Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bits and Bites

Some time ago I wrote a little about bits and their mechanical actions on a horse. So far I have been riding Raven in an eggbutt snaffle, but I find that she works it constantly and fights it like crazy when we have a difference of opinion. Fault for this lies mostly with me (for rusty and clumsy use of my aids) and partially with her early training. Somewhere along the lines she should have learned to yield to the bit as a communication device rather than fighting it as a restriction device. My mission is to teach my old girl some new tricks. First we will be practicing our one-rein stops, where a horse resisting a halt (or a request to slow down) has its head turned by shortening one rein towards the hip and dropping the other entirely. Where the head goes, the body will follow, the powerful hindquarters will disengage, and the forward momentum will dissipate. Pressure on both reins is dropped as soon as the horse stops turning in circles and comes to a halt, and the whole process resumes (alternating directions) when needed. Raven and I will be working one-rein halts on the quiet country roads of Deroche tomorrow morning, and I will be headed back to the Abby Saddle Shop tomorrow afternoon for a milder, double-jointed French link bit. Raven has a small mouth with limited range of motion in her jaw, and I imagine that single-jointed snaffle is making matters worse by putting a lot of pressure on the roof of her mouth.

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