Other Hand Exercises – Summary

dressage test


It struck me a while back that a lot of people spend a lot of time ‘straightening’ their horses, helping them to become more symmetrical, to help them be balanced when being ridden. It all made sense to me as horses, like all animals, have a ‘dominant’ side and a ‘passive’ side. This means one side works first when doing things and can be slightly stronger BUT the passive side works just as hard at supporting the dominant one and is an integral part of how we move and do things. What the ‘dominant side’ does though is make us all slightly more left or right in our bodies…and our minds.

When working on straightness training with my horse Solly I realised quickly that I too needed to balance my body to be able to ride more symmetrically. The more I thought about symmetry and asymmetry the more I realised it wasn’t just about working my Other Hand (OH) to help me become ambidextrous, it was about becoming balanced in my WHOLE BODY. This is because it takes the body as a WHOLE to be symmetrical.

When starting working on my OH exercises, stirring things, using my pen, knife or computer mouse I had to seriously look at how I actually did things with my normal hand. This action in itself helped me to break down how my normal hand works when doing certain actions but as I worked through the  OH tasks I realised my whole body needed to be worked on, I’ll give you an example….



When I started stirring my horses feed in his big bowl, my normal hand was easy, I didn’t have to think about it, it was completely done with unconscious competence. With my OH though I had to study what my normal hand did to recreate it at all. I had to study how my hand worked, where my fingers were on the spoon, how my wrist worked, how my arm didn’t move much and also how I was standing!!


I realised with my OH when stirring things my elbow stuck out, my shoulders were working too hard and my whole body was leaning away from the action. I went back to doing it slowly with my normal hand and started to put the small pieces together to arrange myself better when working my OH. I put my elbow in, moved my wrist more, got my fingers into position for better leverage and lent my body INTO the action to give it support and weight when stirring…hey presto I started to stir things with my OH much more efficiently and without making my body ache.

With every task I try to do with my OH I realise I need to work on my whole body to get it balanced to do that task. Is my stance correct, are my feet pointing in the right direction, are my hips aligned or crooked, is my back at the right angle or is it leaning badly. Becoming symmetrical is about balancing both sides of the body equally, not just about using our OH.

Also I realised that to achieve the symmetry I was looking for I had to take it easy on myself and sometimes admit I can’t do something as well as I’d like because I could end up sore or achy and that defeats the object of the exercise as it would stop me doing something due to pain and then make me reluctant to try again. This too is how horses can get so with them and ourselves we need to be consistent and persistent but kind to continue finding our symmetry on a daily basis and to build those unused muscles slowly so that things can be achievable and long lasting. Also remember that being symmetrical is near on impossible SO find what you can do to help, realise what you can’t do and compensate positively when you ride in the knowledge and feel of being as symmetrical as you can for them. Also if possible get you and your horse checked into some ‘therapy’ to help you both become more symmetrically harmonious when riding, such as getting out an Osteopath, Chiropracter, Emmett Practitioner, McTimmoney etc. Good luck and always be AWARE of how your body can affect your horses body 🙂

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Other Hand Exercises – Idea’s





Here is a list of things you can and should try out with your Other Hand, make them part of a routine and get into working with both hands, using both sides of your body and brain. 


Stirring – Coffee, tea, dog/cat/horses feed. Cooking, 

Brushing – Your hair, your teeth, your dog/cat/horse, 

Horse stuff – Brush. Put on saddle or bridle from other side. Put on rugs from other side. Mount to ride from other side. Fill haynets. Carry buckets. Poo pick stable or field. Lead your horse from other side.

Writing & Computers – Computer mouse, using tablet or mobile phone screen. Writing notes or shopping lists. Turning the page on a book, 

Clothing – Putting on your jacket with other arm first. Putting on trousers with other foot first, 

Household skills – Carrying cups and plates. Sitting on sofa with legs tucked under you. Dishing out food onto plates. Washing up. Cleaning windows. Vacuuming. Sweeping a yard. Using a rake in the garden. Dusting or cleaning. 

Arts & Crafts  Painting a wall or a picture. Try sewing, 


And many many other tasks…keep finding things to try out.
Practise makes Progress. The more you try the easier it becomes.


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Other Hand Exercises – Week 5

downloadOnto week 5 for our OHx’s.

How are you doing? are you managing some or all of the tasks? Have you found yourself getting better with practice? are somethings helping your whole body become more balanced? Have you done lots of things not on the lists with your OH? I hope so.

I find that by doing these things over Winter when I have time to practice that I am soon doing them throughout the year and month by month I feel much more balanced. I especially feel it when riding, my body feels and seems straighter, I can do things with both left and right sides of my body and I know that this is helping my horse to be straighter underneath me. I also highly recommend that you work on balance and straightness training for your horse so that you can both work symmetrically together.

Here are week 5’s exercises…have fun with them.

Week 5 – Cleaning and Cutting skills.

Beginners: Using washing up spongue, cloth or brush with your OH. Also try using duster/cloth for cleaning house/windows. Lastly just turn the pages of your book with your OH, the little things make all the difference for working on your symmetry and brain.

Medium: Harder tasks can be trying to fill your horses haynets and poo picking your horses stables and fields (pretty hard), cutting bread and veg with OH too.

Advanced: Hard tasks of using a broom on your horses yard or a rake in your garden and also try your vacuum. Vacuuming or using a broom are great tasks as you can use 4 different position which will help with your flexibility and also trot and canter positions, here is a picture of this:


Pic 1 = Right hand / Left foot forward.  A diagonal stance which helps with your trotting.
Pic 2 = Right hand / Right foot forward. This stance will help balance your body for Right Canter Leads.
Pic 3 = Left hand / Right foot forward. A diagonal stance again which will help with trotting.
Pic 4 = Left hand / Left foot forward. Great for symmetry with Left Canter Leads.

Remember with all these vacuuming stances to keep your body straight, upright upper body and to change hands and feet to make sure you do all the stances.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy