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Re: [RC] Riding with/without Contact - Elizabeth Walker

I will agree with Jen - neither way is right or wrong.  If your preference is 
to ride with a loose rein, then it sounds as if this might not be the horse for 

That said - I generally prefer to ride with both reins, and **light** contact.  
I do not like the style of riding that has 5 pounds of pressure in your hands.  
By "light", I mean it feels as if you are going down the trail holding hands.

I will and do modify this, depending on the horse.  Shadow I raised and trailed 
from birth.  He was a spooker, and did better with English-style light contact. 

Caisson I got when he was 10, and he is very defensive about bit contact.  He 
is also very bold on the trail, and *not* a spooker.  So - for him I ride in a 
hackamore on trail, and normally with loose reins.  I do sometimes use 
"contact" even with the hackamore, with him, however.  He tends to trip, and I 
find that riding with light contact, even with a hackamore, is better for when 
he trips - he doesn't bang into the bridle as abruptly.  

As for dressage instructors - keep looking.  I just took a clinic from a fellow 
who studied with the Spanish Riding School.  I took 2 lessons, and my regular 
instructor/trainer took one.  In my first lesson, he had me going around on 
practically loose reins.  For the other two lessons, he wanted very light 
contact, as he wanted Caisson to learn to stretch out his neck during downward 
transitions - thereby raising his back and going correctly.  He used some 
exercises that made it easy for the horse to figure out what was wanted, rather 
that getting into pulling matches with him.  
On Nov 29, 2009, at 7:12 PM, <steelsidedown@xxxxxxx> <steelsidedown@xxxxxxx> 

I've found my personality clashes with the type of horse that needs constant 
leg and/or bit contact to continue solidly down the trail.  I've done a 
couple 50s that way, I'm exhausted and unhappy at the end, it feels like 
babysitting an adult to me.  Others enjoy the "security" that the horse is 
listening to their every adjustment/command.

I like the type you spend that first year training and then he/she takes the 
initiative to use what they've learned and independently trucks it down the 
trail.  The less instruction I give the more I enjoy the ride.  Nothing 
impresses me more than a trail horse that is aware of the ribbons and makes 
the correct turn at a four way intersection, slows himself down for an 
upcoming road or bridge crossing, etc. - without me touching his sides or the 
reins.  Sure there's an "oh my" spook or two, but while staying in forward 

I don't think either way is right or wrong, its just your preference.  This 
is a hobby and you should enjoy yourself first and foremost.  I hope you find 
an instructor you enjoy.  :-)


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Re: [RC] Riding with/without Contact, steelsidedown