Do you struggle to keep your hands still in rising trot, or worry about their placement? Steph Robson, UKCC3, BHS Senior coach explains all.

To achieve a steady hand, focus on your elbows rather than your hands. Rest your elbows against your sides, where they should bend and maintain the weight of relaxed shoulders.

Think of the straight line from your elbow to your horse’s mouth and maintain an even, elastic contact with your hands level. When you rise in the trot, the elbow should open and then close as you sit. This allows the hands to stay quiet and not move up and down, but stay with the movement of your horse instead.

When it’s safe to do so, try shutting your eyes as you’re trotting and feel what is happening to your elbows as your hips rise up and forwards.

Moving through the gaits

In each gait the principle is exactly the same: maintain the same contact and position of the arm, elbow and hand, but open and close the elbow with the swing of the horse’s movement.

In walk and canter, the movement is more forwards and backwards, so it’s important to maintain the opening and closing of the elbows at these paces too.

Your shoulders need to stay relaxed as well so that your hands and arms don’t tighten and tense. This causes horses to resist the contact and not want to stay forwards in a good rhythm.

Lessons on the lunge

Suppleness and balance in general are important and can affect how much your hands move around. I often use lunge lessons to help the rider gain suppleness and feel without having to worry about controlling the horse. Practising yoga and Pilates will help to improve your core strength too.


The hand and lower arm belong to the horse, not you.

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