I am confused about contact
   

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I am confused about contact

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    07-11-2013, 06:33 PM
  #1
Showing
I am confused about contact

Hello,

I have been taught at least 6 different ways to have contact with the horse. Needless to say this has left me very confused.

1. Ride with a longer rein. If the horse puts their head up, your arms follow to keep the bit to elbow alignment. Eventually the horse will 'accept' the bit and contact will be achieved if you keep riding them forward.

2. Ride with really short reins. Always keep your hands down despite what the horse does with its head. Eventually they'll 'accept' the bit and contact will be achieved if you keep riding them forward.

3. Ride with reins just long enough to have a feel of the horse on the other side. Keep the outside rein tighter and the inside rein loopy. Spong the inside rein. Eventually the horse will 'accept' the bit and contact will be achieved if you keep riding them forward.

4. Rein with reins really long with no contact and Eventually the horse will want the bit, accept it, and contact will be achieved if you keep riding them forward.

5. Ride with short-enough (that you aren't yanking on their face) reins, sponge both reins one then the other. Eventually the horse will 'accept' the bit and contact will be achieved if you keep riding them forward.

6. Ride the horse forward with short-enough reins. Use a lot of leg, then hold the outside rein and squeeze the inside rein.


So... are any of these right? I bet a lot of them are wrong.. but to this day I haven't been able to get contact and keep it softly with the horse. I don't feel my hands are communicating because they don't know how...

Thanks!

ETA I work with an instructor and the advice she gives me is to develop a feel for the horse's mouth. But that's very vague and like I said...I'm not really sure how to even begin that the right way.
     
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    07-11-2013, 06:46 PM
  #2
Yearling
Let's see...from a dressage point of view, but understand the horses I have been riding already have had some training and are already pretty accepting. Hands, hold with the outside or as a trainer that gives clinics at our barn occasionally says, don't move your outside hand other than following at the walk and canter..that rein remains steady...think of it as controlling the horse's outside shoulder. Inside hand remains soft and that sponge motion..lightly squeezing with the fingers, giving and asking for the yield. Use leg pressure to move the horse up into the bit. Without impulsion you can't get the yield.

Try this exercise..this is hard to describe in words :). Using yhour inside hand and having a feel of the horse's mouth, (reins don't necessarily have to be long, just in contact)...rotate your hand about 45 degrees so your little finger is fqacing inward..at the same time bring your hand towards the withers and back a little but not crossing over the withers..this is referred to as a 7 degree bend. Follow back to center and do it again on the other side (you don't have to change direction). Think of it like your hand is a key and you are turning the key in a lock.

The other exercise is that while doing a circle or bend around the corner, use the active sponge squeezing in the inside hand while using your inside leg to keep the impulsion.

If the horse has had a lot of people pulling on him it takes time to get them to relax the jaw and yield. IF yo have to go back even further, use the long rein idea, ask for impulsion and then slowly shorten the rein. In effect what you are doing is decreasing the degree of stretch out and down when you shorten up the reins. You have to get the horse to understand that if he yields his jaw and relaxes, he is rewarded with less mouth pressure.
     
    07-11-2013, 07:25 PM
  #3
Weanling
I find it really hard to describe something like this in writing, and I taught dressage for many years.

There will certainly be more posts, so keep checking in :)
     
    07-11-2013, 07:37 PM
  #4
Trained
This is so foreign to me that I'm not even sure I should comment...

I ride western. I tried english, didn't work. But this is confusing to me that I have not seen people typically riding english getting the horse to soften their face.

All of my horses get flexed laterally and vertically until they relax and soften to my hands. Then, to achieve, er, "contact" I hold in my snaffle and bump them up from behind. They drive with their hind end up into the bridle and accept my hands.

However, whenever I tell a dressage rider I do it this way, they somehow get to the conclusion that my horse must be heavy on the forehand.

So, I guess I'm really no help to you Sky, but that's the way I've always done it. The idea of not doing it that way confuses me.
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    07-11-2013, 08:08 PM
  #5
Teen Forum Moderator
^ That's how I've always learned it. Ride your horse forwards into the bridle, not from the bridle.
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    07-11-2013, 09:07 PM
  #6
Weanling
I have not been taught any of those ways.

