I was just wondering everyone's opinion on the use of high hands in training
The purpose of the high hands is so that the tension applied to the reins will be directed to the corners of the mouth rather than the bars where pressure causes great pain and with it all the resistances we see every day in arenas. As the horse becomes trained it becomes possible to lower the hands more and more, until in the finished horse it is no longer required that the hands be lifted in this manner. This style of training is French in origin whose touchstone is lightness.
PK (or any trainer) does not suggest high hands per se, it is part of soliciting a different REaction). The hand is generally neutral (straight line from elbow to horse's mouth) UNLESS a different behavior is to be provoked. By lifting the bit up into the corners of the mouth the horse will press into the pressure thus chewing lower/outward. This is more especially so when the horse is lightly flexed laterally. Anyone who questions this...watch what happens when the hands are low/fixed..horse is hollow/above the bit and then the bit acts on the bars; if the horse does flex following that they are usually too short/closed/incorrect.
The rein hold PK uses is with the snaffle over the pointer finger and the curb under the pinkie. VERY deliberate rein effects (specific bit use). It is not dropping the hand per se, but presuming the horse will respond and going back to neutral. The horse does not 'give' per se except that it mobilizes the jaw and moves INTO pressure.
I went and audited PK's clinic four years ago. This guy can walk his talk so to speak. He got on every horse and the change was instant and the improvement was immense. The horses ranged from Training level up to GP. I got his book and read every page. I tried his methods on my youngster who was 3 at the time and got an improved response. Yes I put my hands up high and he connected. Over a period of time that followed I no longer needed my hands that high but still they are higher than what would be considered normal. His system works.My horse is now schooling third level and is learning piaffe.