Working on the bit - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the suggestions, and in answer to kayty and anebel. I am well aware of how to work a horse and at what stage of his training to start educating him on the bit... i wouldn't be breaking a horse in if i didn't. Also young horses who are still learning will nearly always take initial contact on their mouth as an aid to halt.... seeing as that is what they are first taught in most circumstances. I appreciate the input though.... these are just thoughts.
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post #12 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Mercedes View Post
The rider does not pick up contact, the horse seeks contact. It is always the horse who decides on this issue, based on level of preparedness, fitness, strength, suppleness, etc...

When the horse is truly seeking contact, only then may the rider experiment and ask the question 'can you give me more?' by slightly shortening the reins and that should result in a slightly shortened outline, but still with the willingness to be forward.

If it results in something else, then the horse wasn't actually seeking the contact, or the rider has taken the contact.


Exactly !!
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post #13 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by pepperum View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions, and in answer to kayty and anebel. I am well aware of how to work a horse and at what stage of his training to start educating him on the bit... i wouldn't be breaking a horse in if i didn't. Also young horses who are still learning will nearly always take initial contact on their mouth as an aid to halt.... seeing as that is what they are first taught in most circumstances. I appreciate the input though.... these are just thoughts.
If the horse is seeking to the contact and coming properly to the bit they will not be halting. If the rider is trying to make contact in a way other than riding the horse to the bit, the horse will stop until it becomes desensitized to the (in effect) "pulling" and then you have lost a lot of the feel that the mouth originally had.
It does not matter who you are or how many horses you have ridden, having an experienced coach on the ground always helps to correct your habits and stop bad ones from creeping in. Even Anky van Grunsven has a coach.

Good luck!
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post #14 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 12:47 PM
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I don't know much about dressage but for sure they use the bit as the cue for much more than in Western so all my thoughts go to western.

The bit has nothing to do with a stop. It is the seat and legs that control that. The bit is used only if the horse isn't listening to the seat and leg.

Forward is a function of the seat--hip bones-- setting the rythm of the stride.

If he stops with light contact on the bit he is confused because the other things mentioned above are either not there or are not understood.

If you are teaching Dressage then throw all this away and listen to someone who understands that discipline. I do everything on a loose rein and use the bit only for head set and neck position. The rest is with the seat and legs.
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post #15 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by 5cuetrain View Post
I don't know much about dressage but for sure they use the bit as the cue for much more than in Western so all my thoughts go to western.

The bit has nothing to do with a stop. It is the seat and legs that control that. The bit is used only if the horse isn't listening to the seat and leg.

Forward is a function of the seat--hip bones-- setting the rythm of the stride.

If he stops with light contact on the bit he is confused because the other things mentioned above are either not there or are not understood.

If you are teaching Dressage then throw all this away and listen to someone who understands that discipline. I do everything on a loose rein and use the bit only for head set and neck position. The rest is with the seat and legs.
Well I do dressage, and that's all I try to use my reins for lol. The above makes sense to me.
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post #16 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 07:07 PM
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When you are wanting your horse to "work on the bit", you must never try and pull and tug on his mouth to get him on the bit. A horse's head doesn't HAVE to be on the vertical for it to be considered "on the bit". It just means the horse is working actively from behind and is accepting rein contact, keeping a soft relaxed mouth.

If you pull his mouth, he will get confused because you will be kicking with your legs, telling him to go, but then also pulling on the reins telling him to stop. Do what Kayty said in her post, transitions, changes of rein, etc, to get him working actively from his hindquarters. Over time he will eventually start accepting the contact on the reins and soften and go into a nice frame, as long as you have gentle hands that don't tug him or move around alot, keeping them still and relaxed and able to move with the horse's head.

If you do it right, the horse will willingly take the contact and work nicely on the bit. Good luck.

*~ THE HORSE STOPPED WITH A JERK, AND THE JERK FELL OFF -- Jim Culleton ~*
MANURE HAPPENS
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post #17 of 19 Old 02-12-2010, 06:43 AM Thread Starter
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Someone tell me where in my original post I mentioned that I relentlessly pull and tug on my horses mouth. Also I don't know how some of you work your horses but when I mean on the bit I mean just excepting and moving into mouth contact at this stage. I don't pull at all, I simply feel the horses mouth. That's it.
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post #18 of 19 Old 02-12-2010, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by pepperum View Post
however now that the time has come for me to ask him to work on the contact he just thinks i'm asking him to halt, despite still asking him for forward movement.
That is the phrase everyone is focusing on. When the horse is ready for contact, you won't have to ask him to work on it, it will naturally come in to play, and then like someone said, you can experiment with how much. Anything before that is working front to back.
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post #19 of 19 Old 02-13-2010, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ View Post
Well I do dressage, and that's all I try to use my reins for lol. The above makes sense to me.
haha too right, ultimately you want everything to come from seat and legs. The halt should come from seat, turns/changes of rein should come from alternating your weight flow etc. Reins are just there as a light back up aid should the need arise in a well trained horse ;)
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