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I need to ask about contact

This is a discussion on I need to ask about contact within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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    • 2 Post By Ninamebo
    • 2 Post By rhosroyalvelvet
    • 2 Post By Ninamebo

     
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        10-03-2013, 04:45 PM
      #1
    Showing
    I need to ask about contact

    Okay

    So I won't be riding for a few weeks due to it being show season and my trainer being fully booked.

    My last ride wasn't a lesson, but I did get one beautiful soft forward stride out of the mare before it reverted back to stiff and bracey.

    I do feel, but I don't understand what I'm feeling.

    If this mare is chewing and stretching down, do I follow her with my hands and apply more leg, or do I keep my hands and add more leg?

    If she has her nose up in the air and I take her into circles and figures and she starts to relax but loses forward movement, despite me using my legs and at times the whip.. what else can I do?

    I know it's me, but it's like I either get one element or the other. She can be soft and giving but slow. Or she can be a forward freight train and tight.

    Either scenario doesn't sound like good contact, more like evading? I'm not sure.

    Help would be appreciated. I don't want to bully contact with this mare, I want to understand how to get it and keep it and encourage her to stay with me.
         
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        10-03-2013, 06:28 PM
      #2
    Weanling
    Someone else can probably instruct you better, but when I was riding my friend's warmblood mare, if I would follow her with my hands when she stretched down she would become much softer and stay soft while maintaining lots of forward motion.

    However with my horse if I'm trying to get him soft on the bit I usually keep my hands fairly firm and bump with my legs until he softens his head. Circles are also quite good if just legs won't do it, and then as soon as he softens while maintaining a nice, collected forward stride, I let him cruise like that for awhile. When he inevitably braces again, I go back to legs, circles, forward.

    Different techniques work with different horses (and different styles of riding). My best guess is that the first technique I mentioned would work best, and since I was riding a dressage horse is probably closer to your goal. It is always important to remember that collection and forward comes from behind, not from a headset in the bridle. Sometimes that is hard to remember when you are trying to keep them soft up front. Hope that helps at all!
         
        10-04-2013, 03:21 AM
      #3
    Yearling
    It sounds like your timing could be off too.. It's crazy that a seconds worth of indecision or lack of release or cue can do so much to the overall ride. If she is stretching, and your goal is to get her to stretch more, and as long as you aren't dropping the contact (this is the part many forget) then let her stretch. To bring her poll up more, close your legs a bit. Again, it's all about not dropping the contact, I've noticed most likely the outside rein. Once you throw it away she can go all funky inverted on you.


    As for losing the forward, try working on bending her, but keeping her out on the 20 to get her back into stretching without losing the forward. Also work on half halts at the trot, compressing the energy and sending her forward out of it to get her better acquainted with the idea of what you're asking of her.

    Also, forward doesn't necessarily mean a super fast trot, it also is not a slow ploddy type trot. I like to think of it more as a harness of energy, tempo and rhythm all balled up to make an animated, powerful driven movement. I guess that description works out better in my mind.. This is why I am no good as an instructor ;)
    Keep up the work and good luck to ya!
    Skyseternalangel and 2BigReds like this.
         
        10-04-2013, 03:59 AM
      #4
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ninamebo    
    It sounds like your timing could be off too.. It's crazy that a seconds worth of indecision or lack of release or cue can do so much to the overall ride. If she is stretching, and your goal is to get her to stretch more, and as long as you aren't dropping the contact (this is the part many forget) then let her stretch. To bring her poll up more, close your legs a bit. Again, it's all about not dropping the contact, I've noticed most likely the outside rein. Once you throw it away she can go all funky inverted on you.


    As for losing the forward, try working on bending her, but keeping her out on the 20 to get her back into stretching without losing the forward. Also work on half halts at the trot, compressing the energy and sending her forward out of it to get her better acquainted with the idea of what you're asking of her.

    Also, forward doesn't necessarily mean a super fast trot, it also is not a slow ploddy type trot. I like to think of it more as a harness of energy, tempo and rhythm all balled up to make an animated, powerful driven movement. I guess that description works out better in my mind.. This is why I am no good as an instructor ;)
    Keep up the work and good luck to ya!
    This actually really really helps!!!!

    I definitely do drop the contact. It's because I don't like when it gets too tight like I feel like we're pulling against each other. So I tend to just... drop it and then new issues come up.

    But both posts give me a lot to think about, so thank you both!
         
