a fight with my horse and I know I am using too much hand, but not sure how to correct it. I’ve read back to front, leg to hand, etc. but what about more extreme cases where the horse loves to stick his head in the air. If I keep my hands steady and do not do anything, he will not lower his head.
The thing is that I have felt his back come up and he does start to get round. When this happens all is right with the world, but to get there does not seem right. It seems too forceful. I do not want to sour my horse. He has a very willing attitude, but is very sensitive. He is also older with a weak stifle and some of this is probably a little hard for him right now. I feel like it has turned into a more forceful thing b/c I’ve been told to not ever let his head go up in the air even for a stride or two and this leads to me trying to force his head down, or at least that is how it feels.
Now the reason why I am confused is because although it seems forced at times, it also seems light and great at times. Where is the line between suppling the jaw and neck and hand riding?
UPDATE-I did some experimenting on my own and found my gelding is not very stiff at all, just does not like me messing with his mouth a lot as I was instructed to do. Now this seems like common sense, being that he is a sensitive TB, but I was doing what I was told in a lesson.
I tried keeping my hands in riding position with very little movement of the bit or attempted flexion of the jaw. I concentrated on his back and hind and low and behold he just offered to drop his neck and chew the bit. I know this is no secret, I just don't get how so many instructors try to have you hand ride! Needless to say, I don't take with this person anymore.
I've also been trying some of the ideas from the Mary Wanless book and the breathing is so key for my horse!