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QHriderKE 08-06-2011 07:39 PM

Riding with a little pressure on the bit?
So, I've found that when I'm riding with a snaffle (western) that I tend to keep just a little touch on the bit. I believe this is called "riding on contact" or something. But, unless I'm neckreining, I almost always ride like that. Sure, if we're just walking relaxed, or I'm loping a horse and he feels comfortable and im comfortable with his head and pace, I'll give him some rein, but otherwise, I always have contact with the bit.

Is that good or bad? Should I change my habits?

tinyliny 08-07-2011 12:45 AM

on your other thread you asked about getting your paint mare to lower her head when loping and some other issues, and Cherie gave you a detailed explanation of how to push a horse up into the bit. I thought that was rather a good explanation , though a bit different from how dressage riders might explain, I thought it would pertain to this question.

To me, I have contact with the mouth if I am asking for something. So, if I want the horse to step leftward, slow down, give at the poll, back up, move up to the bit and collect, bend toward something, and various other reasons, I take up contact. If I dont' need to do any oof those things, I am happy to have no contact at all, if the hrose can carry that and be trusted to not bolt or whatever. I have rope reins that are very easy to shorten rather quickly, so I let them drape down whenever possible.

i always say that contact is ok, but it must be meaningful and the horse must always have a way to earn relief from the contact. So, you have a reason to have contact and yo9u are communicating something, and once the horse listens and responds correctly, they earn relieve from the contact.

Cherie , in her other post, was talking about setting your hands and driveing the horse forward into the bit, and the horse finds his own releif from the contact by kind of "bouncing" off the bit and flexing at the poll. In which case, you keep your hands steady and quiet and in the same place, only opening your fingers ever so slightly to say "yes, thankyou for coming up to the bit and please stay here".

kevinshorses 08-07-2011 12:59 AM

If you are training your horse to ignore you when you pull on the reins then your going about it in just the right way. I don't like to have any contact on the bit unless I want the horse to do something and then as soon as the horse does it I release the pressure. Many riders use the reins to help them balance. This will make a horse hard-mouthed quite quickly and should be avoided.

AlexS 08-07-2011 01:11 AM

Kevin that very much depends on the discipline.

kevinshorses 08-07-2011 01:18 AM

She did say she was riding western. Also there is a difference between actively riding a horse into the bridle and just riding around with tight reins. A horse is a horse and they all pretty much function the same way regardless of discipline. When I ride my horse into the bridle and perform a half-pass his body has to shape up and his feet have to move the same wearing a western saddle as if he were wearing an english one.

AlexS 08-07-2011 01:50 AM

oops saw the word snaffle and totally missed the word western.

trailhorserider 08-07-2011 02:11 AM

I have had a dilemma myself ever since I bought my Missouri Fox Trotter mare.

Normally on a non-gaited horse, I ride on a very loose rein, especially at the walk. I take up light contact (two handed) at the trot and canter. I will kind of back them off the bit with a little give and take with my fingertips and they pretty well self-carry with very little actual contact.

Well, with the Fox Trotter, I was told by a gaited horse person, to ride with contact, especially at the intermediate gaits. So I now feel like I ride each of my horses a different way. I was told to push her into the bit, not back her off the bit the way I normally would with a non-gaited horse. Kind of like they need to have contact to gait properly?

I haven't had much luck holding her into a Fox Trot or any other intermediate gait for very long (she drifts in and out of all sorts of gaits at will, but it really doesn't bother me as long as she is going the speed I want), so I am thinking of pretty much riding her the same as I would any other horse. I am really not one who likes riding with steady contact on the reins anyway. So is there any reason not to back her off the bit, or should I be pushing her into it? Do you guys understand what I mean by that?

QHriderKE 08-07-2011 02:18 PM

I only ride like that if I'm out for a ride and I'm training and such. Other than that, I have my reins pretty loose... with a big sway in them, cause horses should know that loooose rein isnt a bad thing.

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