The ability to ride your horse with soft, quiet hands is the first step towards developing an even, elastic contact to the bit and, therefore, with the mouth of your horse. Between the need to guide your horse precisely through the exercises and controlling your own seat and legs, keeping your hands steady and in front of you can be a challenging task.
Why is the position of your hands so important?For your hands to find an appropriate position while riding your horse, it is important for your whole body to be in line. Your hands should be an extension of your lower arms. It's important for you to carry your hands and close your fingers, enabling you to feel the horse's mouth and communicate through the rein aids. Your wrist should remain straight with slightly bent thumbs on top, securing the rein against the index finger. Here are three things you should keep in mind:
- Your body should be relaxed: being able to lightly follow your horse's movement with your seat is the first step towards controlling your arms and hands. When sitting correctly, the movement is absorbed by your seat, allowing the rest of your body to move independently and, therefore, your hands to stay still.
- Keep your wrists supple: this allows the transmission of the smallest of signals to your horse through your hands. Your wrists should stay straight with your thumbs on top, with a straight line being formed from the elbows to the bit. In her training videos, Dr. Britta Schöffmann demonstrates the correct hand position and explains what happens when your wrists are twisted.
- Follow the mouth of your horse: the ultimate goal of the correct hand position is to develop a soft but steady contact to the bit. Your hands should always be in front of you enabling the horse to work from the back to the front.