I've been trying to work more and more on this. I have switched trainers though, and it's leaving me a little conflicted. My prior instructor had me have as little contact on the mouth as possible. Keep a very soft feel, but try to use as much seat as possible. Drive with my seat to bring the hind end under me and let the horse round and carry himself.
I have ridden with two new instructors (who ride together frequently) and they have been talking more and more about inside leg to outside rein. However when I do this, I feel like I have way more contact than normal on the rein.
So from what I understand if I was going on a counter clockwise circle, my outside hand (right hand) would be remaining constant and steady. I would have a constant pressure on the rein in order to not let him pop to the counter bend. My inside, or left, hand would be giving and releasing asking him to give me bend in the neck. My seat would be driving his hind end up and into the bridle and my left leg would be squeezing on and off to ask for him to lift and bend his ribcage.
This makes sense in theory to me. However with my dressage instructor, I rode her horse (I believe he does 3rd or 4th level. Either way far more advanced than me.) and by the end of the lesson my hands were sore from trying to get 'bend' from the neck. When I thought I had plenty of bend and felt as if he was carrying himself, she would say MORE BEND. Very similar to when I was riding with my other (primarilly jumping) instructor, though I didnt feel like I was hauling on the horse quite as much.
It's very against what I am used to to use a lot of pressure on the rein. I want to make sure this is what I'm actually supposed to be doing,and they're not just asking me to force their head somewhere. I have heard the phrase inside leg to outside rein here and elsewhere before but I am still novice at my dressage understandings. I hate questioning people who are far more experienced than me but maybe someone here can clear this up for me.
Cookies if you got through that!