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Keeping Your Hands "Alive"

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  • Keeping Your Hands "Alive"

    Having a little trouble with contact. Ha.

    I like to think my hands are soft. Still. Well, too still.

    I at least have enough awareness now to realize when I am deadening my feel and she is leaning on me. I try to keep things light and keep her from falling on me, without having my wrists do weird things.

    Should I just be using my fingers? Should I be using my whole arm, bringing my shoulder back?

    True, I latch a little too hard onto the French classical ideals of softness, a draped rein, and half an ounce in each hand. However, I think a balance should exist between between to passive and a crutch for your pony's head, and being abrasive.

    Any tips? I wish I could post a video, but do not have access to a recorder.

    Also, I try to think a lot about only using one aid at a time, and keeping a space in between the aids, slowing down my chatter with her.

    I think partly why my hands get listless is because I am unsure of what I am actually supposed to be doing to get this clear, concise communication instead of the gibber-gabber.

    For bending, do I actually take my elbow away from my side with the inside rein? Do I just massage with my fingers?

    Remember, French classical idealist! :P (totally making fun of myself. Don't jump all over me)

  • #2
    get a trainer to put you on the lunge and work the horse without stirrups so that you learn to use your balance and learn to work the horse from an independant seat

    look here for some helpful tips read all of page one and all links on page 1

    http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=178116

    also look at other triaining methods further down
    you find some simple exerciseswhcih you can do with your horse whilseon hte lunge for exsample
    having a whip or crop balancing it on top of your thumbs across both hands
    do it in walk then in trot try not to drop it

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Well, maybe I didn't explain myself that well.

      I have a balanced seat, independent seat. I DON'T have a trainer, but I give myself "lunge lessons" in the round pen, without stirrups. My seat isn't perfect by any means, but my problem is not relying on the reins for support.

      My problem is not letting my hands "deaden", meaning remaining too still and "equitation" perfect.

      I want to be able to communicate more efficiently, while keeping a nice, soft, lively connection.

      That's the point of my post.

      Comment


      • #4
        read the link

        http://www.meredithmanor.com/feature...t_evasions.asp

        Comment


        • #5
          Having a trainer, and several lessons with a trainer using a school master, might quickly solve your problems.

          Feel and connection are things we can talk around all day-and night -long. feeling it with input from the ground is far more helpful.
          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


          • #6
            Having a trainer trumps any ideology you may fancy, every day.
            Even the top competitors would not think they could just work on their own.
            Eyes on the ground are extremely important all thru your life, it is the nature of riding well.

            Learn with some educated "eyes on the ground" first, get those basics down pat, the real basics, not what we think in our mind's eye is going on.

            Your use of your hands will fall in place, once everything else in your body is correct, they truly are part of a whole and will find their way as your body does, but your body needs to learn to be independent of them truly first.

            Human brains are wired so much for our use of our hands, we need to learn to rewire for our riding past that.
            An instructor will help, really.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by brennab View Post
              Having a little trouble with contact. Ha.

              I like to think my hands are soft. Still. Well, too still.

              I at least have enough awareness now to realize when I am deadening my feel and she is leaning on me. I try to keep things light and keep her from falling on me, without having my wrists do weird things.

              Should I just be using my fingers? Should I be using my whole arm, bringing my shoulder back?

              True, I latch a little too hard onto the French classical ideals of softness, a draped rein, and half an ounce in each hand. However, I think a balance should exist between between to passive and a crutch for your pony's head, and being abrasive.

              Any tips? I wish I could post a video, but do not have access to a recorder.

              Also, I try to think a lot about only using one aid at a time, and keeping a space in between the aids, slowing down my chatter with her.

              I think partly why my hands get listless is because I am unsure of what I am actually supposed to be doing to get this clear, concise communication instead of the gibber-gabber.

              For bending, do I actually take my elbow away from my side with the inside rein? Do I just massage with my fingers?

              Remember, French classical idealist! :P (totally making fun of myself. Don't jump all over me)
              So coming a little more from the German school aids are not always separate. The legs can be used in conjunction with the hands. Some ques will use hands, seat, and leg.

              For simple bending or lateral such as leg yield or shoulder in you would not use the inside rein you would close your hand on the outside rein for the horse to balance and bend around you leg. If you do this enough corners will just happen with out thinking.

              For walking and canter the hands slightly close and elbows follow the motion of the horse. If you have a bold horse the shoulders can take the contact into your seat for extra leverage.
              Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
              -Auntie Mame

              Comment


              • #8
                What you are ideally seeking is a *passive* hand that neither gives or takes unless you make a decision to use your hand actively for a moment and then return to passive.

