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When to introduce double bridle?

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  • When to introduce double bridle?

    I was having a great day today up until getting an email from my trainer, where she suggested introducing Pooksey to double bridle. She suggested we discuss it later at my lesson today, so I need to get my discussion points ready
    I have to say that I am nowhere near riding with double bridle, so it will be only her using it for many years to come. I also have to say that I have been jumping him pretty much all summer and doing some low key lateral work and I have not seen her doing any real dressage work with him for a while. (I know, I am a bad, bad mom, but she rides him in morning, when I am at work)

    Having said it, here is what've got:
    - Horse is 6 yo WB, and does not act like he is done with maturing, but he will always stay a baby for me, of course
    - He is at solid first level, does clean changes and some upper-level lateral work.
    - He is and probably always be rather hard to collect, heavy in the bridle and I have never seen him in true self-carriage.
    - He does not enjoy any dressage work, period. A part of it probably does have to do with his conformartion, and another part of being started early. Previous owner seemed to be running him into the bridle when trying to collect and was riding rather hard and defensive. Trainer agrees that most probably he is going to stay this way.

    So, I do now really understand why would bother even with an idea of double bridle at this level? The whole idea of it is to refine movements, and how can we refine movements if we cannot even get him to carry himself properly and on his own?

    Please share what you think about the situation and what should I say/do? I am most likely going to say no, but wanted to hear opinions on the matter before getting in confrontation with trainer.

  • #2
    I hope you get some good opinions here, but I have to say, why set yourself up for a confrontation with your trainer until you have heard her reasoning for this idea? As you pointed out, you haven't seen her riding him in some time, so you likely are not up to speed with what she is trying to accomplish with him, how he is responding, and why she thinks the double bridle will aide her endeavors with him. I would be open to it. Its not an evil contraption. I haven't ridden in a double bridle yet in dressage, but I have in the past, playing polo, and I can't remember where else, and it was an excelent experience, although I have good hands and can easily communicate subtly through a horse's mouth, and with my seat, etc. I just picked up on your negative vibes, starting with how you won't be using a double bridle for many years yet, and I thought, hmm, why?

    Your horse is young, as you pointed out, and maybe he is too young for a DB, but you also said he is doing some upper level work, so there may be some aspects of his training she'd like to see how he does in one. And there is no reason why he can't improve dramatically with all the issues you put out there. I just hate to see you so negative about your and his training. I would respect your decision to say no about the DB, but would hope it would be after listening to what your trainer has to say, and you seem to have put the kabash on a whole lot of things with your horse already!!

    Life is for living! Have fun, and explore the possibilties!
    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      AnotherRound,
      Thank you for reply! You made me see things in a slightly different light
      A lot of my negativity is coming from having one broken horse, so I do treat Pooksey as a fragile flower Which could be something I need to change.

      I have to mention though, that as someone who started riding in my 20s, I do not care about riding per se as I do care about horses. Of course, I do have my goals and ambitions, but I tend to have "well, if he does not like dressage and likes to jump, lets keep jumping then" outlook on riding. So, I think thats where my most of my negativity is coming from. Kind of like "if he does not have enough talent and a heart to become an upper-level horse, why make his life miserable with more advanced dressage work?" Although, now, that I have said it I realize thats a rather bad approach to training

      I will definitely be discussing it with my trainer tonight, and I am more open to DB now that I've given it some thinking. I guess I need to work on fixing my reasoning and approach to his training and goals first. Thanks again!

      Comment


      • #4
        OK, I am probably going to get slammed for this, but I have a mare who prefers to lug on the bit to avoid carrying herself too so I have a bit of experience with this situation.

        I really think that some horses will just pull on a snaffle because they can. Be it past poor riding that has made them this way or just a tendency to try to get out of working that extra little bit, it really doesn't matter. I do some jumping too, and I noticed that with my elevator, mare would actually carry herself because yanking on the bit was uncomfortable, and then the next rides in the snaffle were better.

        So once she started working on second level stuff, I bought a double bridle. I use it *maybe* once a month, and I keep the curb rein pretty loose. She doesn't yank on the double like she does in a snaffle, so then putting her back in her snaffle makes the work more correct. It's like she kinda realizes that she doesn't have to pull on the bit.