        10-06-2013, 05:18 PM
      #5
    Weanling
    I always keep my ponies busy when they are being difficult. Get them thinking and focusing. The pony must be straight and try to get a constant relaxed rythem. I try moving up and down with in paces (eg collected canter, toworking canter. Collected to extension ect) and transitions. Also inside leg to outside hand. Your inside leg drives the power and impulsion while you out side hand catches it before it runs out the forehand. You squeeze both inside leg and outside hand at the same time. Your outside hand (controls speed) dosnt allow the pony to go and faster bringing the pony into your hand and making them use your hand. Because it is not a constant pull and kick you are not forcing the pony in but asking and letting go them asking and letting go. Nagging them not telling. Your hands should be back at the saddle but you shouldn't loosen you contact when you bring your hand back. Once you have the idea of inside leg to outside hand the transitions and keeping the pony busy should help it relax. I hope that made some sort of sense as I can not explain things very well. Hope all goes well for you and your horse
    Skyseternalangel and Ninamebo like this.
         
        10-08-2013, 07:56 PM
      #6
    Weanling
    My horse was super inverted and stretching was one heck of a learning curve for us. When your horse is asking to stretch or for you to soften, you have less than 10 seconds to respond. I try to think of my reins, hands, and arms as rubber bands. There should always be a gentle, elastic contact. If you feel that contact tightening a touch as the horse starts to push it's nose down and out, soften your hands forward a teeny bit. If the contact starts to drop away as the horse tries to come up and evade contact, give a slight touch with your index finger on the outside rein to get the horse to relax and soften a bit. As soon as the horse does so, soften your hands forward a teeny bit. Don't throw the contact away though.

    When I'm having trouble keeping rhythm and a steady pace, I like to ride to music or count steps in my head until I'm back on track. The horses seem to like the music too.
         
        10-08-2013, 08:19 PM
      #7
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bagheera    
    My horse was super inverted and stretching was one heck of a learning curve for us. When your horse is asking to stretch or for you to soften, you have less than 10 seconds to respond. I try to think of my reins, hands, and arms as rubber bands. There should always be a gentle, elastic contact. If you feel that contact tightening a touch as the horse starts to push it's nose down and out, soften your hands forward a teeny bit. If the contact starts to drop away as the horse tries to come up and evade contact, give a slight touch with your index finger on the outside rein to get the horse to relax and soften a bit. As soon as the horse does so, soften your hands forward a teeny bit. Don't throw the contact away though.

    When I'm having trouble keeping rhythm and a steady pace, I like to ride to music or count steps in my head until I'm back on track. The horses seem to like the music too.

    Yes I feel this is where I struggle, because it's either she's ripping the reins away because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to go with her or what.. or she's evading contact all together so I try and ride her back down with inside leg to outside hand asking over and over and over. When she comes down, I push my hands forward and keep riding and using inside leg but then... then it kinda... goes all funky.

    So I have a new question. Do I transition up or down even if she isn't giving me what I want (because I'm either not asking the right question or she'd just particularly confused/stiff that particular day) or do I stay in the same gait and do figures until she starts working the way I'd like?
         
        10-08-2013, 09:41 PM
      #8
    Yearling
    Transitions both up and down consistently will help work and engage her hindquarters which will help her be able to perform what you're asking of her.

    When teaching a horse to stretch down and into contact, I usually cue and just hold the pressure until you get the stretch and bend you are looking for, then slightly give instantly as a reward. I usually over exaggerate the release when teaching it so they understand what you are asking.

    I only stay in a certain gait doing one thing for a short amount of time. Especially if you can tell that the horse is getting frustrated with what you are asking of her, ask her to perform something she knows, then switch to something new. Horses can get bored just as we can. Sometimes I find that some of my best rides are only 30 minutes long.
    Beling and Bagheera like this.
         
        10-09-2013, 05:56 PM
      #9
    Weanling
    I like to do a lot of up and down transitions. Mixing it up keeps the horse thinking and responsive. When you feel the horse becoming confused or frustrated, transition to a walk. Work on getting a relaxed forward walk. Do lots of bending, lengthening/shortening, patterns, and circles. Once you feel the horse relax and become responsive, ask for half a circle at the trot or canter. Then go back to the walk for a bit. Ask for a trot or canter across the diagonal of the ring. Then go back to the walk. As you ride each step, work on contact and putting the horse in different frames. Maybe you walk the long side of the arena at a free walk, then you pick up a medium trot down the center line, then you do a collected walk through the turn, followed by a stretching circle from E to B at a trot. Get the horse thinking and relaxing. The moment she tenses or evades, ask her to come back to you with a touch on the reins and a softening. If she remains tense or evasive, just go back to the walk. You have to build off of what the horse can do successfully.
         

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