One of the common problems I see in riding is riders with long reins, open fingers, low hands and straight arms. The intent on the rider’s part is usually to be soft with their hands and have a light feel. The reality is that their hands get locked down when they go to use them and the horses feel it in their jaws. This often causes the horse to raise its head and then the rider locks down even more. The other thing that can happen is no steady contact with the horse and thus the horse is always out of balance, falling on its front end. In hunter/jumper riders the low, locked, unconnected hand usually is combined with a perched position with the rider ahead of the motion. So, then there is even less balancing happening as the rider is leaning to try and create forward motion instead of properly using their leg and engaging the horse’s hind end. ?Often these riders lock their knees and thighs, take their legs ?away and lean back in downward transitions, as it is the only way they can create contact with the long reins and low hands. When this occurs they fall way behind the motion.

This long rein and low hand can feel safe to a rider and it can be very hard for them to let go of this way of riding and shorten their reins, raise their hands lower their center of gravity and create a bend in their elbows. The bend in the elbow and the flexibility of the shoulder and elbow joints receives the energy ?from the hindquarters created by the proper use of ?leg. This allows the subtle balance and connection that is required for the best performance. Though it may be hard to let go of your old way of riding and embrace change, give it a try. It takes regular practice and ?an open minded awareness to feel the difference and create new habits.