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Re: [RC] question from a flatlander about rein contact on hills and in a snaffle - Lynne Glazer

Very good question! I'm sure you'll get more qualified responses from others.

I use the light contact to help my horse work off of his back end rather than pulling himself up hills with his front end. I use a half halt as a reminder at the beginning of a downhill to remind him to put his butt underneath himself.

As he becomes more adept, the cues become lighter, it comes mostly from seat and leg. As he has become more conditioned, the byproducts have been that his hind shoes wear out long before his fronts do, and his neck is correctly muscled from poll to wither, the underside of the neck is not bulgy/incorrect as I see with lots of horses who maybe were allowed to stick their noses up and hollow their backs, and maybe with their hocks out behind them...

We're still working on the back's muscling, in my boy's case, and um, always on the mind. :-) And on my core strength, as that has increased, I ride a lot more relaxed. I've learned other cues too that involve contact such as shoulder-in, but that involves the legs as well--I choose not to use a martingale.


On Jan 30, 2007, at 8:39 AM, Jennifer Adam wrote:

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