Loose rein or constant contact for the spooky horse? - Page 4

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Loose rein or constant contact for the spooky horse?

This is a discussion on Loose rein or constant contact for the spooky horse? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • One rein stop for spooky horse on trail
  • Ride bareback loose reins

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    06-13-2010, 07:48 AM
Nowadays in Britain, English style riders are taught from the very beginning to ride
Collected and to be moving towards riding 'on the bit' - regardless of whether they are thinking of moving into dressage.

Most of the older riders who decide to take lessons from most modern instructors
Are also taught to take up contact and move towards riding the horse 'on the bit'
- providing the horse will accept and respond to being asked to 'go on the bit' and providing the rider can adjust his/her seat accordingly.

Any horse being ridden in this way can be given its head instantly by allowing the horse more rein and thereby more freedom of the neck. So when conditions permit the horse can be ridden on the buckle - ie a loose rein. Partly this is done to give the horse a break. But should conditions change then the rider will instantly take up contact.

Once one has come to ride 'collected' or 'on the bite' then riding 'long and low' on a loose rein perhaps held in one hand feels 'strange'.

A modern English schooled rider, visiting the US, being asked to ride a Western horse might well feel nervous out on the trail, in unknown countryside, on an unfamiliar horse, in a very different saddle. Such a rider would be tempted to take up close contact with the horse's mouth and with levered bits that would be inappropriate. Such riders, even those having their own horses back at home, should be shown how to adopt the Western style.

If one visits a trekking centre in Wales, one invariably is asked to rides 'long and low' but otherwise in English style because the horse has been trained to accept riders of all competence levels. These horses are not used to being ridden 'collected' because many of the customers do not have a firm seat. These trekking horses are ridden in line and they are amazingly controlled largely by the voice of the leading rider - the trail leader (who very often is riding his/her own or regular horse which may well be trained to be ridden collected).

In the semi rural environment of outer suburban towns where vehicular traffic is a constant hazard, it is wiser and safer to keep the horse on a short rein at all times.
The theory being the rider contains the horse at all times and only lets it go when conditions are right.

It is noticeable to me that many American riders learn and practice riding bareback. It is rare to see a rider riding bareback in the UK other than when perhaps one goes out to collect the horse from the field. No trainee is ever sat bareback even in the arena under tuition - the insurance companies would not like it.
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    06-20-2010, 08:31 AM
I don't have constant contact, yet my reins aren't loose as in western pleasure. I have just enough time to react without having constant contact the whole time. For my mare, she hates having constant contact. I don't want her to feel like I'm completely holding her back, as I feel that it can make situations worse. Just loose enough, and taught enough to where I can react in a split second.
    06-21-2010, 09:41 PM
Definitely depends on the horse. I tend to ride "on contact", but kind of loose contact, still relaxed not tense, but playing with the reins now and then to remind the horse to pay attention to me not the scary stuff. This works well for those that I ride...when I ride those 2 with loose reins they're like "AHHHHHH!!!! Where's my rider?!?!? HELP!" hahaha or at least that's what I imagine them saying judging by their actions.
    06-27-2010, 10:35 PM
I ride my spookies with some contact. I want them to be able to look around but want to steady them. If they are not used to contact I think they learn to get spooky at this, too. Plus, when they spook I want to be ready =) Know this from experience: been there, done that.
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    07-01-2010, 03:16 PM
I trail alone a lot (nobody to ride with) and I will occasionally move him from side to side of the trail maybe go back and then turn around back into the direction we were going. I have him do little exercises even when we trail. If he does suddenly jump I pull a one rein stop on him, its a tool I love. My reins never are tight nor do they drag I like some kind of contact (till I get lazy)

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