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  1. #1
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    Default Spinoff: Correct hands

    I was reading the draw reins thread after having a conversation with another person who saw riders being trained to pull their horses down and round. (Not talking rollkur.)

    It made me think about how many people don't seem to truly understand a following hand that can be resistant when necessary vs a pulling hand/rein.

    So my question out here is to ask how many of you have had an instructor teach you how to follow by truly focusing on the feel by working with you directly without trying to do it solely on the horse so they can feel your technique and tension while pretending to be the horse and how many have never had that lesson and have instead fumbled through for years to find it.

    Im also curious to know how many are still taught busy hands that see saw, or have been taught to pull, pull, pull on each side to overbend and muscle their horse's head into a position. (And if you were, how many of you still do this. I realize their can be a momentary exception to a rule. I'm talking about something longer than a few strides and one ride. I mean as a standard of training for the pull or see saw methods.)
    Last edited by Velvet; Apr. 16, 2013 at 09:17 AM.
    "Relinquish your whip!!"



  2. #2
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    I find it very revealing to pick up the rein from the horse's end, and then simply have the rider "pick up a contact."

    I even do it with longe lines and lead ropes. "Pick up this rope and 'say hello.'"

    The absence of "feel" in some cases is astonishing.
    But it can be dramatically improved sometimes by just spending five minutes holding the other rein for them and showing them what it SHOULD feel like.



  3. #3
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    Default

    I've certainly had instructors who taught all of the methods you ask about; but, in all honesty one of the best methods of developing feel I'm about to propose is old, antiquated and probably going to sound unconventional as a result. My grandfather taught me feel by using a rein board, those contraptions that were made to teach those learning to drive horses how to manage and use the reins properly without pull, pull, pull and no horse to suffer through the learning process.
    Ranch of Last Resort
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  4. #4
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    My trainer has never did the example above but she knows when i get to busy because she always says quiet hands. She also knows if I'm holding and not following because she always calls me out. She has taught me to follow and a true feel. My previous trainer did not and I did hold more than i should. Horse did well in shows but feeling the new connection on my new one, had to retire the old horse, it's a different feel. She makes sure my elbows are bent, that I'm soft all around from my shoulders to my hands. She has taught me that the hold comes through my shoulder not my elbows and my elbows stay soft.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


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  5. #5
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    Aug. 28, 2007
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    I was taught to think of the reins as solid sticks. You have to have enough contact and consistency so your sticks stay intact, which also allows you to push the nose out
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rabicon View Post
    She has taught me that the hold comes through my shoulder not my elbows and my elbows stay soft.
    Ding ding ding.

    True feel is not about the hands.
    It is about the back.



  7. #7
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    I would go farther and say correct hands are about the seat as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Velvet View Post
    I was reading the draw reins thread after having a conversation with another person who saw riders being trained to pull their horses down and round. (Not talking rollkur.)

    It made me think about how many people don't seem to truly understand a following hand that can be resistant when necessary vs a pulling hand/rein.

    So my question out here is to ask how many of you have had an instructor teach you how to follow by truly focusing on the feel by working with you directly without trying to do it solely on the horse so they can feel your technique and tension while pretending to be the horse and how many have never had that lesson and have instead fumbled through for years to find it.

    Im also curious to know how many are still taught busy hands that see saw, or have been taught to pull, pull, pull on each side to overbend and muscle their horse's head into a position. (And if you were, how many of you still do this. I realize their can be a momentary exception to a rule. I'm talking about something longer than a few strides and one ride. I mean as a standard of training for the pull or see saw methods.)
    I learned busy hands in the breed show world many years ago - and have been trying to unlearn it since. It is not something I am aware of when I do it, nor does it have intentional intent to create an effect, so eyes on the ground are VERY important to me. I've had multiple trainers hold the other end of the reins from me to work on that feel. Ultimately, my horse is the best teacher because when I do my part correctly, ask him to step up into the contact rather than taking contact, etc., our contact is solid and soft and lovely.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rabicon View Post
    She makes sure my elbows are bent, that I'm soft all around from my shoulders to my hands. She has taught me that the hold comes through my shoulder not my elbows and my elbows stay soft.
    I struggled with my hands for so many years! My former instructor would tell me to steady my hands, and would have me hold a whip, have me use a grab strap, would constantly talk about "squeezing a sponge as the only movement".

    I could not understand what she was saying. I just didn't get it. I would lock my elbows and clamp my upper arm from shoulder to elbow against my body in an attempt to still my hands. I was very frustrated for a long time.

    I did switch instructors last summer. I had been too busy throughout the winter and spring to take any lessons and when I was ready to start back up in May my former instructor and I could not get a lesson schedule together. I tried a lesson with someone else and was very pleased, so I stayed with her.

    And she was able to approach my problem with my hands as a relaxation issue. Instead of focusing on "stilling my hands" she approached it as a relaxation issue in my elbows. No tension, no bracing. Just softness and relaxation. When my hands start to bounce, I know I am tensing up and all I have to do is relax.

