Dressage to Barrels; Bits? Speed?
So over the summer I took my pinto mare and started her on barrels and other game patterns. My mare has mainly been used for dressage but I always had to hold her back so I figured a change in scenery would do her some good. And it did she loves it and excels at pole weaving. All summer we loped the patterns. Although even just in our normal riding (no patterns) when I ask for more speed I feel like she doesn't have a clue or she is just that lazy. Normally when we are doing dressage she pushes the speed and I constantly having to remind her. Now when I want speed she hits a fast canter at the edge of a gallop but no more. Even if I tap he with the whip nothing, I don't use spurs with her. I was wondering how do I teach this horse to gallop? I know she is fast and she really digs and stretches in the pasture. Also, I was wondering if there was a better bit I could use for games. She has always been ridden in a loose ring double jointed snaffle for dressage. My trainer suggested a tom thumb to use in our western riding and she does great in it (please no comments about a tom thumb, I know its function and I am experienced in the use). These are the two bits she has ever been ridden in. But I was wondering if there may be something better to game in that would allow me to lift her shoulder and be direct without feeling like I'm being harsh on her mouth. I do not want to use a snaffle similar to her dressage bit so she will know the difference in disciplines. So far she does know the difference right away. Would a hackamore of some type be worth trying? Something like the little s hackamore? I see a lot of gamers prefer them.
Umm on my horses I don't use a bit at all I use a short whip. I would suggest taking her away from barrels for about 2 minutes and run her. Then take her to the barrels and walk around them at first and then run her. If that doesn't help you just need to push her more. This works with horses I ride because I don't use a bit so they realise you want them to go as you ask without reinforcement.
Hope this helps!
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Try a JR CowHorse on her for help with lifting her shoulders. Id try a 5" shank first, possibly a 7" depending on the horse.
As for asking for speed. That'll come in time. But if you are already having problems with keeping her shoulder up, now is not the time to be asking for it.
But when the time comes...Take this horse into a wide, long stretch of field, and let her run. Get her moving. Some horses honestly dont know how to run under saddle so getting them out and asking for speed outside of the arena is your best bet right now.
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Lift her shoulder was the wrong word. Throw her shoulder would be more correct, aka overbending. I really don't want to use something with longer shanks. This horse has a soft mouth and I worked hard to get her that way. I do plan on taking her out on a field with a friend and have them gallop and us try and follow. But right not I can't do that. I have tried taking her away from the barrels. Most of the time the barrels are not out when I'm working her. No need to over work the pattern.
Should probably add that she only does this throwing the shoulder on the 3rd barrel. 1st and 2nd barrels are text book perfect
Okay you can get a bit that will help LIFT the inside shoulder, no bit is going to fix her bending her head around and her shoulder still blowing out. That's a training problem, or a soundness issue. You need to get more control of that part of her body. Haunch turns, counter arcs, etc.
The TT as well isn't really good for gaming. I know you said you know about them already but I'm going to say it anyway just because. If your mare has a soft mouth then a bit like that really isn't needed. I would find maybe a short gag. My mare right now has a very soft mouth as well, but you'd be surprised how strong a truly good gaming horse can get. She right now has a short shank jr. cowhorse, it is a smooth dogbone with little copper rings in the middle. Just enough extra that I can take a hold of her if I need to, it lifts her inside shoulder a little better, and the gag gives a pre-signal to her before I actually get a hold of her face so I often don't even have to take up that much contact in the turns when we get going faster.
But you know, a bit is going to depend on the horse. If I had a choice I would actually have her in a Pozzi smooth dogbone lifter with a little longer shank because she is starting to really get a feel for things and is getting stronger and stronger. Not uncontrolled, but I sense when she gets rolling a little more on the gaming she will need something a touch more.
My cowhorse bit is this:
Cactus Junior Cowhorse Bit Dogbone Roller
Mine is actually a slightly different, has copper rings around a dogbone instead of a legitimate roller, but it functions essentially the same as far as lightness goes.
Now this is the pozzi, what I would rather have my mare in at the moment:
Brittany Pozzi Lifter Medium Dogbone - Horse.com
This is another bit I often use if I have a stronger, lifty horse. Rather than going up to a shank I will use the noseband and that touch of gag to just draw them back.
You could also bump up from a snaffle to a draw gag or loomis.
There's about a thousand different other options too. For other light horses I might use a sweet six iron wrapped lifesaver, a chain simplicity bit, a carol goosetree delight smooth, sharon camarillo tender touch..The beautiful thing about speed events is the flexibility and being able to choose from a wide range of things. As far as hackamores go I do really like a Little S.
On a side note sharon camarillo has just come out with a bit that I am dying to try. It's my favorite mouthpiece ever, with one of my favorite cheek pieces ever. It's called a trigger bit.
She is not unsound. The amount of bend she is doing is perfect for dressage but not for barrels. We have worked on this without the barrels a lot. And she only does it on the 3rd barrel. Don't know if she gets excited and forgets. But she never takes off or anything like that. I think I'm going to try the little S hack. I'm not a fan of gag bits for a dressage horse. She is perfect with the TT in the poles and really shows that poles is her event.
I will add I asked for no comments about the TT. At the time my trainer suggested it, it was just to trail ride and do western riding/get ready for pleasure, not gaming. I respect my trainer and the TT has worked well for us. When I use it for trail riding I usually never even pick up on the bit. This bit is only bad in the wrong uneducated hands. I know for games it is not the bit to be using and that's why I'm looking into others.
In my opinion a tomb thumb isn't a gaming bit, because one touch of that bit and you are going to be in the horses mouth. I know you said not to comment about it but I do not think that is a gaming bit, experienced hands or not. Oh and just read that SH commented on it, other better bits have been mentioned
If you don't mind me asking why do you think the barrel horse shouldn't have bend, and why you don't like a gag bit on a dressage horse? From the way it sounds, you want to differentiate between games and dressage. A gag bit is the easiest way to do that. You can't treat her like a dressage horse in the gaming pen then expect her to know the difference. I can't treat my reiner like a reining horse at a rodeo, she'd never know. All my barrel horses get cross trained to reining and dressage in some way shape or form. I've been apart of this for awhile. I'm not saying the S hack isn't an awesome thing for a barrel horse, I use them a lot, but I am curious as to why you think this would be a good option.
I'm sorry but when someone mentions unsoundness on no grounds warranted. Which makes me feel like its implied that I would not noticed, especially when I have been doing dressage for years with my horse under a professional trainer. You are absolutely right this is an open forum and I asked for advice. Delivery of the advice must be considered. I am aware the TT is not the bit to be using for gaming and its why I asked about different ones. There was no need to state again that it is not a gaming bit. I do not expect my dressage horse to act like one in the gaming ring and she doesn't. She absolutely knows the difference when I put the barrel saddle and a different bit in her mouth. The Cowhorse bit isn't bad maybe I will think about it.
Unsoundness was mentioned because sometimes pain, unsoundness, or unfitting issues are a number one reason things are "off". It isn't meant to be a slight or to say you are an unfit rider/owner, but sometimes an alternate opinion of what "could be" is something to look into. Who knows, the horse may be unsound somehow without you knowing. Its happened before (not in your case), so who is to say it couldn't happen to you?
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