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"Equal weight in both hands" ...

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  • "Equal weight in both hands" ...

    YMMV, but I found a tiny bit of instruction last week to be paradigm-altering.

    I have heard the instruction to keep equal weight in both hands (reins) for EVER, yes. The holy grail of ... well, *I* thought it was straightness. Elusive.

    I have been introduced to a different approach.

    Instead of insisting on "straight" and then trying to get the weight even, I START with working on maintaining even weight in both hands and within that balance, develop straightness (billions of weight-shifts, also called half-halts).

    They key is "within the horse's balance" rather than insisting on your horse being straight first.

    Note: I'm currently learning with a school-madam who quietly (but studiously) ignores attempts to make things happen without first enlisting her participation.
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  • #2
    I don't have equal weight. Maybe on a very green horse but once I have some connection im always in shoulder fore or some variation of inside and outside aids. Each rein has a different feel/purpose. But always "straight" relative to track, which is in essence what your original comment speaks to.

    Comment


    • #3
      This is a revelation that literally also came to me this week!! After riding for years on my own, following Jane Savoie's dvds (a GODSEND!!), i took a lesson with a local BNT. He pointed out that my hands were sooo busy and i was constantly trying to flex my mare to the inside throwing her out of balance.

      I went to him to work through issues with rushing and extreme fussiness in the mouth. Turns out...i was causing BOTH of those things with my busy, obnoxious hands and lack of balance.

      We literally just last night started working on absolutely still hands (unless i'm making a specific request like flexion or slowing down) and holy smokes the difference it made in my horse were unbelievable!!! I was pulling and being obnoxious on those reins and my sweet little horse was just so annoyed.

      He also instructed me to tighten my flash noseband which made an incredible difference as well.

      I love a good dressage breakthrough. This was one for me too!

      Comment


      • #4
        Are you two working with the same coach?
        "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

        Comment


        • #5
          I recall an eventer-turned-jumper clinician having us ride down to a fence and do *nothing*. Because if you cannot do nothing, you cannot do *something*.

          Dressage is the same way.
          ~ ~ ~ ~
          Seems like the devil already has enough advocates.

          Comment


          • #6
            Inside leg to outside rein.

            The inside rein asks for bend and flexion, the outside rein controls it.

            If you hold the inside rein you are blocking the inside shoulder. This prevents the horse from going forward, it does not help with canter transitions.

            If not used to it, hold the inside rein and a horse will throw its head up.

            You should be able to go from a 20m circle to a 10 m circle with your outside aids and a loose inside rein. A loose inside rein is called a Proving rein. You are proving the horse is in the outside rein.

            I was taught to ride with doing nothing. Nothing meant being good. If good do nothing.

            I was then taught my hands were dead. You need to communicate. Do not leave them you are abandoning him. Communicating with them does not mean moving or overusing your reins. It does not mean it can be seen by another person either.
            It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

            Comment


            • #7
              Riding is a conversation. Ones does what is necessary to communicate with the horse moment to moment, stride to stride.....The more experienced rider
              does things instinctively.
              Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by CFFarm View Post
                Riding is a conversation. Ones does what is necessary to communicate with the horse moment to moment, stride to stride.....The more experienced rider
                does things instinctively.
                That's awesome for the riders whose instincts are good, but the rest of us need instruction that helps us develop these "instincts".
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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
                  Inside leg to outside rein. The inside rein asks for bend and flexion, the outside rein controls it. If you hold the inside rein you are blocking the inside shoulder. This prevents the horse from going forward, it does not help with canter transitions. If not used to it, hold the inside rein and a horse will throw its head up. You should be able to go from a 20m circle to a 10 m circle with your outside aids and a loose inside rein. A loose inside rein is called a Proving rein. You are proving the horse is in the outside rein. I was taught to ride with doing nothing. Nothing meant being good. If good do nothing. I was then taught my hands were dead. You need to communicate. Do not leave them you are abandoning him. Communicating with them does not mean moving or overusing your reins. It does not mean it can be seen by another person either.
                  Everything you write is, of course, basic instruction heard from every instructor and written in nearly every book. It's excellent advice. (I think I learned "proving" as uberstreichen.)

