I am trying to work Blu on a looser rein but I feel like I have no control. I am working with and on leg pressure still but we can't seem to communicate without the bit. Could it be the bit? I have recently switched to a D ring with copper rollers. He likes it but I hate having to work him on such a tight rein all the time. Ideas?
Teach him to respond to your seat. For example, in the trot, post slower and lower, make him match your seat. Same goes for the walk and canter, but you have to think "slow" with your seat.
I would suggest instead of throwing your reins away, you keep the contact and teach him to stretch and take the bit downwards, while keeping contact with his bit.
Honestly, the bit should have very little to do with your riding. I can throw just about any bit in Dancer's mouth and adjust my riding for the correct response; from a snaffle to a pelham.
My attention span is that of a gnat right now, I'll be back to add more later.
Also... tons and tons of halts... trot several strides halt, back, or change directions... also canter and halt, trot and halt... it should be all about the stop... let him anticipate the stop... it'll help with collection too...
I'm not sure if this will help or not When I haven't ridden Vida for awhile I always do some flexing on the ground then in the saddle. I do lateral and vertical flexing. From the ground I just use the lead rope, pull down till she drops her head and release. I gently take her head to the side till she pulls her head to her side then release.
From the saddle, the same thing pull one rein to my hip till she brings her head around and stops then release. And both reins together till she releases at the poll drops her head then release.
I think it gets her giving to the bit when she hasnt had it in her mouth for awhile.
I agree that the bit should have little to do with it. Reins shouldn't be used to balance yourself on. Real balance and control should come from your seat. Trying sinking down deep in the saddle and use lots of inner thigh pressure. It actually takes a lot of leg to get a horse to slow down. Not leg as in kicking with your heels, just constant pressure in thighs. Does this make sense? Do a ton of circles at a nice, slow sitting trot, forcing your body to relax and sit deep in the saddle. Roll your shoulders back and stick your chest out, using a little bit of inside leg. Hope this helps!