Electrical Tape and Upside Down Reins

You know that saying, it goes something like "stupidity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?"  I would be stupid without my trainer.  We tried some decidedly unusual, but effective, things in my lesson yesterday.

I let him lick some coffee off my hand before our lesson.  He was not impressed.

My lesson yesterday started with leg yielding.  Off the left leg, it was smooth.  Off the right, I got nothing.  "Try something for me," she said.  "Don't touch your right rein.  Even if he bends the wrong way, just let him make some mistakes.  You're pushing him over with the right rein instead of inviting him over with the left and riding inside leg to outside rein."

So I did.  And that, plus asking louder and in better rhythm with my leg aids, gave me some really good leg yields to the left.  So the rest of the lesson was spent de-emphasizing my right rein.


At the walk: "Your right arm is actually moving less with him than your left, and I constantly have to tell you to shorten it, which means you've got to be riding diagonally too."  So she told me to straighten my right arm, to ride with less of an angle in it than the left, and it made a big difference, but trying to straighten it and not use it as much made me keep letting it slide through my fingers."

"I'll be right back."  She disappeared into the barn and came back with bright blue electrical tape.  She figured out how long she wanted my reins to be at the trot, then had me hold them there while she wrapped tape in front of my thumb and behind my hand, with the idea that my hands needed to stay in those "boxes".
Bleh, bleh, bleh.

It worked pretty well.  Visually, neither one of us had to guess if I was letting the reins slip through my fingers.  The tape didn't lie.  But it only told me if the right rein was slipping, it didn't prevent the slip, so she had me come into the ring for "one more thing."

She took the reins over Connor's head, with the buckle end under his neck, and gave me the reins back, with the tape.  I'll take a picture later this week.  With the reins like that, I couldn't shorten the reins because there was no excess to shorten.  It was a really weird feeling, but was incredibly effective.  We ended up with some serpentines that were just bangin' all around.  Balanced, with me asking for each turn by first sliding the new inside seatbone forward, then giving a bit with my outside rein "so that the outside of his body can come around the inside."

Letting his mane grow long, and keeping him in a hood all winter in an attempt to train his mane back over.

The diagnosis is that I hold him so much with the right rein, in an attempt to micromanage and prevent him from making mistakes, that he'll never be responsible for himself if I don't let go.  He was so straight and through on those serpentines - without me holding him in either rein - that I am inclined to believe that theory.  Our homework for the week is to do more with the reins under his neck like that (with twine connecting them, so that I can do it without her handing me the reins), and I am interested to see what happens.

14 comments:

  1. I use a silver sharpie to mark the inside of my rubber reins where I should hold at the trot. The walk is a few inches longer, and the canter is one hand length in front. The mark doesn't stop me from slipping the reins, but it's a good visual reminder that I've forgotten to keep the length. I'm such a chronic rein-slipper.

    Nancy has also had me put tape on my thigh blocks to show me the point my thighs should be behind. It's very helpful. A half glance down lets me know I'm clamping with my leg and it's ridden up too high.

    Better riding through ... uh ... tape?

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  2. I have done the upside down rein thing before, but it was to help the horse pick it self up. I can see how it would help with a rider's hands too. The tape thing is something Mom did on the double bridle's reins to help her maintain the correct length. Very cool how little things can help so much.

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  3. I always want to put tape on my reins but my trainer won't let me >:[

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    1. That's weird, it's not permanent or anything. Strange. Come over to the dark side, where our trainers put tape on our reins for us!

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  4. This is totally me with the right rein and the leg yield off the right leg. WE ARE TWINS I TELL YOU. TWINS.

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  5. interesting - my trainer did this with another rider a few weeks ago for a different issue (following hands, i believe)... she's had me change the way i hold the reins so that my thumb is closer to the bit than my pinkie (does that make sense?) and it's kinda of crazy how one little change 'resets' our habits. and yea i def have a rein slippage problem too...

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  6. Hey, question for you! I decided to buy Hero/Prince a Supracor half pad for Christmas but I haven't bought a cover for it yet. Do you have any idea if it would fit into an Ogilvy knock off cover like this:

    http://www.farmhousetack.com/servlet/the-5294/Ogilvy-Custom-Half-Pad,/Detail?gclid=Cj0KEQiA8MSkBRCP5LaRlcOAusMBEiQAiqldkh311j7JKQ1qDZFkiedwlHxI85y2E2xD2FIO8FPyEisaAsE18P8HAQ

    It's a bit cheaper and pretty... not sure how important their cover is to the whole half pad design. Thanks for your help!

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    Replies
    1. I have never seen an Ogilvy so honestly I could not say one way or another. I am curious, though, if you get it, let me know! I think Lauren was curious too, we talked about that a while ago.

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    2. Coming from your Mom, "In an attempt to micromanage and prevent him from making mistakes, that he'll never be responsible for himself if I don't let go." Worked for you and your sister and brother. Hard, but a good life lesson. Works for our furbabies also. (Love this...and love you!)

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    3. Awww this made me smile! Too true, and a good analogy. Love you too!

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    4. I might have to take the bait since it's so purdy. And cheaper

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    5. I drank some wine and decided to order one. If it fits I bet my Mom can sew me more! I'll let you know how they work together when they both arrive.

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    6. Wine always leads to my best decisions. :) Keep me posted!

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