                  But I'm not sure I understand ... and I don't mean to sound snarky at all ... what your information has to do with my original post.

                  Many riders cannot naturally do all these things at the same time ... I certainly couldn't. I could do the constant checking of where each of my body parts were and remind myself to relax shoulder, elbow, wrist ... etc. etc ... all of those details, which together, enable a physical partnership on the rider's end.

                  My lightbulb was this one little comment about the order of objectives. After forward first, understanding, finally, that equal weight, achieving awareness of "in the horse's balance" before attempting "straightness", changed everything for me.

                  It's really that simple. Of course, finding equal weight with the appropriate contact involves all sorts of tiny movements, details, and techniques. It's not something that I think can be learned by reading or watching, but only by kinesthetic means -- the actual experience.

                  Maybe this is why my current instructor works so well for me. He keeps instruction simple for my mind so I have brain cells to devote to body awareness.
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                  • #10
                    What I took from Suzie's post is that always having equal weight in both reins can lead to the horse leaning on the inside rein. This is what happens with my own horse if I hold equal weight in both reins all the time. If I use equal weight and then drop the inside rein to prove the outside connection, I will lose the throughness because my horse was depending upon the inside rein for support. They can lean on the inside shoulder and have no bend through the rib cage.

                    All that said I do often keep equal weight in both reins as an exercise for myself as a rider during warmup when going around the whole arena. It teaches me to keep my hands quiet and consistent, ie learning to do nothing.

                    But when I'm really working on my horse and encouraging her to step through into the outside rein, my inside rein has slack except if I am making a needed correction (which is always backed up with a leg aid). This is something I am actively working on with my own horse as I have a tendency to rely too much on my inside rein. The less I use the inside rein (meaning I use it only when it's truly needed, make sure to use leg at the same time and give the inside rein forward as soon as the correction is over), the more my horse stays through and on my outside rein. If I do this correctly, I can do what Suzie is talking about, going from a 20m to a 10m circle using only my outside aids.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      After years of teaching novice to mid-level riders, all riders "think" they have equal contact/weight in their reins. In reality, 98% of them have dominantly inside rein contact. I instruct most riders to carry their inside wrist an inch higher than the outside at all times and to concentrate on keeping straighter in their bodies with outside leg back.

                      Most riders twist/look to the inside, have inside hand lower, and ride with inside leg back. Any one of these issues will increase inside rein contact, yet most riders do all 3! I am not just saying I think this is what most people do. This is what I see on a daily basis! Riders don't realize they do these things unless they have an eagle eyed trainer who can point it out.

                      The rider who can eliminate and control their body to master the 3 points above usually move up the levels steadily. Most riders (in all the English disciplines, not just dressage) do not master their position faults and thus don't get beyond novice levels. I think 90% of amateur riders never get successfully beyond first/second level because once travers, renvers, half-pass show up riding correctly to the outside rein is an absolute necessity.
                      Savor those rides where you feel like a million bucks, because there will be those where you feel like a cheap date...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by luvmydutch View Post
                        This is a revelation that literally also came to me this week!! After riding for years on my own, following Jane Savoie's dvds (a GODSEND!!), i took a lesson with a local BNT. He pointed out that my hands were sooo busy and i was constantly trying to flex my mare to the inside throwing her out of balance.

                        I went to him to work through issues with rushing and extreme fussiness in the mouth. Turns out...i was causing BOTH of those things with my busy, obnoxious hands and lack of balance.

                        We literally just last night started working on absolutely still hands (unless i'm making a specific request like flexion or slowing down) and holy smokes the difference it made in my horse were unbelievable!!! I was pulling and being obnoxious on those reins and my sweet little horse was just so annoyed.

                        He also instructed me to tighten my flash noseband which made an incredible difference as well.

                        I love a good dressage breakthrough. This was one for me too!
                        This sounds like it was excellent advice for this rider in this moment. If the hands were so busy they were providing meaningless bother to the horse, then learning to ride with still hands to break a long-standing habit of fidgeting is a necessary first step.

