Not many of us like to acknowledge how much we ride with our hands. And I have found that often, the more vehemently a person proclaims to have nice hands, the less they are willing to change them.
Unfortunately, most of us learn to use our hands before our seat. I know I did. Pull to turn, pull to stop. Even light pulling is pulling, and it interrupts the ability of our seat to feel the back of the horse, and find the sequence of footfalls.
I never thought of myself as having bad hands, but, the more deep I go into my horsemanship journey, the more my poor habits prevent me from advancing. The hands have got to go.
I have been re-learning how to use my hands, discovering how dependent I am of them, and how much they create a brace in my seat. It’s humbling, fascinating, exciting, and frustrating all in one.
This is why I teach my beginners to learn to move with and feel the horse before ever taking their reins- it takes far more time to unlearn habits than it does to create good ones in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to change, and to start all over with the basics of riding. There is a feel out there that’s beyond description, a partnership that is fluid, gorgeous, swinging, happy and buttery soft – and it’s all yours if you’re willing to do the hard, humbling work of letting go.