My TB and I have been eventing together for 4 years, where I can compete with him in a basic snaffle *french link or Myler comfort snaffle* without having to use a flash or figure 8 or any gadget you can think of. When I ride him at home, schooling or in lessons, I have the same equipment....simple snaffle, simple bridle, no gadgets.
He is always 100% with me, as I am with him. I can extend him, bring him back under me, we can turn on a dime, stop at any given moment - without issues.....BUT...when we Fox Hunt, all that goes down the drain. *Flush*
When we get into that atmosphere that he looooovvess...the hounds braying, the Hunt Masters horn blowing, the other horses around him, the whips hootin', whistling, calling - my boy gets into a big frenzy.
I can sit as quiet as I can on him, but he'll be so riled up, that he is covered in sweat withing the first 1/2 hour of the ride...and we ride with the main group. All that work and training that we've accomplished together....goes out the window. Because he is in such a mentally heightened state, it ended up with me just going along for the ride and that is not acceptable to me, nor to all the others who are out hunting beside me.
Since there are so many P's and Q's and rules, ettiquete, traditions to follow - I don't take any chances. I must beable to stop him when I ask, I must beable to bring him under me when I need to, and etc, etc, etc. Plus, some of those fences that they jump out there, make me cringe *which is very rare* and I want to beable to opt around the fences instead of going over them...and I need him to listen when I ask.
SO, when I hunt, I put my 3 Ring Elevator Bit in him, with either a flash or a figure 7. I don't need a martingale or any other gadget, because the bit itself gives me that leverage of control needed, to beable to stay under the "Radar" while out there. With that bit, I can keep him under me, I can bring him back down to me when needed, I can opt to go around any fence I choose...yes, he still gets hyped up and excited, but I can at least control him when needed.
Aside from that, I always have snaffle in his mouth, with just a plain old english bridle on him.
As the Fox Hunters in my club say "Never go to battle without all your weapons". There is nothing wrong with turning to a "stronger" but for quick fixes, for needing one for that particular moment in time. It's one thing if you train in that bit all the time and ride in it all the time, but another if you have to throw it in for a moment here and there.
As David O'Connor says "Always train at home in a snaffle, when in competition, use what you need to get the job done" and I believe in that whole heartedly. Many GP level horses and Upper Level Eventing Mounts are trained in snaffles, but when in comp, the riders use what they need for that environment, to get the jobs done. Better to have it and not need it, than not have it and need it.
Last edited by MIEventer; 09-24-2011 at 03:08 AM.