It's not so much that I have over-used the bit, but the people who owned her before me didn't exactly know what they were doing. Her responsiveness now compared to when I first started riding her has GREATLY improved, but she's still being a bit stubborn about stopping. I have considered a hack. I only have a mechanical at the moment, but I really want to get a bosal or a side-pull because I refuse to use my mechanical on her.
Do you know of any good excersizes Yazi and I can do in order to get her more responsive? She turns fine really, but in order to stop, I have to give and release over and over again before I can get her to give in fully and just stop. I never yank the reins or anything like that, and I try to ride with a really soft hand. I've ridden her in a tie-down a few times and it seems to help. Anyway.... Thanks for the suggestions.
How are you asking to stop? I never pull with two hands, I raise one hand ever so slightly and let out all my energy and my mare stops and awaits more directions.
You might like the natural hackamores (a less expensive version can be found at Welcome to Half Circle Ranch!
). It's a bosal hackamore and is what I used to train my mare in when I first started riding her.
Keep her mind thinking on you is a great way to get her to be more responsive. Start by having her walk, and then after every 5 -10 steps having her stop. If it takes her 2 steps to stop, ask her to back up those 2 steps. But don't use your reins to stop first. When you ask her to walk pretend you are her and are walking off. Your energy will raise and then you'd ask with a squeeze from your cheeks and if she still doesn't go add more pressure down the legs. When you ask her to stop, release your energy with a sigh, sit down heavy in the saddle (like all of a sudden your butt became an anchor), and give her some time to think (especially for the first 10 times), then ask by lifting up the rein by the fence of the arena...if she still won't stop, then bend her nose to the fence (sloooooowly). Hold her nose there until she stops and she's mentally relaxed, then ask her to back up.
Worked wonders on my mare and all of my horses :)
I never use a tie-down on any of my horses. Horses use their body language to tell us how they feel. Raising of the neck very fast means either something is hurting them or something is frightening them. It is important that you see those "warnings" incase something else is to follow.