Riding in the pasture - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Riding in the pasture

We've really enjoyed riding in the pasture lately. I have a question for all of you -- should I have less contact out there? Pony generally seems to like a fair amount of contact, and he can get wiggly when he doesn't get it; but of course it being a pasture means that there are divots and bumps, and he does take the occasional bad step. I am wondering if, by having less contact, I'd give him more head freedom to use to balance himself when this happens.

I've had a hard time coming to realize that he likes more contact than I am naturally inclined to provide, and I always worry that I'm going to catch him in the mouth whenever he stumbles, or when he jumps, etc. He does have a super soft bit (a flexible rubber straight bar snaffle).

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Last edited by ACinATX; 07-07-2020 at 04:44 PM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 04:52 PM
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I actually don't understand the meaning of 'likes' more contact.


Does he move faster, or have his ears more forward, or in what way does he show liking more contact? Perhaps you are meaning he likes 'connection'? meaning, you likes to feel you 'talking' to him through his mouth?


Is it that he is worried, unless he is made aware of and reassured by your pressence through the bit? Or, is he just looking for direction, and needs you to constantly be doing something through the reins?


Or, is he just 'sloppier' with how he moves and puts his feet if he is not asked to lift his neck a bit, come onto the bit, and gather back a bit.?


I am curious as to how it feels 'happier'. I'm not being mean or sarcastic, just curious.
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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I don't know how to explain it. I'm not the best in explaining things that I feel from the saddle. I think part of it is he's a little unbalanced and not-entirely-confident, and having the contact... I don't know... reassures him? Helps him balance? When I don't give him that much contact, I feel like he's sort of rooting his head around looking for it?

He also feels more... connected when I have more contact. I mean, without that contact it feels like his body parts are all working separately, while with the contact he feels more... like his body is working all together.

Sorry, that's probably not very helpful. The most concrete thing I can say is that he can be really wiggly if I don't have that much contact. Ultimately all I can say is he seems happier with the contact.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 06:43 PM
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Sounds like your micro managing him. By always having contact having him on the bit.

Horses need to learn to carry themselves without contact, all the time. My horse knows how to collect up be on the bit when contact is made. Also knows how to carry himself with reins being loose.

When I trail ride I have a loose rein for most part. I don't micro manage him he has to be responsible for himself. That means if I ask him to trot a certain speed, he stays that speed till I tell him different.

Is he perfect heck no I have to remind him ,to keep the speed I asked for. Then I leave him alone he knows his job.

I ride on terrain that's lumpy has ruts has logs has big rocks. He has learned to watch were he's putting his feet. His responsibility to watch where he's going whether on a loose rein or on contact.

He rides on trails at night all I have is a headlamp. He trots Canter's no issue over rough ground that's has logs and rocks. Only tripped twice since our night rides this summer. It's trails he knows the terrain on. I let him figure it out for himself I rode him on a loose rein.

You shouldn't have to ride with contact the entire ride,horse should ride on loose rein without issue.
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 06:44 PM
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What are you doing in the pasture, walking, trotting or cantering? When I am just riding in a pasture as in riding on a trail, either walking or trotting I tend to let the horse go on a looser rein and let them find their own way, I don't want to micro manage them, let them figure out how to navigate the terrain and learn to cope with a rider.

Is pony able to trot and canter out on his own without a rider and do this competently no tripping or stumbling? If he can I would give him more rein and let him figure out how to navigate and it's up to him to pay attention to the terrain.
Start out gradually don't just throw the reins away and he will adjust to this and improve.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, it's definitely on our list of things to do, to get him more comfortable not needing his head held all the time, particularly at the canter. He's still quite green at the canter, but making really nice progress IMO. My instructor thinks he needs to get a little more confidence and then we will start weaning him off it.

We walk, trot, and canter out there.

I don't feel like I'm micro-managing him, but I ride with full contact because (1) he seems to prefer it and (2) I ride English, and that's how I've been taught. I do give him some breaks with a loose rein, whether we're in the arena or in the pasture.

I guess I could watch some cross country videos and see what the riders there do...

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Last edited by ACinATX; 07-07-2020 at 07:07 PM.
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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I ran out of time to edit.

I wanted to say that I am not telling him where to put every foot, or even any foot. I don't think that riding with contact, per se, is micro-managing. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the comments.

I just wanted to know whether, in general, people give their horse more head in the pasture, so that they can balance themselves better should it become necessary.

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post #8 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 07:29 PM
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I pasture ride a lot and I always try to ride on a loose rein unless I am trying to communicate with the horse. That is his reward or release and lets him know he is doing the right thing. When I pickup on the reins it signals him/her that I am about to ask for something. When turning, transitioning down or backing light contact should tell him exactly what I want after starting with a shift in seat then leg cue and finally rein cue.
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
I just wanted to know whether, in general, people give their horse more head in the pasture, so that they can balance themselves better should it become necessary.
So, in my own experiences riding on trails, on pasture and across fields...
My horses were accustomed to having contact with their mouth...they looked for it and the constant communication they wanted.
So, if you are concerned with popping Pony should he stumble, make sure if he pulls your soft following hand feeds out the rein instantly...
Your hand and arm though should be able to quickly follow that head movement and snap if he trips anyplace...

If you think of a racehorse running...the steadying hold the jockey has the horse uses for balancing so they can travel faster...yes it is also to direct their path of travel, but they do rely on the steady pressure they seek to run fast as the wind.
The hold though can also in a instant release if needed...just open your fingers, they should only be closed softly on the reins not a death-grip fist used.
You know that...you know how fast a rooting horse can yank the reins through your fingers if you ride open fingers...find the happy middle ground and you will be good.
...
jmo...
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-07-2020, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
I don't know how to explain it. I'm not the best in explaining things that I feel from the saddle. I think part of it is he's a little unbalanced and not-entirely-confident, and having the contact... I don't know... reassures him? Helps him balance? When I don't give him that much contact, I feel like he's sort of rooting his head around looking for it?

He also feels more... connected when I have more contact. I mean, without that contact it feels like his body parts are all working separately, while with the contact he feels more... like his body is working all together.

Sorry, that's probably not very helpful. The most concrete thing I can say is that he can be really wiggly if I don't have that much contact. Ultimately all I can say is he seems happier with the contact.



I think that's a great description. I can 'feel' it, just as you describe it.
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