Friday, July 3, 2009

An Adventure in Bitting......

Ah, the bit! That tiny little piece of metal that can make, or break, a connection. Today I decided to play around with my bit. For the last few months I've been riding in a single joint snaffle, but lately I've noticed my horse opening his mouth to evade the bit. A single joint creates a "nutcracker effect" and can pinch, so I thought I would try a snaffle with a roller link.

We started out well in the warm-up. He was relaxed and marching along in a good rythm. Then I started to put him together. As soon as I shortened the reins he started evading. His head came up, so I put my leg on. Then he sucked back to dodge the contact. It was not going well. I decided that he just needed to get used to the feel and kept going. After a few minutes I was able to get him consistently round, but I had to work at it. I mean, I had to work at it even more than usual. But I kept going, and while he kept evading the bit, the fact that I had to work that much harder actually improved my performance.

A lot of times I am guilty of a "set it and forget it" attitude. Meaning that, once I've got my horse round, I move on to the next step and completely forget that I need to maintain that frame and forwardness. Then it all falls apart and I have to start over. It's very annoying, for me and the horse. But today I knew there was a problem, so I never forgot to maintain the forward momentum and contact. And, while the work wasn't great, it had some really great moments. We did 10 meter circles in canter (both directions!), something I've never been able to do before, and had some great transitions. All because I was paying attention to maintaining his frame!

Tomorrow I'll be going back to my usual snaffle, I've decided to try raising the bit and tightening the noseband before I switch bits again, but I can assure you, I will be paying a lot more attention to maintaining my forward connection than I have been.

Isn't it funny how you have to screw things up before you learn anything?

1 comment:

  1. Well, if tightening the noseband doesn't help, I have that old bicycle chain bit laying around. You are welcome to try that. Just kidding. Congrats on shutting off the auto pilot.


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