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To break the wrists or not break the wrists, that is the question

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    To break the wrists or not break the wrists, that is the question

    When I first learned to ride, it was definitely the pull to turn, kick to go option, that’s what you get for the cheapest barn around, but it was great fun.

    As an adult I started having ‘proper’ lessons, and was taught to flex the wrist to give subtle signals.

    Then MUCH later I came back to horses, and discovered dressage, and have been consistently taught be people to keep the wrists straight and move the whole arm to “ask”

    Yesterday we had our second lesson with a visiting coach, me on my greenie, carrying a damaged leg that wasn’t liking trotting so much, so we had a low key lesson, that was frankly bloody awesome. When I asked her if she preferred the hand moving back to the hip, or up to the belly etc, she said no “just this much” and demonstrated breaking the wrist, it felt like a bright light had come on and I could hear angels singing. It’s now OK to break the wrist again.

    I am wondering if this is changes in fashion, different instructors views, or what?

    it just felt great, and with subtle changes in my seat, a little pelvic tilt, he was working through so nicely, could feel the back end power!
    "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

    "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

    #2
    hmmmm...I never think of breaking my wrist. Do you actually mean flexing it? I lose the power of my elbow and lats if do that. I think more about bringing my elbow back or sponging with my fingers. The other thing I do is called turn the key or scoop the ice cream...is that what you mean?
    Humans dont mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Sebastian Junger

    Comment


      #3
      At a Carl Hester symposium I heard “hold the reins like you are holding a mug with two handles”. I feel any wrist breaking becomes a backward motion with no purpose like a half halt behind it.

      Comment


        #4
        The connection comes from the weight down through the elbow and the forearm is an extension of the rein. Thus, the only way to adjust it and maintain the connection is from the elbow. Breaking the wrist would be a bad habit, and you use the fingers to make small adjustments.
        Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
        you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

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          #5
          i feel connected with a straight line from my horse's mouth to my elbow. Thinking about it just now and moving my wrists, i can visualize me angling them up and down a little bit now and then, but to bend at my wrist nah. Seems i would feel a loss of connection that way....almost like kinda having the reins slip.

          Consistency, Insistency, Persistency

          Comment

            Original Poster

            #6
            Interesting, will obviously need to follow this up more..obviously starting with my understanding of what was said....

            "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

            "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

            Comment


              #7
              Yes clarity on what you mean would help. You should be able to ride a dressage horse while holding a stick across your hands with your thumbs holding it, while holding the reins, or you can do the same with your dressage whip.
              It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
                Yes clarity on what you mean would help. You should be able to ride a dressage horse while holding a stick across your hands with your thumbs holding it, while holding the reins, or you can do the same with your dressage whip.
                I have reached out, seeing as the instructor totally knew I would be awake during the night, going over stuff, and come up with questions 😂
                "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

                Comment


                  #9
                  Have studied/lessoned with various European trainers over the decades. NEVER break the wrists. That disrupts the connection and breaking or twisting the wrists is tantamount to turning your toes out vs parallel to the horse's barrel. OK, maybe you can do either for a second or two, but to think about doing that on purpose? A definite no-no.
                  Savor those rides where you feel like a million bucks, because there will be those where you feel like a cheap date...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I broke my wrists in 1994. I highly recommend NOT breaking the wrists.

                    Oh, I also try to keep my wrists straight when I ride.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I have seen very good riders flex their wrists, what I have heard from an instructor is loose/elastic wrists. Basically, don’t lock them

                      Comment


                        #12
                        If breaking the wrist involves a soft slight inward curve, and soft fingers, with a locked thumb and forefinger, holding the rein, I'm all for it. If locking it straight, ot bending it backward-no go. Relaxed forearms and elbow that give are also a major component in developing a light following contact.

                        Controlled relaxation are the name of the game in riding.
                        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.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I train with a member of the US team. She teaches that ideally, there should never be any backward use of the hand/wrist/elbow/arm. She teaches that flexion comes from using the wrist, but, again, never ever in a backward way. This presupposes that your hands are carried with thumbs on top, and you gently use a wrist motion to ask for flexion, sometimes holding if you have to until the horse gives to the bit, sometimes using small motions as a reminder or to ask for a little more. It works very well for me and my horse, and has gotten my trainer pretty far up the food chain.
                          "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by SillyHorse View Post
                            I train with a member of the US team. She teaches that ideally, there should never be any backward use of the hand/wrist/elbow/arm. She teaches that flexion comes from using the wrist, but, again, never ever in a backward way. This presupposes that your hands are carried with thumbs on top, and you gently use a wrist motion to ask for flexion, sometimes holding if you have to until the horse gives to the bit, sometimes using small motions as a reminder or to ask for a little more. It works very well for me and my horse, and has gotten my trainer pretty far up the food chain.
                            Would this be like "turning a key" as Jane Savoie describes? I use that, but don't break at the wrist, so that the palm would be coming backwards to the arm, ever. And what merrygoround describes is how my instructor has had me tweak my rein hold. Before I let my wrists be very straight, but the slight outward curve at the wrist helps with rein control and I think makes the contact line from the elbow more true. I wouldn't use breaking the wrist for a HH because it would break the connection, and likely the seat isn't involved in the HH at that point. If a strong HH involving more than a squeeze on the rein is needed, the seat will be engaged as well if the rein HH is coming from the elbow instead of the wrist, and also makes it more of a barrier, not a backward aid.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by outerbanks77 View Post

