As humans we depend greatly on our hands. Our arms and hands are our first line of defense for balancing ourselves in everyday life. Instinct can take over and force you to use your hands for balance. Hanging onto the reins for balance is not entirely the fault of your hands because the hands only come into play as other balance mechanisms fail. The problem is inevitably elsewhere. You will not be able to develop good hands if you are experiencing balance problems elsewhere because as a human you will use your hands for balance.
Stop for a minute and think about what you are doing with your hands. The reins are an extension of your arms, the bit runs through your horse’s mouth. Next time you are on board make a conscious decision to be aware of your arms.
Give Yourself a Cuddle
Continue reading Q10 – Are your arms relaxed?
Feel your arms down by your sides and relax them from the shoulder.
The sensation of feeling your arms gently against your side will automatically bend your elbows, give you soft shoulders and soft giving hands.
This very small element of posture correction has been a huge positive force in my riding. Feeling my arms by my sides gives me a sense of what is happening with my upper body. If I am leaning forwards or backwards I feel it with my arms.
Now I am not a student of the Classical Masters, but one of the things (and there are many others) that I always notice about the Classical Masters photographs is the way they hold their arms. Or should I say, the way their arms look so soft and effortless. You get the sense that all the messages are coming just from the fingers.
Next time you are on board make a conscious decision to be aware of your arms. Notice when they are by your sides how much more “at one” with your horse you feel. As soon as you start flapping those elbows you will feel the difference in your horse. Somehow, gently feeling your arms by your sides gives you a reassuring feeling of control! Try it and let me know how you get on.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster