Growing up, we played a game at my birthday parties. Since my birthday was during summer, we were able to play this game because it had to be played outdoors. Turns out this game is quite useful when it comes to riding horses. What’s the game? The egg and the spoon. The trick was to hold a spoon by the handle and carry an egg with it to your partner who stood about 50 feet away from you. If you dropped the egg out of the spoon, then ‘splat’ went the egg and you had to run back to where you started and get another egg. It was a riot to play and watch. The winners were the ones with the steadiest hands. The steadiest hands were able to keep the egg from coming out of the spoon before they got to the finish line. In a nutshell, if you had steady hands then you were going to win.
It just so happens that this is an important principle when riding a horse. You must ride with steady hands. If you don’t, you’re always pulling and tugging on your horse’s mouth. If you’re always pulling and tugging on your horse’s mouth, how is he to figure out bit communication? When you ask for something with your reins that is eerily like having his mouth pulled on while riding, how will he distinguish the difference?
So, the first clue is to ride with steady hands. You may think you do… and perhaps you do… but there’s a sure-fire way to test your steadiness. Get in the saddle, hold the reins and the spoon with the egg and see just how steady you really are. Just let the horse walk while you hold the spoon and see what happens. Oh… and don’t look down. Looking down shifts your weight forward and makes your horse heavy on the forehand. Should you be able to do this perfectly? Well… you’re shooting toward that goal, but you’ll have trouble being perfect with it. What you’re really learning here is to steady your hands as much as possible. The egg falling off will reveal to you just how steady you are or are not. A side benefit of this is that it’s rather entertaining to do. So, you should try it with some of your fellow riders.
Why do steady hands matter? Well, I already gave you one reason… a great reason. Here’s another. Get a 12- or 15-foot piece of string and have a friend or spouse hold each end. You put the middle of the string in your mouth like the bit goes in the horse’s mouth. Now you’re the horse and your friend or spouse is the rider. Have him or her cluck to you and get you moving forward. Don’t tell them what you’re doing or how to hold their hands. I just want you to see what it feels like on the end of unsteady hands. Here’s my guess. You won’t like how it feels. You’ll find it rather irritating.
If you had a tail, you might even swish it because you keep getting pulled on. In fact, you may get irritated enough that you don’t want to listen to your rider and you’re more focused on being irritated than doing what’s asked of you. Why, then, wouldn’t a horse be like that? After your friend or spouse has turned you into a believer of steady hands, now ask them to be very careful with their hands. Have them maintain rein contact but this time, be very careful not to pull on your mouth so you can clearly feel the difference. If your horse could talk, he’d say: “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”
Provided by Horse Training Resources. Visit HorseTrainingResources.com.
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