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.