Contact and "Feel" - Page 2
 
 

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Contact and "Feel"

This is a discussion on Contact and "Feel" within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • How to feel rein contact
  • How soft should rein contact feel

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    12-01-2011, 07:04 PM
  #11
Weanling
Thank you for the thoughtful replies!

Crimson and Klassic - I completely understand what you mean. Every horse is going to be different and I will keep that in mind when I'm frustrated for taking more time on one horse or another. I ride my own horse and several others so that is definitely part of the equation for me. Will work on more transitions too.

Corporal - I enjoy off the wall approaches! I would totally take a ballroom class, I will look into it.

Anabel - YES. Several issues in your post that sound like me, and not closing my fist tightly enough is one of them. I find myself with much looser rein than I started while I'm trying to be soft. Its been an odyssey for me to trust that pounds in my hands can still be soft and correct. I so badly want to let the tension go and give, but this is when I abandon the front end. I don't even realize I'm doing it until after the damage is done.

Jumper - Oh I don't doubt for a second that there are more talented riders out there than me who can feel on their own naturally. But I don't know how those of us who have to work on it are supposed to know what we are looking for if someone isn't coaching. For instance, there are times when I know something is wrong or not working properly but I can't pinpoint what it is. Trainer will then tell me what is wrong - lets say the hind end is swinging out - and then I make note to learn what it feels like when the hind end is swinging out. After that I know how to correct it and get where we need to go.
     
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    12-04-2011, 10:13 PM
  #12
Trained
I'm working my contact using bungee cords. Using very weak 30" bungee cords (ones with lots of give) I hook one on each rein and ride with them instead of reins. It's pretty simple. If my contact becomes inconsistent, the bungee cord comes undone on one or both sides. I keep my reins knotted so they're right there if a bungee cord comes off, but it's already quickly teaching me to keep my elbows more supple.
     
    12-04-2011, 10:21 PM
  #13
Weanling
Interesting!

Where do you hook them? Just to the middle of the length of your reins on each side?
     
    12-04-2011, 10:23 PM
  #14
Trained
I hook them right to the bit on each side, so the reins are not in play at all. That's why the 30" length. I found adjustable cords, so I could set to the right length and tension.
     
    12-04-2011, 10:27 PM
  #15
Weanling
Got it.

Do you do that for your entire ride or just for a short period of time?
     
    12-04-2011, 10:32 PM
  #16
Trained
I do it while we're warming up, and then revert back when I feel my regular rein contact starting to fail, which is currently often. Gotta credit Jim Wofford for this exercise by the way. He suggested it at a recent clinic I watched.
     
    12-04-2011, 10:48 PM
  #17
Weanling
I'm willing to try! I'll google it to see if I can find a picture too.
     
    12-12-2011, 04:14 AM
  #18
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
Feel cannot directly be taught - however it never comes naturally. A good coach can direct you towards having feel, recognize when your feel is correct and tell you so. They can make suggestions to help you "get it". So while, it cannot be taught, it certainly takes a good pair of eyes on the ground to help you develop it.

Completely agree with this. I thought I used to have 'feel' for my dad's mare, and it had come naturally etc, however my new trainer nearly pulled me from the horse I was so hard on her mouth.

Anebel I like your previous post about the contact being almost stronger, more weight in your hands- this is how my old man was. He wasn't 'hard in the mouth' but you had weight in your hands and you had something to hold there. To me, that's the way I've been taught. Lightness and suppleness, but to have a feel like you have something in your hands.

Its something that is developed over time, and its not any one thing. It comes from the horse working from behind to be able to fall in to your contact. Timing is also impeccable. I was taught you apply a half halt, or more contact, with your outside rein when the inside hind is engaged.
     
    12-12-2011, 03:03 PM
  #19
Weanling
Yes - this is a VERY common problem. Think of the "give" in your elbows, not fingers (as you progress this will change to BOTH). When you ride your elbows should be on your waist. At the lower levels even turning corners is done in large circles so the only give naturally occurs when you turn your shoulder - when you circle left your right shoulder comes forward and your left (inside) shoulder goes back. This will naturally cause your arms to do the same, gicing enough "give" for horse to make the turn without throwing away the contact.

When you do "give" by moving your elbows forward make certain that you only do it about and inch max - that's not far. The idea is when riding the arms (elbows) move forward/back as the horse moves their head down/up so the rein ends up staying at the same length even though the horse is "bobbing" it's head (an over simplification but you get the idea). The Pros do this and it is so smooth and minimal that it aooears as if the rider is not doing anything - but trust me they are not locking their elbows not opening their fingers to allow the reins to get long.

As you trot open elbows as you post up (to give) and close then as you sit (to take). This will allow you to maintain a nice stady contact.
     
    12-12-2011, 06:42 PM
  #20
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valentina    
Yes - this is a VERY common problem. Think of the "give" in your elbows, not fingers (as you progress this will change to BOTH). When you ride your elbows should be on your waist. At the lower levels even turning corners is done in large circles so the only give naturally occurs when you turn your shoulder - when you circle left your right shoulder comes forward and your left (inside) shoulder goes back. This will naturally cause your arms to do the same, gicing enough "give" for horse to make the turn without throwing away the contact.

When you do "give" by moving your elbows forward make certain that you only do it about and inch max - that's not far. The idea is when riding the arms (elbows) move forward/back as the horse moves their head down/up so the rein ends up staying at the same length even though the horse is "bobbing" it's head (an over simplification but you get the idea). The Pros do this and it is so smooth and minimal that it aooears as if the rider is not doing anything - but trust me they are not locking their elbows not opening their fingers to allow the reins to get long.

As you trot open elbows as you post up (to give) and close then as you sit (to take). This will allow you to maintain a nice stady contact.

See this is where I get frustrated. I used to ride like this.. then I was told to stay still.. then I was told to open and close my elbows with my horse. Then the other month a good friend of mine and I were schooling our horses and she compared me to a dressage novice competetor that we were sharing the arena with and said I need to keep my arms by my hips and keep them there.

So I am just... up to here with people telling me no then yes then no. I just ride how I want. What feels natural, without thinking about "oh you need this kind of arm" because I think it varies.

All I know is you can't be a stone wall.. you need to give back to your horse. How you do that, well it's up to you and what works best with your horse.
     

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