From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy got a new bit.
I am not one to follow any particular fad, so it should come as no surprise that I would choose a bit that is often quite controversial. As I was researching this bit, I discovered that people can really hate it for it's "severity." I long ago discovered that a bit is only as severe as the rider's hands.
Speedy has been getting pretty heavy in my hands over the past few months. Well to be truthful, it's not like he's ever loved contact. He wants to be light, but that leads to being too light. I've tried several different bits, but I've never found one that he obviously likes.
My trainer suggested that I go more radical in the change just to see if I can elicit a different response from him. I decided to start with the baucher bit because the fixed attachment to the bridle provides greater stability. One thing I know about Speedy is that he likes "quiet" in his mouth. If I am too loud with my hands, he lets me know it.
If you've never seen a baucher in person, the bridle attaches to the smaller ring, which seems upside down. (It bugs me that the Korsteel stamp is upside down!) I read that this bit is often times referred to as a hanging snaffle.
I put it on Speedy's Micklem and quickly realized that this bit won't work with that headstall. The Micklem's "flash" interfered with the bit. For my demo ride, I simply buckled the flash under the bit like a chin strap.
I later dug out my old SmartPak Plymouth bridle and put the baucher on that headstall and put the eggbutt lozenge bit back on the Micklem. I found this incredibly funny. How does one go from using two Micklem bridles to using NO Micklem bridles in the same week?
I am not going to say that the baucher has, or will, solve all of our contact issues, but like JL suggested, it did kind of freshen Speedy up. He always grabs at the bit as I put the bridle on. When he put his mouth around the baucher, he spit it back out and got a surprised look on his face. He knew it was different. I then bridled him without any issue, but he spent several minutes playing around with it.
Both times I used the baucher bit, I hopped up bareback. I didn't want to do a real schooling ride until I felt that he was comfortable in the bit. I had read several reviews that said horses will either hate it or love it.
I started out with a long rein and just walked around for a minute. When it seemed clear that he wasn't in the total haters club, I shortened my rein a bit and asked him to round up a little for a medium walk. To my surprise, he softened much more quickly than he had at Sunday's show. And frankly, the surprises kept coming.
When the medium walk went well, I asked for a baby trot. Like always, he was a bit sassy, but he did it. He did want to over round, which may end up being a problem, but at least he wasn't leaning heavily on the bit.
Speedy has never liked me trotting him bareback. It's only been over the past year that he was willing to trot with me directly on his back at all. So imagine my surprise when he offered a canter! I can't attribute that to the baucher of course, but it sure did seem as though he was a bit more uphill with this bit and that the canter was easier for him.
We did a number of light and easy canter departures tracking both left and right. I only rode the circle once or twice before coming back to a trot, but we did it several times, and each time the departure got better and better. I also noticed that Speedy's typically dry mouth was dripping with foam.
While the benefits that I am seeing with this bit may be short lived, I am very eager to continue using it when we get back from vacation later in June. For now, Speedy will get to hang out for a few weeks having a little R and R of his own.
I already can't wait to get back in the saddle.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%