“I’m teaching my horse to accept contact”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this! Typically it is accompanied by a horse throwing their head up, diving behind the vertical, gaping at the mouth- essentially attempting to be anywhere BUT the contact.

Here is something I often say to people in my clinics.

Imagine you’re on a date. Your date grabs your hand and doesn’t let go. You squirm to get away, but he holds tighter. He says, some day you will have to hold my hand so you need to get used to it. I won’t release until you accept this contact. Maybe he’s brought up in the school of thought that your display of evasion should be countered with a strap of some kind to prevent you from moving away- a flash nose band of sorts for you.

It doesn’t matter how light or heavy he touches- it is contact that isn’t right for the moment. It’s greedy.

Now imagine you’re on a date and the conversation has lead you to realize you really enjoy his company. Your relationship is developing, he brushes your hand, you reach out and hold it.

Those are two very different feelings, and they come from two very different places.

When the conditions are there, the contact is taken by the horse. Not the other way around.

Contact has meaning. It is not meaningless pressure on the horses mouth, it is a holding of hands while you dance- it is a connection between your body and the horse’s hind legs. It is the display of everything you believe and who you are- manifested through your hand and into the horse- and the horse’s response is a direct representation of their preparation and feelings about your body and hands.

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