Brita's former lease horse, Wick, was a stakes winning war horse who came to her with very little training post-track. He was very good natured, but uneducated to the point of actually seeming dull, especially with respect to contact.
Meanwhile, my former lease horse, Isabel, had solid training in the most fundamental of ways, but was unfinished with very limited mileage. She was sensitive and hot to the touch, but loaded with talent, athleticism and oomph, if you could just figure out how to channel it.
|oomph, charlie. give me your OOMPH.|
Most recently, we discussed Charlie's dressage test on the way home from Loch Moy. I expressed how working on submission and acceptance of the contact would be Charlie's next big hurdle. We've made significant progress already - he's not nearly as heavy on my hands as he started. There's a much steadier softness.
But.... He's still very much *on* my hands, rather than *in* my hands, if that makes sense. And let's be real - he's a racehorse. As far as he knows, he's supposed to lean in on the bit.
|myler something or other|
|at least the cheek pieces make us fit in a little better in hunterlandia, even if the beaded browband is a dead giveaway that we're impostors haha|
But I opted to give it a try anyway. Shits and giggles and such. And I don't call Brita my life coach for nothin!
|"no pictures. just feelings. so many feelings."|
- The bit took Charlie entirely off my hands. No leaning at all.
- Charlie put his head down, tho sometimes this involved curling behind the bit.
- His trot was quite good. Not the best it's ever been, but quiiiite good.
- Canter was GREAT.
- Transitions were spot on. Up and down, walk trot canter, lovely lovely lovely. We practiced the 20m circle of transitioning up into, then back down out of canter from Intro C (something I've long felt would be a challenge for Charlie) and he was excellent.
- Steering was a little worse, esp that damn right turn.
- Gate sourness was amplified, increasingly so as the ride wore on.
- The horse was a bit stuck behind my leg.
- Charlie was stressed the fuck out.
- I did not feel like I could push him up into the bit at all, lest I risk an explosion (and not a dinosaur-stuck-in-tar-pit tantrum, but an actual honest to god "HELP I'M TRAPPED" explosion).
- Similarly, I was not able to 'push the contact forward' - he was very much behind my hand, not at all "in the bridle."
|relieved it's over|
I tried very hard to be tactful and thoughtful with how I asked him to handle the bit. Tried to be simultaneously very steady but sympathetic and forgiving with my hands. Not the easiest thing for me, but I tried.
Mostly I wanted to give the horse time to sort it out and process what was going on, including through walk breaks and occasional application of peppermints to get him licking and chewing on the bit.
From the perspective of getting Charlie to recognize the bit as an actual piece of equipment that is intended to improve our communication? I'm intrigued to see what difference this bit could make. However, with Charlie in particular, I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of spending any serious time schooling when he's behind my leg like that, especially if I can't push him forward into the bit. That is a recipe for disaster with this horse (actually, maybe most horses?).
|so handsome tho <3|
So my very tentative plan is to switch immediately back to the snaffle for the next few rides. Paying close attention to whether I can access some of the 'give' he had with the myler. And then potentially trying the myler again for another one-off ride.
The idea is: Charlie showed improvements in some areas while actively wearing this bit. I will want to test to see if those improvements hold when we switch back to our normal bit. If that's the case, then we may choose to intermittently school with this bit to continue developing those improvements. However if there is no difference shown without using this bit, or, god forbid, if things get worse, then we'll ditch it altogether.
We'll see, I guess. It was honestly an incredible difference, esp compared to the difference Charlie showed in switching into the fat eggbutt (read: no difference shown). It definitely makes me feel more thoughtful about some of the stronger bits out there, and the importance of bitting with care for each individual horse's needs.
Of course I know a TON of you have had to experiment with bits, whether from picky horses or for training reasons. Have you had any extreme experiences with bit experimentation? Or any lessons learned? Or are you similarly change-averse like me, sticking with your one or two favorites no matter the horse?