I was reminded over this week the value of using riding gloves. No, I didn’t get rope burned… What I did get however was a reminder how gloves can improve the confidence in your hands.
I work a lot of horses on the lunge, which has been my primary endeavor this week, and it also happened to be a rare situation in which I was glove-less. I have been using riding gloves EVERY TIME I work with a horse for the past 6 years, no exceptions, until this week. I managed to lose one glove, threw the other away only to find its missing match a few days later when it was too late. No time to make a run to the tack store in the meantime and horses in need of being worked.
Handling the lunge rope and the reins without gloves felt, well, awful. It simply did not run freely through my hands at will as they had when I wore gloves. My fingers seemed to almost stick incomprehensibly to the reins or the lunge line at the most inappropriate times, truly compromising the signals I was attempting to make. The fumbled and fought against one another in an effort to the correct the sticky fingers problem to no avail.
Then, I wandered humbly down to Wal-Mart in a moment of quick desperation. Still no time to make a lengthy drive to the tack store and unwilling to wait for them to arrive in the mail, I did the unthinkable – I bought a pair of softball gloves in lieu of the real McCoy. Do they work? You bet. Are they as nice, no way. But the $12 price tag will make up for the over-sized wrist adjustment. They don’t have to look pretty, just get the job done. (And they certainly beat out the cost of my last pair at a whopping $70 + shipping.)
Ideally I will admit, a pair of golfer’s gloves. They are far less bulky around the wrist and tend to have a very buttery soft leather that lends itself to tactile sensations. The softball gloves are still thin enough to feel through, just that awkward velcro strap at the wrist will likely bug me for the better part of another two weeks. Still, my Super Wal-Mart only had left-handed golfer’s gloves in stock.
Magically, my hands returned to their former self. My horses were eternally grateful as well as they immediately responded with consistency and lightness once again. They were no longer being jabbed in the face with my sticky fingers.
Gloves, in my opinion and experience, are a vital piece of equipment despite their diminutive size. They allow your hands to freely manage the reins or lunge line or lead rope while providing extra grip if and/or when needed. Mentally for the rider I believe they also inspire a confidence that can be lacking without them. You no longer need to worry about whether you will ever be put in a position to receive rope burn, or if you’ll be able to grip the rope/rein as it slides through your hands. You exert less effort and in return your hands can work more delicately and promote further lightness in the horse.