My first emergency dismount, from Mia...while at a full stop! - Page 4
 
 

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My first emergency dismount, from Mia...while at a full stop!

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        03-12-2014, 12:52 PM
      #31
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SueC    
    BSMS, so now what I want to know is: Why is it so essential to change a horse like that out of the curb...? ...If it isn't broken, why fix it?
    This will be a long answer, but I think it is a great question!

    Why transition Mia to a snaffle bit?

    My reasons certainly have nothing to do with any dislike of curb bits. The conventional wisdom is that a horse should be fully finished and completely obedient in a snaffle before transitioning to a curb. I reject that. In fact, I was banned from a horse forum for arguing that an average rider could transition an average horse to a curb bit without causing the horse to rear and flip...the English riders on that forum rejected it as heresy.

    I actually think a good curb bit is a great bit for the average horse and rider, provided the rider uses the western approach of keeping slack in the reins unless giving a cue. From what I've seen, most western riders - the ones I respect, anyways - seem content to GIVE cues with some slack left in the reins, and almost never take all the slack out.

    I actually think curb bits can be great bits for beginner riders, provided their instructor pulls them out of the saddle and makes them do pushups in the dirt every time they take the slack out of the reins. I think most beginners use the reins too much, not for balance, but out of fear that the horse will go too fast. Someone who is confident their horse will stop every time, right away, is free to let go of the reins and concentrate on leg and seat. All IMHO, but I think a good western curb bit is a great bit. Mylar makes a number of good designs. Billy Allens also seem gentle but effective. A smooth Jr Cow Horse - not one of the twisted wire ones - also seems like a good design.

    So I like curb bits. But snaffles also have some strong points. I think a snaffle is the most intuitive design for a horse who needs to learn to flex laterally, or to tip his nose in during a turn (one of Mia's faults). It drops some of the advanced notice of a curb. In a Billy Allen curb, for example, the initial pull back on one rein starts to rotate that side of the bit with little back pressure. You have to pull further before the bridle tightens and the horse feels any pressure against the corner of its mouth. That advanced warning is an advantage of a curb design.

    But for Mia, who believes the world is full of straight lines, and who has horrible lateral flexibility (she spins well but doesn't turn well), a snaffle should help me train her to use her body better in a turn. It also gives me a chance to see how well trained she is getting at stopping. I define training as building a habit of obedience so strong that the horse will obey the cue without thinking, even when scared or reluctant. By alternating between very similar style curbs and snaffle, both Billy Allen style designs, I hope to find out the training has carried over and she will stop reliably straight ahead in a snaffle. If she will, then that would give me even more confidence while riding her in a curb.

    The "Old and New bits":



    I dislike stopping a bolt by turning the horse hard in a snaffle. I've been able to do it with Mia on the trail if I jump in her mouth fast enough and hard enough...but there is nothing gentle about that, and the trauma of the struggle confirms her in her fear. That is why I've come to love a curb.

    However, another bad habit Mia has is backing up. If she decides she really dislikes what lies ahead, she throws it in reverse. Smacking her hard on the rump with a heavy leather strap will not change her mind...she only accelerates backwards. Been there, done that. So when she throws it in reverse on a trail, where bad things may lie behind her, I want to be able to spin her around and at least get her looking where she is going. We can always turn around and try the bad thing again...usually with Trooper taking the lead long enough to show her it isn't bad.

    I can do that in a curb, but I think a snaffle would be a better bit for that specific situation - getting a horse to do a 180 when you have no more than 5 feet of space to do it in. If she truly develops a solid stop in a snaffle, as in right now and straight ahead, then a snaffle would become a good choice for a trail ride.

    If not, she can remain in a curb for the rest of her life. My birthday is next month. For #56, I might splurge and buy myself one of the Mylar bits with both a medium port and a roller. Used properly with a horse who understands it, a bit like that can be very gentle, very forgiving and a very good communication tool between horse and rider.

    But snaffles can also be great bits. Ultimately, a few years from now, if everything goes right, I'd like to transition Mia to a high-quality leather sidepull, preferably custom made for her face. Not because curb bits are mean, but because success would mean she had been trained to listen and respond to her rider's wishes...that 'willing submission' that dressage talks about. Willing or (better still) enthusiastic submission is the goal of most good riders. If Mia & I ever get there, it will be after a long hard road. But it would also mean a horse [Mia] who was a horrible choice for a beginner rider [Me] had become a good choice for one...and that would put a big smile on my face!
    Sharpie, dlady and SueC like this.
         
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        03-13-2014, 10:38 PM
      #32
    Started
    Hey BSMS, I see! Yes, snaffles are way better for turning. What an idiosyncratic horse you have - perhaps this would be a good argument for the use of a double bridle outside of an advanced dressage arena, so you can truly have and use both snaffle and curb...


