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  1. #1
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    Nov. 13, 2011
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    Default Spinoff: Major rider flaws when asking for contact

    So I've been following the going forward into contact thread and I've been trying to re-examine my own flaws as a rider and i thought this might be an interesting topic.

    I too, have a somewhat young horse that I have trouble moving forward into contact. He'll move forward all right, but when asked to work on contact he will either move faster to try to push through, try to stick his nose in the air, or both.

    I know that this is an ongoing process, but I do believe that when training a horse to move forward into contact for the first time the rider is bound to make more mistakes than the horse. So this is sort of a confession thread, where i try to point out my biggest mistakes and you may point out a few more.

    I would say the number one rider flaw to look out for would be rider position. I thought I had improved my position just to be shown that my core still needs some serious improvement. Also, I get so hung up on getting the horse in the proper "frame" that sometimes i just forget to relax. My upper body becomes stiff and my hands don't follow the horse's movement. I find myself not being consistent enough with the aids because of this stiffness. I've been working on keeping my elbows flexible and relaxed, but it's not as easy as it sounds. I've also been working on keeping my toes in the proper position, and let my leg relax and sink the weight down into the heels.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by DottieHQ View Post
    You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.



  2. #2
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    Jun. 20, 2009
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    Default

    I think you hit the nail on the head.

    Horse's don't have problems with contact. Riders do.



  3. #3
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    Oct. 13, 2006
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    Default

    So true.

    So many people try to train contact/connection while they are learning it (I did this myself) and it creats a lot of problems if the horse is not very patient about mistakes and such.

    Forcing it wont work and just making it happen wont either.

    I know my hand had no idea how to go with before I had to learn it a few times on a horse that understood it more than I and told on me when I sucked LOL
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  4. #4
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    Default

    Well I no longer can afford to have more experienced horses to practice on. Luckily i do have a very forgiving horse.

    Here are a couple videos of me riding. He was being particularly obnoxious that day and I admit I had little success trying not to let him get away with it. I usually can get him to soften up for a while, just not through the entire ride.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7M4D...TtgZ8yFeEYkadg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rlgc2...TtgZ8yFeEYkadg
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by DottieHQ View Post
    You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.



  5. #5
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    Mar. 24, 2010
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    Default

    I think the riders who are bouncing and counting too much on the horse to support them tend to be aware of it - you can feel that.

    But what I see a LOT in riders at most levels, is riders who are just "hard" in their bodies. Hands aren't giving at all, seat is either driving or stiff, leaning back against the mouth so their leverage is creating contact, pumping the body and hands moving with it... All mistakes where the rider *may* know he or she is doing it, but the rider may also be completely unaware. Without knowing the individuals, I can't say for any person I see what the case is, of course.

    A common one for me with my horse who would really prefer floating along just off contact if he's not REALLY moving well through his body is not closing my fingers. I actually have tendonitis issues in my right hand which make holding the reins a challenge so bought thicker rubber reins to help. But if he's being iffy about contact with me, 90% of the time it means I need to close my fingers. He instantly has good contact if I get it right.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Default

    Ah! I can contribute to this thread! Here's a list of all the things I am either currently screwing up, or have screwed up in the past:

    - Tense shoulders and a generally locked/posing upper body
    - Tense elbows
    - Loose elbows and shoulders, but tense wrists
    - Overly open hand
    - Hands too low
    - Hands too high
    - Piano hands
    - Uneven hands
    - Following because i'm thinking about it rather than because I'm loose and just doing it subconsciously
    - Reins too long and hands in my lap (my biggest issue, see also overly open hand)
    - Mental issue with contact (as a former hunter, I went through a long time of kind of fearing Touching the Mouth)
    - Mental issue with fear of looking like crap and getting too handsy (thinking you can pull a horse into contact rather than set them up so they want to take it)
    - Mental issue with going back and forth between the aforementioned two things, resulting in vagueness

    Thankfully, I never use them for balance as my seat's reasonably decent, so that's at least something. Some of these issues are things I've worked through and no longer do, and some are things I only do to a very minor degree, but the open-fingers-long-reins thing is my nemesis and probably will be till the day I die. I think I've made a ton of progress on this in the last few months, though. I've learned a lot from riding a young horse.



