So, Potomac stresses about the bit. I'm certain it comes from 5 years on the track, and being stressed every time a bridle went on to work hard/race. I get this.
He's become so relaxed since I got him, and he's not a high strung horse. He's very laid back. But as soon as the bit goes on his mouth, he starts stressing and prancing and becomes more difficult to handle. That typical prancing you see TBs do as they're being lead out for a race.
When I lunge him, he's awesome. Responds great to voice commands, lunges on a line nice and relaxed, and behaves beautifully. I lunged him with a bit today (first time in a month he's had a bit in his mouth) and he was a different animal. Constantly chewing on the bit, head up high in an allert, stressed pose, hardly listening to me. It took 30 min. Of lunging to get him to settle down and start listening to me. He did settle down with the side reins on, and did eventually settle down and lunge well...but never as relaxed as he normally is. Even in the barn, on the cross ties as I was washing him off he was jumpy and antsy and never calmed down until he was back out in the pasture with his buddies.
What's the best way to help him over his bit issues? I know I can get "training" bits to help give him something to play with, but it's not going to help his mental mindset and relax. What can I do? Just continue to lunge him over and over and over until he settles down? I'd like to start riding him, but am not about to get on him the way he stresses w/ a bit in his mouth. Should I consider a bitless bridle? I'd like to do dressage with him, though, and don't know how much we'd be held back w/ a bitless bridle.
Thanks for any help/input!