Using your tools

I talk a lot about how important it is to have a lot of tools and different approaches when dealing with young horses.  I think that is the one reason why I like taking lessons with different instructors across the disciplines because you can just hear things differently or maybe get a few new suggestions that make a world of difference to your program. About this time last year I was really struggling with my horse that had come back from the sales barn all scared of contact. During a lesson  “>Mogie asked if I had tried a nathe or a duo bit. I had tried a bunch of different bits and used a happy mouth mullen but hadn’t used either of the bits she was talking about. She said she had a lot of success getting horses to trust the contact in those bits. I went on ebay and found a Duo that wasn’t advertised as one for like $10 (I am the queen of ebay deals!)

Wouldn’t you know that bit happens to be one of my favorite bits for horses with soft mouths or horses that lack forward and don’t trust the bit enough to go forward. It transformed my horse and has done the same for many of the tb’s that come in here confused about contact.

I had been riding Sea Flip in a eggbutt with a bean in the middle. I prefer eggbutts over loose rings in the beginning of training because the horses don’t really steer and I think the loose rings tend to pull through their mouths a bit much. He has been fussy and reluctant to move forward which is my clue to change up the program. I put him into my herm sprenger duo which just happens to be a loose ring and added a figure eight.

He was really good with this combo. Forward, soft in the bridle, lots of good slober and stretching down to the contact. Right now he really makes me laugh because he seems just so slow. You pick up the canter and he likes to canter as slow as possible but like a giraffe. He has no concept of how to relax and go forward so we cantered around in a 2pt and then I sat a tiny bit and got a bit of flexion with gentle bends and got him softer in the bridle.  He has a lovely canter that is going to be incredible when he learns to soften everywhere. I can just see how easy it would be to jump some big jumps on him.

We also jumped his first real jumps undersaddle which felt great! He jumped a little brush jump and a straw bale jump with confidence. He has gained a lot of trust because before he was being a butthead about even walking over those jumps in hand! 3 yrs…I tell you they have a mind of their own. It is all about making them work with you and not against you.

I had a glorious day of hunting yesterday on my 8 yr  conn/tb that I had previously evented until he injured his knee. I haven’t ridden him myself in a year because he been half leased to a student and filling in as my husband’s trail horse. Let me tell you how awesome it was to be back on him. He is an incredible athlete and has always been one of the bravest and most agile horses I have ridden. Hotter than any ottb I have ever ridden as well 🙂 I think he would go for hours just for the heck of it…god help me when he is truly fit! He instantly took to hunting and had it all figured out within the first half hour. He stood quietly at checks, was great with the hounds, galloped respectfully and was a bit to eager to the jumps. I tried to go around the jumps because he isn’t supposed to be doing all of that but he was not having any of that. He was so rank about me making him go around I figured it was safer for both of us to just jump the jumps. Such a silly thing he is and full of attitude.

I am planning on taking Sea Flip second field within the next few weeks to see if he enjoys hunting. I think there is nothing better for teaching a horse to be brave and forward than a good foxhunt.


5 responses to “Using your tools

  1. I went and did some looking, but I need pics! What is the difference between a Happy Mouth mullen and a nathe/duo bit?

    The duo’s is shaped with a small port to allow for the relief of tongue pressure and they are also super flexible where the HMMullen’s are not flexible and are very straight so not as forgiving.

    The nathe is similiar to the duo but not quite as flexible if you test them side by side.

    What is so interesting is that you can get instant relief on some horses just by changing the bit and I have found this bit to be my go to bit if I am having any sort of forward or issues with a horse not liking contact.

  3. I was chatting with my trainer last night about the horse I rode. She has a partially collapsed nasal bone from over-drugging at the track and she spent 5 years as a broodmare, so she’s in for some re-schooling. She’s a mondo-head-flipper. I think a figure 8 with a nathe bit might be the trick for her.

    Any other ideas for “miss i-must-flip-my-head”? (we aren’t doing anything except trying to get a nice long and low walk at this point)

    • jessicamorthole

      I would just really focus on riding her forward from leg to hand. I believe that contact is something that is learned and the rider has to teach the horse the boundaries. Tb’s are good at convincing us to take our leg off when instead we really need more leg to push them to that steady but even contact. With horses that have a lot of anxiety I typically just worry about forward and then contact sorts itself out.

  4. Good call… I’m such a weenie… betweeen the REALLY big trot and the occasional crowhop/buck/crowhop, this girl is keeping me on my toes… when (if) it stops raining for 5 minutes up here in NW Washington, I think we need to go up to the galloping path and just work on a nice, even trot.

    thanks, Jessica!

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