This reminds me of the discussion I had with Moira/sandetiger/heartofhorselords about horses being ‘on the bit’ versus ‘on the aids’ and how translations have muddled the subject. It’s like seeing all of the people who think their horses are ‘round’ and ‘collected’ because they have their head tucked in. People focus way, way too much on the connection with the mouth, through the bit, and they neglect self carriage and communication through the seat and in the horse’s back end.
I’m still ambiguous about contact in general. I’m not sure where the concept of contact even originated. In all the old art of the classical masters, you see the loose rein prized. Now it seems like no matter the quality of your horse’s movement, you’re seen as missing contact if you have anything but a tight rein. That bugs the hell out of me in FEI dressage. It seems like even the best horses’ movement have a held-back quality because of the constant contact with their mouth.
Actually, now that I’m on the subject, does anyone know anything about the origin of ‘contact’ in that context?
Don’t quote me on this, I’ve gotta do some more research as well, but if I were to guess, I’d say it had something to do with the rise of English cross country riding and the muddling of styles/schools of thought. I’d wanna look at Chamberlin + et al and their effect on modern horsemanship. Also of note: keeping in mind the changes in the nature of cavalry, the schooling required of the horses and riders, and the fact that early 20th century dressage was comprised almost entirely of cavalry riders. But also: the majority of dressage riders on the late 20th century and 21st century are civilian enthusiasts, and there is no clear Classical outlining. I suspect the nature of ‘contact’ in this context lies with an ignorant body of people trying to carve some coherence out of the chaos of styles and teachings that erupted with the fallout of French Revolution and rise of English imperialism (Anglomania.) Like so: the forward seat of Caprilli, the adoption of the snaffle bit over the curb (lack of tact in riders, more pulling, more -contact-).