        What also helps her is to change snaffles occasionally. If I find her pulling on one bit more than usual, I will switch to something a bit different. I mainly use a JP baucher, single joint with the curved arms. When she starts being a butt with that one, we switch to a copper-mouth eggbutt, single joint but without the curved arms. I have a plain boring loose ring too, but that one is currently MIA.

        This mare just has some poor riding history with her mouth being yanked on, and sometimes even riding with soft hands doesn't keep her from leaning on the bit.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have 2 Trainers - a judge ("L") and a GP rider.
          The GP rider first suggested I start her in a double - just to introduce it NOT to use it often. The reasoning behind this was a client had waited to start her horse until she HAD to go to a double - and had problems with horse accepting the double and had to delay moving up a level until the horse learned to handle the double.

          So since my mare can be difficult about changes I purchased a double. First 4 times I used it I rode only on the bradoon and in a lower level frame. Slowly brought her into her third level frame in the double (she DID carry herself in the snaffle). Since then I have gone back to the snaffle since I do 99% of my schooling in the snaffle. I ride occassionally in the double so when I start showing forth I will be accustomed to it (she's fine with it).
          Now in Kentucky

          Comment


          • #6
            Here is my 2 cents.

            In dressage you can not use the double until 3 or 4 level the double is not required until FEI classed. Most of the dressage masters state that the double should not be used until the horse can school all of the movements in the snaffle bit. At that point the double should be schooled sparingly. The thread pelhams and dressage had excellent posts for and against introducing the leverage bits in schooling.

            Also my trainer has two warmbloods that did not start to mature into collection and self carriage until much later than expected. Now one prefers FEI level collection to second level puns from behind. Some lines of warmbloods mature very slowly, you may need two more years on bending and getting him to trust the outside rein.
            Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
            -Auntie Mame

            Comment


            • #7
              Most of the dressage masters state that the double should not be used until the horse can school all of the movements in the snaffle bit. At that point the double should be schooled sparingly.
              Agree!

              I would wait and see what your instructors reasoning is behind it. If she says its because the mare is heavy then I would seriously caution against using it.

              If on the other hand its because the mare is going fantastically well with her and she wants to introduce it slowly then that may be a good reason.

              That said (and I know folks will disagree) I think 6 is pretty young to be introducing it personally, then again if your horse is talented there are exceptions.
              I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.

              Comment


              • #8
                I like people's thinking on this. I will use it for my own future ruminations about when to introduce a horse to the double, as it will be coming up in the next two years with the horse I ride with my trainer. (He is 11 years old, and progressing fantastically. He showed for the first time this year training, and scored 71 and 75 in his last rated show. He'll be in 1st next year, and some training, and he is starting to love his work and get very strong in his back and anticipate the work. I just know he will probably go to 2nd or 3rd. Anyway...)

                but I tend to have "well, if he does not like dressage and likes to jump, lets keep jumping then" outlook on riding.
                Well, that's how I look at things, too. The horse often speaks to what he should be doing - what he wants to do. For example, the whole reason the above mentioned horse is doing dressage, is because he was purchased to be a jumper, but HATES it, just hates it, will go over anything out on the trail, but he is just darling with dressage, and as he builds up muscle, he is starting to look very very good and do well.

                I just thought an open mind is the best thing, and not pre-decide before you know (you admittedly didn't) all the facts and were brought up to date, would do you and your horse well.

                I also think he's probably young. I would be anticipating my trainer to say she was just going to introduce it, and see how he responded and keep schooling him in the snaffle or something like it.

                Good luck, and I'd love to hear what she wants to do, it'll be interesting.
                Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.

                Comment


                • #9
                  ...why set yourself up for a confrontation with your trainer until you have heard her reasoning for this idea?

                  I don't see how a confrontation is inevitable. I think it's very important to understand that putting a horse in a double bridle is 'no big deal' for one who is experienced at training horses up the levels, and most trainers don't make it the huge emotional issue most amateurs do. Most experienced trainers start just by 'playing' with the double bridle - putting it on the horse and having a few easy rides, then schooling in it once a week - when the horse is five or six. No big deal.

                  ....you likely are not up to speed with what she is trying to accomplish with him, how he is responding, and why she thinks the double bridle will aide her endeavors with him.

