If the horse doesn't meet the hand consistently, then I have a tendency to pull back. How do I not pull back? I'm supposed to drive the horse forward into contact, but the horse doesn't always agree with that. I shorten the reins to get back to a point where there is consistent contact and drive forward. But now the horse's neck is an inch long.
And at this point I'm screwed.
Return to forward hands.... I place my hands back in the box and press the horse forward with my calves. Horse meets the contact so I give a little with my fingers and release the leg pressure. Horse then leans solidly on the bit. I press horse forward again, head and neck come up and back, I shorten my reins (since there is now a big loop in them). Horse's neck is an inch long... Again.
What I learned today is that it's all in the release. And, I'm not doing it right. I'm like 2 seconds too slow every time.
I also learned that screwing it up is easy, fixing it is not.