It’s analogy time again! Had to come up with some way to describe a consistent rein contact while still invoking a feeling of giving, or riding towards the horse’s mouth. I think I’ve seen a wheelbarrow used to describe such a connection, but I thought updating the analogy with a more modern apparatus that had a lighter appeal might be effective.
Then it came to me. Of course! The invisible dog!!! Remember the 80’s gag leash that had a collar attached to the end, and appeared to be harnessed to an invisible dog? (see photo above) If you don’t, you might as well go ahead and read one of my other blog entries because this will make no sense at all! I asked a few of my students this week to imagine each of their reins as if they were one of these leashes and that they were connected to the bit in the usual fashion.
Instead of constantly giving, taking, retracting, then dumping the contact for the sake of lightness, they could pretend they instead were walking two invisible dogs. The reins (leashes) must keep enough connection to avoid any loops and must never be pulled backwards toward the rider. Who would walk an invisible dog like that anyway? The contact is steady and consistent, giving the horse a reliable reference for balance. It also gives the rider the desired feeling of riding toward the horse’s mouth without abandoning the connection, thus creating a sense of trust and allowing for engagement of the hind end.
Maybe they got it and maybe not…we’ll see next week if I’m in the doghouse!