                Bluey is correct tho that hand issues evaporate when the body is correct. So stop thinking you must do something with your hands and focus on them being passive while you learn to use your core and seat first. Then you can add your hands back in. Mary Wanless has some great explanations about the passive hand, so does CdK.
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                ---
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by brennab View Post

                  I at least have enough awareness now to realize when I am deadening my feel and she is leaning on me. I try to keep things light and keep her from falling on me, without having my wrists do weird things.
                  Do not allow her to lean on you. Gently vibrate one rein until she stops. One good exercise - halt from the walk. She should stop when you close your fingers and legs. If you feel any weight at all, do not release until she shifts her weight to her rear and stops leaning on you. Reinback occasionally. At each transition, she should feel lighter and lighter.

                  Originally posted by brennab View Post

                  Should I just be using my fingers? Should I be using my whole arm, bringing my shoulder back?
                  If you feel the need to bring your shoulder back, your reins are too long. Your should be able to increase contact by closing your fingers. If you can't, reins are too long. Your fingers should feel like they're in heavy cream, and you should have a sensation that your fingers are inside her mouth.

                  Originally posted by brennab View Post
                  True, I latch a little too hard onto the French classical ideals of softness, a draped rein, and half an ounce in each hand. However, I think a balance should exist between between to passive and a crutch for your pony's head, and being abrasive.
                  There is nothing wrong with having this ideal, and the reality is that only highly-trained horses (and riders) achieve it. I aspire to it every ride. We never have as much contact as other people do, but riding by the weight of the rein is very difficult to do. Many transitions and suppling to get there each time. As we become a better team, those parts of the ride grow longer. My rides are far from passive, because I expect/demand her to pay very close attention to me, so she can hear the whisper of the rein or other aid. But you cannot hold up her head, and do not need to get abrasive.

                  Originally posted by brennab View Post

                  Also, I try to think a lot about only using one aid at a time, and keeping a space in between the aids, slowing down my chatter with her.
                  Good for you! You'll find clarity in using only one aid at a time because you can't "cover" with a different one. It's humbling to ride with one rein, when you can't use the secondary rein to straighten the neck or "help" stay on track.

                  Originally posted by brennab View Post
                  For bending, do I actually take my elbow away from my side with the inside rein? Do I just massage with my fingers?
                  If you have even contact on both sides, and lighten the touch on one, the neck should bend. So the steps are: give on the outside rein, neck should bend. Then you can take up on the inside rein to maintain even touch. Ideally you would be able to do this by opening and closing your hands. But your reins may not be that finely tuned. Adjust your reins as necessary.

                  You haven't said how trained you or your horse are. At some point you'll use your seat. As you turn your body, your reins may adjust enough to accomplish the turn. In general, your elbows will remain softly draped at your side.

                  I hope this helps. Good luck, and have fun!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You do not say how old your horse is or where you are training.

                    What other people said is true. While you are riding without stirrups do some primitive attempts at steering without the reins.

                    I am perfectly happy to have a passive hand situation for as long as the horse can do without any communication from me. If they are quite forward, balanced and supple that can be achieved for varying lengths of time.

                    one difference between dead and leaning and passive is that when the horse comes to your hands in a good way, they "back off" to where they can hear what you are saying. Dead hands and leaning horses just drop weight into our hands. But those same horses are also probably not bringing their inside hind up and under your center of gravity at that moment either. Something you may need eyes on the ground to see, until you can feel it.

                    They may not be as forward as they need to be to be heading toward self carriage and the ultimate lightness in the hand.

                    I still set the bend with the inside hand. That is the only job for the inside hand. I do bring the inside shoulder back to perfect my body position. However, circles and lateral work is better done with the outside rein but I don't know if your horse is there yet.

                    If possible get a lesson now and again or at least bring a friend out to tell you what they see.
                    “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                    ? Albert Einstein

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by brennab View Post
                      Well, maybe I didn't explain myself that well.

                      I have a balanced seat, independent seat. I DON'T have a trainer, but I give myself "lunge lessons" in the round pen, without stirrups. My seat isn't perfect by any means, but my problem is not relying on the reins for support.

                      My problem is not letting my hands "deaden", meaning remaining too still and "equitation" perfect.

                      I want to be able to communicate more efficiently, while keeping a nice, soft, lively connection.

