The horse rider's thumbs have long been described in historical texts as required to have the thumbs the highest point of the hand

The horse rider's thumbs have long been described in historical texts as required to have the thumbs the highest point of the hand

For hundreds of years (certainly since the American Civil War) riding manuals have required riders to have the “thumb the highest point of the hand”.

But why?

In our ridden demonstrations (you can see this on both these DVDs: Rider Seat & Posture  and  Full Training Package)  you can see that when we roll the rider’s thumb over to make the hand flat that we can EASILY pull the rider forward.

Back in the civil war they didn’t want to “look pretty”. They needed to be safe under the most terrible circumstances: the enemy trying their hardest to pull the rider to the ground. Therefore, they were very strict about the horse rider’s thumb being the highest point of the hand, as the rider simply stays on the horse far better in this position.

We’re not at war anymore – so why bother?

On our tradestands at the big shows we get a saddle stand with 4 bathroom scales underneath each “foot”. We have tested hundreds of riders and just rolling the thumb over puts approximately 11kgs onto the two front feet of the horse. That’s almost the weight of a bag of feed!

The rider's hands rolling over puts approx 11kgs onto the two front feet of the horse "on the forehand". Photo courtesy Emily Peake Photography

The rider's hands rolling over puts approx 11kgs onto the two front feet of the horse "on the forehand". Photo courtesy Emily Peake Photography

If rolling your thumbs over puts 11kgs on the two front feet, then putting the horse rider’s thumbs on top puts the weight on the two back feet. That’s the difference in balance between on the forehand, and on the quarters (or engaged).

And…for dressage riders there’s a rule about the rider’s hands! The FEI Rule book is clear how we should hold the hand, and if it’s in the rule book, then judges who are judging the rider mark can mark the rider down who rolls their hand over!

Why they roll over…

On our Full Training Package you will see exactly WHY they roll over…they don’t just do it on their own!  The way the rider sits and stands affects the whole body…it’s just amazing to find out WHY you’re putting the horse on the forehand…have a look: More…

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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] Colleen Kelly’s “How the Horse Rider Holds Their Hands Can Put the Horse on the Forehand… – this is one good explanation for your hows and whys of hand […]

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