Dressage Horse Training:  One 10 year mis-communication put to bed (move hands forward)

Hello Everyone,

Riding with a different instructor is allowing me to identify some “triggers” I have as a student.  There are some things an instructor can say to me that make me feel instantly frustrated and I was able to figure out one of these triggers.  Kris, my husband and ground guy, is very good at helping me identify the root of a miscommunication and here is one of my big ones.

The situation from my perspective:  I’m riding along starting to put my horse on the bit.  As the horse is warming up I start to find the right connection and the horse’s neck with become a bit shorter.  Instead of shortening the reins, I tend to just slide my elbows back—hold over from my early western riding.  The next thing I know the trainer is telling me to put my hands in front of me.  I move my hands forward 5-6 inches out of my lap and in front of the saddle.  The horse falls on the forehand and begins running forward because the reins are long.  Repeat. This is a highly frustrating loop and it happens with almost every instructor I’ve ridden with in lessons.

The situation from the instructor’s perspective:  I’m working on asking better questions so I know what problem the instructor is addressing in the moment.  In this scenario Kris, after watching my lesson, said that when my hands come back into my lap that it shifts my balance, my shoulders roll forward and I collapse in the middle.  The instructor is telling me to put my hands forward to reposition my body vertically and the comment has nothing to do with my rein length.

The fix from my perspective:  When I hear this comment “put your hands forward” I now shorten my reins first and then put my hands forward.  This must be working because I have not had an instructor tell me to lengthen my reins.

Now, I only lengthen my reins when my instructor says, “Lengthen your reins.”

Good Riding,

Tara, Author, Out of the Saddle: 9 Steps to Improve Your Horseback Riding

Out of the Saddle

Out of the Saddle

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