Let`s start with the shoulders and arms, with the hands following next week. The shoulders, arms and hands all work together to control the direction of the horse, through the reins and thus the bit.
The shoulders should always follow the eyes in "obtaining" direction for the horse to follow. Probably more so than riding, the directional pull of the shoulders, is most directly felt by the Rider/Driver in Driving a horse.
Hard to understand without experience as the best teacher, shoulders should be squared and carried back over the body`s correct center of gravity (while in the saddle or cart), upright--yet relaxed and square and centered. You want to hold this position no matter the gait or the discipline, without becoming stiff or tense or insensitive to the motion of the bit upon the hands. The abdominals taking up the flexion for the Rider/Driver so that the shoulders can maintain this balance without tension or rigidity.
The arms should always remain firm, yet transmit the direction and the control of the shoulders (the vehicle of control of the upper body) to the hands of the Rider/Driver. The arms should only change their angle dependent upon the horse`s neck and head carriage. A Saddleseat or Fine Harness horse will demand that the Rider/Driver`s hands be held higher than any other discipline. The Hack will demand the lowest hand position of all; with the Hunter/Jumper, Western Pleasure, Reiner and Trail all in the middle positioning of these two extremes. Dressage will require the greatest flexibility of all disciplines.
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