Well, today is December 5th. Yesterday was my 4 month anniversary of bringing Chewbacca home. I can barely believe it’s been 4 months already. And those months have been wonderful, awesome, fantastic, and a whole lot of fun!
The other day I mentioned I bought Chewie a new bit, and I’d said I’d talk more on it, so here we go. He’s been doing great,great,great since I got him and just learning and understanding and building muscle and getting fit. When I first bought him I was riding him in a full cheek slow twist snaffle. He definitely did not need that and within a week, I changed it out to a regular eggbutt snaffle. He’s been working in that for most of the time I’ve owned him. And while my rides are excellent, there are certain things that he gets a little resistant to doing.
Perfect example is a leg yield to the left. Which means I apply might right leg and push him over to the left, and use the right rein to create a bend to the right, while using the left rein to prevent him from bulging and keep him straight. It’s not that he’s resistant to the actual action of the leg yield. He’s fine with that, but he stiffens up against that right rein, inverts his head (basically,throws it up) and hollows out his back and loses his forward impulsion. To leg yield to the right (using left aids), he’s fine. Certain other things (most right-sided) he inverts, hollows, and resists.
My gut was telling me it was snaffle bit. For all the actions he inverts and hollows, they all require a certain amount of collection and contact with the right rein. My dressage rider instinct in me was telling me that the snaffle bit folds in half when I ask for these things, and thus pinches his tongue. He wants to do the action, but it’s not comfortable. Face it… if you did something and were getting your tongue pinched everytime, you’d probably hate doing it too…
So, I bought an eggbutt French Link snaffle. Definitely what I personally consider more of a Dressage bit, but I figured he wouldn’t have issues jumping with it either. That bit has 2 joints, so it always lays flat against the tongue, and when you go to use it, the pressure is applied to the side of the tongue/mouth, not the middle.
TA- FREAKING – DA!!!!!!
LOL. He spent the first 2 minutes of our hack ride the other day figuring out why his mouth felt different. As soon as he realized he wasn’t getting pinched – OH MY LORD!!!! It was beautiful. There isn’t even a word to describe how great that ride was. Now, basically , anytime you do something new with a horse, you can expect an overwhelming ride (hopefully in a good way). A little bit of beginner’s luck/fluke, because they have something different going on to think about so they pay more attention. It’s the next rides after that that really tell you if your trick is going to work.
So back to the first ride in the new bit… round,round,round and flawless. Every move, every transition, every leg yield. Just a little jiggle of a finger and he’d drop his head, a press with the leg and he’d round his back. I pulled tricks out he’s never thought of before – like transitioning between every gait and doing a sitting extended trot. He stayed round, moved forward, and was perfect.
At one point he was so very very round that he was actually losing his balance because he wasn’t used to carrying himself that way. Off balance in the best way. Of course he was far, far overflexed than anything you’d ever want to see in a hunter ring or even in a Dressage arena, but the point was that he did it happily and willingly and without gadgets or anything. I don’t even carry a whip, no spurs, no martingale. Nothing. His leg yields were priceless and the whole ride was brilliantly great. A few people in the arena, including my trainer all said he looked fantastic. Totally different horse.
I loved the horsey make-over and I couldn’t wait to ride him in a lesson yesterday, our 4 month anniversary, and the second ride in the new bit. It was a great ride and I definitely think his new bit is going to work brilliantly for him. Of course, he wasn’t quite as round (then again, I also wasn’t asking him to get that round- last thing I want while we’re jumping is for his head to be on the ground LOL!)… but it’s kind of the equivalent of doing 1000 sit-ups when you’re only used to doing 100. That first ride was like doing 1000 sit ups. Because he was very super-round, and very super-forward and very-super supple to my leg. So needless to say, 2 days later it’s not like he’s going to be ready for 1000 more sit ups.
So, for our lesson, he went round and well, and moved forward after a nice long warm up. At first he didn’t want to get started, which I’m sure had to do with being tired, but once he warmed up, he did great. And, the learning continued – he learned 2 new things for this lesson.
He started jumping his very first bending lines- which he never has done before. And he met his very first oxer. These fences are only about 2′ tall, so they’re all a great height for confidence building and learning. He didn’t flinch at anything, got his strides, and did more jumping in a single lesson than ever before. We worked up to jumping 5 fences in a row. We didn’t throw in worrying about lead changes on top of everything else he was getting thrown at him, so we’d canter down one line, trot into the next line, and canter out over a single. It was a great ride.
I can’t wait to ride him again in a day or two after he’s had a chance to relax! I will try to get pictures, I hope at some point soon.
Oh, in other news, our Christmas lights are almost all up, and Dixie is still fatter than a cow. I think I’m going to get her preg-checked. She’s just so fat and she’s on the starvation diet. I seriously doubt she’s pregnant, but she is just huge and I think she’s gained weight since the winter started. Ugh..
Have a great weekend!