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Getting Started with Contact

I see loads of posts about horses not going correctly and it’s really important that we do our best to help our horse carry us in the best way possible. But I think we should also understand that there is a reason that we don’t see masses of photos of horses going perfectly - because it’s really hard!!!

There are loads of things that have to be in place for it all to come together, your horse should...

✅ be pain free

✅ have a saddle, bridle & bit (or bitless) that fit

✅ feet in good shape

✅ teeth up to date

These are just a few things and even if we get all that right there’s still our balance, seat and hands to consider 🥴

It’s really important that we teach our horses to carry us well to the best of our ability but don’t panic if it doesn’t look perfect straight away!!

Contact is tricky!! It’s hard for the professionals as well as amateurs. Some horses take years to be able to move in a good way and if you are struggling it’s worth checking out some of the things I’ve listed above before you start re-training.

Getting started

A great way to start is on the ground by teaching your horse to lunge well. You have the convenience of being on the ground so you can see your horse when they are going nicely and reward them 😇

Long reining is also brilliant as you can start to hold two reins and get your horse ready for being ridden in contact. It’s also invaluable if you have a horse that has an injury that means he can’t do circles 🚫

Lunging and long reining help teach your horse how to use the contact without being concerned about having a rider on their backs so it’s great for

✅ young horses

✅ horses that have contact problems

✅ bringing an injured horse back into fitness when their back isn’t yet strong enough to support a rider.

If you get your horse started on the ground, chances are it’ll be much easier once you get in the saddle as then you also have your own self carriage to start to think about 🤔

A lot of this has come together as it’s what I wish someone had taught me BEFORE I went to have dressage lessons.


Before trying any training technique it is important to rule out pain or discomfort. Saddle fit, teeth, back, hoof balance and lameness issues should all be checked by a qualified professional before applying any training.

If you have questions or need idea's to help with a specific problem feel free to get in touch with me on


Lyla has been helping riders and their horses in the UK, USA and Europe for over 15 years. She has prepared horses for crowds of over 6,000 people with no calmers or ear plugs for venues including Birmingham NEC, Aintree, Bury Farm EC and Hartpury.

Lyla specialises in horse psychology and behaviour problems with a specific interest in dressage and has worked with horses from grass roots to Grand Prix across the UK and Europe including international competitors and Olympians from Spain, the US, Canada and the UK.

See or email for more details.


All training techniques discussed are from experience only, it is impossible for to accurately advise on horse/rider combinations without seeing them live. Lyla Cansfield & Equine Mind & Body Training strongly advise anyone considering using any of the techniques discussed to get live help and can take no responsibility for the outcome of applying any of the techniques discussed with or without supervision. Riding is a high risk sport.


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