Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
• Horses: 0
I've used the Gag before Gillian, I used it for quite some time before I attended the Dorothy Crowell Clinic - so I understand exactly how the bit works. Even with the softest contact, the bit still does the job it was created to do - pressure.
I was making no assumptions, because I've experienced the bit first hand as well, and I still use it when Nelson and I go on large group hackings.
I know you've been working very hard through your seat and legs, but the bit still encourages the use and building up of incorrect muscles. While it is giving you that extra level of control, like woah, it is still encouraging the development of incorrect muscles when being used long term.
My thought is, the reason why he is ignoring your seat and legs now, is because before, he wasn't properly carrying himself like he should of been while in the Gag. He wasn't developing the correct muscles.
You've come light years in advancement through your riding and your edcuation - via Seat into Legs into Hands to Soften, and I am super proud of you. All I was trying to say, is that the Gag was doing it's job during its' use. I wasn't saying that you were using your hands to force this false headset - I was saying, that he bit was doing it's job during the time you used it during your Dressage lessons.
So now that you don't have the Gag in his mouth anymore, and have moved onto a French Link - you're now realizing that there are holes resurfacing in his education and training.
This is why I dislike the Gag. The bit is great for short term use, quick fixes (like big hacks or fox hunts) but I dislike the bit for long term training use, because it mutes underlying issues - In my opinoin.
Has your Coach gotten on him since you've changed the bit? Maybe she can get on him and get a feel for what is going on to better aid you in this situation.
If so, has she been able to shed some light on what is going on?
Have you tried ground driving him? When I was breaking and training Mules, I used to spend quite some time ground driving before I got on their backs.
When I got my OTTB off the track *this was back in B.C Canada* I got on her and it was quite an experience that I didn't want to repeat. She reared, she wouldn't listen to my woah, she was stiff, braced and quite a handfull.
So my Coach told me to go back to basics and Ground Drive her. It was a great learning tool for me as well.
What it did for me, was that we were able to work together on the ground, we started to work together and we were able to re-establish the basic cues. Walk, woah, trot, woah. Turning, bending - and at first, she was braced and stiff and evntually she softened up and became more supple.
So then when I finally did get back, onto her back - we were able to transferr what we establsihed from ground driving, into the saddle and it was a much nicer, softer, easier ride than the last.
Now I know that Zeus is far more advanced than what Gilly was at the time I ground drove, but it may beable to help you out with softening him up, getting him to respect the french link and aid you in establishing your woah again.
Just a thought.
If you have done everything already, such as transitions, using your seat and legs, and all the important dressage maneuvers to get him to soften for you and it hasn't worked - I just thought that maybe a different approach may help?
I would love to see some vid footage if you could - and I would shoot Spyder a PM and see what she has to say. I turn to her for advice, and she is exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced and may beable to shed some light on this situation.
I think I asked this already, but what has your Coach said about this predicament?