I am really pleased to announce that Deb has made some huge leaps. We took a little break over Christmas and the New Year due to me being out of town and then more of that “polar vortex” business. Most of January we spent long-lining because she really needed to understand the connection with the bit — and most importantly, that it wouldn’t hurt her. And I think something clicked for her. She started to understand that life with a bit in ones mouth is OK. I have been using the Tom Thumb mullen mouth pelham bit for her. When used on the snaffle loop, it is actually an incredibly mild bit. While I have a regular Egg-butt mullen mouth snaffle, she really needed the curb chain to help steady the bit in her mouth.
Its interesting to look at this mare and see how she represents a multitude of horses out in the real world. She is 15 years old and, aside from race training and having had a foal, she really has only had trail experience where they stuck her behind some trail horse and expected her to just follow along. My guess based on her reaction to the bit is that she was made to wear a harsher bit (some kind of curb probably as those are typical “trail type” bits around here). And she was never really taught any basics. To her, contact with the bit hurt and she learned to avoid it by tossing her head. And putting ones leg on (or asking with the seat) meant go faster instead of “sit on your haunches.” And yet, she is incredibly smart (a SUPER fast learner), very sensitive and since she has started to trust me, she has been a very willing participant with that classic Thoroughbred work ethic. I never fail to be humbled by horses. Deb reminded me that sometimes, we just need to believe in them before they believe in themselves.
If you have 25 minutes, I invite you to watch her first real lesson under saddle. The purpose of this lesson is simply to teach her to bend and turn from the seat only (and not to rush forward when contact is made with the legs). Turn on your volume if you can so that you can hear my instructor talk about what we’re doing. This is the same method I have used with all of the horses I have had off the track (over a dozen at this point) and it ultimately creates a horse that is powerful and yet very light in the bridle. Enjoy.