Do you struggle with keeping your hands steady as you ride, and with being able to “feel” the reins and follow the horse's movement with your hands?
Developing “independent aids” is one of the cornerstones of good riding, and “independent aids simply means that you can move one body part without everything else moving as well. Since our hands on the reins is one of the key ways we communicate to our horses when we are riding, it is quite important that we learn to keep them steady so that we can give clear signals to the horse and not create a lot of extra “noise” by moving them around too much.
Steadiness of the hands involves more than just our hands, however, as our whole body needs to be free from brace and unnecessary tension to allow our hands to be steady and to follow the horse. Our shoulders and elbows are key areas to focus on when when checking ourselves for brace and allowing a bit more movement so the hands can better feel the reins and follow the horse's movement.
Another reason we need to have steady following hands is that, again, our hands can provide a great deal of communication with the horse. Rein cues or signals are better understood by the horse when they are clear and consistent, and when we take pressure on the reins, the release of that pressure says “yes, do that again” to whatever the horse was doing when the release occured. Unsteady hands can end up essentially saying “no, yes, no, yes” to the horse.
Developing good hands takes practice and is certainly more “feel” then theory. However, in today's video I share an exercise that I have seen used by several of the trainers I have ridden with. I originally shot this video to answer a question from another reader, but then I decided to share it with you as well!
See you in the comments!