The Death Grip

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I’ve been trying to figure out why my down banks, exclusively at competitions, are so unbelievably horrid.

BE D TR drop

It didn’t take a ton of investigation to discover that my death grip on the reins is likely 90% of the problem…………’s the near spill I took over the weekend in case you missed it!


I don’t seem to struggle with drops at home.

Genuine downbank Ex

We cruise right along when we’re “just” schooling.

Genuine down bank Kyles 2

So why is it that I get to a show and it all goes out the window………..

those hands just don’t turn loose!

BE Genuine down bank Ocala

fortunately we jump in a rubber nathe bit!

BE cat big eyes fear DP

My poor pony………

Beautiful girl crying and covering her face

In my search for answers I read about things like the “palmar grasp reflex”


which is something that shows up before you’re even born! One description said, “the grip is strong but unpredictable”.


My death grip on the reins is rather predictable so that’s not it, and then there’s the part about the palmar grasp reflex being exclusive to babies. So….OK then, next!

Then I found some information about the palmar grasp reflex in adults…… apparently that happens if you have frontal lobe lesions and while I’ve landed on my head more than once,

BE N Fall JS C

I think we can safely rule that one out.


Then I got to thinking about the phenomenon where you’ve been holding something really tight and it’s hard, even painful to open your fingers. I seem to remember playing games of some kind with that in middle school. And I started thinking maybe I’m getting closer to the problem…..

BE face angry woman DP

There was a time when I held the reins very loosely. There were some advantages, I could slip them instantly and with no issues, but they tended to be too long and I certainly found myself on the buckle when I didn’t want to be.

BE Rum 1

Of course then I got a pretty nasty sprained set of fingers because my spooky horse spun around and hyperextended several fingers. I learned to keep my fingers closed after that.

BE K spin gif

And now I seem to have swung the other direction, from rein hold too loose to the ultimate death grip.

BE sway drop

I learned recently in a rider safety clinic (details on that soon!) that holding the reins while falling off is absolutely no good

BE fall dummy BE

and I immediately remembered several recent falls where I hung onto the reins to the bitter end.

BE bess fall 201

Don’t do that!

Hi, I’m Bad Eventer & I don’t let go.


Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?!






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