DbarH Equine Training. Natural Horsemanship.
Medicine Lodge Valley, Dillon, Montana

Wrist Position

This position is for snaffle bit users mainly. But how your wrists and hands are held signal to all the muscles through out the body.  And which ever position your hands and arms are in will travel to the horses mouth. 

Depending on how you have your wrists it can cause tension.

When you ride how do you hold your reins and what do your hands look like as you look at them.

There will be 5 incorrect positions explained and the correct position will be after those 5.

1-Palms Down/back of hands pointed up
2 -Wrists cocked out/broke out
3- Wrists broken inwards
4 -Broken wrist going down
5 - Wrist broken upwards

Thumbs up, aligned with elbow

Wrist exercise

 1 -Palms Down/back of hands pointed up (incorrect).

  • If you ride with the back of the hands pointed toward the sky (like typing on a keyboard) notice how your shoulders collapse to the inside and how the muscles in the lower arm stop the flow of energy.
  • What happens when you pull on the reins?
  • The wrists collapse downward so now the wrists are pointed forward.
  • Also what can happen is the rider will keep the wrists pointed up toward the sky and then use the whole arm to pull back, but then the elbows will wing out and the shoulder will tense up toward the sky also.
  • How about the armpits? they have inward pressure on them. Like squeezing the life out of an orange from the front to the back. Or trying to spit it out toward the rear or the horse

2 - Wrists cocked out/broke out (incorrect)

  • There is no give and take with the reins and movement of the horse.
  • It would require you to straighten out your arm to compensate for the horses movement.
  • In that wrist position it just does not effect the wrist it follows on up through the arm and down the body.
  • It stretches the palm of the hand to where you canít correctly hold the rein.
  • Tightens up the forearm on the inside and contracts the outside of the forearm.
  • The inside of the upper arm is tightened.
  • The top of the shoulder will pop forward the shoulder will tense up.
  • The lower back will hollow.
  • The pelvis will tilt forward.

3 - Wrists broken inwards (incorrect)

  • This has the most effect on the horse with the contact on the mouth.

  • When the wrists are broken in the horses mouth will be pulled in breaking the snaffle in the middle of the mouth to seem as if the horse would collapse then mouth.

  • Example take your two hands and put them together palms up and thumbs touching together to act as the horses mouth put a rein through the "mouth" and have someone on the other sides of the reins as the rider.

  • Have the rider do the wrist positions broken in and correct.

  • When the rider break inwards your mouth will collapse or break apart to the direction where your knuckles would join.

  • If in the correct position when the rider pulls back the whole mouth will come back having the "mouth" staying together and stay together.

  • Also when a rider has broken in hands the rider is constantly pulling on the horse as there is no give and take.

  • What broken in hands does to the rider. Try pulling back on the reins with a broken in wrist.

  • What happens? You bring your hands into your stomach and you need to bring your body back also.

  • Or do the opposite, If you bring back the chances are that you will pull down also as the shoulder has to round in to go with the motion of the wrist coming in thus the rider might also tilt forward to follow the motion of the arm.

  • Sitting at your chair place a book or something solid and flat on your lap.

  • Get into the arm/wrist position (broken in) a couple of inches above the book.

  • Pretend you are gong to pull back on the reins.

  • Then see how far off the top of the book you are with the hands when you get to your stomach.

  • What does this do to your lower back. Pelvis, upper back, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, and forearms.

  • So either you are going to lean back with the hands or you are going to lean forward to compensate for not leaning back and off balance with the hands.

  • Nothing is independent when in the broken positions. Everything is locked in to each other and has to contort accordingly.

  • When you have to long of reins this could also happen.

4 -Broken wrist going down (incorrect)

  • Your wrists are locked again.
  • There is no line from elbow to mouth.
  • The contact with the mouth is out to space and then when contact is made it is a bang on the mouth.
  • You would in turn try to rip the horses jaw off.
  • Because you are pulling down, which makes the horses head fly and flip up into the air.
  • The horses back gets hollow as a result you have nothing but a messed up horse.

5 - Wrist broken upwards (incorrect)

  • Your locked, no straight line from elbow to mouth.
  • Bumping your horse in the roof of his mouth.
  • When pulling back on the rein the angle of the forearm and upper arm are is a very sharp degree upwards the shoulders lock and the back stiffens, and yet the pelvis tilts too.
  • Now take all that and see what the horse feels when the rider is all contorted like that.

Thumbs up aligned with elbow (correct)

  • holding a candle stick with the thumb on the wick.

  • This would be where the tops of the thumbs are pointed toward the sky.

  • Notice how the shoulder is not as collapsed inward as the other position.

  • Notice the muscles on the whole arm. It is like the energy is flowing through out all of it. Say an invisible circle from hands to lower arm through elbow up the upper arm out through the top of the shoulder and arching back to the hand again.

  • What does the arm and shoulder and wrist/hands do when you pull on the rein?

  • Does your wrist point in toward each other or do the wrists point slightly outside?

  • If the wrist points toward the inside the joint action very very limited to about nothing (locking), but if the wrists point slightly toward the outside there is a lot of flexibility with the joint to go with the flow of the rein action and soft on the horses mouth.

  • The arm should be still pointed in a forward direction from wrist to elbow to shoulder position.

  • Now shoulder. This depends on the person. Stiff or relaxed.

  • The stiff person will clasp the arm pit having the upper arm and elbow right at the side of the torso, thus squeezing the juice out of the orange and only letting the juice escape down the side. Notice the orange wouldn't be spit out but rather in a vise (clasped).

  • The relaxed arm pit would have the arms and elbow slightly away from the side of the  torso - holding the orange but not indenting it the least bit.

  • If you clasp your arm pits buy some foam like a medium sponge and ride with the sponges in both armpits.

  • Not squeezing it but just holding it there. Or if you want to try the orange (just joking).

Wrist exercise.

  • To loosen up the wrists, arms and shoulders stick your thumbs up like you were hitch hiking.
  • Start moving the thumbs and wrists (which will move the arm and shoulder too) like you were flinging something to the side and back of you.
  • The thumb and wrist would go toward the chest and then out and circle back to the starting point left goes clock wise and right goes counter clock wise.
  • Try to do this with the wrist pointed toward the sky. what happens?


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