Opening and closing fingers on the reins (a.k.a. sponging the reins)
What is your opinion of opening and closing your fingers on the reins to get a horse to soften his jaw and flex at the poll? By opening my fingers, I mean i am literally only opening them a half an inch. I have tried having a steady contact on the reins and pushing him into it, but he undoubtedly inverts and stops going forward. when i "sponge the reins", there is much less of the head issue and he keeps going forward. i literally get his head set to where i want it (poll is at the highest point) and then maintain a steady contact with the bridle and can steer him around a circle with minimal outside rein (wrapped around my inside leg of course!).
My current trainer has noticed me doing this and disapproves of it even though this is one of the tools in my riding toolbox gained from 20+ years of riding. She says that the contact has to remain consistent and has to stretch from my elbows to the bit. I guess she feels that the half an inch that i am squeezing on the reins is interrupting me being able to have steady contact on the reins. He has been forced into going in a frame with more rigid hands in the past and is very good at telling you where to go. He is a horse that we actually give an ample warm up to in that the first 15-20 min we just w/t/c in somewhat of a western frame without taking up any contact too soon. We just work on getting him forward in his warm up routine. I want to take the path of least resistance approach with him since i don't feel riding should be about a fight! He is not a horse that has any fight in him until he feels you are forcing him into a frame!