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsms    
    My reasons certainly have nothing to do with any dislike of curb bits. The conventional wisdom is that a horse should be fully finished and completely obedient in a snaffle before transitioning to a curb. I reject that. In fact, I was banned from a horse forum for arguing that an average rider could transition an average horse to a curb bit without causing the horse to rear and flip...the English riders on that forum rejected it as heresy.
    Hhmm yes, sometimes you come up against "religion" like that in horse circles. I'm with you on that one. People sometimes don't look at practices in other traditions and see that they work, and they are disinclined to experiment. Outside the English riding tradition, there are plenty of places curb bits were standard repertoire and used on green horses and also by little kids and average riders.

    As a kid I read a dressage / horsemanship book by a German dressage commentator who made a point of showing happy little kids riding happy huge horses in pelhams, and explaining how this improved safety in this case, and how a curb bit wasn't actually "sharp" in action, quite the opposite.

    Later I read an excellent book on bits and horses by late Australian horseman Tom Roberts, where (amongst myriads of other interesting things) he too debunked the myths about curb bits and explained how they actually spread the effects of rein action both through space and time, resulting in gradual action with lots of advance notice compared to a snaffle, and reducing bumps to the sensitive bars of the mouth from unsteady novice hands.

    On an "upside down" horse a curb bit can be an excellent early training aid. On a horse inclined to startle or bolt, it's a good choice for early intervention, especially on trails, at least until it gets over its nerves.

    I'm not trying to paint a curb as "the perfect bit" here, I'm just pointing out some of its advantages. Choice of bit or non-bit is a really individual thing and depends on rider and horse. Different bits and non-bits have different strengths and weaknesses. Reading Tom Roberts' book "Horse Control and the Bit" got me thinking in totally different ways about horses and bits. I've ridden in snaffles, curbs, low-leverage hackamores, halters - and I think they all have their place.

    A curb causing a horse to rear and flip? What a strange idea...


    Quote:
    I actually think curb bits can be great bits for beginner riders, provided their instructor pulls them out of the saddle and makes them do pushups in the dirt every time they take the slack out of the reins.
    That certainly improves focus and cardiovascular fitness at the same time. Alternatively, you can go in mild, low-leverage curbs and have light flexible contact. My Spanish Snaffle (which is not a snaffle, it's a port-mouth bit with slotted D-rings where you can choose mild or very mild curb action depending on the slot) is a compromise bit which allows me to maintain light contact with the horse's mouth and get him to go "on the bit", something I couldn't do, for example, on the curb rein of a pelham bit (which is what the "snaffle" rein is for on a pelham). But on trails, I often don't look for that level of contact. It's mainly when I want some finesse.


    Quote:
    I think most beginners use the reins too much, not for balance, but out of fear that the horse will go too fast. Someone who is confident their horse will stop every time, right away, is free to let go of the reins and concentrate on leg and seat.
    Totally agree - a lot of beginners see their reins as mechanical brakes, when that is completely not what they are. When I lunge a total beginner rider I have been known to transfer their reins into the stable halter dees so they can work on trying to maintain light contact on the reins (which requires lots of give in the arms / "rubber arms") without hurting the horse, something that is particularly difficult for a person learning to trot. If we can isolate some of the many things a beginning rider has to learn to do and have them focus on a few things at a time that can often help them - such as working on the seat without having to worry about stopping the horse.

    There are some places that start their riders bitless (doing group arena work) for similar reasons, and only transfer them to bits later.

    I like the designs of the bits you've posted pictures of. Do your horses get into rolling the middle ring with their tongues?


    Quote:
    But snaffles can also be great bits. Ultimately, a few years from now, if everything goes right, I'd like to transition Mia to a high-quality leather sidepull, preferably custom made for her face. Not because curb bits are mean, but because success would mean she had been trained to listen and respond to her rider's wishes...that 'willing submission' that dressage talks about. Willing or (better still) enthusiastic submission is the goal of most good riders. If Mia & I ever get there, it will be after a long hard road. But it would also mean a horse [Mia] who was a horrible choice for a beginner rider [Me] had become a good choice for one...and that would put a big smile on my face!
    All the best with continuing your horse's education. If every rider had your patience and sense, the "horse happiness index" would skyrocket.
    Beling and boots like this.
         
        03-15-2014, 12:40 AM
      #33
    Trained
    Yeah the story is cool & everything, but I am impressed by your amount of typing to tell that and reply to everyone! Kudos to you man!
    Posted via Mobile Device
         
        04-27-2014, 03:05 PM
      #34
    Trained
    Just a short update. I sent off to Steele to try their "Fit to the Horse" program:

    Steele Saddle Tree LLC - Fit To The Horse

    After talking with them, they sent me their "D" tree form. It seems to fit OK to me, although I plan to talk to the folks at Steele next week.



