So my horse been getting very heavy. No matter how light I am on her mouth, it feels like a fight. So I'm thinking of bitting her up. Right now she's in a full cheek snaffle w/a french link. I'm thinking of something that will give me a little bit more leverage, but is also not so harsh. Any suggestions? They must be legal for dressage since we do eventing. And I was wondering about a Baucher bit? :-)
So my horse been getting very heavy on her dressage bit. No matter how light I am on her mouth, it feels like a fight. So I'm thinking of bitting her up. Right now she's in a full cheek snaffle w/a french link. I'm thinking of something that will give me a little bit more leverage, but is also not so harsh. Any suggestions? They must be legal for dressage. And I was wondering about a Baucher bit?
I would try other solutions before trying a stronger bit. Every time she gets heavy, you can use a half-halt to lighten her front end. Work on lots of transitions. When she really digs, you can "pop" her with the inside rein - it will bring her off the forehand.
Was this horse light on the bit to begin with? If so, it's kind of weird that she has gotten heavy unless she's been out of work. You might want to look for any physical issues and make sure her tack fits correctly.
If all else fails, you can bit her up. I did end up doing that with my first horse, Rusty, who was a hunter/jumper. He was so heavy at the canter that it was impeding everything else we did. So we bumped him to a Pelham (no, not dressage legal, I know) and rode him in it for about six months, and then were able to change him back to a snaffle after he backed off the bit.
Is a Waterford legal for dressage? I'm not positive it is, but that's the bit that is often recommended for keeping a horse off the forehand because there's nothing to lean on. Otherwise, you could try changing the type of mouthpiece. Try a mullen mouth instead of a French link. Rusty didn't lean on that one.
A Baucher does not have leverage. It is a misconception that it does. It functions the same as any other snaffle bit as far as pressure goes. The only difference is that a Baucher has a purchase, which offers more stability in the horse's mouth.
For stadium and cross country, she's been bumped up to a "wonder bit", which she goes very nicely in.
She ignores halfhalts now, too. And for our upward transition, she likes to take the bit and run away with it.
Training, training, training. If you have a very well trained horse, then you should be able to ride them in any bit in the world, no matter how light or harsh. It doesn't matter how much muscle they have, their personality, their hair color, none of that. It matters on how well they are trained to give to the pressure you put on the bit.
So obviously, the first thing you want to do is go back and find the holes in your horse's training and fix them. The only thing a bigger bit will do to your problem is mask it for a while, then she will get used to the stronger bit and become dull to it, and it's a never-ending cycle of 'bigger bit, bigger bit, bigger bit.' Find yourself a trainer, or just talk to the one that you have, that can help you with your horse. Bigger bits should be used with lighter horses to get sharper cues, not for heavy horses to force on some breaks. For example, I use a slow twist, single jointed Dee on Cowboy. Not because I need it, but so that I can make very small movements and he listens quickly.
Has your horse all of a sudden become heavy in the bridle? If so I would have her evaluated for any pain or ill fitting tack. That would be unusual for a horse to go from being light in the contact to super heavy suddenly.
I'll just say that "bitting up" isn't usually perceived so well. I'm not sure where you're from (I'm in Canada), but likely you aren't going to find a legal dressage bit with leverage - I can't name a single one, unless you get into a double bridle. That being said, unless your horse goes beautifully in the snaffle through all it's work (and works beyond 3rd level, imo), a double will only make your life harder in the long run. People get the illusion that it fixed their problem when it only masks the issue. Really, doubles need to be left to very experienced hands.
I would suggest getting a dressage trainer to help you out with your connection issues. "Bitting up" isn't going to do anything other than mask the connection issues you are having. Remember to ride from back to front (haunches to hand) not the other way around. If your horse isn't driving correctly from behind you won't get a proper connection. My guess is your horse isn't working off her haunches correctly, and therefore is working off the forehand and creating a heavy, and false, connection. Perhaps someone can chime in with some exercises to help out with the bit heaviness.
All in all - if you want to stay dressage legal you're going to have to stay in a snaffle bit. I hope you can fix up the issues you are having without having to bit up. :)
i have no idea how long you've been riding this horse, nor how it rode before, but if it's becoming heavy on the reins, outside of some physical issue, it is likey YOU that had created that. Sorry. But, just as you can make a horse lighter in his mouth, you can make him duller and heavier, all with the same bit.
it's a matter of how senisitive you are to his "tries", and rewarding them with a give of your own, AND, not rewarding the hrose when he's still leaning on the bit.
A lot of people will put the rein on to get the hrose to slow, stop, turn, and when the hrose does it, they release. But, HOW did the hrose do it? was he heavy on the rein? was he bracing against you? if you reward him with a release at THAT point, you are training him that there is as far as he needs to come to get you to leave his mouth alone. Is that where you want to be?
If you want lightness, then require lightness and don't release until you get it.
Conversely, do not miss his attempts to "give" to you, and reward them with a small give, but hang in there until your horse stops (as you asked him) AND comes off the darn bit!
If she has been getting worse and worse, than it pays to look into every other possible cause rather than putting her in a harsher bit.
When were her teeth last done? Has she muscled up a bit recently? Does her saddle still fit properly if her body has changed shape?
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