|Oregon 15 year old TWH ridden in western, cordura
saddle in Round pen, Indoor & outdoor arena, pasture, trails, roads
by intermediate-experienced rider.
Question: I just purchased a 15 year old TWH mare. The previous owner rode her bareback with a stainless, jointed-mouth, curb with approx. 6" shanks. Very severe IMO. She constantly played with the bit, even chomping on it with her teeth.
When I brought her home, I tried her in a copper, jointed-mouth curb with 4" shanks. Still severe IMO, but I wanted to find out if she liked the copper better. Still chomped and played constantly, although she responded very lightly to the bit, which I liked.
Last night I tried her in a stainless, solid mouth, low port curb.
She seemed to relax a lot better with that, and didn't play with it as
much, but I didn't have very good control over
Question 1: What kind of bit would you suggest for her? I don't like the broken mouthed curb bits, but is this what I'm limited to with her to be able to have lateral control? I'm also showing western, so need a western style bit.
Question 2: How would you teach a 15 yo to neck rein? I
want to show her western, so this is a necessity. How long will it
take? She is very smart, willing and responsive and I'm just as pleased
as punch with this purchase!
From Panelist Lee
I think she has answered your first question for you -- go with the solid mouthed, low port curb which she seems to prefer. The other type of bit (broken mouthpiece curb) is actually more severe and not comfortable for some horses. Find a well made short shanked low port curb that fits her, adjust the curb strap/chain so that it touches her jaw when you have the shanks pulled back at about 35 degrees from vertical, and (this is important) ride her into lateral moves with your legs, don't pull her into them with the reins.
How? the answer to that is the same as the answer to your second
question. Start out with one rein in each hand, English style. (yes,
even in the solid mouth curb). Ask her to turn to the right
by moving your right hand out to the side, "leading" her into the turn
with the right (direct) rein, while laying (not pulling, just bringing
your left hand across the withers and letting the rein drape across her
neck) the left rein (indirect) against her neck just in front of the withers.
At the same time, shift your weight a little to your right buttock (don't
lean over, just subtly shift your weight that direction) and press with
your *left* leg against her side at the girth to ask her to turn toward
the right. As soon as she starts the
Practice this in both directions, obviously with the opposite cues for
a turn to the left. Over time, reduce the action of the direct rein, and
rely more on your legs, weight and the indirect rein for a turn. BE sure
not to pull the indirect (neck) rein over the neck, or pull back on it
as you ask for the turn, just continue to lay it against the neck, so that
A horse can respond adequately to lateral aids for a turn in a solid
mouth bit, as long as the weight and leg aids are also used -- there is
nothing magic about the broken mouthpiece for developing the ability to
turn on command. Just be sure you don't pull a steady strong pull
to ask for the turn -- vibrate the reins in little pull/slack motions and
leave the rein
It sounds as if you have a really nice horse ... enjoy her!
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