                  There are a few trainers who aren't skilled, and get to a point where they feel a double bridle would keep the horse from 'pulling'. At the lower levels, dressage horses are taught to keep a contact with the bit and push energy toward the bit. At that point in training, they sometimes get a little too strong in the bridle, too firm. Some folks want the double bridle because they feel the horse won't pull as much. As they get more experienced as trainers, they won't be feeling that way about it. On MOST horses (NOT ALL) they will find it easy to both create a lot of energy, and still keep the horse flexible and not too firm in the bridle.

                  Others are just going on to the next phase of training, in which the double is simply a traditional part of training. They aren't having any particular problems at all, it's just time to use the double bridle.

                  Ideally, at no point in training, is the double used for 'brakes' or 'control', but to help in collection and fine tuning.

                  .....Your horse is young,

                  On most dressage training schedules, an experienced trainer has a horse to a rather 'advanced' level by six. By seven, he would easily be doing Prix St Georges, the first international (advanced) level of dressage, by six, 4th level, the last national level. The FEI Young Horse Tests have the six year old horses working at things most of us consider 'very advanced' simply because most dressage riders never reach above first level. That doesn't mean a decent pro sees that work as too advanced for the horse's age, or that it IS too advanced for that age.

                  A good pro gets a well balanced, athletic six year old to that level easily, without drilling or pressure, without short cuts.

                  It takes less experienced people longer to move horses up the levels, so many people think 'six is young' and 'six is a baby' and 'six should be doing first level', because that's all they or their friends do. Again, 'it depends'. For a more experienced person, it is nothing at all to have the horse in the double bridle at six, doing half pass, flying lead changes (dressage style, I mean) to a count of every 3 or 4 strides, pirouettes, collected work. It is also nothing at all for the HORSE, who, if he is worked regularly, usually learns all that work very easily by six.

                  ....as you pointed out, and maybe he is too young for a DB, but you also said he is doing some upper level work,

                  I wouldn't say the work is all that advanced. As I said above, for an experienced trainer, none of this is a 'big deal', including the double bridle.

                  ....And there is no reason why he can't improve dramatically with all the issues you put out there.

                  I think as owners we all have to realize that the horse may feel 'heavy' or not ideal in some ways, not because it is just 'always going to be like that', or 'the horse is limited', but because we don't know how to ride at the level the trainer is working at, and can't balance the horse or get him set up the way the trainer does....or just aren't used to how a horse feels when he's ridden on a contact and pushes energy to the bridle. We have to realize sometimes, that what we perceive, is subjective, and that there's a lot more to it than just what we 'feel'.

                  If a horse is limited by conformation and build and lack of natural balance, he may not ever feel really ideal in the hand, he may do the very best he can, be well trained, be very fit, and we might learn to ride very very well at the harder stuff with time, and the horse may never be all that dainty in the bridle....SO? He still can be a lot of fun, and you can still have a great time enjoying what he CAN do. Not every horse is perfect.

                  Sometimes...SOMETIMES...a limited horse 'lives in the double'. He may have had a poor start to his training, and lost a lot of the sensitivity in his mouth, or he may have learned to pull, or take the reins from the rider. Sometimes it's a matter of personality - the horse is just tough and strong and isn't one to let the rider tell him what to do, and he learns how to 'bull' in the snaffle. Sometimes it's a matter of a timid rider, who, every time the rider feels the slightest pull of the rein, he drops the rein, teaching the horse to pull the rein out of the hand. It can even happen because the rider has a confused idea about 'stretching' the horse, and doesn't teach the horse when to stretch his neck out, and when not to!

                  Yes, it does happen sometimes. And sometimes...SOMETIMES this is just how things are, and it works out alright for the owner when the horse goes in the double bridle, and it's fine.

                  ....I just hate to see you so negative about your and his training.

                  I didn't really sense a lot of negativity, so much as just a question, when to use the double bridle.

                  And the answer is, 'with a good trainer, you use the double bridle when the trainer suggests it's time', and it's just that simple.

                  Too, the double isn't at all hard to learn. You simply ride with the curb rein loose for a while, and then gradually over time, oh a year or so, start picking up the curb rein and taking more of a contact with it, that's how you get started. It's wise not to put too big a barrier into one's mind about these things, and just go along and give it a try, and enjoy the ride.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Eqqus Girl would you mind telling us what upper level movements your horse is performing and with what consistency. Just curious not to judge in any way. It may help people give you a better answer as the what they would decide to do or what questions may be asked of your trainer.