    It turns out their "D" tree is almost a perfect match for the tree of our Circle Y Mojave saddle that both Trooper and Mia have used many times and seems to work well for them (not for me - it hurts my knees). However, comparing it to the CA/Martin saddle I used, it reveals...yes, the saddle is too wide, both horizontally and in angle. Padding up can make it comfortable enough for her, and she rides well in it, but it will also leave the saddle prone to slipping. Sooooo...I've had my Aussie saddle adjusted to fine tune its fit, and we're back to using it. At least, until I find a western saddle that fits both me and my horse.

    It is frustrating. Two western saddles. One fits me beautifully, but doesn't match my horse. One fits my horse, but hurts my knees. Drat!
         
        04-28-2014, 01:03 AM
      #35
    Foal
    I can relate a little bit with your story! I had a lesson this morning but obviously didn't have my girth done up tight enough. I ended up sideways at the canter (on the lunge). My poor horse couldn't work out what the heck I was doing!
    Fortunately I managed to do an emergency dismount and still end up on my feet :)
    bsms and SueC like this.
         
        04-28-2014, 11:53 AM
      #36
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mslady254    
    Might not have made a hill-of-beans difference....but I always,always move Sonny around after being saddled to make sure ....
    B, I love reading your adventures with Mia - you're such a fun writer and you have a light heart. Reading this latest makes me wonder where or what I would have done. That is some experience. It's always something!

    Girth walk girth walk girth last time <--thats me. (I figure a saddle slip is the one kind of fall I can avoid before I ever get on.) (hopefully)

    I feel both your pain. She took a bad tumble too, poor crazy girl.
         
        04-28-2014, 01:35 PM
      #37
    Trained
    Mia actually did take a pretty bad fall. A section of skin about the size of my hand went bare, and one about the size of my palm eventually peeled off. I tried getting on her about a week later, and she spent several minutes dancing around and not wanting to stop. When I did get her stopped, I got off quickly.

    I figured there were two possible reasons why: 1) her back was still sore and it hurt for me to be on it, or 2) the whole thing scared her, and when she gets scared she doesn't like me to dismount. It is something I've gone thru with her many times...she's nervous, and I'd swear that she views my getting off as meaning I've decided to run away, and therefor she should run away too. She'll stop, but the feel of my leg moving for a dismount causes her to bolt before I can get off...NOT FUN. There have been several times where I ended up pulling the reins to one side, wrapping a couple of loops around the horn, and getting off during the second it takes her to get straightened out. Then she leaps forward, maybe knocking me down or maybe not, then she stops and looks at me as if to say, "You aren't coming too?" Then she comes and waits for me to make the 'bad thing' go away.

    I managed to get very worried about riding her because those "You can't leave me!" moments always hurt. So a month later, when her skin had healed, I rode her again when my wife was around in case things went bad. I mounted, stiff and tense.

    Mia's response?
    "Why have you been riding That Appy and not me? I'm much better looking! You sure seem tense. Is it the jogging you've been doing? Or did That Appy act badly for you? Oh well, you're with ME now! I'll walk and wait for you to relax. You want to do figure 8s? I don't...but since you're having a bad day, I guess we can. You've had this saddle adjusted for a better fit? For ME?! Why yes, it does fit better...but it is smaller than the western one. Does it make my butt look big? I mean, one wants to have a butt, but not too much butt, if you know what I mean. Glad to see you are starting to relax. Breathe deep and snort a few times...that helps me. Maybe you could put a copper penny in your mouth and pretend it is a roller. That helps me too. Shake your head back and forth, blow hard and sigh...works every time. Almost. You don't need to worry. I'll take care of us both!"
    In short, after all my worrying and concern, she was content as could be just to be ridden again. No worrying about her saddle, she stopped fine, and she didn't fuss when I dismounted. That can be the trouble with fear. Sometimes it is rooted in reality, and needs to be listened to, while other times it is entirely in our imagination, and needs to be overcome. How does one know the difference?
    wild old thing, Zaphyrr and SueC like this.
         
        04-28-2014, 03:06 PM
      #38
    Weanling
    For some reason your relationship with Mia reminds me of Lucy and Ricky. (you being Ricky of course)
    bsms likes this.
         
        05-01-2014, 08:52 PM
      #39
    Started
    For Mia:



    (Norman Thelwell was a genius...)
    Cherie, bsms, waresbear and 1 others like this.
         
        05-01-2014, 09:51 PM
      #40
    Foal
    The ability to laugh at one's self is the best trait in the copulating world!!
         

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