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Which was the worse decision?
So, yesterday I decided to go for a ride the weather was nice and I had that spring itch. Last time I rode Harry he was Mr. Perfect. That was in november. Having spent a portion of last summer finding the right bit for him and finding that he goes well in a french link. The trouble was the french link was borrowed (lender has requested it back for their own horse) and I had heard wonderful things about bitless bridles. I put a bitless bridle on Harrys half sister she was fine. So, yesterday I put the bitless bridle on Harry. He was good on the ground, very responsive and giving to the head gear.
I was riding with my mother who usually mounts up in the riding area and I mount up by the barn. A difference of a few hundred yards down a woody path. I got on Harry, my mother had continued with her horse in hand and walked out of sight before I got on.
Harry tried to turn back to the barn and I correct him. He has never bucked before (in the two summers of rides) and by god he made it worth it. I ended up off balance and realized I could either drop to the ground (where there was no tractor equipment) or I could fight and stay on and possibly end off tossed into tractor equipment. I bailed. Harry ran around like a maniac between the barn and the fence. I had to corner him (a horse that meets me at the gate). As soon as I touched him it was like I flipped a switch. He went from wide eyed OH MY GOD! to "Hi, my name is Harry and we are friends". I got on, re-mounted and followed nose to tail my mother down to the riding area. He settled down a bit of head tossing but nothing more. He was turning well and backing with minimal resistance (always a work in progress). I put him out to pasture and cleaned the barn. He stood at the gate nickering at me.
So, was this all the bitless bridle? Do I just go out and figure his half sister can wear the bitless bridle and buy him a french link? Or was this an adjustment period the likes of which I will never see again? How much is I haven't ridden since November? I have not fallen off in 3-4 years so I figure I was due. Is the ground getting harder or am I getting softer?
Well, first you have to evaluate for pain, because he sured acted like something was hurting him terribly. Beyond that, spring crazies?
You haven't ridden him since November then you try new tack on him the first time out. Give him a tuneup in his normal tack then try something new.
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Bitless bridles can really rub some horses the wrong way- Dr. Hilary Clayton did some studies on the amount of pressure they are capable of putting under the horses chin- it was a lot more than people initially thought it did, and the chin is a very sensitive part on their head. He may not have liked the extra pressure under there; I would school him in his regular set up and see how it goes. Some horses like the bitless bridle, and I've seen others flip over backwards... Each horse is an individual and what might work for your mare might not work for the other one :)
Waresbear I had not even thought of pain. I will look into that more. I should probably check his teeth too.
Dancing Arabian - your kind of forethought is clearly wise and something I lacked on that afternoon. I realized as soon as I had dusted myself off that I probably should have worked him in his "normal" set up from last fall before trying something new.
tbcrazy that was sort of what I was thinking too. I had just assumed (you know what they say about THAT word) that he being so responsive in a lighter bit and his half sister being accepting of it that he would be too. I guess he is not his half sister.
Some equipment doesn't work for some horses. And you should always try new equipment on the ground first.. this goes for new bits too.
Yeah we tried it on the ground he was amazing. He is usually amazing on the ground and then worried under saddle. He is also a bit more...um...lets say dramatic than his half sister.
FWIW, if it was a Dr Cook's bitless bridle, he might not like it ever. I tried one on my horse and had a meltdown - he did not like the head squeezing. He kept trying to release the pressure (by dropping his head), which just ended up applying more pressure (since he was pulling on the reins). I put that thing right back up on ebay! He chugs along happily in a Little S though when I ride him in a hack, and a French link snaffle when I ride him bitted.
You had a very 'fresh' horse. He needed some kind of warm-up and did not need an equipment change on a first ride of the season. I have never found a horse that had been schooled well in the bitless bridles. I know there are some, but I have not seen them.
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