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[RC] question from a flatlander about rein contact on hills and in a snaffle - Jennifer Adam

Hello ridecamp -
Ths is probably a dumb question, but I'm a flatlander so you'll have to forgive me. I am wondering how much rein contact is appropriate or necessary when riding in steep hills? I also want to know how much rein contact is correct in a snaffle.

Background -
My mare and I do most of our riding in flat to *very gently rolling* ground. I started her over some poles and this spring I'll start her over some cavaletti. She has naturally smooth, balanced gaits and seems to balance herself well over the poles. She is supple and athletic.

I am an intermediate rider who knows enough to know how much I still need to learn. I am light and quiet in the saddle and try not to get in her way. I started English but have ridden Western or bareback for 10-12 years.

I started her in a sidepull and use a snaffle when I feel I need it. I ride with a slightly loose rein most often. But a friend and I have been watching cross country, jumping, and hunt tapes. We were discussing the amount of rein contact when jumping or going up and down hills. I remember when I started riding my instructor made a huge point of explaining and enforcing what he called "elastic contact" with my horse's mouth. My friend also said that a light but constant contact helped a horse stay balanced and helped them rate their speed. Most of the English riders I have seen use this light but elastic contact in a snaffle, but the Western riders I see who use a snaffle ride on a loose rein like I do. Now, it may be that the Western horses are just too green to accept that constant contact because they'll be moved into a curb for finishing, but I don't know. Do I need steady contact to balance my mare or is it better to stay balanced myself and let her take care of herself? How much contact should I have in a snaffle??

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for any help!


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