Blah, I'm home sick today with a sore, swollen throat, so why not write a blog post?
Miles was ahhhhh-mazing last night. I was tired as all hell (getting sick, obviously, though I didn't know it at the time), but it was nice out and I was determined to ride. I didn't even have the energy to lunge him, though he was also super relaxed so I just threw on his hackamore and mounted up.
WHAT a difference. No crazy noodle-neck, no grinding, no resistance at all. I daresay he listens to my leg more and I'm able to get him to bend through our corners and on circles much, much easier than with a bit. Of course, most of that is probably because he's not fixated and concerned with the metal in his mouth. Everything was just...better. I don't think his neck popped up or he hollowed out once.
I'm slow on the uptake, I've never denied that. So, bit experimentation is on hold for now. Right now, I just want to work with him, really work with him, and try to improve our right lead and maybe start extension/collection work. I guess it took one day of him being very obviously uncomfortable and upset to get me to wise up-right now it's looking like the best thing that could have happened! Previous to Sunday, his mouth was still more active than I wanted it, but I could also get him to stretch down and relax during parts of our ride. It's much, much nicer to have our ENTIRE ride like that now, though:)
The one thing I really don't like about the hackamore is the curb chain is a bit tighter than I would like it, even with everything on the last hole. So, when I take up contact, the chain actually tightens under his chin, which is soooo not what I want (though it didn't seem to bother him at all). So, I'll either look for a bigger one or wrap it in vetwrap or something. Now that we're getting somewhere I don't want to take advantage of his good nature by inadvertently punishing him. We will return to trying other bits and maybe even a bitless bridle in a couple months, maybe. Does anyone know of a company that lets you "try before you buy" with regards to bitless bridles?
A huge thank you to everyone that commented and offered suggestions and help. It's always appreciated and welcome! I'm always learning and have a long way to go.
In other news, it's the first day of fall, although the sun is out and the breeze is balmy. Miles is getting his true color back now...the bleached-out rusty color is completely gone and his almost black coat is back, which I just love. Between that and his increased fat and muscling, he's looking particularly handsome these days:) Pictures of the Beefcake sporting his hackamore coming shortly!