So. As most of you have seen in pictures and know, I've been riding Zeus in his gag bit. It's big, fat, and rubber. But it's still a gag bit. When he first came home I rode him in his rubber d snaffle for a while. We were still getting used to each other and I couldn't read him or ride him as well as I can now. So I switched him back to his gag for a while. He's been happily ridden in this bit for basically his whole career. He used to be a 4' jumper. And he's always been a hot, hot horse. He has a tendency to get heavy in your hands and he is VERY strong. It takes some good riding to get him to rock back and lighten up. In dressage the gag the way i'm using it is not accepted, I know. When I ride him, I'm VERY light on his mouth. The MOST I ever do is keep up a conversating with light sponging of the reins, and the occasional half halt to remind him to listen to me. Not including his occasional buck or when he gets into 'go mode'. I'm not going to tolerate that and when gentle aids and cues from my seat don't work i'm not just going to sit there and let him blast around with me. He IS going to woah, back, and than get an on the buckle walk until he chills out.
Even though I know i'm not harsh on him with this bit I do know it's potential to be harmful. I am riding with a great trainer who knows what she's doing. At the same time I don't just blindly follow whatever she says, I do take my other experiences and opinions into consideration. She's seen how strong Zeus can be and she's fine with me riding in it for now while we're working on all the basics. We're not even practicing tests or anything yet. Basics basics basics. Which I completley agree with. Until I fix my flaws and bad habits how can we expect my horse to do the same.
I really want to switch him back to the snaffle and see how he does. But i'm afraid he'll go back to being super strong and running through my rein aids. I do try to ride mostly with my seat and when aids from my seat do not work I add the rein aid to it to get the result. I know you guys can't completley understand because you've never ridden him or seen him go in real life, but i'm just worried that when he does get strong and build up at the canter like he does, that the snaffle won't be enough to bring him back. The first stride can be really nice and calm, and the next he he lengenthen and speed up double what he last stride was. He just has a LOT of power. We've been doing lots of transitions. Lots of walk/canter/walk stuff and they'll work for a while but than he works him self up so much that we have to call it a day or he'll turn into a time bomb. I always put him before myself and if he is too up one day I won't canter him or i'll make sure he's completley calm on a nice loose rein before trying again.
I guess i'm just looking for opinions? Or advice? Anyone got a horse like Zeus? He really is perfect for me and when we're having a good day, we're awesome. I don't ever get frustrated or feel out of control on him, and always feel totally safe. But i'd like to figure this out. He has calmed down and improved a lot since i've had him but occasionally he'll get into his 'go mode' and get all kinds of excited. Push button, school master type horses are just not for me, and i'm an effective rider. It's all about perfecting thigns right now. He is an honest horse, and we have loads of potential together. I'm very excited for our future and hope to maybe event with him one day.
Thanks for reading my novel and I'd love to hear opinions and advice.
And sorry for my random throught process. I kinda just let it flow.
EDIT: A video of him in his prime as a jumper. Shows just how strong and powerful he is.