English riders do you ride on contact on the trails? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 24 Old 08-28-2013, 06:23 PM
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I switch back and forth. My mare is pretty steady and confident. At the walk and trot I can leave my reins loose and she's fine, same at the canter, but usually on trails we gallop and I keep some contact so we don't get Willy nilly all over the place.
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post #22 of 24 Old 09-12-2013, 11:05 PM
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post #23 of 24 Old 09-13-2013, 07:30 AM
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I usually ride dressage in the arena with my horse but when we ride on trail I always leave the reins loose and I educate my horse so he doesn't need contact to respect the speed.

I think it's safer to ride with loose reins because then horses can use their head and neck to balance themselves particularly when the trail is rough or the horse is clumsy.

When I am riding on a a busy road I think it is especially important to keep the reins loose because you send the signal to the horse "I'm ok, nothing to fear, carry on" whereas if you keep the contact you could send the other signal "BEWARE we may die soon".
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post #24 of 24 Old 09-13-2013, 08:16 PM
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I ride my arabians on loose reins most of the time. My pulling-spooky mare became suddenly calm and reliable when I finally let go of the reins. It made of world of difference! She's also using her back and hind better that way. Like Malo, I think they need their neck-head for balance on technical trails. It's their job to keep the speed. I'm still the navigator and will use neck-rein, seat and leg for direction.

On each ride, I ride short periods in contact, same as in the ring, for training purposes and also when they get spooky or distracted. We "work": straightness, leg-yields etc. It gets their mind working.
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