Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Steady Rein Contact

Earlier this week I was reviewing some videos of my riding and I realized that when I ride at a show it appears my hands are moving up and down and not staying steady.  It bothered me so I discussed it with my trainer.  She said I don't usually do it during lessons but when I do, it was usually when I lost my deep and centered saddle position. Made sense.

Another thing that bothers me is that while Golly gets a wet slightly white mouth when I ride, its no where near what happens when my trainer rides him.  Within ten minutes of her getting on, he has a mouth full of white lipstick and froth is dripping to the ground.  Since a wet frothy mouth is a sign of bit acceptance, I have to assume that he "enjoys" her hands more than mine.

I was reading another blog this week and it got me thinking about another reason why both the hand moving and lack of moisture occurs.  The blog was http://horselistening.com/2013/12/01/why-a-straight-rein-is-not-a-bad-rein/ and it was about keeping a steady but short rein so you could maintain contact.

I tend to ride with a fairly loose rein and this article discussed how that is not really the most kind method of riding.  By giving and taking and not maintaining steady contact, its more annoying to the horse than a steady contact.   Another issue I have is that when I do have a more firm contact I don't give enough with my hands.  The hands SHOULD be constantly moving -- not up and down - but in motion with the horse.  So as the horse's head moves forward and back, your hands should be doing the same in time with the motion so that you can maintain a steady contact.  I do this to a certain extent, but my trainer of course does it better.

So during tonight's ride I focused on keeping a steady contact that moved with him - not releasing the rein pressure but keeping it soft and moving with him.  I do this well until I have to do a correction and then I get a little too much pressure and not enough give.  This dressage thing is a very fine dance in the nuances of gray.  Give .. but not too much.   Steady... but move with him.

I am not sure if I got more moisture in his mouth but I did have a very forward horse tonight, much more than his usual.   Maybe it was coincidental or maybe it was the improved rein contact.   Time will tell.

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