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This is a discussion on Contact within the Eventing forums, part of the English Riding category

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        01-12-2014, 10:29 AM

    Does anyone have any good tips on getting your horse to have good contact with you. My horse is a 17 year old holsteiner he likes to keep his head up and I don't know of it's me who's doing something wrong. Help please!
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        01-12-2014, 11:09 AM
    There are a couple of things you have to keep in mind: you hold a living thing in your hand, something that is easily pained if the bit acts on the bars of the mouth. Secondly, the mouth is only as connected and the balance only as good as the hand that horse it; so the rider must have a good seat and some basic balance before the horse will trust it. The rider should be aligned ear/shoulder/hip/back of heel, the upper arm should be vertical (serve as part of the trunk) and there should be a straight line from the elbow to the horse's mouth, and the thumbs the highest point, and the hand must be softy closed. No rigidity.

    So, as to the horse: It should have its head up, its neck lifted and arced, the nose in front of the vertical. I think you are telling me that the horse is too high/inverted/'above the bit'. Why does it do this? The rider can be out of balance, the hand fixed too low/at the withers which can cause pain in the mouth, so it inverts to escape the pain (some horses curl instead). So, how to change things. If you take lessons there are a number of things which will assist in proper bit acceptance. Work in hand can help educate the mouth, work on the most basic of figures (a circle) will help (because lateral flexibility leads to longitudinal flexion/bit acceptance), adding energy will help. ALL riders need to work on develop the best balance/timing of aids that they can (so they need eyes on the ground). On a curved line keep the inside rein a little higher can help prevent pain on the bars, and funnel the horse into a better connection.
        01-12-2014, 12:13 PM
    Well I have been riding for 2 years and also for a couple of years when I was younger. This horse has been doing show jumping for many years I know he has more knowledge then I do. My seat has improved tremendously but I feel as though he knows what I'm trying to ask but I know I am doing it incorrectly… I know I need to work on balance and timing of aids. I also don't have my own saddle I have been using the owners saddle which is a bit too small could this be affecting my riding I'm looking to get a new saddle but I am not sure where to start. Any other input on contact or even saddle opinions?

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