The Importance of Following Hands

This is a great visual!

The video illustrates how the hands of the rider can either allow and follow the horse's movement at the walk (left), or block the movement (right). This blocking negatively affects not only the head and neck of the horse, but spine and overall movement of the horse as well. Notice how in the correct example (left), the horse’s head telescopes out and down. In the incorrect example (right) the horse’s neck shortens and the head moves up and up.

When a rider rides from "front-to-back" with a blocking hand, the horse is not on correct contact, because the rider is trying to achieve contact with their hands (example on right, above). The horse may assume a "nose in" posture, but the horse is not on the bit, not connected, and not using their body properly. The fake, round outline will cause the neck to appear stiff and rigid, even when the horse is moving.

True connection and contact do not start with the rider's hands. A balanced and aligned rider must learn to connect to the horse through the seat and legs, sending and allowing the energy of the horse to travel from the hind legs, through the body and over the back; and only then, into the elastic contact of the rider's hands.

It is the horse that accepts the contact by taking the rider's hands.

To further illustrate this idea, I love the following quote from Manolo Mendez:

"The neck of the horse is like the tail is to the fish, it must be able to move to keep him buoyant. Block a fish's tail and it sinks. Block a horse's head and neck and his balance, movement and body suffers." — Manolo Mendez Dressage

Centered Riding concepts can provide the tools that enable you to more easily access the mind/body and biomechanics principals to enhance your skills and help you to become an effective rider—regardless of riding level or discipline. For more information, go to:


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