I ride with a french link and 90% of the time with a loose rein. Occassionally my horse can be a big jiggy, or mareish and I have to have more contact, but if that is the case, I usually split the reins to use both hands and revert back to more of an English style with firm, but not pulling, contact.
I'm sure this is just about my position. My hand is usually more horizontal than vertical, with the left rein between my ring and pinky fingers and the right rein controlled by my first finger. I have tried vertical with the tail of the reins coming out of the top or the bottom, but I can't seem to get the message across to my horse as well that way. Maybe because I don't use shanks? Most of the time, my horse will respond to my legs, but sometimes she needs a reminder with a bit of a neck rein, or sometimes a gentle snugging up of the inside rein. I do not consider her to be actually trained to neck reining. The neck rein is more like a reminder to her that she's not doing something right. She does respond to direct rein for sure; I could do that without leg cues if I wanted to.
Would shanks help? I have never ridden with a shanked bit. I'm a bit leary of it due to my own inexperience and the fact that my horse has never had one either.
Or maybe I need to relearn a hand position?
Does anyone have any tips for this?