After a few frustrating sessions where I didn’t feel like we were making the forward progress that I know Deb is capable of, I decided to do some long-lining with her. She understands the forward concept for lunging (and has figured out she actually can canter in the indoor arena). But she struggles with having any form of connection or acceptance with the bit while moving forward.
After speaking with my trainer, we decided to use a tom thumb pelham for two reasons:
1) It is a nice solid bit (no joints) that lays well across her tongue and doesn’t pop her in the roof of her mouth (by nature of it having no joints). She was doing ok in the french link, but seems to like the straight bar even better. There is less head tossing.
2) The pelham has a curb chain, which when fitted snugly, creates stability with the bit in her mouth. We’re not using the curb portion of the bit at all. Reins and/or long lines are attached only to the snaffle ring.
So with the Pelham and the long lines, I decided to use her desire to go forward on the lunge line and use it to work into a connection with the bit. Under saddle, she balks at forward as soon as there is any connection with the reins, and tends to shut down. However, she really worked nicely for me in the long lines. She moved forward, listened to my voice aids and I was able to work her at a walk and trot, with halt transitions too. There was some head tossing, but not nearly as much as before. And, she accepted contact in both reins.
Was it perfect? No. However I think with regular long line sessions she will soon figure out that she can move forward with regular contact on her mouth. Then we’ll be able to see if she is ready to make the transition to forward with contact under saddle.