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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 5, 2011

    Default soften without forward

    I have been watching some training dvd's which are really wonderful however I do have some questions.

    The clinician stresses softening (after giving an aid/half halt) but says not to put your hand/arm forward.

    If I soften/relax my hand that is how I let the horse chew the reins out.

    I am sure the advice is correct I am just missing something, could someone help me understand pls?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2009
    Montreal, Qc


    Which training video? What part?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 20, 2013
    The deep freeze


    Any time you give an aid, there is an end to that aid in order to give the horse a chance to respond. The clinician is likely emphasizing that "end", when you should relax whatever aid you just used. For example, a half-halt, you hold in your abs and seat for half a second or however long is needed, and then relax. You don't have to make it more complicated. The clinician is probably stressing it because some folks, myself included, sometimes forget to relax after asking for something, but if you keep asking, the horse never has a chance to respond.

    If you put your hand/arm forward to finish an aid, you are throwing away whatever you just asked for.

    4 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2009


    OP - that clinician called it softening; my trainer calls it breathing. I think of it as a relaxing of the fingers on the reins, resulting in just the slightest easing of tension w/ out losing the contact.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 30, 2009


    Think of it as going from a neutral position, asking "half halt" please, then back to the neutral position when the horse answers. As Nestor said, if you give the contact away you lose "revving" of the half halt. The horse is asking "What now, I guess I should maybe stop, transition up, stretch down or lengthen my neck, please tell me what you want".
    "I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted". - Anonymous

    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6


    exactly what everyone said, a relaxation of the muscles, while keeping the fingers closed, so that the horse can have a moment of self carriage while waiting for the next instruction.

    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 16, 2008
    Central Oklahoma


    You don't soften your hand. You soften with your armpit, often one armpit (the inside one) more than the other. I also breath out at the same moment.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005


    Sometimes when you halfhalt you close your fingers for a fraction of a second, as you hold in your core for a heart beat. You must relax those fingers, and go back to quiet conversation. Sometimes just stopping your body for the instant is sufficient and you needn't even use your fingers. That depends on you and how attentive your horse is.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

    1 members found this post helpful.

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