My measly limited amount of dressage training with my trainer/USDF judge (she's judged up to *** events) taught me that 'on the bit' doesn't mean I am the one putting the horse there, he is the one seeking it out.
Does that make sense? I'm still learning, but I can understand the concept when she explains it to me that way - my yellow horse caught on very quickly and he actually 'asks' for the contact but never once leans on me.
The first lady I went to told me 'drive-drive-drive that horse into the bit' - man all I got was a ticked off horse and a bad attitude. I met this other lady who helped me SO MUCH.
But we learned it from the ground up - first with rhythm and feel, and then thru half halts and inside/outside rein and such like what is discussed here. It was just patience and lots and lots of repetition, in little steps with me asking and he giving.
In fact, he started offering up the piaffe on his own (my instructor has seen this before with other horses) with a series of half-halts after a few months. Of course there is no way he was 'fit' to sustain this! But what the heck?? It was cool, we took pics and then I dropped everything to get back into distance training......
Here is a tiny photo from his rudimentary piaffe that he offered up on his own....he was by no means muscled up to sustain this (neither had we gotten to the proper levels of collection and lacking at so much more), but it was worth of capturing a pic to show what good communication can do...who knows what he could have done with a few more years under his girth working those basics... koty 9-2-08.jpg