                      That's the point of my post.
                      I know exactly what you're talking about. It's from being taught to have still hands, which makes for tension in your arms. My lightbulb moment was when an instructor took the reins near the bit when I was mounted and worked with me on what the contact should feel like with relaxed arms. Connection but with a following hand. It only took 5 or 10 minutes but I've never forgotten that feeling...if I don't have that in my ride I know to do some corrections until I get it.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        My mare is 8 and is a training level horse. I have done all the training on her, and have ridden for over 20 years. However, I still am such a beginner in dressage.

                        That said, I study hard and do use my seat aids more than anything when I ride.

                        Most of my questions in this thread rose from an instructor I had this past summer, who, now that I read your responses and some other literature, I believe was asking me to be much too heavy with my hands. Passive contact seems more like what I am after (not movement from shoulders, often squeezing shoulder blades together, half-halts from my shoulders).

                        As I understand from you all, the work I do with my hands should be a light squeeze with the fingers, wait for the response, and then back to passive contact.

                        Yes?

                        Regarding a trainer, obviously I had a trainer but that did not work out so well. Now I am looking, but am broke, picky, and have no horse trailer.

                        We backyard dressage girls work with what we can.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hm. Not saying that I've got this figured out, but I try to think of it in terms of contact, not of hand movements. Does the contact I have enable me to do anything I want at any given time? So if you often ask yourself (depending of course on the level of training your horse has), could I do xyz transition right now, could I get into a half pass right now etc... It makes me halfhalt and hence use my contact, i.e. "keep it alive".

                          Also, I think how heavy the contact is depends on the horse, some are super light, and you have to actually ask them to take a more honest contact, some are leaning on you with half their body weight, and you have to ask them to carry more themselves... but in the end, if the horse lets you ride him every stride, you're doing pretty well
                          "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by brennab View Post
                            My mare is 8 and is a training level horse. I have done all the training on her, and have ridden for over 20 years. However, I still am such a beginner in dressage.

                            That said, I study hard and do use my seat aids more than anything when I ride.

                            Most of my questions in this thread rose from an instructor I had this past summer, who, now that I read your responses and some other literature, I believe was asking me to be much too heavy with my hands. Passive contact seems more like what I am after (not movement from shoulders, often squeezing shoulder blades together, half-halts from my shoulders).

                            As I understand from you all, the work I do with my hands should be a light squeeze with the fingers, wait for the response, and then back to passive contact.

                            Yes?

                            Regarding a trainer, obviously I had a trainer but that did not work out so well. Now I am looking, but am broke, picky, and have no horse trailer.

                            We backyard dressage girls work with what we can.

                            if one picked up that your heavy in the hands as the horse is leaning then one isnt using there seat properly
                            whats happening is one is supporting there own bodyweight into the bridle area rather than using there seat if one did one would back of from the head and engage the hind end more so, as the hind end is the power house which drives the front end

                            read this link and read all of page one, and perhaps learn how to do the half halt stride correctly as one doesnt do it from the schoulders

                            http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=178116

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              urm your very contridictory in your postings

                              http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=271694

                              http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=270744

                              http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=268165

                              http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=266257

                              no offence meant but i looked to see if we can help you out a bit more
                              this tells me your confusing the horse by not giving a direct signal of command

                              if this is anything to go by as very confusing posts does this but does that

                              a to active leg means more than likely your stirrups are not at te correct lenght so this will efffect your balance and position and the way of going with a horse

                              do apprecaite that balance means your seat area

                              so in conclusion judging by your postings whats happening here is your hands set which was picked up via one instructor at least but you perhaps didnt like what you was told so ditch the instructor and balmed them

                              and your asking with your legs at the same time so one is keeping there hands still as in handset as in heavy in the hands
                              so are confusing the horse by not giving a direct signal of command
                              in other words asking it to go with legs but holding it back via the head
                              hence why one is posting in walk as the horse is doing a running walk
                              and you cnat feel the diffrence so you post rather than sit and relax and use your arse to slow the horse down so that you can back of its head end

                              you do need help with a instructor

                              it also sounds like your not sitting centerally to the horse which
                              makes a crocked saddle makes a crocked horse
                              the mare has a dish or is pigoen toed thats to no avial as lots of horses have a conformation fault not an excuse as for the crockedness of the rider

                              sorry but posted so that others can have abetter overview of whats going on so that we can help you improve and overcome your riding errors as its not the horse
                              Last edited by goeslikestink; Oct. 9, 2010, 05:34 AM.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I second GLC, and applaud her research.

                                Brennab-You also must understand that even the most wildly talented instructor cannot put you on the right track in one lesson.
                                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

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  so in conclusion judging by your postings whats happening here is your hands set which was picked up via one instructor at least but you perhaps didnt like what you was told so ditch the instructor and balmed them


                                  No, you are assuming things that are incorrect. I did not ditch the instructor and I DO NOT expect one instructor to fix me in one session. That's ridiculous. The reason lessons did not work out with her had nothing to do with me leaving. I was learning quite a bit. All I said was that, after reading more on this thread and in other places about passive contact, I think she was asking me to rely too much on my hands.

