View Full Version : Rein contact - need advice
2nd Sep 2002, 04:41 PM
I'm a bit confused about the correct rein contact to maintain... I am used to riding in a school and keeping a constant contact with the horses mouth while working... yesterday i went out on a hack for the first time in Richmond Park at a stables I've never been to before. I was riding a horse that was very forward going and also seemed to throw her head around a lot. when i asked the guy taking the ride if she always throws her head around like this he said that maybe it was because i was pulling on her mouth a bit and that the reins should be really loose. this confused me because if i let her have the reins she went at her own pace, which was about twice as fast as the rest of the ride, but if i held her back or keep giving her half halts she throws her head around constantly. also, i felt a little insecure at not keeping a good contact up with the reins; if she shied or something i would have no immediate control. my instructor at my usual school would say that i have really light hands (sometimes to the point of being ineffective, because i'm so wary of hurting the horse's mouth or making her insensitive to me), so i know i wasn't being harsh with her mouth.
i ended up letting her choose her own pace (especially since they go the same path day in day out, she knew where she was going) and having to circle back constantly to stay with the rest of the ride. so actually it wasn't a very relaxing ride, she wouldn't even stand still for more than two seconds, she would dance around if i tried to get her to wait for the others to catch up... all in all, i would rather have had a quieter ride for my first hack; i didn't get to canter as i didn't have the confidence in her that she would stop at my (sloppy) aids, because she wanted to be in front all the time.
anyway - after all that - can you guys give me some advice about what kind of contact to keep in what situation and how much it might differ from horse to horse?
ta very much!
2nd Sep 2002, 04:58 PM
rein contact does vary between horses, but i'd be a bit alarmed if i went to a riding school and it was my first time there and they put me on a horse that wouldn't accept any rein contact! i also wouldn't let a first time client go in front of me on any horse, especially one who clearly wanted to be off. i definitely don't think this was anytihng you were doing wrong ange. it sounds like this was a sensitive horse with a bit too much energy who was having a bit of a strop, and not really suitable for what you wanted.
in general, on a horse i haven't ridden before, i'll keep a light contact and try to use my seat for stopping and turning, and increase the contact depending on my brakes! if i get a horse who dislikes rein contact, i can deal with it as long as it responds to weight aids, but i don't think a riding school should be giving this kind of horse to a first time client. we have a few more difficult horses on the school, and they're reserved for people we know can cope.
2nd Sep 2002, 05:30 PM
Mike: lazy sometimes, but will take off if you take up on reins
candy:without a tight rein wont pick up a canter or correct lead
it totally depends on the horse you are riding and how the horse was trained, one of hte horses i ride, mike he so good...with loopy reins he goes into a relaxed canter but if you are walking and pick up on the reins he will take off at a fast canter. another horse i ride needs a tight rein. usually people like light contact so you can feel the mouth.
2nd Sep 2002, 08:16 PM
I agree with Es wholeheartedly!
First hack should be there to enjoy and chill out on, not be given a horse who won't stand and wait.
Are you sure you were not gripping up, maybe just a bit? Maybe you were just a bit on edge with the new situation and horse. This may have caused her twitchyness.
I'm not sure this thread all boils down to just your getting the contact wrong, I think you were given a more complicated horse to ride than they should have given you.
Having seen the state of tack and other things in some schools (approved ones too) it may well have been a saddle being a bad fit or the fact that her teeth needed doing, may not have been you at all.
3rd Sep 2002, 09:23 AM
don't know what i'd do without this site! Wally, i think you are right to mention that i might have been 'gripping up', but i've thought about it, and i really don't think i was... because we were mostly walking and i wasn't actually nervous of her running away with me, i think my legs and seat were fairly relaxed. having thought about it, i think they just gave me a complicated horse, which was wrong of them. i just remembered that when we first left the school the girl at the back of the ride asked me if i was used to riding headstrong horses and that this mare really needed to be 'ridden'. She was just the wrong horse for the kind of (slow) ride we were doing - it didn't feel like she was unsafe necessarily, just that she wanted to be doing something more fun! kind of like trying to make a child walk slowly round a park... all they want to do is run off and play! The same girl also mentioned to me that her owner had been thinking of putting her in an 'apple' bit because she always played with her bit or something... i wasn't really listening to her at that point (!) but i wonder if that also could have had something to do with the head-throwing stuff.
so anyway, i have decided that it wasn't all my fault after all, and i'm going to go back and have another go on another horse.
3rd Sep 2002, 02:34 PM
just wondering, what is an apple bit and does it work well on a horse that plays with the bit all the time?
3rd Sep 2002, 03:56 PM
sorry luv horses, i've no clue. i wasn't really paying attention...
can anyone else help?
i'm going to post another thread and see if i can find out.
3rd Sep 2002, 04:26 PM
There are synthetic bits that are infused with flavor (one brand is called Apple Mouth). They are soft (polyurethane) and the flavor is supposed to stimulate salivation and improve the horse's acceptance of the bit. I don't have any experience with them, but I've seen them advertised in the tack catalogs.
3rd Sep 2002, 05:56 PM
We have some horses who we have to be very careful who we let ride them out. I can ride Iacs out on the buckle end of the reins, same with Ljossie, however put a slightly nervous, tense or even novice rider on them and they can easily become very difficult and bouncy.
It's nobody's fault, just the wrong rider on the wrong horse, you are not necessarily doing anything wrong, just not the right thing on that particular horse.
I'd still wonder about the teeth and saddle though!;)
3rd Sep 2002, 08:50 PM
I had a very similar experience at a hacking place a few months back, I was given a horse that did exactly the same thing, objected to any kind of contact and tried to race the others all the time. Fortunately for me it responded to the seat or I wouldn't have had any control at all. It was the first time I'd ever ridden out and not really enjoyed it.
We have Rio in an apple flavoured happy mouth bit at the moment, though I couldn't taste apple when I tried:D She was very restless in her mouth when we first got her, now her tack and back have been sorted out she seems a lot more settled with it.
5th Sep 2002, 03:52 AM
Could the mare have been in heat? My mare behaves alot like what you descibed when she's in heat. She also behaved badly with head tossing and going faster then was asked when her bridle was to long and her bit was to loose in her mouth. Anyway just some thoughts . I'm still pretty new to all this stuff.
11th Sep 2002, 01:09 PM
I ride in Richmond Park alot - what was the horses name?
putting aside the points about letting new riders out on lively horses, riding a horse like this can be very instructive as it forces you to use your seat for brakes. You should still keep light contact with the riens non the less. The ride guide was probably not telling you to keep them slack, but to maintain a very light contact.
If the horse is lively - you get nervous - the horse pulls and tosses its head - you pull back - the horse responds to your nervousness by getting even more uptight - this makes you more nervous (I could could continue like this for some time ;) ). The trick is to relax yourself - not so easy I hear you say - but that's often what is needed, take deep breaths (I sometimes even close my eyes) and repeat the word 'walk slowly' to the horse in a calm voice.
If that all seems a little to complicated try just steering her into the back of the horse in front - in front is probably where she wants to be - but eventually she should accept her place and calm down - then you'll calm down (etc etc).
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