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Heavy on the Bit

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    Heavy on the Bit

    I have a 6yr old arab that is really heavy on the bit. We will have a few good strides, and then suddenly the head goes down and a feel a lot of weight in my hands. I will usually use inside leg and do a small ‘pop’ with my outside hand, and he comes back to me. Then a few more good strides, before right back to heaviness. I have a trainer riding him 2 days a week, and we have addressed the problem. So I am mostly looking for things that personally worked on your own horse to get him lighter.

    The Arab got here 2 months ago, so I haven’t had a bunch of time to work with him. When I bought him, I test rode him in a some curb bit. I asked why and the seller told me she was annoyed by how heavy he was in a snaffle. Keep in mind I am currently riding him in a snaffle.

    I definitely feel like this is very fixable, because every once in a while I will feel 2-3 laps of complete suppleness, and when you get him moving his hind end is a power house.

    Any tips or experience with a heavy headed horse is appreciated!

    #2
    Sounds like youre doing the right thing ... correcting the problem and encouraging him to use (and strengthen) the right muscles. In the long run thats all that will help, is getting him to actually rock back and use his hind end. One exercise I kind of like due to its simplicity is quick walk-halt-walk and trot-walk-trot transitions. 4 strides of walk, stop, 4 strides of walk, stop. Or 4 strides trot, 4 strides walk, 4 strides trot... and so on. Can help to get them off your hands.

    You can also try a bit change. Not to a curb but maybe a waterford?

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by greywithchrome View Post
      You can also try a bit change. Not to a curb but maybe a waterford?
      This....My horse gets a little heavy sometimes too. We switched to a Waterford for a while and it worked well but then he got heavy in that too. We switched again to a 3-ring at home and only use the Waterford for horse shows now.

      Works fabulously...it's a completely different ride for my weak, amateur arms.

      http://www.poochpaddock.com/

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        #4
        It sounds like you're already getting some progress doing the right things. I would also keep up with the transitions. I like to do transitions on a circle without stirrups if possible, and stretch out the downward transition so I can really feel the weight transfer from my inside leg to the outside hand. Not sure that makes sense

        Comment


          #5
          In addition to the above advice, ensure you're not compounding the issue by pulling or being stiff in the arm. Ensure your elbows are in by your side and you can give through the arm via a mobile elbow (not the wrist). You may not know you're pulling. I got on my horse for the first time in a year (after living overseas and not riding that entire time) in May and was surprised at how stiff-necked, dead-mouthed, and heavy he was. It was largely because I was pulling without realizing it. Now that I have my feel back, when I ride leg to hand and push him forward into the bridle, he is wonderfully soft and willing to work over his back and connect on the bit. No pulling.

          Some horses can be very sensitive to that so it's a good opportunity for a self-check.
          War Horse Blog
          Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse

          Comment


            #6
            The horse seems mouthy because of the bit used previously. 1. You can train the horse in a bit that is a compromise until it really responds to your aids and then try a snaffle. (transitions within a pace and from pace to pace) 2. make sure that you make a break before the horse gets heavy (and tired maybe).
            Last edited by XXS; Jul. 3, 2019, 04:16 AM.

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by GoneAway View Post
              In addition to the above advice, ensure you're not compounding the issue by pulling or being stiff in the arm. Ensure your elbows are in by your side and you can give through the arm via a mobile elbow (not the wrist). You may not know you're pulling. I got on my horse for the first time in a year (after living overseas and not riding that entire time) in May and was surprised at how stiff-necked, dead-mouthed, and heavy he was. It was largely because I was pulling without realizing it. Now that I have my feel back, when I ride leg to hand and push him forward into the bridle, he is wonderfully soft and willing to work over his back and connect on the bit. No pulling.

              Some horses can be very sensitive to that so it's a good opportunity for a self-check.

              So riding him forward helped?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Pop_676 View Post


                So riding him forward helped?
                There’s a reason why there are so many “when in doubt add leg” memes around...

                i am finding that my horse is heavy, unless I have some one standing there reminding me to add leg, steady on the outside rein, ask for flex ion inside, and give when he softens. He is naturally forward bound, and being a little nervous of that, I was forgetting, or truthfuly resisting riding him forward into contact. Now we have been helped to figure that out, voila, we are winning.
                "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

                Comment


                  #9
                  It sounds to me that this horse may have never had the concept of a bit giving aids EXPLAINED to him.

                  As a temporary solution you might want to try a Cambridge mouth (ported) Kimberwick that fits his mouth on him. With the Kimberwick and sensitive hands it is often possible to lead the horse out of confusion. The Kimberwick does not seem to feel particularly painful to the horses I use it on unlike the snaffles (single or double jointed, or Mullen mouth for that matter.)

                  You might have to spend a month or two (or more, of course) using your skill, knowledge and equestrian tact to explain to the horse that this signal of the bit at this particular time in his stride means THIS.

                  Then you can start the search for the perfect snaffle bit for HIM that works well with your particular hands. Remember that a horse may go well for someone with a bit and turn into an inverted gaping monster for another rider who has harsher hands, with the same bit in his mouth.

                  Another thing you could try are the titanium coated bits. The titanium coated (usually "Rainbow" bits) are pricier than the stainless steel bits but are about a third of the cost of the pure titanium bits. I have had and I've seen several horses improve their reactions to the bit when it is changed to a titanium/titanium coated bit. The problem is finding these bits narrow enough for the Arab mouth. Bit guards may be necessary for the horse's comfort.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Quote--'"I definitely feel like this is very fixable, because every once in a while I will feel 2-3 laps of complete suppleness, and when you get him moving his hind end is a power house." End quote

                    You have answered your own question. You need to up your game in the saddle until you are able to ride him from behind. You might start playing with transitions, getting him sharp off the leg , going forward. Initially trot walk, then trot canter, then canter walk. You may need to learn to do lateral work, and simultaneously teach him to do it. properly done, a horse doing lateral work engages.

                    The answer is not in his mouth!!!
                    Last edited by merrygoround; Jul. 3, 2019, 11:32 AM. Reason: Punctuation
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by KBC View Post

                      There’s a reason why there are so many “when in doubt add leg” memes around...

                      i am finding that my horse is heavy, unless I have some one standing there reminding me to add leg, steady on the outside rein, ask for flex ion inside, and give when he softens. He is naturally forward bound, and being a little nervous of that, I was forgetting, or truthfuly resisting riding him forward into contact. Now we have been helped to figure that out, voila, we are winning.

                      What are you ‘giving’ when he softens? Rein?

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        I am only going to ride for a bit, because it’s 90 degrees! Though I will work on a lot of walk-trot-walk transitions. Also some 20 meter circles while flexing. I will see how forward I can get him going as well.

                        I will talk to trainer about lateral flexion. The Arab used to ride Western so he has got a really good response to leg.

                        Thanks for the insight, I will let you know as we progress!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Pop_676 View Post


                          What are you ‘giving’ when he softens? Rein?
                          Yup, when he softens, so do I, at the moment it’s a constant conversation..
                          "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                          "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

                          Comment

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