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need a bit recommendation

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  • need a bit recommendation

    I am working with a mare currently that has a bright future in dressage. She was trained through first level when she was younger, then her owner decided to make her a hunter (which the mare did not care for) and she sat in a field for 4 years. Now I am working to get her back to her dressage roots.

    It is going very well. She is very athletic and very cooperative. She is still out of shape, but all that training is still in there and she does, or at least tries, anything asked of her.

    When I started working with her, she had recently been worked by a young girl with very rough hands and she would drag me around like a freight train. After a month, she has realized that I will not hang on her, and she has settled and no longer pulls. She accepts contact and moves forward on the bit and goes around beautifully. However, she is still very heavy at the canter. I've been riding her in a snaffle in a standard nose band and no flash. I don't think she needs a stronger bit (she's not running away, she is just very heavy in your hands) just something with different mechanics, or even possibly a change in bridle. Any suggestions?
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

  • #2
    Originally posted by FindersKeepers View Post
    She is still out of shape, but all that training is still in there and she does, or at least tries, anything asked of her.

    I don't think she needs a stronger bit (she's not running away, she is just very heavy in your hands) just something with different mechanics, or even possibly a change in bridle.
    You're right in that a stronger bit is not the answer. From what I got out of your post, this mare is now working well at her gaits, not pulling or running away with you, so I am going to assume she is soft.

    Because you said she is out of shape, I think training, training and more training is the answer. She needs the strength to come over her back and carry you; I believe every horse gets heavier before they get softer. Now, there is a difference between pulling and leaning. It sounds like she is using you for support because she doesn't know how to carry herself. She may frame up, but it doesn't mean she's doing it Easily and without yiur help. Work on strengthening her muscles and "be there for her." Don't give her the reins and don't pull. Just play with the reins to continue encouraging her to come round, push her forward with your leg and use many half halts with the "give and take" idea always in your head.

    I hit the same wall before with my mare during our training. I also noticed she has a VERY dry mouth and is overall stiff in her jaw. She doesn't play with the bit or chew and doesn't salivate. I recently went from a double jointed snaffle to a KK Contour from Herm Sprenger as the aurigan is supposed to taste better. So far, I like the results. I've heard her chew a couple times and she salivates just a little now and combined with training, is much sifter and not leaning so much for support. We'll see how it goes!


    • Original Poster

      HorsePlayy, you are correct. She's out of shape and needs more work to get back in shape. I was riding her for her owner once a week, and while she is now soft and responsive, she is not in shape. I just moved her last week to take her on full time, so she will be getting into more work and better shape.

      She is, as you correctly described, leaning on me. She is not pulling to go anywhere, just hanging on my hands. I will give the half halt a try and see if that helps back her off. She has very big movements, and I think they are just too big for her current balance and fitness level. Now that I have her here with me, I have 200 acres to hack her out on and build her up, which should make a tremendous difference in her fitness level before getting her back into the ring to focus on technicals.
      Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


      • #4
        It sounds like you are heading in the right direction. I would be patient and keep working with her in the same bit and see where you get. If she doesn't salivate or play with the bit, however, consider trying one of the many fancy "sweet" bits or contoured bits, etc. to get her interested in working her jaw as it is essential to help her accept contact and be light (I learned this after many days of tired arms heh). Also, don't be afraid to "play" the bit in her mouth with the reins. Soft "wiggles" with the inside, for example to get her to loosen up.

        Wow, you are lucky to have 200 acres! A horse person's dream haha. Every week, I do one full hack day and then a half flat/half hack day. Remember, walk for muscle, trot for balance, canter for wind! Have fun!


        • #5
          It's just a matter of fitness.
          How much time are you devoting to your trot halts? How about trot halts in shoulder fore? She will need boatloads of them to help build her strength, lightness off the aides, and sit power in the canter. Give her a few more weeks, then see what happens if you do lots of canter trot and canter walk transitions. Have you tried shoulder in at the canter to help lighten her?
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • Original Poster

            Thanks everyone for the encouragement. The 200 acres are not mine, just belong to the owner of the barn where I am currently working.

            I just picked the mare up last Tuesday, so only have 3 rides in the last week. I wanted to start her off at 3 days a week and increase to 5 or 6 as she increases her fitness level.

            I think for now, we will stop the canter work and just focus on our walk trot until she builds up the muscle tone to carry herself so I don't have to do it for her.
            Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.