Balancing on reins...

Discussion in 'Horse Riding' started by JustJam, May 3, 2010.

  1. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    Morning all :)

    Someone the other day was talking about having lunge lessons (through all paces) without the reins to improve their seat and to ensure that they weren't 'balancing' on the reins. Obviously this is a fab thing to do! :)

    Anyway, it got me thinking about/wondering if I balance on the reins (I'm not much of a rider... so I imagine I do! :(

    Unfortunately, I can't lunge ridden where I am... so, was wondering if there is any way, if there are any excercises, I can do myself (without being lunged) to improve/reduce any balancing act I may have developed.

    I have a quite 'hot' boy - and I don't really fancy dropping the reins entirely to find out! lol However... could I tie the reins with cotton to the monkey strap or something and have a go? I figure that if I had to pick up the reins in a hurry the cotton would break easily... or would that just be plain daft? *#)

    Any suggestions? Excercises?
  2. Beauvelour

    Beauvelour Well-known Member

    Ooo I can't wait to see the replies as i tend to "block" with my hands - bad habit that i need to get out of ASAP.

    One thing im going to try which may help is be aware of where your hands are try lifting them so you don't have a straight elbow - so then your sholdours come back, as if your hands are too low you tend to tip forward. Hmm thumbs on top pointing to horses ears?? hehe all things i have to keep remembering! Good luck
  3. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    Take a flash noseband, loop it through Ds of saddle - instant monkeygrip. you should be able to hold it and reins at same time if need be, but grab that if you feel unbalanced.

    And dont think you are dodgy rider for using one, i have one on my saddle so i dont grab the mouth of my young horse when he bounces about :)
  4. chick_with_a_chainsaw

    chick_with_a_chainsaw Gold Member

    ive got a oh Sh*t strap on my saddle as well. handy little thing to have :D
  5. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    Hey Heifer :)

    Thanks for that, however I already have a monkey-strap ;)

    It's not so much about 'when I feel unbalanced'...which to be honest is quite rare - it's more that I would like some excercises or ideas on how to ride without reins (or get the feel of riding without reins) so I can see if I am subconsciously leaning/balancing/using the reins as an artificial support for myself. Like, if someone took my reins away,would I still have the balance I think I do.

    I think Beauvelour understood what I meant...

    I know I don't hang on the reins or pull on them or have any great amount of contact (too little most of the time! lol).

    Maybe that just doesn't make sense? lol
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  6. chick_with_a_chainsaw

    chick_with_a_chainsaw Gold Member

    do you hVave round yard you could ride in without your reins? or a small arena then if your horse does get a bit fast he cant go anywhere
  7. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    Unfortunately not CwC - shame, cos that is quite a good idea! I just have access to a regular arena, which is fully fenced.
  8. smash

    smash Well-known Member

    put reins into the outside hand, and put your inside hand behind your back (sort of like pretending you are going to grab your other elbow from behind your back)
    just change hands when you change directions.
    this will not only help you have a better position and balance, but it lets you know in no uncertain terms if you are relying on the reins for balance.
  9. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    Thanks smash! :) :))

    Funnily enough, my instructor makes me do that occassionally... I had no idea that the exercise would help in this area (my bad for not asking why I was doing it! :eek: *#)

    Can I ask why it works... what does it actually do/cause? Interesting... :}
  10. kp

    kp Well-known Member

    The best thing I ever did for my riding was ead the book Centred Riding. There are a lot of exercises presented in the book in a way that is easy to put into practice
  11. Bon & Ted

    Bon & Ted Guest

    interesting excercise Smash. might give that a shot. :)*

    I find that lessons with a biomechanics coach has helped me immensely! If you can use your hands, seat and legs independantly than you shouldn't be leaning on your hands. After every ride if I don't feel like I've had a workout I haven't ridden correctly :p

    Can you just get your instructor to put you on the lunge in the arena? Arenas are good for lunging as you can do straight lines etc
  12. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    i like to be able to ride every horse on a long/loose rein too. It is very much about trust. You have to trust the horse wont take off, use your seat to set the rythem, and only correct with the reins *if* the horse does get faster. Opposed to preventing the horse from doing the wrong thing you need to provide the opportunity for it to do the right, reward, and only correct if he is wrong.
    So start in walk, this should be easy, the only thing you need to worry about is maintaining bend to inside, let the horse draw the reins down, if he comes up you shorten and bend to inside - pat when he is long and low. Then use your legs and seat the steer, set pace etc. Same with trot, on a circle gradually lengthen keeping inside bend and maintain rythem with only the seat, allow him the opportunity to make a mistake and get faster but then correct him and reward. How long/low he can go depends on his balance but the important thing is that your relinquish the grip on the reins and trust him. Once you can maintain a circle at good rythem without relying on the reins you can start looking at excercises that require you to let go completely either one or 2 hands. You can always put your hands back on if he needs correcting again.
    If you can ride long and low i doubt you are balancing on reins .
  13. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    B&T - no, unfortunately can't be lunged in the arena (perogative of property owner to set the rules :)

