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An Australian Spring

By September 18, 2023No Comments

It has been a couple of months since I last put a blog up, so had better make a start on one for September, or December will be upon us all before we know it. Since my last blog, there has been a home course and another week spent in Western Australia. We continue to take outside horses in for starting and beyond, with another intake in progress as we speak.

Whats Coming Up: We have another home course in November on the 11th & 12th. This course is a Horsemanship / Cow Working course. More course information is available

Our online course is also available at

The video below, is old footage filmed in the U.K. and is of a foal and a young horse that I handled. It was a case of just going with the flow and what was offered and every situation is different. The horsemanship article below is a little longer than previous and is on the topic of hands. Happy Reading.

Hands, as many coaches will tell you are not easy to teach or to understand. Developing good hands as a rider and understanding how they affect your horse is important. Perhaps this article gives a glimmer of understanding to the subject. For riders to have developed their seat to where they are not using the reins for their balance or blocking the horse with their hands or reins is a really important aspect of riding a horse.

The image below is from Western Australia at Horsemanship First and is a lovely 6 year old mare owned by Jenny Jackson. I have had a handful of rides on her over a couple of trips to W.A.

In this image, the mares frame is quite open and I am riding the mare towards my hands. My hands and arms are not pulling back and my fingers are open, so that I am not blocking my horse from going forward.

Developing feel in your hands, legs and seat is easy to say and another to live. It takes time to develop feel and awareness and I believe feel is a quality that you are always developing. When you reach for your horse, what sort of feedback do you get? Does your horse feel braced or nervous?

In a conversation with a jumping coach sometime ago, they said, ” It is called riding and not sitting.” Riding is about being effective with our aids, some horses will require much less with our aids and some horses may need more initially.

A quote that I read recently by Thomas Ritter; “The legs bring the horse to the seat, and the seat brings the horse to the hands. When the teacher says ‘shorten the reins’ it needs to be translated into: ‘engage the hind legs, sit on them, and then take the slack out of the reins’, because if you shorten the reins from front to back, the horse will only resist.” ~ Thomas Ritter

A good friend said to me, a long time ago that the amount of frame that you have on a horse is dependant on the amount of engagement that you have. When horses are ridden from the front to the back you may also tend to see a shortening of the neck and the horse may not be accepting of the hands.

The horse in the image on the left is again the mare in the above image. She is starting to find forward and carry me in the gait and be in front of my leg. She has a little more frame on her than the image above as a result.

The image below is an old one from the U.K and was of a horse that I started and had a handful of rides. His frame and head carriage is again fitting for where he is at in this image. Note that there is a float in the reins here.

Riding your horse to your hand or riding your horse into a frame rather than just shortening the reins at the front is a concept that is hard to teach in practice.

If your horse lacks forward and impulsion riders can tend to frame their horse up off their hands and this tends to lead to the horse being on the front end and over bent. Horses may still be over bent or on their front end if they are impulsive or running through your hand as well. Good Impulsion may help you to have better hands. I hope the above creates some awareness and insight in the importance of having good hands when riding. Stay safe and enjoy your horses.