Monday, September 20, 2010

Bits Bits Bits...Enough!

Just a quick note before bed...

Admittedly, my riding schedule with Miles has not been consistent the last few weeks, with his scrapes in strategic places and a couple other factors. We've also had a lot of rain the past couple of weekends. Blah blah blah, all this to say, on our ride yesterday, the first in about a week, he was worse then ever with that damn bit (this is what he's wearing). Now, the weather has been cooling down (YAY!), and we were riding indoors for the first time in months because the outdoor ring was soaked. So, a couple of other factors at work; still, he lunged just fine in his halter, and c'mon, a week off is going to happen every now and again.

He was plenty forward. Actually, it was quite lovely-lots of energy, but he was directing it into our work which was great. I was excited to get on him after lunging. As soon as I picked up the reins, however-my goodness, the fussiness! That long neck of his was alllllll over. He was grinding his teeth and over flexing. He just wasn't happy. It's a damn shame because, as I said, he was moving so well, and even bending fairly well and listening to my leg, as much as I could expect when the neck is totally disconnected:) I kept my hands steady and continued to work him forward, ignoring his antics. I know the worst thing to do is discipline a horse with your hands...

Literally the moment he would either lower his head and stretch (not root, big difference), or simply relax and be still, I would reward him with a walk and praise. He soooo loves being told he's a good boy:) He also loves ambling around the arena on the buckle.

I know there are possible explanations other than him just hating his bit. I guess y'all will have to take my word that my hands are quiet and steady (hey, I'm not perfect, but it is something I've been complimented on before, and certainly I've been conscience of my hands with Miles), and while I'm not allowing him to tool around the arena on a loose rein (after the first few minutes), the contact I'm asking for is hardly severe or something he can't do. Honestly, he's unhappy even with no contact. It's the metal in his mouth he's rebelling against right now.

He's obviously uncomfortable-he wasn't in the least bit anxious being lunged in the halter before I put his bridle on. He was just floated, so we can rule that out. It may be the bit-I don't know. The next piece of metal I'll put in his mouth will probably be a Myler bit (thank goodness they have a good resale value, considering the cost!). Until then, back to the English Hackamore we go. I know it's not a perfect piece of equipment, but for what we're doing, it works well, and he's happy in it.

Poor boy. I wish I had the budget and time to play around with all manner and size of bit, but I don't. I'll try the Myler when we can afford it (or get it for Christmas;) though a lightweight turnout sheet is next on the never ending list of Miles' needs at the moment. I'd also love to try a bitless bridle at some point.

Anyway, there's my quick riding update. The positive spin is that he was moving so, so well, and if this wasn't an issue it would've been one of our best rides yet, I think. While he was definitely a bit "up", he was also exceedingly good and never did anything silly or stupid. To sum up, even with our challenges I left the barn with a big stupid grin on my face.


  1. It could be a pain issue elsewhere - say in his neck or back. Also, some horses are just consistent tooth grinders and it never really goes away.

  2. I've fought the same battle with my mare Honey. In her case it took finding the right bit and using it properly (not to say you aren't, but I wasn't). I also like to mix things up a little with her and do some fun rides in her halter.

    Also, what size is Miles? I have a nearly new lightweight turnout fly sheet in a size 78 you can have for $25 if you want. It's too big on Honey as you can see here: sure if it's what you're looking for, but if so let me know!

    Good luck with the bit issue... you'll get it worked out!

  3. Kate-yes, I'm concerned that he may just be a mouth grinder, since that's what I saw when I went to New Vocations and saw him ridden. I really don't think it's pain (unless he still has mouth pain, for some reason), because he has none of those issues without the bit. Hey, I'm not picky and if he can go well in a hackamore or bitless, that's ok with me too:)

    Karla-that's so nice of you to think of us:) I'm looking for something a little more than a sheet, but less than a midweight turnout, and TOUGH, but thank you. I think Schneider's has exactly what we need, thankfully. Unfortunately, it's not $25!

  4. I found some pretty reasonably priced mylar bits on half circle ranch...

    I wonder if he'll end up bitless. Works with so many of them...

  5. Hey IF you want..I have a Myler Kimberwicke that I'm more than happy to loan to you to try out before u buy...let me know :)

  6. Breathe-
    Thanks for that tip! I'll check them out.
    I might be! Can you tell me more about it? Size, type, etc. I've never used anything but snaffles and I'm not super familiar with Kimberwickes, so I'd have to do some research first anyway. Feel free to email me if you want. Thanks so much!

  7. Sarah, I have a few different bits down at the barn if you want to try any of them. I have both double and singled jointed snaffles, and mullen mouth snaffles. And a kimberwicke single jointed snaffle. I went through a lot of bits trying to find the right one for Lady!

  8. What if you tried a non-metal bit? I've known a lot of TBs to go really well in a Happy Mouth.

    Other things to try - if he hates instability in the bit, you could try a boucher or a full-cheek with keepers. If it's the joints he doesn't like, perhaps a mullen mouth? I know Myler makes a nice one that has some rotation and flex so you can still give clear lateral aids, but overall it acts like a mullen.

    Good luck with it!