Back to basics

There comes a time when you realize it may be time to take a step back and evaluate the holes that need to be filled. Over winter we have barely been in the ring at all spending our time fox hunting and trail riding. Nothing wrong with that but flat work gets ignored when you are out there just having fun.

One thing I am noticing is that Dixie is doing a lot of chewing, mouth opening and mini pulls when I am asking him to come into the contact. It is time for his teeth to get done so that is on the agenda. Never overlook teeth especially in a young horse as time and time again you fix the teeth and all these little issues go away. Regardless, this doesn’t stop me from thinking he might like a different bit. I lunged him in my other horses nathe bit which is basically a super flexible rubber type of bit in a shape that allows for some tongue room. It is as soft as soft gets. He seemed to like that so we will keep that and see how it goes.

When do you change a bit? Well I wish I could answer that but I think part of training horses if figuring out what makes them tick. Do they like single jointed, double jointed, mulles, metal, plastic, happy mouths, nathes or something else that is bizarre and hard to find. I don’t hesitate to try new things if I think something isn’t working or something could feel better.

What do I feel that makes me want to change the bit? Every see a horse that is obviously faking the dressage? Well Dixie can do that pretty well if you didn’t know any better.  He will come round but he is not truly coming over his back and stretching into the contact like I would want him to. There is no real weight in my hand so there is nothing that I am riding him to. I want them to almost want to sit in my hand a bit so I can put my legs on and ride them into the contact. For the soft mouth horses that don’t want to stretch down the mullen bits seem to work really well. You can use the Herm Sprenger duo’s, nathes or happy mouths..or even a myler comfort. It all depends on the horse and what they like.

In this pic it describes what I am feeling sorta like he is just posing but not coming over the back- my contact is loose because I can’t quite push him out to the rein.

Slightly more into the contact but I can tell he is still not coming over the back.

He looks a bit softer here but not what I want. Doesn’t he look big? Maybe just cause I am so short but at least big horses don’t make me look so huge.


I have begun lunging Dixie on the flat in the vienna reins just to remind him all about contact. This allows him to just worry about himself and not have to deal with balancing the rider. Wasn’t I doing this months ago?? Yep, I sure was but everyone needs a reminder and Dixie is one smart horse so after two days of lunging the undersaddle work was dramatically improved.

We are working on lots of suppling exercises. Leg yeilds, shoulder fore, shoulder in,  haunches in and out and a bit of overbending and counterbending to get him supple. He moves really well off the leg but sometimes gets a bit worried and then tenses his back so lots of transitions in and out of the gaits keeping the leg on for support.

I am really happy about the progress he has made in the past 2wks of flatwork boot camp.

In other notes he is extremely itchy so I am concerned about that. I had just powerpaked him in January and then I noticed he was itching his butt everywhere. He also has some dry skin and spots missing around his back, withers and shoulder. The hair on the top sides of the tail and on his butt has flaked off and feels dry and scaly. I have given him baths with microtek and tried the microtek spray and the mtg with no real results.

I am thinking it could be a worm issues so a double ivemectrin but not sure what else it could be?? Suggestions are welcome. He has also lost some weight recently. My thoughts are that he didn’t like the field I had him in and was stressed about it. He seems happier since I moved him closer to the barn. I had him fat now I am working to get a bit more weight on him. I think some of it is muscle as well. He was super fit from hunting and then when we hadn’t hunted I think he lost a bit of muscle as well.

A random jumping pic from last week

One response to “Back to basics

  1. My OTTB would scratch and rub her tail every spring to the point that she rubbed all the hair off. It made me CRAZY! I found that spraying the base of her tail with plain listerine (the yellow kind) once a day helped a lot. Just spray it on with a spray bottle till the hair is wet and then rub it in.

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