Question hello Lyn. is neck reining a good practice especially for steering when compared to mouth reining? yesterday I trotted a Marwari mare. when I adopted neck reining concept, she responded very well.
Neck reining, in this country, was developed by Western riders so they had one hand free when working cattle. My horses know both direct reining and neck reining. For distance riding most of us use both hands because it's easier to keep the horse balanced and yourself balanced. Letting one hand hang by your side does affect your weight distribution in the saddle. I have judged competitive trail rides and could tell, from the tension patterns in the horse's back, that a rider rode with one hand and which hand was used. Not a big deal for an hour or so, but 25, 30 or 40 miles and hours of riding it does make a difference. As far as pleasure riding it's up to you and the horse. Whichever you are more comfortable with; same for the horse. You don't generally keep a lot of contact riding with one hand and some horses may prefer that.
Horseman of over 50 yrs., certified equine massage therapist, trainer both riding and driving, long distance trail riding and driving. Both endurance and competitive trail riding and driving.
Organizations American Endurance Ride Assn., Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Assn., New Jersey Trail Ride Assn., Aromatherapists International, American Mustang and Burro Assn., United States Trotting Assn., Standardbred Pleasure Horse Org., US Wild Horse and Burro Association