Good Hands for Horse Training

Your horse should find comfort in flexion, not discomfort. Journal photo Your horse should find comfort in flexion, not discomfort. Journal photo

November 30, 2017

Good Hands for Horse Training

Teach your horse the basics of flexion by using soft hands and smart techniques.
From AQHA's Fundamentals of Horsemanship

Objectives:
To ask my horse for vertical flexion and to have him respond positively and lightly, rather than resisting or opposing
To understand “soft feel” as a fundamental ingredient of vertical flexion and collection
To ask for vertical flexion using only light pressure
How Will This Help Me?

It will be quicker and easier to teach the horse the all-important basics of flexion if I start on the ground before attempting to do it mounted. My hands must learn to take, to wait and to release.
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I can make myself more clearly understood from the ground because I will not be using my reins or legs for balance. If I teach a clear, individual response, I can teach the horse to follow a feel or improve his response and prevent him from pulling against my hands. Learning to have “good hands” is of crucial importance if I am to become a true horseman.
How Do I Do It?

Stand at the horse’s withers and check that you have light lateral flexion both toward and away from you.

Take up the reins on either side of the mane between your thumb and forefinger, fingers open and facing down the horse’s neck.

By simply closing your fingers on the reins, you will apply enough pressure to his nose for the horse to look for a solution. As soon as he yields, release the pressure.
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Errors to Avoid
Do not try to pull, which will teach the horse to be heavy.
Do not attempt at this stage to maintain the flexion for very long.
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