On the Aids: Look Ma, One Hand!

Since we were just discussing (okay, joking around about) an independent seat, I thought this video might be a nice counterpoint.

I subscribe to a Classical Dressage listserv, and one of the current topics is about riding with the reins in one hand. Riding with the reins in one hand is a long standing “test” to see how well one has the horse on the aids.  It’s not a perfect gold-standard since it slightly changes the line of contact (bit to hands), but it’s awfully useful to diagnose a good many ills, or get a quick report card*.

The video below was generously made by Dr. Thomas Ritter to show correct one-handed riding.  You can use it as a self-check as mentioned above, but  it also to frees up the whip hand to easily give (calm) reinforcement to an aid.  It allows you to reach exactly the spot you need to reach, when done properly.

Notice Dr. Ritter doesn’t smack (or tap) the horse with the whip, he rests it first on the area that needs reinforcement, then vibrates it if the horse doesn’t respond.  Tapping is a last resort.  Very nice horsemanship.

*BTW tried it myself and flunked miserably while trotting in a straight line.  Will I EVER learn to ride?

However, freeing up the whip hand while maintaining connection (albiet somewhat erratic) worked well at reinforcing my leg with a particular horse who needed to be reminded the rear end moves with the front end during a leg yeild.   Rubbing the whip gently was so much more calming for both of us than tapping him over.  Nice!

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