The hands……are an extension of the rider’s back and seat. We want to follow the horse first with our seat riding the movement from his hocks all the way through to the mouth with a quiet receiving hand. Ride the energy of a horse towards the bit.
When we see a rider vigorously pumping forward and back like a piston on a train there’s a good chance that the rider is locked or braced in the seat and back. Steady quiet hands are an important part of correct riding. The following motion should be very subtle and soft with the elbow slightly opening and closing like a hinge… the joints in the fingers and wrists absorbing motion in the up and down, back and forth motion of the horses head and neck…and allowing the shoulder blades to make micro adjustments by folding closer together. It is so important to actually feel the movement of the horse… to become that movement with your body. Try not ride with your biceps and strength… it always comes down to riding with your seat to control the horse… pumping arms disrupt riding this circle of energy by abruptly blocking and dropping the offer of connection to the horse.
Hands are one part of the network of communication between horse and rider. When a rider uses exaggerated following of the arms back and forth it ruins the lightness and the ability of the horse to find consistent balance . It creates what we call… white noise… without any relief for the horse and tends to dull and desensitize. It’s unsettling to the horse as there is simply to much movement. The name of the game is to be as quiet and still as possible in your aids of seat, legs and hands. Balance is the cornerstone of all equestrian disciplines…to be one with the horse and allow him to do his job with the rider helping or “aiding” the horse and not hindering the horse by using crude abrupt movements. The better a rider is in their equitation …..riding to help the horse and not get in their way…the greater chance of success in competition and training… it’s the advantage that make the difference in winning and losing in all disciplines… it gives you the edge over less skilled riders. Another thought about the reins… Either pick them up and communicate something meaningful to the horse or drop them completely to the buckle if you are resting or not at working at something or going somewhere. It dulls the horses when a rider keeps a meaningless pull on the reins. It’s a no man’s land…so don’t go there!
This from Charles de Kunfffy: “Keep your arms immobilized rather than “feeding” (pumping) the reins at walk and canter. The feeding of reins in order to follow the horses head movement does not help the horse contact and balance, but seriously disturbs it. Both the feeding and jerking that followings are usually out of synchronization and disharmonious. Arms rocking like that “unseat” the rider. That is, the rider’s aids do not go through to the horse but “short out” by being empties through the arms onto the horse’s neck.” “Mouth of crystal, hands of silk”…..Author Kottas