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Advice to quiet a rider's busy hands

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  • Advice to quiet a rider's busy hands

    I have a very able rider doing some exercise riding for me. She took dressage lessons when younger, and is really helping some of the horses. The problem is she has busy hands and is ALWAYS wanting to supple supple supple. Yes, she backs it up with legs, but some of her rides are starting to get behind the bridle as a result.

    I am trying to help her understand WHY I need her hands quieter, and she is starting to see the (negative) results of how she rides, but the active hands are like breathing to her...it is how she has always ridden, and was told to ride. I need ideas to help her think about her hands.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    Have the rider hold a dressage whip across the top of her hands. Place the hands the correct distance apart, place the dressage whip across the hands so it is laying on both hands. Now, use the thumbs to hold it down on top of the hands. One hand can not move without the other moving or dropping the whip.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I will have her give that a try and see how it goes. I was trying to think of having her hold something that would allow some movement, but not exagerated, but maybe this will make her really think of her hands.
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

      Comment


      • #4
        The whip across the thumbs works, I have also put the reins under and through the bucking strap (or whatever you call the "uhoh" handle you attach to the d rings) it tends to bring the hands a bit too close together, but it certainly keeps them still!
        Bridging the reins also works.

        Comment


        • #5
          The best advice I ever got to quiet busy hands was to CLOSE them. HARD. Made a world of difference.

          Comment


          • #6
            Closed hands, as mentioned above
            Visualize sticks that attach the elbow to bit
            Or my new favorite, ride with both reins in the outside hand.
            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
            chaque pas est fait ensemble

            Comment


            • #7
              The trick I use is straightening my arms. It forces me to HAVE to move my body more than I naturally do (I tend toward stiffness in my riding, unfortunately) and makes it so I can't be busy with my hands. I fall into moving my hands more than I realize so it's my "straighten up and get your act together!" trick for my subconscious. Think Charlotte Dujardin-ish, not useless stick straight arms.
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
              -meupatdoes

              Comment


              • #8
                What I do to myself, is put the reins in one hand, and put my other hand on my tummy. Just warming up that way is usually enough to interrupt my habit and allow me to observe how much better my horse works when I'm not nagging his face.
                Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

                Comment


                • #9
                  I always liked the Sally Swift visualization of imagining you are holding two little birds. You have to keep your fingers closed on them otherwise they will get lose and fly away, but you can’t crush them – just a steady, closed finger hold.

                  I also like holding the reins in a “driving rein” to encourage a softer feel.
                  APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Holding the whip is a great tool. Another one is to have her hold her reins bridge style.

                    I watched Ann Kursinsky teach at the GM young riders clinic in Wellington last winter, and one thing she told them that has really helped me with busy hands is the concept of 'short reins, long arms'.
                    Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                    Witherun Farm
                    http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There is a good chance she does this because she has learned the wrong feeling as correct. If that is the case no amount of quieting her hands type exercises will help her.

                      Often when people are overfocused on the horse feeling light, they fiddle. They have been taught that the horse giving to the bit, rather than taking the bit out, is correct because the horse is light to the hands. The other feeling of course is the horse is leaning on the bit as an end point, and is heavy, and the rider is avoiding this, not understanding there is another choice/possibility.

                      The image that helped me the most at the time, to understand the horses correct relationship with the bit, was to picture the horse was always going after a carrot and my reins were sticks. Seriously!

                      My advice is that you explore why she fiddles. Until she understands that the feeling she seeks is incorrect, *and has it replaced by one that is better*, she will probably struggle to change even if she is being told she should.
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      ---
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I had a dressage lesson where the instructor told me my hands were moving. [I think he said it looked like I was 'knitting up there.']

                        I believed him, but couldn't feel it & couldn't correct it.

                        As luck would have it, I had a horse for sale as a jumper at a different barn, and the training/selling board included a lesson or two per week. I was a wimp over fences, but trusted this horse & this trainer.

                        When by some miracle they got us up to 4', the trainer's wife got the video camera to record the momentous occasion.

                        When I watched the video later than night . . . I was knitting up there.

                        More importantly, I watched the video close enough in time to remember the feeling of my hands moving.

                        With that visual leading to a memory of the movement, I could work on it.

                        At my dressage lesson the next week, I got a lot of praise for how still my hands had become.

                        My advice: Try a video to 'show' because it helps more than just 'tell.'

                        You need to be able to feel the difference between wrong & right, to create the habit of 'right.'
                        Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ooh, I sympathize. As my instructor pointed out in our lesson tonight, "Your right hand wants to post along with your hips". I have to think "DOWN" on that right side. Not like I'm going to leave it there forever, but it helps quiet my renegade hand. If I'm having a really bad time of it, I will grab the billet strap on my pad and thread that between my ring and little finger.

                          Doesn't help that Opinionated Lease Mare likes to HANG on my right rein, so when we go to the left everything is all out of whack and I apparently try to compensate by moving my right hand all over the place.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Our instructor has just recently had us trying the whip test. Really helps illustrate when you are guilty of "too much going on".
                            But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A friend gave me a tip that worked wonders for me.

                              Get some baling string and put it through the D rings in a medium size loop. You want the loop to end where your hands should be. Then you take the end of the loop and put your thumbs underneath it with reins and hands in the proper position. Go ride. During your ride, think about keeping the tension of the loop on your thumbs as even as possible - don't lose the loop, don't pull on the loop, just keep your hands there.

