A Lesson in Contact

Despite having no power, business is just about as usual at the farm, and I had my lesson on Friday.  It was all about contact.  Barbara keeps telling me I loose the contact.  I feel like I keep an even feel on his mouth.  I’ve mentioned it before that I do think PJ is too light in the bridle.  Well, at my lesson I realized that I’m too light in the contact.  Barbara stood in front of PJ and held the reins and told me to move my hands like the horse’s head moves.  Then she moved her hands like the horse’s head and let me feel.

Then I took back the reins and PJ’s mouth. I thought holding that much contact would encourage him to suck behind the vertical but when I looked in the mirror I saw that he was just where he should be in front of the vertical.  I tried to keep the same amount of weight in my hands when I half-halted and then when I sent him forward.  Half-halting (if done correctly so he sits and doesn’t just slow down) causes his neck to shorten and then when I send him forward, he has to stretch his neck back out.  As long as I didn’t pull before he shortened his neck, I could get him to sit and then the going forward was easier.

Yesterday I practiced on my own.  I ended the ride by having him on a long rein but with the same weight in my hands.  I consider that a small victory.  I can also see how once I “own” this, that I can get PJ to be more forward thinking.  Going forward all comes from sitting behind.  He can only sit behind if he has the fulcrum on the bit to rely on.  It’s a cycle from his hind, over his back, to the bit and then back again.  I think I’ve been concentrating on the hind and the back, that I’ve forgotten how important the bit is to the whole equation.

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