                        That doesn't mean perfectly still hands are the final goal of the expert rider. The expert rider is doing a lot, though often so subtly that you can't really see it. But the expert rider also knows when to stop doing things, when the balance is good, and when to just let the horse flow for a while. The expert rider also knows how to get the horse to do some things without the use of the reins. I'm *not* an expert rider but, for instance, I can get a trot/walk transition with a weight shift and a turn from weight shift and outside thigh, no hands, unless marsey has strong ideas of her own that day. That reduces the number of jobs the reins have to do.

                        I hope OP will continue with this coach. One of the problems in taking only one lesson, just like taking a clinic, is that you get advice, often good advice, tailored to where you are at this moment in time, just like with your regular coach. But it doesn't necessarily set you up for a program for the next year or for life. Once you learn still hands, the BNT is absolutely going to start adding in rein aids bit by bit, as needed, but requiring you to be thoughtful and clear about what you are doing at each moment.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by TequilaMockingbird View Post
                          What I took from Suzie's post is that always having equal weight in both reins can lead to the horse leaning on the inside rein. ...
                          Thanks for the clarification!

                          My point is that exactly the opposite is true, and that was my ah ha! ... If a rider truly holds the same amount of weight in each hand, the horse will fall to the side to which it's leaning. They will NOT go straight, or wherever it is the rider thought they were going.**

                          And this has nothing to do with still hands. If rider is trying to carry the weight while balanced on his or her hands (or the horse's mouth), the hands (and arms) will be all.over.the.place. as the rider chases the contact.

                          Originally posted by Lusoluv
                          all riders "think" they have equal contact/weight in their reins. In reality, 98% of them have dominantly inside rein contact ... Most riders twist/look to the inside, have inside hand lower, and ride with inside leg back. Any one of these issues will increase inside rein contact, yet most riders do all 3! ... Riders don't realize they do these things unless they have an eagle eyed trainer who can point it out.
                          Yep, yep, yep. But that's what's amazing to me. I can feel it for myself now, and respond more quickly and with greater subtlety since I don't have process someone's voice, understand the instruction, and then translate to movement.

                          As I have said, YMMV. I'm riding a wonderfully trained PSG horse (coming back into work after a 2 year hiatus) who seems to love teaching. I not could have accomplished this on my former very HOT TB cross (trainers could, of course, but I only ever got moments of balance with her).

                          Additional thoughts ... requires independent hands. It means that elbows and fingers move to accommodate the horse's weight shifts, wherever the horse goes, not that the hands are fixed. Fixed hands = uneven weight.

                          Try (all-y'all, not specifically Lusoluv) holding equal WEIGHT (the horse's not your own) in both hands. Must be going freely forward. Follow the horse's balance (keeping weight even) and move only your elbows and fingers in conversation.

                          THEN figure out how to go where you want to go.

                          (**You know, Tequila, I think I'm describing your warmup.)
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                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This was a good reminder for me to do less withy hands, AllWeatherGal. I spent a while yesterday riding a 10m circle figure eight while trying to hold an even contact. Trying being the key. But that meant that when I did use a rein I got a better response because my horse ride have as many aids to try and respond to.

                            I had a coach who used to have us do an exercise of not using the aid the horse was leaning on - rein or leg. We had to do whatever pattern/exercise without using that aid. Of course it was extremely difficult, but when we forgot or cheated the horse invariably responded to that tiny forget/cheat aid far better than before. Sometimes we work too hard to get a response and the horse sets up a resistance that cannot be broken except by doing the opposite (ie. resisting left bend, then bend right and go back to the left) or removing the pressure to be resisted.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Recently, I gave a lesson during which I told my riders to ride without using anything but their seat. Just walking a rectangle. The comments were fast furious and plentiful. It was momentary chaos.

                              The purpose of an exercise like that is that it highlights how much of what you use and how you use it. If it is your hands, you will find your horse wondering where you went. If it is your legs they want your constant reminders and "holding"them together. Both need to go for a bit to connect you to the horse and your seat. Not a driving seat of any kind but the connection where it counts so that you don't disturb the balance to begin with. You are there. Yes there. When your horse reaches forward to your weight and center of gravity it does not change. THere is trust there.

                              When you pick up the reins a lot of bad habits will now more easily be questioned. You will have better questions. Maybe a few aha's too.

