Monday, July 13, 2015

No Hands! To improve your riding

It's amazing how it's possible to learn, unlearn, and relearn the same thing. I'm continuing to understand, in new ways, the concept of proper riding, and with each re-revelation the understanding changes.

Back when I rode Harv, I thought I understood light hands -- I didn't have 'em, but I thought I knew what light hands were.

I did not.

Now, on Riley, I thought most of my "contact problems" resulted from  rein length -- I just could not seem to maintain a proper length of rein. That is part of the problem -- but really it is a problem of understanding contact, my upper body, the relationship of hip to hand, and what it should be versus what I do.

When Ri and I are not in sync, it's tempting to use contact as the "go-to fix it" strategy. Too much focus on the hands, not enough on the seat, is the wrong equation. Mary Wanless used to ask riders what percentage of their time is spent thinking about what  part of their body, and the horse's body, do they spend the most time thinking about.

To progress, I have a new mantra, something like the Sally Swift "stubby legs" concept. Sally had us pretend we did not have a lower leg. I am telling myself to ride as if I have no hands -- or rather my hands are passive, giving, and "out of the picture" in fixing things.

With my hands no longer part of "the solution" to controlling the shoulder, to get roundness, or create bend -- by God, I'm using my seat! Riding 101.

1 comment:

  1. Another great image is the long forearms that extend from the elbow to the bit from the illustrations in Centered Riding. Also, Beth Baumert's new book has some wonderful concepts like "powerlines" that emphasize use of the seat/body over much use of the hands. I have found her book very illuminating...


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