  7. #7
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    Aug. 25, 2012
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    Niennor It looks like your issue is suppleness and something that circles should straighten right out. Also if you were to place your elbows where they should be and learn to open and close them. I know it's hard bc your horse is braced into your hands. This is my issue as well.

    For me I have a decent seat. I learned early on that staying mounted is much better then falling off lol it's my hands I struggle with. Hold don't hold give don't give move don't move it's difficult at best.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KurPlexed View Post
    Niennor It looks like your issue is suppleness and something that circles should straighten right out. Also if you were to place your elbows where they should be and learn to open and close them. I know it's hard bc your horse is braced into your hands. This is my issue as well.

    For me I have a decent seat. I learned early on that staying mounted is much better then falling off lol it's my hands I struggle with. Hold don't hold give don't give move don't move it's difficult at best.
    Ah the hands and the evil elbows, they're the bane of my existence
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by DottieHQ View Post
    You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.



  9. #9
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    Niennor I didn't read the other thread, but you don't ask a horse to move forward INTO contact. The reins are used to help channel him into straightness. When he is straight and moving forward, he will SEEK the contact.

    Don't worry about where your horse's head is right now. Just work on relaxing (order a copy of Centered Riding!) and concentrating on your horse's body. Is his shoulder falling in or out when you turn? Just a small amount can make a big difference.

    Think of your horse flowing through the reins rather than into contact.



  10. #10
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    Jan. 13, 2008
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    Default

    Don't get me started .



  11. #11
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    Jun. 23, 2006
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    The one thing that's finally sinking into my head (after having been told many times) is that the horse can't seek contact unless the outside hand is steady.

    Mine, particularly the left, likes to 'give' forward.



  12. #12
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    Jul. 3, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by PossumHorse View Post
    The one thing that's finally sinking into my head (after having been told many times) is that the horse can't seek contact unless the outside hand is steady.

    Mine, particularly the left, likes to 'give' forward.
    I do this all the time. I always catch myself throwing away my outside rein.

    My big issue is consistency. I will get nice contact, so I think she is soft, I want to be even softer, and then I let my reins get long & lose it all. Horse goes to find me, I am not there & her head comes up, back goes down & she braces. Other times, if I have dropped her, she will tuck her nose way in & truck around without with any connection. Then I realize what I have done & we start all over again

    it must be confusing to be this poor animal...



  13. #13
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    The seat is not to bad, you are erect. Imho the stirrups are a little too long/legs forward slightly. So why does the horse guard himself? Your hands are fixed too low at the withers, and the upper arms are in front of the trunk. When the horse hollows you are getting him on the bars every moment, and he hollows more. So, what to do? Ride a circle which helps with lateral flexion and lateral flexion is the key to longitudinal flexion (aka bit acceptance). Bend the elbows so that they are hanging vertically beside the trunk, this means hands do not rest on the withers. At least raise the inside rein so that the bit acts on the corner of the lips, not the bars. Also a slightly wider rein hold helps (like you are holding a dousing rod). This is basic to putting the horse on the bit. In trot there is no bascule/telescoping (as there is in canter/walk) so there is nothing to 'follow'. Also remember you should always be able to see the inside eyelashes with mm of inside flexion (not bend), so make sure the inside thumb is the highest point, and then establish bend onto a circle through positioning of the (entire) leg.

