Spouse-tionary Concept: Contact

This is a tricky concept for the horsey to explain to the non-horsey, especially if any of them happen to reside in Roswell, New Mexico (U.S.).  This is the location of the not-so-secret military aircraft testing site, much beloved spaceship hallucination area, and possible birthplace of the terms; far out man and groovy.

If anyone in your household is addicted to re-runs of Alien, Cocoon, My Favorite Martian, Mork, or Star Trek (any generation): give it up and go on to something else.  Did I just date myself with My Favorite Martian?  Wait!  I never heard of it!  Contact, in horse lingo, has nothing to do with greeting little green men in spiffy round spaceships.  Though, come to think of it, that meeting would be a lot easier to facilitate.

In a grossly oversimplified definition, Contact is how much both horse and rider hold  onto the bit.  The horse with his mouth, the rider (through the reins) with her hands. In some forms of Western riding, rider contact with the bit should be virtually non-existent, except when a cue is needed. The horse always has to hold the bit.  Thus the bridle, to keep him from spitting it out.

In English riding, horse/rider contact is a given.  You should have it.  Exactly right.  Every second.  Right NOW.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?  (Oh sorry, I blacked out for a moment: PTSD from my last lesson.  Don’t worry, the tic should go away soon.)  The rider has to hold the bit evenly, lightly, and consistently.  So does the horse.  This almost never happens at the same time.  When it does, both horse and rider ascend into dressage heaven.  Perhaps by spaceship?  I wouldn’t know.

Because nothing in the horse world is easy, simple, or straight forward (see measuring your horse – Hands High) it gets complicated: contact doesn’t exist on it’s own.  To get proper contact you have to also have engagement, connection, and the horse must be on the bit and through.  Which we will also explain.  As soon as the tic goes away.

Spoiler: Engagement, Connection, On the Bit, and Through have nothing to do with bridal showers, social networking sites, dental work, or being finished with a project.

Excuse me, there’s some little green men knocking at the door…I’ll be right back.


14 thoughts on “Spouse-tionary Concept: Contact

  1. Wendy

    Argh…contact is something that I am going to have to discover with my modifieds…maybe little green men, or the creepy silent guy in a suit will show up from X-files and give me a tip…

    Can’t think about it now…no hurry. 🙂

    Contact – it’s out there, somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.

        1. theliteraryhorse Post author

          Stop stop you guys have me rolling here!
          Okay, Wendy you’re in charge of the translators and the Space Opera set up, Kim you’ve got the freestyle music to select and queue up, Horseypants, we need you and your hubby to round up the audience *proof of alien life*(!), and GHM, would you please be the judge? We’ll figure out some sort of light bell you can ‘ring’ in space to get us all out of the arena!

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      You guys ALL crack me up! If not in a galaxy far, far away, perhaps in the Shrek Kingdom of Far Far Away? Now if only I could find an Ogre (big green men??) to coach me.

      I’ve had moments of true contact (usually when my trainer is verbally riding through me). The reason they don’t last? I’m so excited I *stop*, and gleefully hug my horse. Which we all know involves no contact whatever, unless you count lying completely prone on your horse’s neck.

      It’s no wonder my horse thinks ‘contact’ is a split second thing and he should stop dead the second we reach the goal.

      Must. Find. Common. Sense.

  2. Horseypants

    Brilliant! So funny…obviously you deserve the ‘fine writing’ award. I’m so relieved to know that sometimes contact feels so elusive that perhaps, like my husband’s ranting about alien life, it’s total bullshit!! (But I know it’s not, it’s just totally difficult.)

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Here’s the thing about dressage that I love and makes me nuts at the same time: (sort of like marriage, come to think of it)

      I have ‘moments’, and go home higher than a kite, thinking WOW I really GOT it. Later down the line I realize that that moment was really the first, teeniest step toward the next WOW I really GOT it moment, on the Same Exact Issue.

      If we can use the blind man/elephant example as an analogy: I think I’m beginning to understand the elephant, I get all excited because WOW I really GOT the elephant, when in fact, I really got the elephant’s toenail. This is good. Really good. But it’s such a small part of the elephant. And I don’t have a clear picture on exactly what it does or how it connects up with the whole thing.

      I seem to be good at coming up with bizarre analogies. Sorry about that.

  3. greyhorsematters

    Clever post. Contact is elusive at best, but when you get it there’s not better feeling.

    Not a big sci-fi fan but I remember Bill Bixby and Ray Walston from My Favorite Martian. Not one of the great ones but there wasn’t as much to pick from back then.

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Contact is certainly elusive for me. I think I fall somewhere into the communication with horse by semaphore category. 😉

      I did love My Favorite Martian. The antennae alone had me hooked.

  4. enlightenedhorsemanship

    Uncle Martin: We don’t have love on Mars. Either it was too silly to bother with, or it was something we discarded in our Dusk Ages.
    Tim O’Hara: You mean the Dark Ages?
    Uncle Martin: We were never that primitive.

    contact: that minuscule eyeball thingy all my significant others always dropped on the floor and expected me to crawl around and locate.


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