“One of the skills often ignored by modern riders in the forward system of riding is riding using only one hand on the reins. The original practical application of this particular technique is obviously military in origin with the goal of allowing a soldier to have one hand free to wield a weapon. The relevance of this technique to modern riders is the development of balance and control for the rider and lightness and self-carriage for the horse.
Nolan’s technique is not to be confused with ‘neck reining’, per se, but can be used as a step to teaching a horse ‘neck reining’. This is accomplished by gradually lightening contact with the horse’s mouth and eventual lengthening of the reins (and with proper leg and seat applied in coordination with the hands). This particular issue is a subject for another article.” read more… (http://gilmorehorsemanship.com/militaryreining.html)
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