                    With that being said, I think that you should be at a place with your trainer that any decision made towards the training of your horse should be a conversation where you can voice your concerns or ask the trainer their reasoning and there should be no confrontation.

                    As far as your horse being to young or not. Just as not every thoroughbred dropped is a million dollar stakes winner not every warmblood is grand prix horse at six. So you and your trainer have to know your horse. Slc2 is absolutely right that a well balanced trained horse should have no problem moving in to a double at 6. You should not make a decision about your horses schooling out of fear. If it is time for your horse to move up go for it with confidence and your best effort and you will be successful.
                    Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
                    -Auntie Mame

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      @slc: good post = ) Pros and ammies have very different perceptions of things. Having been on both sides, I've found it's best to just have an open dialogue (both ammy and trainer). Make it a point to see your horse ridden by your trainer, and ask to watch him in the double at some point (you should be able to find at least one day where you can both be around at the same time if you both make an effort). You may find out that he actually has more talent than you thought, or you and your trainer may both decide he's not quite ready for the double yet. Again, I would agree with slc when she says that 6 really isn't all that young. Most horses are quite mature at that point and have the strength to do more advanced work than you might think = ) If you trust your trainer (you should, haha), give it a shot.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You said: "I do not care about riding per se as I do care about horses. Of course, I do have my goals and ambitions, but I tend to have "well, if he does not like dressage and likes to jump, lets keep jumping then" outlook on riding. So, I think thats where my most of my negativity is coming from. Kind of like "if he does not have enough talent and a heart to become an upper-level horse, why make his life miserable with more advanced dressage work?" Although, now, that I have said it I realize thats a rather bad approach to training."

                        It sounds to me like you need to think about why you have your horse in training and why you have the trainer that you have. If you have decided to listen to your horse's desire to be a jumper, perhaps you should reevaluate your decision to have him in training with a dressage trainer (I am assuming that your trainer IS a dressage trainer from your comments).

                        A good trainer should be advancing the training of the horse. It sounds like your trainer is doing that but maybe not in the direction that you would like to go. Of course, the trainer should also be advancing the training of the rider and you might be reaching a point where where you have to decide if that is what you want. It is a waste of the trainers time and more importantly, your money, if the type of training that he or she provides to you and your horse is not what you actually want.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ""if he does not have enough talent and a heart to become an upper-level horse, why make his life miserable with more advanced dressage work?" "

                          Boy...just....boy. Where does anyone ever learn to think of dressage like that?

                          When a trainer is sympathetic and experienced, he knows how to use 'advanced dressage work' to supple a horse, strengthen a horse, and make him more a pleasure to ride, and it does NOT make a horse's life 'miserable'. Done right, it's no 'misery' at all, quite the contrary. It makes his life easier.

                          A shoulder in makes a horse's hind legs stronger, and helps him learn to respond to the rider's aids better. A piaffe makes his back and quarters stronger. A flying lead change makes a horse stronger in the hind legs, and more agile and supple and able to respond more quickly to the aids. And you ride around, and you just enjoy it. And it is just a pleasure and a joy to experience. And you just hope that it lasts forever, because it is just such a joy to experience a well trained, stepwise, logically developed horse.

                          The result was never designed for a horse show ribbon. These things were not invented to take to a horse show. They were invented to develop a horse that is a pleasure to ride - to develop him progressively, stepwise, logically, one muscle at a time, suppled, strengthened and suppled and strengthened again.

                          Who says your horse doesn't have 'heart'? Who says? You tell me, I'd like to know. Every horse has heart. EVERY horse can be taught things and be a pleasure to ride.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by smm20 View Post
                            It sounds to me like you need to think about why you have your horse in training and why you have the trainer that you have. If you have decided to listen to your horse's desire to be a jumper, perhaps you should reevaluate your decision to have him in training with a dressage trainer (I am assuming that your trainer IS a dressage trainer from your comments).
                            I should have mentioned that my trainer is a young jumper trainer. She has some dressage riding background, and considers solid flat work a foundation and prerequisite to jumping, but she does not have experience bringing up and training dressage horses. She is definitely a pro in terms of jumping training, but as far as dressage goes I would say its a learning experience for both of us. We keep an open dialogue and share whatever new theory we learn. That's what brought me to asking this question on the forum. I do rely and trust her decisions, but I do want to hear what other people have to say on the subject, so that I learn for myself and maybe get valuable info to share with her.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                              ""if he does not have enough talent and a heart to become an upper-level horse, why make his life miserable with more advanced dressage work?" "

                              Boy...just....boy. Where does anyone ever learn to think of dressage like that?

