Here we’ll look at 15 different ways to improve your hands when riding, to help you achieve an even, elastic, consistent, receiving contact down the rein.
- Close your thumb down over the top of the rein, to help stop the reins from sliding through your hand.
- Use markers on the reins to help you keep them the same, correct length
- Keep your fingers closed and around the reins. Imagine you’re holding an egg in each hand; you should close your fingers enough to keep holding the egg, but not so tight that you crush the egg!
- Keep your hands upright, with your thumb as the highest point. Your hands should not be turned over, as if you’re riding a bike!
- Point your thumbs directly down the rein, which will help keep your wrists straight. This will help stop you from curling your wrists inwards or outwards.
- Keep your hands in front of you, 3-4 inches above the horse’s withers
- Your hands should stay on either side of the horse’s neck; try to resist the urge to cross them over the neck when trying to turn, as it simply blocks the horse’s neck
- Keep your hands level with each other; one should not be higher or lower than the other
- Start with your hands the same width apart as your waist, then bring them just an inch or two closer together
- Carry a short whip underneath both thumbs as you ride, to help keep your hands in the correct position
- Half-bridge your reins to help stabilise your hands and rein contact
- Drop your shoulders down, so that your shoulder blades lie flat against your back
- Bend your elbows, so that you can create a straight line from your elbow, down your forearm, hand and rein to the horse’s mouth
- Keep your wrists soft
- Think about the contact with the horse’s mouth starting from your shoulders, rather than your hands
Work towards maintaining and even, consistent, elastic feel in both reins at all times; think about ‘holding the horse’s hand’ down each rein, supporting and guiding him to carry out the movements you want to make.
It takes time and practice to develop ‘good hands’, but by paying attention to detail and focussing on your position, you can make a big difference to your riding.