                                  Thanks to many of you for helping me. You gave me some great ideas. I understand you cannot see what I am doing, and I think I am going to drop the topic now because I just cannot describe to you what I mean. I am NOT saying I don't need an instructor. Everyone to some degree probably does. What I am saying is that I cannot afford an instructor right now.

                                  As for my hands, they are quite independent -- just too still. I can't describe it much better than that, sorry. I can ride on a lunge line at all three gaits without stirrups and do fairly well. Could I improve? Of course. But I am not heavy-handed. In my original post, I never said I was heavy-handed. The question was how to make the contact more "alive".

                                  Obviously this is a topic that one can neither describe or learn, just based on text and forums.
                                  Last edited by brennab; Oct. 9, 2010, 02:20 PM.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I think I know what you mean and I've had the same problem.

                                    My first dressage horse, we worked our way up to 3rd level with instruction but there were some speedbumps, because I was largely learning by trial and error what things were supposed to feel like. The contact I felt was 'correct' was very, very light. Which was fine with my horse, and I could do everything by seat which I thought was 'correct'. However at some point it became clear I could not properly engage him with enough oomph. My trainer wanted me to take more contact and the amount of weight she wanted me to have in my hands just felt very very wrong to me. I tried to do as she instructed and the results were not good. There were no schoolmasters available to me; my trainer's horse was schooling at the same level at that time, and while riding her horse did feel different and she was clearly used to having a more solid contact, it still felt too heavy to me, it felt like the horse was leaning on my hands. I didn't get it and didn't see why having a very light contact was at all bad. I knew I needed to learn how to better engage my horse but I was convinced that a heavier rein was not the answer, it was a shortcut, it was not 'correct', it must be a deficiency in my seat, etc.

                                    It wasn't until I was finally able to get on a schoolmaster with a different teacher that I was able to have that 'lightbulb moment' and feel contact that was more solid but also felt GOOD and elastic and opened a clearer channel of communication to the hind end. My mantra became "closed fists, elastic elbows" (I was so lighthanded my fingers were often pretty open.) To have a solid contact that is also 'alive' I had to 'let go' a little bit and let my elbows/arms move more, even though that felt 'sloppy' at first.

                                    The 'quietest' hands are not necessarily the 'kindest' hands, because immobile hands can also be fixed hands. To maintain the steadiest contact, the hands must follow. So I have to remember "closed fists elastic elbows" and I picture a big rubber band arching from my horse's mouth through my forearms to his hind legs to get that nice feeling of elastic connection.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I think maybe your point of confusion is how the contact becomes "alive".

                                      The contact becomes alive when the horse actively chases the bit. The horse chases the bit when your seat is effectively directing the energy your leg has made, recycling thru the bit and back to his hind legs. This is the circle of the aids.

                                      My aha! Moment about this was when I was told that I want the horse to go after the bit like it is a carrot being pulled just in front of him. It gave a previously elusive concept an image I could understand/picture.

                                      So it is the horse who makes the contact in the first place, and it is the horse who makes the contact alive and active, not your hands.
                                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                      ---
                                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by brennab View Post
                                        Having a little trouble with contact. Ha.
                                        ...Should I just be using my fingers? NO - elbows at waist - to soften allow then forward a bit - Should I be using my whole arm, bringing my shoulder back? (Shoulders should always be back in proper posture.)

                                        ..For bending, do I actually take my elbow away from my side with the inside rein?
                                        Depends on amount of bend - I like to think of opening the rein (over knee) for lots of bend and small - think 1/4 inch - give with outside rein at same time. For less bend no real give on outside rein just use inside wrist as if you're "turning a key" in a lock - but always to the outside. Do I just massage with my fingers?...
                                        Hopefully this will help.
                                        Dressage beginners tend to not have enough contact and don't establish enough connection - think of outside rein as being steady 90% of the time and inside rein helping establish the bend and asking horse to relax and "give" (the massage you speak about).

                                        Think about the rein contact as if you're holding the horses hands thru the reins - too soft is like a "LIMP" handshake (dead fish) - Ugh! A hard unyielding (not firm but hard) connection is like the bone crusher handshake - you never want to shake hands with that person again. So go for the intermediate connection - firm - THERE - yet not trying to dominate.

                                        Hope this helps.
                                        Now in Kentucky

                                        Comment

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