We communicate with our horses primarily through the reins, and yet our instructions to our horses are often too abrupt and hurried to get the results we want. The best way to develop a softer, more responsive horse, according to John Lyons, is to slow down our hands.
Rather than snatching or pulling on the reins with a rapid-fire motion, we should initiate our rein cues with slow, smooth, consistent pressure. By easing the slack out of the rein and then making contact, you give your horse time to register and respond to your signal.
While a quick release lets a horse know that he responded correctly to your rein request, fast hands in the initiation of a cue tend to catch a horse off guard and will likely make him stiff and defensive. When you slow down your hands, you’ll quickly find that it takes less and less pressure to get the horse to respond correctly to the rein.
“The slower you go, the softer your horse becomes,” assures John. And that’s precisely what we want.