Caitlin and Kristine have been working hard with their palomino quarter pony, Peaches, and in their last few rides have made great progress. Peaches is young and new to dressage, and the girls are learning along with her. They have good transitions, and an adjustable trot, and good circles and figure 8’s… all the pieces except for one elusive detail. Peaches doesn’t want to give to the bit. She has a relatively short, thick neck, set on a little lower than is ideal for dressage, but this shouldn’t prevent her from doing atleast lower level work. It seemed rather than the neck being to blame, it was actually two 4 letter words… “pony” and “mare”. Peaches just liked pulling on the girls, and saw no reason in the world to give to the bit and carry it politely.
I wanted to make sure that Caitlin and Kristine atleast had the right idea of the feel they were going for on the reins, as the sense of feel and timing are the keys to training a horse. I had both of them ride other horses with different levels of training, some with harder mouths and some softer, so they could feel what “on the bit” felt like as a moving, changing connection and not just a dead weight on the rein. They did very well with multiple other horses, and yet continued to struggle with Peaches.
I remembered when I was retraining Liam off the track and how he used to pull and brace against the bit, and switching him into the Myler loose ring french link was magical, even though before that he had been ridden in a KK french link. The Myler is “looser” and the loose rings slide very easily, making it virtually impossible for Liam to brace against the bit. I still had that bit on his bridle until just recently when I traded his and Maddie’s. Now Liam was back in the KK and doing fine in it, and I was starting Maddie with the Myler. Well, Maddie would have to share, it was time to try Peaches in the Myler!
Halfway through Kristine’s lesson we switched the eggbutt snaffle off of Peaches’ bridle and put the Myler on. What a change! Peaches threw her head up to brace against the bit, and Kristine sat quietly and let Peaches figure out that it wouldn’t work. Within a few minutes, we were working with a whole new pony. The remainder of the lesson went well, working on asking Peaches to bend at the walk and trot, reaching politely into the contact instead of throwing her head up against it. In Caitlin’s next lesson, we put the Myler bit on right away, and she had the same great ride as her sister. Each ride since has gotten a little bit better, and this little blond quarter horse is transforming into the most beautiful dressage pony! Good job girls!