So I just recently purchased my new event horse. A 17 hand Chestnut OTTB named Red. We’ve just started coming in to the competition season and I’ve been wondering if I should look at a different bit for the jumping phases. He’s currently in a Myler Level 1 loose ring, which has done him a world of good for his flat work. However, for the show jumping and cross country, he tends to be more down hill and a bit hard in the mouth. Being and ex-racehorse this is understandable, but it sometimes can be challenging to come from a nice rolling gallop to a nice balanced canter that he can jump out of stride from. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Rather than changing bits (since he apparently does well in this one for other activities), I think I would work more on his education. Racehorses are not necessarily hard-mouthed – that is education of a different type.
As usual, Joe-Joe & I are in agreement. But I do have a slightly different point of view, which is that racing horses are seldom taught the basics or bit response that dressage horses are taught. The problem may be less a bit problem & more how the horse responds to bit pressure. We english riders are taught to move our hands forward to soften the bit tension, but few are taught to simply open their fists/fingers slightly to soften the bit. Coming off the race track, a horse will have to be taught to listen to a soft bit, and then to respond to it. This method also required that the rider be aware of how much tension he/she is carrying in his/her arms, shoulders & even back. Soft hands requires that these sets of muscles also be relaxed, or tensed, depending on how harsh or soft a bit the rider wants to use. It will take some practice to learn to control these muscles in groups, but if you can master this technique, I think you will be pleased with the results.
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