    Heifer - thanks for that! :)
    Really good excercise! I don't do enough of that! (Its a trust thing rofl)
    I will most definately be doing it more often, 'cos it really is something I need to work on... and makes sense from the 'balancing' p.o.v :))
  14. smash

    smash Well-known Member

    yep no worries,
    here is a video to help you understand what/ why and when

    YouTube - Classical Trainer Jane Savoie's Tips for a Better Dressage Rider's Position
    hope this helps
  15. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    Thanks for that, smash! :)

    My instructor makes me do both excercises... nice to see it from the ground lol
  16. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    Isn't it funny, I am happy to trust my horse to practice cantering a circle in a halter and no reins... But put bridle reins in my hands and I fall to bits. I guess you get used to what you usually do. Justjam, if you don't want to drop the reins entirely, surely just holding them in one hand on the buckle will give you some idea if you are needing them to balance yourself?
  17. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    *chuckle* Blackbat, yes, it probably would, however my boy would take that as a sure sign that we were off to the races and I would end up 'snatching' the reins back in a hurry - thus defeating the purpose :eek:

    Don't get me wrong, we are working on our 'race-track' issues (much improvement over 2.5 years! lol) however he still doesn't quite get it - and I am still working on my limited skills too :rolleyes:

    Maybe I should just borrow a horse for 15 minutes or so! *light-bulb moment!* Thanks Blackbat! lol :))

    Righto... off to go tourture myself with smash's excercises and Heifers 'long & low' training... blimey riding is fun! rofl :rolleyes: :D
  18. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    JJ - i think one of the biggest mistakes some people make with OTTB (and other horses) is to pull against them when they get fast. Horses are very strong and pulling back against their jaw you have no hope. This is where I like to use the one rein stop - starting in walk but eventually in all paces once they get it. They must first be taught to submit to lateral pressure and bend nose to sadle both ways from the ground, then saddle in halt, don't release pressure until they soften, but talk encouragingly - go with them when they move/spin. Then at walk, drop the reins to the buckle and walk along, if horse jogs, one rein them. Rinse and repeat - until they only need to be bent a little before they walk calmly again. The horse has nothing to pull against, but is only rewarded for walking (by no pressure).

    This then transfers to trot where hoonign off is corrected with one rein until they slow, and then you can continue to teach them long and low as above. But dont expect a young unbalanced horse to be able to trot on a very long rein. Its just the theory of not giving them something to pull against. Not many horses can bolt with their head bent to the saddle.

    But = caution - if horse is very unbalanced less bend may be asked for because you dont want, above all other things, the horse to fall over!!! This is especially true if rider is not very balanced/confident (but then an OTTB or rehab horse is not very good idea for them anyway!).

    It is all about feel and timing, which cannot be explained over in writing. I hope that i have explained what i do accurately - its very hard to explain things that are more automatic reactions and im not very good at it!

    Riding is fun, and hard work, but very rewarding :)
  19. horse girl Jess

    horse girl Jess Well-known Member

    One good exercise you can use to check how independent your seat is (and whether you are depending on your hands), is to drop your reins and stand in your stirrups. You can put your hands on your hips, just drop them to the side, stick them out, what ever feels more comfortable. If you can stand in your stirrups, and remain standing, then your seat is pretty strong and it shows that is what you are using to balance, not your hands. If you can't stand, and remain standing (eg you fall forward/backward or some other direction) then chances are that your not using your seat to balance and it's very possible you are compensating with your hands. Repeating this exercise in walk/trot/canter will help to build up your strength and become more balanced in your seat. Just remember that you have to be standing properly and upright, not leading forward/backward etc.
  20. kathera

    kathera Active Member

    Snap Jess!
    by no means would i say im that good at this, but i would think of whether you are relying on your hands as more whether you have good seat.
    Any instructor previously had me work on doing circles and some strides sit, some stand, some rising trot - if you can transition between all that gracefully then will improve you :) I tend to hold a small amount of mane as i find monkey straps too far back and if you make them longer then they can move around - if the mane is pulling then going slack, your hands are moving about.

    Hoofbeats had similar articles recently i seem to remember

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