Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Maintaining steady hands

There are a lot of factors involving bit and hand
position that can impact head position and gait on the horse.  Here are some general points--assuming I haven't misinterpreted something:

- type of bit
Different style bits are designed to impact the horse at up to 8 different places such as poll, bars, tongue, etc.  
- hand position/length of rein
Having hands up or hands down affects where pressure is applied depending on bit style.  A good rider knows how to use this to apply light signals to correct gait/impact head position.

- rein pressure
Magnifies impact of bit as affected by hand position/length of rein

- body position
  This goes into so many factors....Beginning riders tend to balance themselves off the reins at the trot and lock their knees which has a cascading negative impact on the horse.

One research study applied biosensors to the horse and rider to measure rein pressure, distance of hand from horse's bit, etc.  Observers noted any behavior by horse that indicated discomfort such as gaping mouth or swishing tail.  Advanced riders performed at a sitting trot.  In trying to maintain "steady" hands, the rider's right hand varied in distance from the bit from 5.1 to 18.1 inches --the left from 6.6 inches to 12.5 inches--depending on whether the horse is in the suspension phase of trot or down phase.  Subconsciously, the rider exerted more pressure on the reins on her dominant side which tended to tip the nose of the horse in that direction.

To maintain a consistent head set and happy horse at a well cadenced, correct trot, a good rider is making constant adjustments of her body, hands, etc., to achieve a following hand on the reins.  Adjustments can be done with just an adjustment of pressure of the fingers.

Sigh, poor Blessi.  When I ride the trot, he tries so hard to follow what I am asking but I am asking so inconsistently that his head set is all over the place.  And I am not even trying for a collected trot, just a nice working trot head set.  Not that I do much trotting these days.

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