Your contact is like your communication line to your horse, improve communication by improving the feeling down the rein.
A contact which is loose or nonexistent is like having bad reception on your phone when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone.
You just can’t hear each other properly and the messages can easily get muddled.
It seems you spend the whole conversation going “Can you hear me? Are you there? Hello?”. I’m sure we have all had a ride which felt similar to this.
That’s because with bad reception it is easy for your horse to ignore you and be like “I can’t hear you”. But it also means they have to work harder to figure out what it is you would like them to do.
You want to imagine your reins as having good reception. Where your horse can hear your signals clearly and you can communicate easily with your horse. Instantly feeling their responds and receiving their feedback.
Here’s 10 Easy Checks you can do to help you improve your contact & the feeling you have down the rein to your horse:
- Check rein length is suitable – neither loose & baggy, nor restricting & tight
- Check reins are equal in length – this is a biggie! So often riders have one rein slightly or even massively shorter than the other
- Check fingers are curled around the reins – this greatly improves your contact & the feel to your horse
- Thumbs pointing towards the horses ears – brings softness to your arm & your wrists
- Check there is a bend in the elbows – gives your arm its elasticity & the flexibility to go with your horse
- Hands carried off the horse’s neck – gives you more room to work with your contact, corrects your balance & improves the feeling down the rein
- Giving & elastic feel – communication is always 2-way (otherwise there would be no communication) & this must be reflected in your contact, so being able to take on the reins as well as give back to your horse is extremely important
- Check the little fingers are sitting on the other side of rein by themselves – improves grip & gives a softer more elastic feel to the horse
- Check the extra loop of rein (the excess of rein) is sitting underneath one of your reins, close to the horse’s neck & not on top of a rein – otherwise one rein will sit heavier than the other, making the reins feel unequal & therefore interfering with your contact
- Check reins are straight & without twists – twists will interfere with your contact, creating tension & heaviness
If you’re not sure on any of these points you can always ask a friend to check through them for you whilst you ride.
Or ask someone to take a picture or a video of you riding and assess from there.
Good luck, I hope you find these pointers helpful.