    I am so proud of my hands now. Without that tension I can actually "squeeze the sponge" now, follow his mouth and not look like I am dribbling a basketball while I do it, too. And guess what else? He is finally beginning to trust my contact! So the pay off has been huge.
    Sheilah



  9. #9
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    I haven't had an instructor teach me to see-saw, or set my hands down, but I have had students who have been taught these "tricks".

    I don't think of working with students "hands" until their seats are stable, and their hands can be independent. From the shoulders down, belongs to the reins, and the horse's mouth. The rest of the their body deals with the horse.

    Since we are hand oriented critters, it can be quite a challenge for some.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  10. #10
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    Apr. 9, 2013
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    True feel comes right from the back (as has been discussed), and as an extension, from the seat.
    Like most riders, my weakness is my hands and I am always trying to re write years of muscle memory and be constantly pushing my hands forward and away from my body. It is a challenge, but as a technical person I always picture in my head the energy coming from behind up into the contact and it (usually) assures me that yes, the horse will be round if he is active enough behind. It is especially a challenge not to get too busy with the hands on a horse who tends towards above the bit.
    It really always amazes me the extent of feel that we (general we) as riders do not have. And the acceleration of learning with a good coach. I thought last year at this time that yeah, I know what I'm doing. But now I realize, no, there are so many pieces of the puzzle that were missing then, and even a month ago all the things that were missing. And then I get a bit worried that I will never be able to know what I don't know. But I guess if I knew everything I needed to be working on, right at this moment, it would be overwhelming.
    Learning and the human brain is such a fickle thing. My coach, and I to a point with my students, has observed that she could probably hop up and teach something to a horse in 1/10th of the time it takes her to teach the rider to do it and that riders are the most frustrating part of coaching. And I totally understand that. As a coach who also rides and trains, it is really difficult not to get frustrated and kick the rider off the horse and do it myself - but the saying is catch a fish for a man and he will eat for a day, but teach him to fish and he will never starve. And I feel like that is so the case with teaching riders, and especially in the contact and feel.
    Unfortunately, in the case of hands and learning the contact, this can sour many, many horses in the process.

    While I have had the other end of my rein grabbed onto, and have done it myself, I've never done a dismounted "contact" session. As well, I find it quite evident in the horse when there is a blatant pull occurring. The easiest way I've found to counteract this tension without standing in the middle of a circle until I'm blue in the face saying "give, give, give, give, hands down, soft elbows, give give, give..." is to get the rider to scratch the horse's wither with an outside hand, or both hands. Try it out yourself when you feel tension creeping into the contact - just pet the horse's wither with a hand



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~DQ~ View Post
    Learning and the human brain is such a fickle thing. My coach, and I to a point with my students, has observed that she could probably hop up and teach something to a horse in 1/10th of the time it takes her to teach the rider to do it and that riders are the most frustrating part of coaching.
    Last week I sent my dressage trainer an email, thusly: "I remembered to keep my hands low in the half pass! Sadly I remembered this in the car on the way home, and not on the actual horse."

    So while riding test practice in a lesson over the weekend, I initiated half pass, and then hollered: "I AM REMEMBERING NOW NOT IN THE CAR."

    She puts up with me.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    Last week I sent my dressage trainer an email, thusly: "I remembered to keep my hands low in the half pass! Sadly I remembered this in the car on the way home, and not on the actual horse."

    So while riding test practice in a lesson over the weekend, I initiated half pass, and then hollered: "I AM REMEMBERING NOW NOT IN THE CAR."

    She puts up with me.
    Sometimes I am very glad to be riding out of a private stable and not at a busy public barn, because the tings I utter to myself in the tack would surely make most think I've completely lost it.
    I actually have been known to yell at myself on occasion hahaha. But, it works for me as I am without a coach 90% of the time :P



  13. #13
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    Teaching a horse, particularly a green one that doesn't require retraining, is much easier than teaching most riders. There are a few exceptions on both sides.

    This is why there are some who happily take the students money, then talk them into allowing them to train the horse. Poor rider never learns anything, with the result that the horse is constantly being "retrained".

    This sort of thing tends to make me evil.

    And yes! "hands" can be one of the harder things to teach or reteach, just because it has so little to do with just "hands".
    Taking it day by day!



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    Last week I sent my dressage trainer an email, thusly: "I remembered to keep my hands low in the half pass! Sadly I remembered this in the car on the way home, and not on the actual horse."

    So while riding test practice in a lesson over the weekend, I initiated half pass, and then hollered: "I AM REMEMBERING NOW NOT IN THE CAR."

    She puts up with me.
    I think I love you.

    Quote Originally Posted by ~DQ~ View Post
    Try it out yourself when you feel tension creeping into the contact - just pet the horse's wither with a hand
    I have the opposite problem - my horse disappears from the other end of the line. I'm starting to learn reaction #1: Close your mother $@&(ing fingers! and #2: fix your seat. If I'm reliable for him, he's there, but if I'm not, he sucks back and ducks.

