Contact = Forward

Today’s lesson was all about contact.  After getting PJ moving, we switched to walk work because it was insanely hot, and I needed the break as much as PJ.

Barbara had me walk, with my hands following.  Then she had me keep my hands still.  I did this by locking my elbows to my side (pulling back was a no no).  I also had to keep my seat moving.  This caused PJ to hit the bit – the reins got slack and tight with the rhythm of his walk.  He reacted by raising his head.  Because my seat (and my legs to back up my seat) kept him going, it served to collect him and raise his withers and bring his hind legs underneath him.  As I felt his withers come up, then I started following again and he went nicely forward and rounded his back.  It was important not to throw the reins away – I had to follow and ALLOW him to stretch little by little.

The next step was to go to trot.  I did the same thing with holding my reins but when I pushed him, felt his withers come up, and then followed with my hands, I asked for trot. If we did it correctly, he trotted off.  If not, he wiggled and lost my leg.

Amazingly, when I got him correct and trotted off, he went forward nicely and didn’t require a lot of kicking or the whip to get him to move.  Barbara said that horses don’t like to go forward if they don’t trust the contact.  So, bottom line: have good contact – go forward easier.  More homework…

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