Beginner child riders walking on their ponies

3 things beginner riders can do to improve their hand position

As a horse riding beginner, there is a lot to think about - balancing yourself on the horse all while going in the right direction, at the right speed - and trying to maintain a good position all the while! Very early on however, it is important for riders to start developing a good hand position. Here are three things you can do to set yourself on the right path:

1. Use the right amount of grip on the reins:

Beginner riders often grip the reins too tightly, which causes tension in their arms and shoulders which can transfer to the horse's mouth. Instead, use a light and relaxed grip, allowing your fingers to wrap around the reins without gripping too tightly. A common visualisation is to picture yourself holding a baby bird in your hand - too light, open fingers will let the bird fly away, but a tight grip will kill it!

2. Keep your elbows close to your body

As a beginner rider, it's easy to let your elbows fly out, which can cause your hands to drop and your reins to become slack. It also has a negative impact on your balance and on your ability to sit quietly on the horse - plus, it just looks bad! When thinking about keeping your elbows by your sides, don't actively use muscles to clamp them down - instead, think about relaxing your upper arm totally so your elbow simply "falls" into place. A great exercise for this is to take both reins in one hand, and let the other arm hang from your shoulder with complete relaxation. Then, pick up your lower arm using your elbow as a hinge, but without moving your upper arm. As you pick up your arm, feel it staying relaxed. You may need to drop it and pick it up a few times to get this feeling.

3. Think about your hands being about the height of your bellybutton

While this is a rough guide only, and ultimately the height of the hands is determined in relation to the position of the horse's head and neck, as a beginner rider, it is good to aim to keep them about there. Any higher or lower, and it is likely that you are using your hands for balance, which is a big no-no in horse riding. The hands must not be involved in keeping your balance, as they need to stay stead and still to communicate with your horse.

And a bonus tip...

Get your own pair of SteadyHands riding gloves! These will enable you to feel the correct distance between your hands from the get-go, and will also restrict you from using your hands to balance yourself. With SteadyHands gloves on, many beginner riders immediately start to use their core and legs more for balance, and their upper body is visibly freed up and quieter.

SteadyHands are designed with a quick-release clip, so that they will easily release if you do lose your balance. If you want to move through the beginner phase as quickly as possible, then it makes sense to use the tools are your disposal to assist you on your learning journey.


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