I was taught to hold the reins so you can just feel the corners of the mouth.
Reins should not be "loopy" if they are that way, tighten them. Even in a free walk, the reins should have no loops.
Contact with the mouth should be soft but not so soft that you need massive amounts of movement to get a result, firm but not holding and riding the horses mouth. That way you can ride the horse forward into the bridle with your leg and not be hanging off the mouth.
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    07-12-2013, 05:28 PM
  #7
Weanling
Hmm, I think I've tried about everything you list! My thoughts:

"Contact" is more than "accepting the bit." I'd never expect contact to develop with a long rein.

TEACHING contact is different from RIDING the schooled horse.

RE-schooling a horse can involve unusual solutions, depending on WHY your horse evades the contact.

I'll be watching this thread, because I too get confused at times, when a horse described as having "good contact" looks like he's heavy on the forehand; or like he's really pulling and tense.
     
    07-13-2013, 01:52 PM
  #8
Foal
I'll be watching this thread as well. It's a tricky concept and not one I understand well enough. My horse has a hard time with ANY contact... he was originally trained as a western pleasure horse and retraining him for a completely different way of going has been a challenge—especially when he pulls against the bit and doesn't like to engage his hind end. And sometimes it seems like when I look for advice on how to help him lighten up on the bit and engage from behind, the only widely-accepted "good" advice is too vague to be helpful.
     
    07-13-2013, 02:46 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beling    
Hmm, I think I've tried about everything you list! My thoughts:

"Contact" is more than "accepting the bit." I'd never expect contact to develop with a long rein.

TEACHING contact is different from RIDING the schooled horse.

RE-schooling a horse can involve unusual solutions, depending on WHY your horse evades the contact.

I'll be watching this thread, because I too get confused at times, when a horse described as having "good contact" looks like he's heavy on the forehand; or like he's really pulling and tense.

A horse can have all kinds of contact, and still be heavy on the forehand. He can have no visible contact with the bit, but be totally off the forehand, too. (think of a highly schooled Charro, or bullfighting horse that is ridden in a spade bit. The reins can appear to be fairly loose, but due to the nature of the training and the way very small signals are transmitted through the weigted reins to the bit, the horse gives to the contact and goes back onto his hindquarters)

He can have contact with the bit and be heavy and tense, and pulling, too.

So, I think it's more a matter of the hrose having and giving to contact.

The horse decides where to contact the bit and give to it. You might have long reins and the horse go out to meet the bit. He likely would not do that unless trained to "follow" the bit, and even so, once he has met the bit, he might either flex to it, or he might lean on it. All that depends on how you present the feel to him, and in fact, whether he gives to it or not is always dependent on the feel you present to him.
It's not a set system of you always hold this rein this way and that rein that way. It's , first you find the horse's mouth, feel of it, follow it, then you ask it to follow you.

In fact, it's that way in all of riding. First you "get with the horse", and then you ask the horse to "get with you".

ETA rereading I realize this sounds vague. Sorry. Will think more and maybe write better next time.
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    07-13-2013, 05:05 PM
  #10
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
It's not a set system of you always hold this rein this way and that rein that way. It's , first you find the horse's mouth, feel of it, follow it, then you ask it to follow you.

In fact, it's that way in all of riding. First you "get with the horse", and then you ask the horse to "get with you".

ETA rereading I realize this sounds vague. Sorry. Will think more and maybe write better next time.
This I definitely agree with. I recently started workin with a dressage trainer and my gelding is starting to understand the idea of 'contact'.

I think it's so hard for others to explain because you're trying to describe a feeling. It's not a recipe, and there is no set way to do it although there are tried and true techniques. It's a give and take kind of thing, and you either need to know when to give or take because you know the feeling, or you need someone on the ground telling you when to give or take, until you learn the feeling.

How do you describe to someone, over the Internet, what it feels like to walk barefoot on the beach, especially if they've never felt it before?

It's vague because its abstract.

And for asking the horse to "get with you", my trainer is constantly telling me, "show him where you want him, then stay there until he comes to meet you, then praise"

Sorry, I'm rambling :)
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