Last lesson my coach was getting me to get on the bit, but the schoolie I was riding that night is extremley slow!!! :-| So once I got her to raise her withers a bit and pick up speed her head would come up a bit and my coach said ok now get her to chew on the bit to help relax her jaw..., but I don't think I know exactly how to get her to chew on it..? soo any suggestions on how to get her to chew on her bit?
You don't want a horse to chew on the bit. That signifies tension, frustration, and/or mouth pain.
bubba, there is a difference between "chew on bit" (and by that I don't mean chewing it as a piece of bred) and "chomp on bit". The latter indeed means anxiety or possible pain. The former means horse is accepting it/relaxed at the jaw. By the way "chewing" is also visible when you work with horse on ground in halter and horse gives/relaxes.
OP, I'm not sure what your trainer meant. When my qh relaxes I can physically feel how she comes on bit and relaxes. With the school horse I'm not sure: I have very hard time to get correct flat work from lesson horses (because they are not used to it plus they have so many riders on back that it's rather impossible to ask a lot from them).
You want a soft mouth and relaxed jaw, sure, but the word chew, to me at least, implies jaw movement and/or teeth grinding and/or actually grabbing the bit in the teeth--all of which are undesirable behaviors. Now that may be a terminology thing, but if so, it's misleading, and regardless, it's not something you can 'make' a horse do. And who cares if the horse is 'chewing' so long as the mouth is, in fact, soft? Any way you look at it, the OP's trainer's advice was either misinterpreted or misguided.
I agree, you can't really make a horse to "chew" on bit. :wink: They soften. Or they don't soften. I'd say half-halt would be your friend (there are several threads in Dressage and in Training on what it is). But again, depending on horse of course, if it's a BTDT school horse that is used to teach beginners I doubt you go too far asking it to go round and on bit.
BTW, if in doubt - ask your trainer to explain what she means and what you should do to achieve the desired effect. I always do: I'm taking lessons to learn, so I ask questions every time I don't understand something or just want to know something specific. :)
Haha ok thank you!! yeah see that was my first thought just getting the horse on the bit but then she said to get her to feel it like to get her to chew on it... And i thought that sounded a little wierd so next flat lesson ill ask her!! :D I feel there might have just been some confusion because I don't usually ride this schoolie and we had a bunch of ppl in the lesson doing make ups.. etc..
But thank you anyways!!! :-)
Feeling the bit is basically just keeping your contact 'alive'. Lots of riders will get a contact, and then leave it 'dead' in the horse's mouth. I keep my contact, but also just 'feel' the corners of the horse's mouth, keeping the bit, energised, I guess would be a suitable word.
There is a big different between keeping the contact alive, and see-sawing. Keeping an energised contact should not influence the position of the head, or the degree of flexion at the poll. See-sawing swings the head side to side and pulls the bit across the mouth, where as keeping it alive, simply keeps the bit gently 'vibrating'.
Sorry, trying to use as many descriptive words in that as possible, as it's not an easy concept to get across through text alone. It really is a feel that needs to be developed.
There are a couple signals the horse gives when his mouth is indeed, soft. He should relax into the contact and not lean, he should allow manipulation of the jaw and be should softly chew and create a nice lipstick of foam, especially by the corners of the mouth. If we can notice when working with a horse, regardless of having a but in the mouth or not, when he is understanding and in a calm and submissive state, he will chew. Countless nh trainers talk about this phenomenon in the "join up" or whatever you'll call it (and coincidentally - they also refer to it as "chewing" as it is the same jaw movement as when the horse is chewing hay), its the same thing in Dressage but with tack and a rider.
The most important thing to remember when we want a soft and relaxed jaw is the hind end, when the horse is rhythmical and relaxed while moving up to the contact he can develop schwung and supplenness (straight from the training scale). The riders hand only serves to maintain the contact and manipulate the jaw to test suppleness.
Good luck op!
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