Loosening Up in A Snaffle?
*Please, please, do not say get a trainer. It seems like thats everyone's first idea, but it will be my last resort*
I ride a 15 year old, Thoroughbred mare named Sassy. I show in halter, Western Pleasure Classes, English Pleasure Classes, Trail, and Games. She places in the top of every one.
For Western I ride in a Low Port Copper Curb, my friend told me the mouthpiece is a 'Mullen Mouth'? Its a low port, but it is extremely wide, I think 3" wide. She works really good in it. I worked her in that a lot, and she is really loose in that, but you aren't supposed to ride 2 handed in it, which... ya I do (don't kill me for it). The judge at a show really liked her and said I should put her in a snaffle and really work on collection. For training I put her in a O-ring snaffle with a plain mouthpiece. I used to game with her in a D-ring roller snaffle.
She is really flexible left/right and bending at the poll at a WALK and STANDING. *Please don't say work on loosening up at the walk, she is really loose*. Our stop at a walk needs work, but from today she has improved a lot. When we go up into a trot she is a bit loose but gets pretty tight. If I pull back and squeeze my calves and will loosen up for a while then get tight again, and we don't really have a stop. Our canter... Right now I've been cantering her in circles, she does get tight and we haven't work at all on the cue with looseing/head down. But stopping... ya it can be a struggle. Backing up she gets a bit tight also and resists.
In her pleasure bit we DON'T have these problems.
I'm constantly flexing with her, which she is really good at. We do turns on the forehand and hindquarters, sidepassing, etc...
In english I show in a Kimberwick, which she works really good in.
I don't know if I should work in the D-ring snaffle or try a different one but we just are not getting anywhere.
If you're having problems at the trot, then work on flexing and such at the trot.
Also pulling back and putting your calves on makes no sense. You don't pull back AT all. No wonder your horse is tense.
there sounds to be a lot of conflicting signals here and i hope it's just that i'm not understand what you're saying. if not and you really are giving conflicting signals and swapping between MANY different pieces of tack, i'm just as confused as your horse sounds to be.
I was going to suggest a Kimberwick, then I got to the part where you said you are already having good luck with that bit too. My guy hates a snaffle, the jointed middle pokes the roof of his mouth and makes no sense to him. But, like your horse, he does really well in a Kimberwick or a low port curb with copper roller. So I say stick to what works!
I have to agree that I am a bit confused at waht you are trying to ask. do you mean, "should I use a snaffle?" or my horse is stiff, what do I do? I am sorry, but could you simplify what sort of question you want feedback on?
It sounds like you are doing a lot of pulling, trying to pull her into "collection" and trying to pull her into the stop and back. Neither works very well.
If she isn't soft at the walk stopping she sure isn't going to be any better at the trot or lope. The faster you go the more the resistance becomes evident. Same with backing, if she doesn't back softly and straight then she is stuck out somewhere. Try backing in circles you will figure out quickly where the gets hung up at.
The face is only as soft as the body parts behind it. Make sure that you can put her body parts where you want them and without fuss going forward and backing.
Once you have the body parts working good, the lateral bending comes easy and therefor the vertical.
You also need to give to her as well, it works both ways. When she backs well and isn't pulling on you need to give to her so she understands.
Whole books have been written on the subject but that will give you something to chew on ;)
Sorry for the confusion. I am wonder how to get her to loosen up in a snaffle and possibly if there is a different snaffle that might work different.
The cue of pulling back a bit, and squeezing your calves a lot of people do around here. I took a few lessons and thats how she trained her horses to put their head down. I also have many friends who do it also.
She isn't getting confused by doing everything, if I put her pleasure bit in and put spurs on she knows its pleasure time, I put her english bit in and tack up english she knows its english time, I put her gaming bit in and wear no spurs she knows its gaming time, I put her gaming bit in and wear spurs she knows its cow time. When I put the bit in her mouth she knows exactely what we are doing.
Firstly, riding two handed in a solid curb is a pet peeve of mine. Go back to working on having her move off your leg and neck rein.
Have you tried a snaffle with two joints? I had a mare with a shallow pallet that DETESTED snaffles, because they poked the roof of her mouth, but put her in a french link and she was a different horse. Interestingly enough, my current mare loves a single joint, as she has a higher pallet and thicker tongue, but cant stand a french link. Most thoroughbreds I've put a double jointed snaffle on love it emediately.
you need to put all the softening excercises you do at a walk into practice at a trot and canter. Pay REALLY close attention to your hands and when(how quickly) you release. That is the single bigest cause of hard mouthed horses, riders who dont release properly, and its especially hard for a rider to stay focused on their hands at faster gaits.
I know it isn't good to be riding two-handed in a curb. She neck reins really well, and doesn pretty good with foot cues.
I haven't tried a bit that is double-jointed, but I always had the thought of using it in the back of my head.
You need to understand that not everything people do is right for the horse. Pulling back and urging your horse forward is confusing. You should never pull back anyway but picture this.
When you pull back, there is direct pressure on her mouth. She wants to relieve that pressure so she'll likely put her head down and want to back up to see if that gets rid of it. She also may snatch the reins or gape her mouth, or toss her head.
Now add leg.. which tells the horse FORWARD!!!!
Already that is a huge disaster without the leg. But now you are trying to get the horse to stop backing up but move forward so the only thing to relieve pressure would be to brace against the reins, pull them away, toss her head, go too deep, nose up, etc. Then you end up with a stiff, hard mouthed, confused horse.
Maybe you need to find a trainer that will help you ride the horse more effectively.
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