Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Boy Is Growing Up!

 *sniff, sniff*

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!


  1. It's amazing how time flies.

  2. WhooHoo! Well done!!! I love the Spanish Look ^-^

    Teena absolutely HATES her snaffle, with my hands, with trainer's hands. She just likes her correction bit with rollers and short shanks ... Go figure O_o

    Perhaps Spider is also one of this horses who prefers a curb bit??? You never know.

    Well done. I cannot wait to read about the double bridle training.

  3. It is a true milestone, especially with a horse you have trained yourself. Congratulations. The fact that Spider actually wanted the curb contact speaks well of the training you have given him and his trust of the bit(s) in your hands. Well done.

    Onward and upward! The riding may get harder, but the rewards get bigger too!

  4. Congratulations on the milestone!

    I think we need to listen to our horses when it comes to bits. Like you said, if he prefers you to have contact with the curb bit, even though he is learning, then that's what you should do.

  5. Congratulations! Sounds like you've done an excellent job of preparing him for the double.

  6. YAY!!!!! Congrats, Spider - you have made your mama proud! (You should give yourself a pat on the back as well!)


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