I had posted a thread on this forum asking for help with a horse that is rarely spooky but violent when she does get that way, and after some thinking I realized that my horse has been most prone to act this way under saddle when riding in one particular D ring snaffle...
When we were having trouble with bolting more than three years ago, I had her in the D-ring. At that point she was new to me, somewhat green, and her surroundings were entirely new. So I blamed it on lack of exposure (which I'm sure contributed to the problem), put her in a bit that gave me some emergency brakes and started racking up the miles. After switching her to a kimberwick (with a slightly different mouth piece), she calmed down a lot. Once again, I attributed it to the hours under saddle and exposure that were helping her calm down.
However, I don't like the kimberwick. She's learning to lean on the curb and too much play in the rein encourages her to tuck her nose behind the vertical and put her head down very low, which is making a horse that is naturally heavy on the forehand even heavier on the forehand. I figured I didn't need my emergency brakes anymore, so I switched her back to the D ring a little while ago... where she had another bolting episode. A bird took flight near her and startled her. I was frustrated with her, and once again, blamed it on training. There MUST be a way to get her to stop bolting!
But then I got to thinking. She's not afraid of birds. I've had birds fly out in front of her/right next to her before and not had a reaction like that, perhaps a small bobble or a look in that direction, but nothing that can't easily be ridden through and ignored. I did some more thinking and realized that when I ride her in the snaffle. She rides with her head higher (which was an intended goal) but also with her nose sticking stubbornly in front of the vertical, and her neck is somewhat tense. We lost that relaxed arch that we had in the kimberwick and I'm pretty sure I could feel some hollowing through the back.
I posted on this forum, and another forum asking for advice on bits and what bits I should try next since this particular snaffle is clearly not comfortable for my horse.
Instead I got ripped apart for having a horse with a bolting problem, told it was a training issue and that I should train her to respond to pressure in the D ring that she hates. No one seems to believe me that she is not normally tense and prone to bolt. I kept being talked to as if she had been bolting all along, so I posted this video just to prove that my horse does, indeed ride calmly.
After I posted the video, I was again ripped apart for my hands and the amount of contact I use. I was told I have no idea what real contact is about and that I have a "flutter rein" which is apparently detrimental to a horse's training. Keep in mind, I said I didn't use much contact in the kimberwick because I didn't like how my horse responded to contact in this bit, hence the hunt for a snaffle. And this video is more than 3 years old so some things have improved since then. I've also been riding and competing stock-type hunt seat with this horse, where less contact and a longer, lower frame is desired (only because I rode appaloosas before this and have been working with the same trainer).
I will be starting regular dressage lessons in the spring which should help me adjust my riding style to the type of horse that I now own and help me lift my horse off her forehand. I am aware of our biggest downfall, and I thought I made that clear in my original post.
Watch this video and tell me, do my hands/reins look really bad considering the discipline I've been trained in?
Feel free to watch some of the others on my channel if you need more to go off.
Sorry for the long post! I needed a little rant in there!
But seriously, if you think my hands really are that bad, I want to know! I want to know if I've been taught wrong all this time, and what I can do to improve on my own until I am able to start lessons with a different instructor in the spring.