Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Remember your hands?

Hands. Remember those? Having just been in a lesson this past weekend, I apparently have forgotten the purpose of those hands. Having been reminded that good hands are not a physical characteristic of a rider, but are an extension and reflection of the rider's brain; I was not in stride with that sentiment. I was using my hands this past weekend as a way of keeping me on the horse and not as an extension of my brain. One major point that I was reminded of numerous times was that I needed these hands to communicate with the horse.

One must remember to hold your hands about one hand's width apart; just above the front of the saddle. Then bear in mind to keep a good grip on the reins without having a heavy hand which will pull on your horse's mouth; this action which will make him/her tense. To counteract this start with your fingers and assure that they are properly gripping the reins. From there the placement of your hands on the reins wil help maintain stable contact without putting the weight on your horses mouth. Working up from your hands, keep your wrists slightly relaxed and bend your elbows to prevent your arms from locking and keep a more natural bend to your arms. 

One point that is a good reminder when you feel that you are gripping your reins too tightly, is to turn your wrists inwards just a small amount which will allow a more gentler hold and gives more for your horses mouth. 

Keeping these tips and advise in mind while hacking, in a lesson or in competition, will assist me and other riders in the future to have an amazing ride. In the end, don't forget the importance of your hands. For a great refresher you can always refer to George H. Morris's book, Hunter Seat Equitation Chapter Two: The Rider's Aids, page 29, which discusses the topic more in depth. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winter Show Season is upon us!

Winter is upon us in Chicagoland and it is a great time to get out and head to a horse show!

Winter brings its own set of challenges for horse showing. The biggest is the unknown of the weather. Snow, ice and very cold temps can all come into play and need to be paid attention to. Our horses safety is number one priority for all of us! However with careful planning, paying attention to details and with using good common sense we can easily overcome these challenges and get out to show.

Horse showing in the winter is a great way to get out of the barn, see somewhere different, alleviate winter blues and boredom. After all, nothing adds excitement to your home riding routine than when you are preparing yourself and your horse for a horse show.

There is another great advantage to horse showing in Chicago in the winter, the shows are generally a bit smaller and it can be a great environment to take a new horse to a nice easy show or perhaps to try a new class or a to see how a higher level works for you. Winter shows in Chicago are generally in a more controlled environment in a nice indoor arena that both horse and rider can quickly adjust to. There are a variety of shows to choose from! Both A and B IHJA shows, NIHJA shows as well as some very well organized open shows. There really is something for every level and every budget.

Not sure where or when horse shows are going on in the area? You can easily check the calendar at www.chicagoequestrian.com for a listing of shows and other special events happening in the area.

Be sure to also check out the 'links' page at the bottom left side for a great set of links to associations, horse show managements, and other great resources.