                              I found that this forced me to allow proper movement through my elbows/shoulders without allowing me to nag/interfere through my hands. Proper 'stillness' imitated! A personal big breakthrough for me. :-)

                              I also found that a bit change helped a lot though some may disagree. I switched jumbo shrimp from a loose ring KK to a D ring KK. Same mouthpiece, slightly 'stiller' cheek pieces that allowed my fussing to be deadened. Horse wasn't getting as annoyed, I wasn't fussing as much with the bit and a fabulous improvement within a couple of weeks (we also cheated by taking a couple solid one-on-one dressage lessons with our *amazing* dressage coach who very effectively pointed out each time I reverted to my bad habit!).

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I use the loop through the D rings, as described above, but ask the riders to put their pinky fingers around the loop, then hold the reins normally with the rest of the hand. I ask the rider to pull slightly UP on the loop with the pinkies to keep the tension on the loop. Works a treat. Takes about a week to get the hands quieter. Also safer than putting the reins through the loop or the thumbs under, as it is quick to release the pinkies if something untoward happens.
                                Liz Steacie
                                Porcupine Hill Dressage
                                Maitland, Ontario

                                http://www.porcupinehill.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Mouse&Bay View Post
                                  A friend gave me a tip that worked wonders for me.

                                  Get some baling string and put it through the D rings in a medium size loop. You want the loop to end where your hands should be. Then you take the end of the loop and put your thumbs underneath it with reins and hands in the proper position. Go ride. During your ride, think about keeping the tension of the loop on your thumbs as even as possible - don't lose the loop, don't pull on the loop, just keep your hands there.

                                  I found that this forced me to allow proper movement through my elbows/shoulders without allowing me to nag/interfere through my hands. Proper 'stillness' imitated! A personal big breakthrough for me. :-)

                                  I also found that a bit change helped a lot though some may disagree. I switched jumbo shrimp from a loose ring KK to a D ring KK. Same mouthpiece, slightly 'stiller' cheek pieces that allowed my fussing to be deadened. Horse wasn't getting as annoyed, I wasn't fussing as much with the bit and a fabulous improvement within a couple of weeks (we also cheated by taking a couple solid one-on-one dressage lessons with our *amazing* dressage coach who very effectively pointed out each time I reverted to my bad habit!).
                                  I like this idea (with Liz Steacie's alteration). I had a dressage coach who would focus a lot on 'feel it correctly' 'now go back & do it incorrectly and feel that' and THAT was useful feedback, too.
                                  Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Suspender reins!

                                    The Suspender Rein visualization would be great for your rider!

                                    My favorite dressage instructor told me once in a lesson to imagine that the reins came through my hands, up over my shoulders and down my back, and anchored to my belt. Then she told me to ride using those suspeder reins. It was one of those true, rare Eureka! moments.

                                    It can help a multitude of things (encourages the rider to sit up but also sit deep, and to to have more feeling as it really anchors and connects you to the horse) but mainly, it takes your hands out of the equation as a "stopping point" and makes them into just another link in the connection chain. I don't describe this nearly as well as my instructor did, so I hope it's clear to you.

                                    Riding with this visualization really helped me with a lot of things but it was truly and instant fix for my hands.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      meaty ogre's visualization is also good for helping a rider relax through their shoulders & upper back - it helps the shoulder blades lie flat.

                                      The hard part for me was knowing my hands were to remain firm/closed (it sounded like I was trying to have hard hands). But if you think about it, the hands are just an anchor point connecting the (flexible) arms to the (equally flexible) reins & are used mostly to receive information from the horse, while your legs/seat are primarily responsible for giving information to the horse.

                                      My AHA moment on this was the first time I was in correct position and my horse got off-balance and leaned on his forehand (and my hands). My hands didn't move, although my flexible arms, shoulders and back stretched slightly.

                                      I felt the energy go up my arms, down my back to my seat, which pressed deeper (half halt!) and when the horse balanced back, my seat lightened, as did the weight in my hands.

                                      And I didn't have to do anything.

                                      Sometimes less really IS more.
                                      Last edited by KBEquine; Dec. 6, 2012, 11:17 AM. Reason: Trying to make sense . . .
                                      Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Mouse&Bay View Post
                                        A friend gave me a tip that worked wonders for me.

                                        Get some baling string and put it through the D rings in a medium size loop. You want the loop to end where your hands should be. Then you take the end of the loop and put your thumbs underneath it with reins and hands in the proper position. Go ride. During your ride, think about keeping the tension of the loop on your thumbs as even as possible - don't lose the loop, don't pull on the loop, just keep your hands there.

                                        I found that this forced me to allow proper movement through my elbows/shoulders without allowing me to nag/interfere through my hands. Proper 'stillness' imitated! A personal big breakthrough for me. :-)

                                        I also found that a bit change helped a lot though some may disagree. I switched jumbo shrimp from a loose ring KK to a D ring KK. Same mouthpiece, slightly 'stiller' cheek pieces that allowed my fussing to be deadened. Horse wasn't getting as annoyed, I wasn't fussing as much with the bit and a fabulous improvement within a couple of weeks (we also cheated by taking a couple solid one-on-one dressage lessons with our *amazing* dressage coach who very effectively pointed out each time I reverted to my bad habit!).
                                        If you mean thumbs are inside the loop please never, ever do that... If you mean just holding the loop, not a bad idea.... If thumbs are through the loop it's a very dangerous way to possibly get hurt very badly.
                                        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                                        -meupatdoes

                                        Comment

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