If you have ever shown in a class which requires a hand gallop you know what I am talking about. This is that grey area where no-one is quite sure what is required. We can all agree… a hand gallop is faster than a trot and more forward than a canter.
A hand gallop is a faster, slightly extended canter ridden in two point. As a hunter judge I like to see riders mover their horses into a slightly longer, more forward frame.
I have seen some riders do absolutely nothing but shove their butts out behind them more and drive their horses more onto the forehand. This is NOT a hand gallop! A hand gallop is a forward canter and was possibly used to represent a field hunter who is galloping in the hunt field. Believe me, you do not want to have your butt shoved out behind you and allow your horse to lean on his front end while out hunting.
I know of some judges who live in fear of ‘losing their winner’ if their winner happens to ‘play’ or buck at the hand gallop. Manners do count and if their winner plays ~well ~ most horses would, wouldn’t they? But down and out bucking… then maybe it shouldn’t be the winner after all right?
To Make yourself more comfortable, you can bridge your reins. This will help support your upper body and help keep the horse off the forehand.