    On the other hand, I manage to have light and steady contact with the horses who want to lean on their riders...
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  15. #15
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    I only had one once in the late 90s who taught see-sawing. I did recently have one that was trying to get me to "lock my elbows," but I did not work with her for very long.

    By and large, most of my instructors have been really great about helping me move with the horse and have a feeling hand. My two issues are a) letting my hands get too open, and thereby b) as time goes on, letting the reins get too long, so I end up having to use a backward hand even though I do have a fairly good, gentle, following contact when my reins are the appropriate length (my bigger issues are leg-usage-related). Most instructors I've worked with, including my current one, have narrowed in on those issues.

    My mare also does her best to point it out to me when I've started to do one of those things (or any other thing) wrong. She's very helpful that way.



  16. #16
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    My first riding instructors way back in the mid 90s were see saw queens. Both of them preferred to slap on the draw reins than teach how to achieve and maintain connection. Over the next 15 years I had instructors take the time to teach what contact was and what it should feel like. It was definitely a learning curve for me because I was always afraid I was "choking" my horse, preferring a looser, but incorrect rein. (Too bad I wasn't into western pleasure

    I thought see-sawing was a thing of the past until last year when my then instructor got on my horse for the first time and proceeded to pull and see-saw. Literally my heart sank, this horse is soft and trusting of the contact. It was at that moment that I lost all respect for her and began to realize that indeed much of her coaching/instruction was hand rather than seat/leg focused. My current instructor and a clinician I work with usually commended me for having good hands, but are in need of further refining by keeping the fingers closed consistently. Such a frustrating habit to break!!!



  17. #17
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    Like others, I was taught that correct hands come from an independent seat. One thing that my coach stressed early on was that the connection between hand and mouth should be "living." That's not to say that the hand moves and directs in dramatic ways, but that it responds to the horse elastically. Just as we cue by vibrating our calf muscles rather then clenching or flailing, so too do we vibrate the finger muscles to ask for a softening of the jaw, etc. This is in an ideal world, of course I can guarantee you that my rides last week on a particularly fresh green-bean did NOT follow that pattern!



  18. #18
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    The lady I ride with occasionally has shown me what correct contact is by holding one end of the rein while I hold the other. Funnily enough, she said I throw too much contact away, I tend to give through the back when the horse pulls or when a horse needs more hold. I also ride with open fingers.
    She does also say that there should be a constant light conversation through the reins, which I struggle with. I tend to just leave the horse "alone" when it is going well. Makes sense though, because sometimes when I do go to half halt, they are a bit surprised, like they forgot I was up there.


    Question though, with contact. I had a lesson with another lady for a day and she had me riding with a strong outside contact, IMO, and a very light contact through the inside rein. Actually felt very inconsistent on the inside rein. I know of the whole inside leg to outside rein, but haven't really ever ridden it. My usual lady encourages riding the horse evenly through both reins with equal softness. Even through bend and lateral movements. Is one more correct than the other, or are they both right? (Should I start a new thread?)



  19. #19
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    The comment about keeping an"alive" contact is important. I think too many of us believe that we should NEVER close our fingers or turn our wrist, because that is see sawing. Or never bring our hands down or anywhere other than in the "box" above their withers. I do what my horse needs at the moment. Right now we struggle with a consistant right bend/flex. He is giving the side of his face (flex at the poll) but he bulges his neck on the inside of the right bend. I do ground work to loosen it up (turn his head until he relaxes), but sometimes (more and more seldom) he needs me to remind him of that under saddle.

    I also ride with an "even contact" trainer. In the past, I have had issues with the horse twisting his face because of too strong outside rein. There are times to give the inside rein, to be sure, and times to take it, but..... in general, I do what the horse needs at the moment to be straight and correct!

    JMHO



  20. #20

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    well, lets take away the term "see saw" and ask, do you ever slide the bit in the horses mouth? If you "sponge" what are you doing? how about a "demi arrete" where you use on, or both reins to move the bit up off the bars of the mouth onto the lip? what do you so if you want the horse to simply yield the poll, without changing bend? What do you do if you want the horse to simply change bend, without yielding the poll? How does the action of the hand differ.

    I have had people swear that they trained a horse from never carried a rider, to GP without ever pulling the rein. This, i do not believe.

    The essential thing is be be able to carry your hand, or move your hand, with complete independence of what the seat or legs are doing. I have seen dressage riders with a great seat, when on the contact, suddenly look like jack in the boxes if the contact is dropped, so actually they are relying on the contact for balance.

    sometimes the aids can whisper, but there are times when a whisper will not do.

    There is the whole, never rotate the wrist thing, yet when a horse is trained, rotating the wrist is what brings bend or turn rotate in, the horse bends,m rotate out, the horse turns, usually just a little. learning this teaches a rider not to pull back to accomplish either


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