                              Heresy that I preach. Inside rein sets the bend. Inside rein influences the inside fore. Nothing else. Outside rein describes the bend and controls the speed. It influences the outside fore. Quite difficult to do these things with equal weight in both hands.

                              As an instructor the horse will tell the rider where their contact needs improving by fussing. It is beautiful to see a horse relax and stretch and seek the bit when the rider gets it right.
                              Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
                              ? Albert Einstein

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by horsefaerie View Post
                                Recently, I gave a lesson during which I told my riders to ride without using anything but their seat. Just walking a rectangle. The comments were fast furious and plentiful. It was momentary chaos.

                                The purpose of an exercise like that is that it highlights how much of what you use and how you use it. If it is your hands, you will find your horse wondering where you went. If it is your legs they want your constant reminders and "holding"them together. Both need to go for a bit to connect you to the horse and your seat. Not a driving seat of any kind but the connection where it counts so that you don't disturb the balance to begin with. You are there. Yes there. When your horse reaches forward to your weight and center of gravity it does not change. THere is trust there.

                                When you pick up the reins a lot of bad habits will now more easily be questioned. You will have better questions. Maybe a few aha's too.

                                Heresy that I preach. Inside rein sets the bend. Inside rein influences the inside fore. Nothing else. Outside rein describes the bend and controls the speed. It influences the outside fore. Quite difficult to do these things with equal weight in both hands.

                                As an instructor the horse will tell the rider where their contact needs improving by fussing. It is beautiful to see a horse relax and stretch and seek the bit when the rider gets it right.
                                I appreciate your post, but are you contradicting or expounding on what I tried to express?

                                My experience is that not all horses fuss, some lean.

                                I wouldn't want to pay postage on exact ounces at any given second, but I am finding equal weight generally to be achievable from moment to moment.
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                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  By nature of asymmetry, I have found horses will lean more on the inside way one direction only.

                                  If you don't understand your crookedness and the horse, then you can't start to get equal weight. Each combination of horse and rider presents in different ways IMHO

                                  Also what works on a stiffer horse won't work for your uber-wiggly horse- how you contain and apply the aids are different.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    The trouble with telling people to do this and do that and now this other thing inside rein outside rein more less here there is that they will frequently develop 'tics' in their riding. If you cannot simply have equal weight on both reins ('do nothing'), you actually have no control over what you are doing. If you cannot sit on the horse without using a driving seat, you really don't have seat aid to drive the horse. Because you have no control. So what you may think is a driving seat is just white noise to the horse. Because you cannot regulate it to the point of turning it to zero. That said being ABLE to 'do nothing' does not mean that one rides around in neutral all the time, but rather than when the rider does something it is clear and meaningful to the horse.

                                    Spending some time in 'neutral' is a very good test of the rider's awareness and body control and the honesty of the training in the horse. It also creates space for feel that often is crowded out with constant correcting and business. And finding the crookedness. Many riders will try to 'fix' a horse that leans on one rein by 'making' the horse light on that rein.

                                    Here's an interesting experiment: simply maintain equal contact and continue to ride the horse actively forward--that is if the horse puts an extra kilo on the left rein, the rider responds by taking an extra kilo of contact on the right rein, making it even. Just keep going, don't fall in the trap of fiddling to the the horse 'light'. Instead make him straight and level . . . . and see what happens.
                                    ~ ~ ~ ~
                                    Seems like the devil already has enough advocates.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Kind of both. For me the horse is in balance when it is on the inside hind leg. The horse will not be there if the rider's inside seat bone does not ask for it. Once the horse trusts that the rider will be there for almost every movement there will be less leaning and/or fussing. The horse will be straighter due to bend, the contact more doable as outlined above. If the rider attempts to maintain equal contact on both seat bones, something nearly impossible to do, the horse will become crooked and there will be sufficient jostling to give the horse a need to lean. More even contact is therefore achieved by riding inside seat bone to outside rein. Even does not mean "same".
                                      Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
                                      ? Albert Einstein

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by horsefaerie View Post
                                        More even contact is therefore achieved by riding inside seat bone to outside rein. Even does not mean "same".
                                        I end up changing my seat from inside to outside, depending on where my horse needs support. Full disclosure: my lessons consist entirely of what is probably warm up for for advanced riders.
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