Contact is the soft, steady connection between the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth. The horse should go rhythmically forward from the rider’s driving aids and “seek” contact with The rider’S hand, thus “going into” the contact. “The horse seeks the contact and the rider provides the contact”.

A correct, steady contact allows the horse to find its balance under the rider and a good rhythm in all the paces. The poll should always be the highest point of the neck, except when the horse is being ridden forward/downward with longer reins.
The contact must result from the energy of the active hind legs being transferred over a swinging back to the bit. It is totally wrong to try to obtain the contact by pulling back with the hands. This way of riding will always stop the energy coming through from behind. The horse should go forward confidently into the contact in response to the rider’s driving aids.
Indications of good contact are:
• The horse steps forward to the bit through a straight and supple poll.
• The horse accepts an elastic contact with a quiet mouth gently chewing the bit. The tongue is not visible.
• The poll is the highest point.
• The line of the nose is in front of the vertical, and in highly collected exercises at the vertical.
• In medium and extended paces there should be a visible lengthening of the frame.
Judges should always differentiate between:
1. Nose behind the vertical: this is caused by hands used too strongly. This fault may result either from a momentary mistake in applying the aids or it may be a symptom of long-term incorrect schooling.
2. Behind the bit, dropping the contact: the horse refuses to accept the bit. Often associated with this is a flexion at the vertebrae further down the neck rather than at the poll.
3. Broken arch in the neck. This occurs as a result of the rider attempting to establish the contact by using hands in a backward direction. The highest point of the neck is no longer the poll but a point further back, usually between the second and third vertebrae.
4. Leaning on the bit: Because the horse is not working sufficiently from behind, it seeks support from the rider’s hands, using them as a “fifth leg”.
5. Against the hand, above the bit: The horse’s nose is well in front of the vertical. The horse will not flex at the poll and uses the muscles on the underside of the neck to resist the hand, while at the same time stiffening and hollowing its back.
When judging whether a horse is correctly accepting the contact or “on the bit”, it is not enough to look only at the head and neck. Judges need to look at the whole horse, its position and carriage and, in particular, the way it moves.
For tongue problems, see Submission under “Collective Marks”.

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