    Work the horse on a smaller 10m circle in WALK first (this does require bascule which follows the oscillations of the body) to establish bit acceptance through flexion laterally/bending through the body....thennn go to trot.
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  14. #14
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ideayoda View Post
    The seat is not to bad, you are erect. Imho the stirrups are a little too long/legs forward slightly. So why does the horse guard himself? Your hands are fixed too low at the withers, and the upper arms are in front of the trunk. When the horse hollows you are getting him on the bars every moment, and he hollows more. So, what to do? Ride a circle which helps with lateral flexion and lateral flexion is the key to longitudinal flexion (aka bit acceptance). Bend the elbows so that they are hanging vertically beside the trunk, this means hands do not rest on the withers. At least raise the inside rein so that the bit acts on the corner of the lips, not the bars. Also a slightly wider rein hold helps (like you are holding a dousing rod). This is basic to putting the horse on the bit. In trot there is no bascule/telescoping (as there is in canter/walk) so there is nothing to 'follow'. Also remember you should always be able to see the inside eyelashes with mm of inside flexion (not bend), so make sure the inside thumb is the highest point, and then establish bend onto a circle through positioning of the (entire) leg.

    Work the horse on a smaller 10m circle in WALK first (this does require bascule which follows the oscillations of the body) to establish bit acceptance through flexion laterally/bending through the body....thennn go to trot.
    Thanks a lot for the critique. The elbows are teh bane of my existence I'm trying to work on that. My trainer keeps telling me not to forget to bend my elbows. I also noticed I tend to drop my shoulder.

    I'll try to follow your tips on my next ride (which will be tomorrow if my cold doesn't get worse). I'll let you know how it turned out.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by DottieHQ View Post
    You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by grayarabpony View Post
    Niennor I didn't read the other thread, but you don't ask a horse to move forward INTO contact. The reins are used to help channel him into straightness. When he is straight and moving forward, he will SEEK the contact.

    Don't worry about where your horse's head is right now. Just work on relaxing (order a copy of Centered Riding!) and concentrating on your horse's body. Is his shoulder falling in or out when you turn? Just a small amount can make a big difference.

    Think of your horse flowing through the reins rather than into contact.
    Well, my phrasing is probably not the best. I know you're not supposed to make a horse move into contact, but rather guide him into accepting the bit and seek the contact. It's easier said than done, though.

    Yes his shoulder tends to fall out when I turn. I've been trying to work on it by flexing him a bit to the inside when I try to get him to pick up the contact.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by DottieHQ View Post
    You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.



  16. #16
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    You drop your shoulders when the hands are too low. You have to keep running a script of upper arms back/lift hand/bend elbow. It WILL feel WRONG, but you have to replace one behavior with another.
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  17. #17
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    A major source of any contact issues Im currently having are forgetting that contact begins with the leg/seat/followed by the hand. My stirrups were too long and I was having trouble wrapping my leg around his barrel--so I ditched my stirrups in the middle of my ride and pretty much everything got better--it wasn't bad to begin with---but it was good reminder. Something about no stirrups allowed me to sit a little deeper on both seat bones and keep my leg in steady contact with his sides. It made giving appropriate aides easier and the contact became much steadier. Poor pony.



  18. #18
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    ditto Ideayoda.

    i will say that concentrating on contact is the wrong way to look at the issue.

    the focus should be: forward/rhythm/regularity/bended lines Lead to connection.

    you can't have connection unless you have the first things working well.

    for the OP: forget contact and start working on rhythm regularity and roundness of circles.... those things will bring about what you seek



  19. #19
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    Ideayoda and mbm: thanks for your input. I do have a problem with overdoing it with the hands. They used to be too high, now they're too long. I'll try not to get ahead of myself and think on forward, rythm and bend before i think of contact.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by DottieHQ View Post
    You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.



  20. #20
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    Jan. 16, 2012
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    I had a breakthrough when I started thinking of "receiving" contact rather than "taking" or "initiating" it.

    Use exercises that encourage the horse to seek the contact then BE PATIENT and SOFTLY FOLLOWING. Breathe, wait, breathe . . .



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