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Work in hand

The Work in Hand clinic is two days of theory seminars and four practice sessions.

What is the Work in Hand?

The work in hand is how the horse and the handler develop the language of the aids. At NSAE we start every horse and every rider with a good solid basis in work in hand. It's fun, it's an exacting method for addressing problems and difficulties horse and human, and it's beautiful.

What does 'the work in hand' mean'?

There are many ways to work the horse 'in hand'. When we think of work in hand 'proper' we mean that the handler stands next to the horse holding the reins, and works the horse as though riding but from the ground. 

Work in hand also includes longe work, using the circle with precision and intention to help the horse find its best way of going. It can mean long lining, working with the horse on the long rein to develop the horse's focus and agility in concert with the handler.

When do we use the work in hand?

  • When the handler is skilled in the work in hand the horse can be specifically worked, as in yoga, to release tensions in a particular joint or set of joints. The skilled handler becomes the horse's personal agility course, helping the horse develop coordination, comfort and flow in movement. 

  • All gaits, all movements can be done in hand, allowing the handler to observe the whole body, including the legs in motion from the ground. A useful perspective when the handler is educated.

  • For anyone who teaches, being able to work the horse in hand while a student rides allows you to teach the student the feel and connection with each gait and movement without putting either the student or the horse at risk.

  • When a horse needs to be confined for medical reasons, or is restricted by age or injury the work in hand is a method that allows the handler to keep the horse mobile in a carefully targeted, beneficial way.

  • When the rider has physical reasons not to ride-- maybe you have a problem with the back, or it's 'that time of the month' or you're pregnant: all of these and more are times that work in hand is a lovely way to stay connected with the horse, benefit the horse's body and mind, and keep yourself safe and comfortable.  

  • It can be used as a way to 'check in' with your horse before riding, establishing relationship before you begin undersaddle work. 

  • On those days that time or space is restricted, a work in hand session can be an efficient way to get in a good interaction with your horse. 

  • Work in hand can be done with such precision and skill that it is stunningly beautiful.

  • And when you know what you're doing, work in hand is lots of fun. 

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