There’s no such thing as a “magic bit” that solves all your training problems. But having the right bit is very important, and makes training so much easier! In dressage, the most common bits are loose-rings and egg-butts, snaffles and french links. But recently the lesser known baucher was brought to my attention, and gained my approval! My bit collection will never again be complete without one.
Cava had been going in a loose-ring french link. She was ok in it, and as a greener horse, it was easy to blame lack of time in training or lack of strength for any “training issues”, after all of course, even simple things are difficult with a horse that hasn’t spent a lot of time learning the basics! Cava has a nice walk, trot, and canter. She even does some leg-yields, 20 m and 15 m circles, and shoulder-in. But the most basic of basics that continued to allude us was a steady, consistent, even contact. Sometimes she pulled hard against the bit, but then in another step she’d be ducking behind the bit. Other times she would get herself crooked and lean on one rein or the other. I was patient. I checked her mouth. I tried to be quieter with my hands. I tried to ride her more forwards, and use more half-halts. I tried exercises like circles and serpentines to bend her into the outside rein. She got better, then she’d get fussy again. I tried to be more patient.
Finally my trainer commented on her busy mouth, constantly playing with the bit, lips flopping around. Some of it is just her. Even in her stall, she plays with her lips and tongue- she is just a mouthy horse. But my trainer suggested that all the movement possible in a loose-ring french link was not helping the situation any, so she loaned me a baucher. It was still a french link mouthpiece, but all the movement of a loose-ring was taken away.
Instantly, Cava was steadier. She put contact on the bit, without leaning on it. And the best part was, when she did reach into the bit, she stayed there instead of immediately dropping back behind it. And once she was there, I could use my hands so much more effectively to help her. My half halts were better, which in turn improved our gaits and transitions. Our circles became more balanced, and she was rounder and steadier. It was like she transformed from “baby horse with basic training” to “horse with solid basics”. Of course there is still lots to work on, but it is so much easier now that I have that connection on the reins to communicate with! Needless to say, today I bought Cava her very own baucher.