Why did it take so long?

Around 63 years ago, give or take, I got planted on the back of a pony and taken for a walk, worst mistake my parents made.

I graduated from pony rides, to local riding stables, whose main requirements were, cheap, and on a bus route! I had such fun, learned to sweep, clean stalls and tack, all the work needed, and how to stay on ponies and ex racehorses and have great fun.

I kept getting older, married, had kids, quit riding, started again, on my own, reinforcing all the bad habits I had learned. Eventually moved to Canada, and started taking lessons, had a few instructors and ridden many horses. Everyone has made improvements to my riding, some gave me more bad habits…

Then we arrived at yesterday, my 3rd ride, second lesson on my trainers Friesian, and WOW, just WOW. Now to be fair to me, riding Western, properly, is very very new to me, so riding one handed properly is a challenge. Then we get the usual “keep your hand in the middle”

“Well now I am looking where I am going I can’t see my hand”

“Hand in the middle is about weight, not position.

Comes to a grinding halt

“Excuse me”

“When your hand is right, you feel equal weight on both reins”

:astonished: tries it

“Why has no one put it like that before?”

Then there was leg yielding just using seat bones, with a touch of leg, oh and walk jog transitions, “use your gut muscles” walk to lope, “use your butt muscles”

I am 63, ridden for ever, and I am just feeling these things….I feel equally delighted and in despair….

The boy and me from our second ride, a few weeks ago, before we had a lesson.


What a fantastic photo!
And yes- I love imagery, feel description etc as teaching aids. I learn better that way and I try to use things like that for my students as often as possible

Once upon a time one of the best trainers I’ve ever ridden with said “Everyone talks about good hands, but really they should say elbows. If your elbows are stiff it doesn’t matter what your hands do. We should talk about good elbows.”

She was right. Being more conscious of relaxed elbows wasn’t just about better hands, it changed everything about the horse being able to be forward and stay forward, to move and carry the rider (me) more consistently. About my position in the saddle and being in the right place.

If someone had just said those words in my hearing about 20 years earlier … LOL


My horse rides great one handed. I think he feels the equal weight that you mention.

I wouldn’t feel despair, only delight! No reason for despair as it’s never too late to learn. I still feel elated on my 20yr old I’ve owned for 13 years!


For me it’s even further up stream, my shoulders were never relaxed, and without relaxed shoulders, supple elbows, those hands are always going to be an issue.

Lol, the years I spent trying to have quiet hands, and I was fixing on the wrong thing…


Yes! This! It is not just about hands hands hands … those upstream joints matter just as much!

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