It seems like only yesterday that I purchased a scrawny little Thoroughbred jumper with the intent of turning him into a dressage horse. Several of my friends thought I'd lost my mind, but I presevered.
And that little Thoroughbred jumper has passed a major dressage milestone:
Yup, that's my little Thoroughbred jumper in a full bridle! I am so ridiculously proud of him. I will admit
I was very hesitant to start him in the curb bit. My trainer had told me at the beginning of the year that he was ready, but I wasn't sure. This is my baby that we're talking about, here! While I have ridden horses already trained to the full bridle, Spider is the first horse I have ever trained this far and I want absolutely everything to be perfect for him. So I put it off. They aren't required until Prix St. George, and even then only if you're competing in FEI competitions. At USDF shows, snaffles are legal even at Grand Prix. So, there was no rush.
Turns out, Spider took to the curb like a fish to the sea. The first time I rode him with it, I intended to just leave the curb rein alone, not even pick it up. I would ride with only the snaffle rein, so that Spider could get used to the weight and natural action of the curb. That is the usual way the full bridle is introduced. Spider was not happy with my decision. He reacted quite poorly to the loose curb, and was not happy until I picked up the curb rein. Which really makes sense. Spider is a very sensitive horse. He did not like that curb bit bouncing around in his mouth at all. But once I had it in my hands, he moved into it willingly.
I really could not be more proud of Spider. I am proud that he has reached the point in his training where he has the strength and refinement to accept the curb so readily. And I am proud that I was able to take him to this point. To me, working in a curb bit is a skill to be achieved by both horse and rider. I don't see the curb as means to force my horse into a frame, but instead as a means to refine our communication. Through the curb, I can use the tiniest of movements to "speak" to him. He appreciates my lighter movements, and rewards me with better responses.
We have passed a milestone, but this does not make the work easier. It makes the work exponentially harder. The tiniest of tiny movements are required for the curb and the horse must have more impulsion to work into the bit. I need to ride harder, and yet more lightly and tactfully. One screw up here will undo everything I've worked for. I'm excited, terrified and giddy all at the same time.
|I just liked this picture. With his scruffy mane I can totally pretend he's an Andalusian!|