Originally Posted by BreakableRider View Post
bsms, a good majority of your posts that I see mention Mia and the stopping problems that you have had, so why would you think of getting a side pull that she could easily brace against if anything did go wrong?...
Her bolting was based on fear - diarrhea squirting fear. With a snaffle, she would fight to try to run, but that 'fight' reinforced the fear. With a snaffle, a horse can also stretch its head out and evade the pressure.
A horse cannot do that with a curb. She learned to hold her ground when scared and then learned that life was not as scary as she thought. She has SLOWLY begun to learn that listening to her rider works.
I also have found that once she learned to stop and hold her ground when afraid, she then began to improve if I gave her her head and let her have some freedom - but stop first, THEN get choices. This is slowly building her confidence.
I don't think she is ready to try it on a trail, but I think she could learn to handle life in an arena with it. If I could teach her to use it and stay calm on a trail, I would have finally turned a very spooky, frightened horse into a competent trail horse. She's my first horse and maybe my last...we'll both grow old together, I suspect. She'll be 28 when I hit 70 (14 & 56 now), and I don't know if either of us will need to ride after that.
But it would be nice if I could say I taught a horse who would have eye-rolling, diarrhea squirting fear to be comfortable with riding in the desert. I just would have done it backwards from how many do it - from curb to snaffle to bitless in that order. But if bitless remains a step too far, that is OK. Mia does seem to find reassurance from my pinkie on the reins & contact with the bit when nervous. A bit can be used for added control, but it should train the horse until it is all about communication.
"A bit has no bearing on my heel lateral slides, or one rein stopping, in flight situations (as a minor example).
It sure did with Mia! A curb bit is an excellent design for stopping a horse. If the rider never gives a release, the horse will eventually learn to push thru the pain. But if the rider DOES give a timely release, the mechanics of a curb bit can be very helpful, both in stopping a horse and teaching it to stop. Curb means "restrain", and there is a reason they came to be called "curb bits".
Your heels wouldn't have meant the square root of squat to Mia when she was afraid. Nor would a 'one rein stop', which is a learned response. If your horse stops from a learned response, it isn't bolting. If it will stop from a 1 rein stop, it will stop from a 2 rein stop, with the right training. But if you have a spooky horse who is genuinely scared, then the first battle is to get it to stop and hold its ground. A curb bit is a darn good tool for that. No training can happen until you have done that first step.