So I got a new bit. I’ve had Baron for 6 years and I’ve ridden him in a slow twist since the beginning. It was recommended by my trainer so that I would have some brakes on him. He was headstrong and fast at the beginning, especially out in the open or on a trail. Now that we’ve been together for so long, he’s mellowed out and I’m a more competent rider. I thought it was time to move to a softer bit so I switched out the slow twist for a plain snaffle.
I had a feeling his bit was bothering him because he’s been opening his mouth a lot, particularly at the canter. I try hard not to hang on his mouth, but I’m at best an intermediate rider and my hands are not perfectly quiet all the time. He doesn’t try and evade contact by throwing his head in the air or ducking behind the vertical, and I want to reward him for his good behavior. I want him to be as comfortable as possible.
Yesterday I hopped on him bareback in the pasture with the new bit. HOLY MOLY, what a difference! He immediately lowered his head and accepted the contact. I only rode for 5 minutes, just enough to see how he felt. This morning we did an hour ride alone through the woods, out onto the street, around a vacant lot and back through the woods. Sometimes he gets really strong on the trail, and I wanted to see if I could keep him under control. He also gets strong in the vacant lot. It’s huge and flat and perfect for schooling, but he always wants to canter and take off. I needed to see how he would do with the new bit.
He was close to perfect the entire ride. On the trails he was relaxed with a lowered head and active walk. He didn’t look twice at such terrifying specters as mud puddles and a pack of murderous deer that ran right across the trail. He crossed a rocky, dried up little stream like an old pack mule. We jumped two logs, trotted beautifully and cantered under complete control. It was the first time we had jumped anything in two years!
Once we got to the vacant lot, he trotted and cantered really well to the left. We had some moments of total perfection going left- neck arched gracefully, steady, controlled steps, ears pricked forward like he was having fun. He got irritated about going to the right and I noticed some major counter bending. He was high headed and fussy for a few minutes, but he did calm back down.
It was such an enjoyable ride. He is FUN to ride. Sometimes I wonder if I should have bought a quiet, lazy quarter horse that would pack me around without as much effort on my part. But Baron is teaching me how to really RIDE! I notice things like counter bending and stiffness to one side. Instead of just trying not to fall off at the canter, I’m actually riding it and influencing my horse positively! It feels good to improve. We have a long way to go, but today I couldn’t have been prouder of him!