Prompted by the discussion that's going on on the Facebook group at the moment....
To my embarrassment, despite years of BHS lessons, I still don't really understand about contact and being 'on the bit'. Because I'm not confident in my own balance (though this is improving rapidly now my core is getting stronger) and because I've been so confused over the years by what contact actually is, I tend to ride mostly with my reins in loops and just slop along in a bimbly walk out hacking.
I'd like to learn more, but there are no instructors up here who'll travel to me (Manuela Flueckiger is about the closest classical-based instructor, she's over 3 hours away each way, and the one place she teaches where I could borrow a horse and have a lesson is another hour on top of that), so it's down to books, videos and you lot
So, what shouts of 'Take up a contact!', 'Keep your hands still!' and 'Follow his mouth!' (how can you do the last two simultaneously anyway?
), reading books and here have got me to is the idea that a contact should be a steady connection down the rein between your hand and the horse's mouth (so your hands *do* have to move as the horse's head moves) and as light as possible. And 'working on the bit' or 'in an outline' means the horse is accepting the contact and pushing himself forwards from his hindquarters - I think head carriage comes into this somewhere? Poll (or first neck vertabrae on cresty horses) should be the highest point, head shouldn't be behind the vertical? And the idea is to achieve this by working through from behind, not winching in from the front.
Am I in the right ballpark? I keep reading about how hard rubber pelhams can transform the communication between horse and rider, but a) I don't think I'd want to try without someone who knew what they were doing on the ground to help and b) after looking at one in the tack shop on Saturday, they're so thick that I don't think I'd get one in Finn's mouth! (Small mouth, big tongue, fleshy lips).