You know…..just reflecting more on this whole master rein business. And how it is supposed to be like ‘the perfect pair of hands’. What possesses us to think that our hands should be fixed? Given the desired forward, flowing movement of a horse, when you think logically about how much movement there is in the head and neck (wither, back etc) of the horse, why do we not put two and two together? If your hands aren’t moving, and your seat can’t move because of the fashion of saddle design at the moment, of high backs and huge knee rolls, where is the movement supposed to go? If your hands aren’t sympathetic and are fixed. the poor horse’s mouth has to absorb all that movement. Think about how much pain this must cause the horse and how heavy it would make them. Add to that the fashion of riders to sit upright, perched with their spinal column stacked bone upon bone (instead of tucking your tail under you and allow your hips to absorb the movement) you then also have a rider just banging up and down on the horse’s back. And we wonder why they poke their noses out and hollow their backs. Riders of all levels do it and are quick to blame the horse and strap him in and down instead of taking on his unhappy feedback.
I’ve currently got my Level 3 group working on their feel and developing lightness in their hands and in their horses. They are practising by sitting on a fit-ball while holding a piece of wool as reins (just tie it around a post or similar). Their goal then is to do all of their rein positions and transitions up and down, via their seat (hips, upper leg only) without changing tension on the wool. The result, lightness, softness and harmony of horse and rider. And almost no weight on the reins.