                              When a trainer is sympathetic and experienced, he knows how to use 'advanced dressage work' to supple a horse, strengthen a horse, and make him more a pleasure to ride, and it does NOT make a horse's life 'miserable'. Done right, it's no 'misery' at all, quite the contrary. It makes his life easier.

                              A shoulder in makes a horse's hind legs stronger, and helps him learn to respond to the rider's aids better. A piaffe makes his back and quarters stronger. A flying lead change makes a horse stronger in the hind legs, and more agile and supple and able to respond more quickly to the aids. And you ride around, and you just enjoy it. And it is just a pleasure and a joy to experience. And you just hope that it lasts forever, because it is just such a joy to experience a well trained, stepwise, logically developed horse.

                              The result was never designed for a horse show ribbon. These things were not invented to take to a horse show. They were invented to develop a horse that is a pleasure to ride - to develop him progressively, stepwise, logically, one muscle at a time, suppled, strengthened and suppled and strengthened again.

                              Who says your horse doesn't have 'heart'? Who says? You tell me, I'd like to know. Every horse has heart. EVERY horse can be taught things and be a pleasure to ride.
                              Thanks for reply, slc2!
                              I should have probably explained myself better. My horse does have a big heart but its definitely not in dressage work he really seem to enjoy H/J work a lot more that anything having to do with dressage.
                              I do believe that dressage should be a part of training for any horse, it does greatly benefit both horse and rider, but obviously there should be a point at which one must say "okay, does he really need to learn to piaffe and do airs above ground" if he so obviously hates it? And from looking at my horse, he definitely does. I am willing to take blame as being a green rider, I am definitely not a dressage example, but he hates with when my trainer rides him as well. There are no saddle fit or physical issues. He simply prefers jumping. Again, I am a green rider, and my trainer is also very green in dressage world, so maybe thats how all dressage horse go?

                              I bought him as a 5yo who was used in riding school, because he was so quiet. He changed dramatically, became more balanced, gained muscle tone, and learned a lot but the sour way he acts towards dressage work stays the same He does not buck or do anything , but facial expression is rather easy to read He has sharp mind and great memory, but hates repetitions, having "I did it right once, I got it, lets move one" mentality. It helps when jumping courses, but makes him grumpy when doing work on circles.

                              Not having experince with whats normal and whats not, I asked the question, because my main priority is keeping him happy. He was purchased as a dressage prospect, but likes jumping more, so I switched disciplines, and I would switch to reining or cow roping if that's what he wants to do. That's what I meant when I said that his heart is not into it.

                              I am open to any suggestions and ideas as to how to make dressage work more interesting for him.

                              Here is what our weekly training chedule looks like:
                              - Tuesday- Flat work over poles and cavaletti
                              - Wednesday- Dressage lesson with trainer. They consistently school shoulder-in, shoulder-out, renvers/travers, half-passes, currently working on dressage changes on straight line and half steps.
                              - Thursday- jumping lesson over fences
                              - Friday- my humble attempts at dressage work
                              - Saturday- he either has a day of or we go for a hack on polo field
                              - Sunday- depending on how he feels and what we have been working on during the week, we either hack or do flat work, or my trainer takes him over some "adult" jumps, but it happens maybe once a month.

                              I would love to take him to trail rides but we do not have any around, and I do not own a trailer to haul him around, otherwise I would

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                              • #16
                                I think it's YOU that doesn't like dressage. I think you're pulling my leg. I finally figured it out when you explained that airs above the ground are part of advanced dressage, and used the words 'miserable' and all that stuff - I finally figured out you were talking about yourself and not the horse at all.

                                Just a question. How exactly, are airs above the ground different from jumping? They both put a similar amount of strain on a horse. How's it different? Jumping is something you want to do, and airs above the ground are 'advanced dressage'?

                                Not really. Both jumping and airs require the horse to work harder than he does when he isn't leaping.

                                Most people who ride 'advanced' dressage don't do airs above the ground.

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