                              Would this be like "turning a key" as Jane Savoie describes?
                              No. I'm familiar with that, and not something I've used with much success. I'm not saying it isn't valid and useful, just not for us. What I'm describing is a movement where your thumb comes inward toward your body. Nothing else needs to move. In Jane's method, the forearm comes into play.

                              "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."

                              Comment


                                #16
                                SillyHorse Hmm, I can't seem to picture that. If the thumb is on top of the rein, and only the thumb moves, what is effected in the rein? I can move my thumb away from the rest of my hand, but don't see how that would have a rein effect that would produce flexion. It seems like at least the wrist would need to rotate in a bit, while a bigger rotation would involve the forearm more. Can you explain more?

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by outerbanks77 View Post
                                  SillyHorse Hmm, I can't seem to picture that. If the thumb is on top of the rein, and only the thumb moves, what is effected in the rein? I can move my thumb away from the rest of my hand, but don't see how that would have a rein effect that would produce flexion. It seems like at least the wrist would need to rotate in a bit, while a bigger rotation would involve the forearm more. Can you explain more?
                                  No, no, your wrist moves so that your thumb (and whole hand, really) moves inward towards your body. Sorry for not being more clear!
                                  "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I *think* you're actually describing flexing as opposed to breaking. Breaking should never be done - it is when the wrists bend so that the thumbs of the fists point away from each other. This introduces massive tension into the arm. Flexing the wrists makes the thumbs point more or less (typically less) towards each other and does not introduce negative tension when kept within reason and not held for long periods.
                                    Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

                                    Comment

                                      Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by sascha View Post
                                      I *think* you're actually describing flexing as opposed to breaking. Breaking should never be done - it is when the wrists bend so that the thumbs of the fists point away from each other. This introduces massive tension into the arm. Flexing the wrists makes the thumbs point more or less (typically less) towards each other and does not introduce negative tension when kept within reason and not held for long periods.
                                      You are right, that’s what I am describing, I asked for more clarification and got this back


                                      . Lots to say in regards to this but I will try to keep it short and relative.

                                      1) wrist ideally should rotate away from the neck and knuckles towards the neck.

                                      2) if you can keep the inside rein from rubbing on the horses neck this will help bring a more correct bend through the entire spine rather than just allowing the horse to fold at the withers

                                      3) not against thumbs rotating forward but I’d rather you didn’t.

                                      4) remember this is all just biomechanical guidelines and most importantly you MUST be effective so if what you are doing isn’t working do something that gets the desired results and fine tune the aids as you develop.

                                      Feel free to ask more questions.

                                      While I was sat elevating the bad leg yesterday evening, I put a lung line around my foot, and played with my hands. It was interesting how little I have to do with my hands to make my foot move 😂

                                      It also made me realize, at long last, that if I flex with the fingers, when I release I release the grip...hence why my reins get longer. If I flex with the wrist it’s a lot easier to keep a positive hold when I release. It’s certainly one to play with, and feels a lot better than the ‘solid’ wrists i have been trying to have.


                                      i sometimes wonder if it’s just me, but I struggled most of my life to have “soft hands” only to find loose fingers are not soft hands, they start at the shoulders.

                                      I only managed to get control of my totally wayward, bouncing hands when I stopped trying to keep them still, and started actually using them to ride.


                                      "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                                      "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by KBC View Post

                                        It also made me realize, at long last, that if I flex with the fingers, when I release I release the grip...hence why my reins get longer. If I flex with the wrist it’s a lot easier to keep a positive hold when I release. It’s certainly one to play with, and feels a lot better than the ‘solid’ wrists i have been trying to have.
                                        YES!


                                        Originally posted by KBC View Post
                                        i sometimes wonder if it’s just me, but I struggled most of my life to have “soft hands” only to find loose fingers are not soft hands, they start at the shoulders.

                                        I only managed to get control of my totally wayward, bouncing hands when I stopped trying to keep them still, and started actually using them to ride.

                                        It's not just you, and another big YES!

                                        "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."

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