Some riders push their hands down unto their thighs, holding the reins as to force the horses head down. It means you have to tip forward –out of balance- and brace your back. I have even seen instructors advising this. But if you need such force to get the outline, there is something very wrong.
The harder you pull him down, the more a horse wants to push his head up. If you use draw reins with force and you take them off, a horse will stick his head up in the air straight away.
The outline is a natural outcome of riding a horse the right way. Learning how to do this takes time. People don’t have time these days, they want instant results… But if you want to learn to ride, you should start with the right position and the independent seat, so you can follow the movements of a horse without interfering. Then you learn how to give him signals, aids as we call them, so he knows what you want. You can only give them the right way, if you can sit the right way. Those aids should not hurt or restrict or confuse him. And they should be logical. Then it helps if you learn how a horse operates. How does he learn, what are his natural responses.
The sacred outline
The outline is not a goal in itself. It happens when you ride him the right way. You can force the horses head in a position, put that’s it. It stops there. You won’t improve his gaits or his way of going. If you do this, you are working him front to back. It is supposed to be the other way around.
Stay in the upright position, balance yourself. Roll your shoulders back and let go of the tension the those neck muscles of yours. Hold the reins in the right way and learn how to get the outline, by activating the hindlegs. The energy you generate should flow over his back into your hands, elastically connected to the bit by the reins. I’ll get back to this subject later on, but just a tip: if it is hard, try riding circles. Use your legs to activate his hindlegs. Keep the energy inside with an elastic equal contact on both reins and make sure his hindlegs follow the footfalls of the frontlegs. Don’t let him go faster. If he doesn’t give you the outline then, take up a little more contact with your inside rein and if he gets lighter, so do you. It should be like a game between the two of you, an invitation for him to become lighter. Make sure you do the same when he does, even if it doesn’t stay that way. If you keep holding on when he becomes lighter, he’ll have no incentive to do that again.