Once during a lesson, someone said, “Go stand and hold the bit in your hands.” So I did. They used the reins attached to show how some people use them verses how they should be used.
I was never the same in the saddle again. I shouldn’t have been, either. Until you’re on the end of that bit, you likely do not realize the magnitude of your movements. The impact. The harm that can be done with unskilled hands is immeasurable.
I’ve heard learned people talk about what it is like watching people who really do not care in the saddle, and it isn’t from a position of snobbery, but from sadness toward what the horses go through.
Hold the bit one day and have folks jerk on the reins. It changes everything.
That isn’t all, though. Have you carried a kicking, jerking toddler before through a store? Does it make carrying the child harder? Does it end up fairly painful? Compare it to a child set on being connected to his mama happily on the hip. Well, heck, you can do about anything with that child well seated on your side, can’t you?
How difficult must it be for a horse to carry the unbalanced rider? When a rider is looking all around, tense or flopping about, nearly going over one side and the next, this must prove a hardship to the horse. How can he even know what you’re asking? Do you even know what you’re asking?
What about those legs? Are they hanging there like dead tree limbs? Are they grasping in a death hold on the side of the horse? Kicking around like wild? What are they doing?
I remember hearing from, I believe from Ray Hunt, “The horse can feel a fly land on him, so to think that we have to inflict a great deal of discomfort on them to convey our message is wrong,” and frankly, as I think maybe Buck Brannaman added, they can feel that fly in a hurricane, too. Consider that when you’re sitting on the back of a horse, moving a bit in the mouth of a horse, asking your horse for anything, actually.