From Endurance to Dressage
Double Bridle Fail
Well that didn't take long. The first few times that I used the double bridle, Izzy took it willingly, and then worked better than ever. The next few times I tried it, he started to show some resistance to bridling again.
Over the weekend, I spent time just bridling without the added pressure of a ride. Yesterday, he had a full on melt down over the bridle and gave me an impossible to ignore NO.
I did get it on, but he flew backwards each time I tried to bring it over his ears to secure it. And no, it's not an ear issue; he just knows over the ears means it's on.
Once I finally did get it on, he stood there practically trembling, but not quite. His entire body was rigid, and a near panic filled his eyes. No way was I going to ride him looking like that. I gently removed the double, gave him a reassuring pat, and let him stand and recover.
A few minutes later, I pulled out my original bridle with the correction bit attached. He gave it the hairy eye ball, but stood quietly as I slowly drew the crown piece over his ears. The dude knew the difference.
When I bought Izzy, his first owner told me that he was very expressive about his dislikes. Her experience came with a poor fitting saddle. According to her, Izzy had a complete fit about using a saddle that he didn't like. She couldn't get it off fast enough.
This is twice now that he's shown an obvious dislike for a bit. For the first, a thick and gentle double jointed snaffle, it took him months to convince me that he didn't like it. This time, he decided to be more persuasive; it only took him a handlful of bridling days to convince me that the double is not for him.
Before anyway suggests dental work, believe me, I've thought of it too. My horses get their teeth done by my veterinarian once or twice a year. Izzy's teeth were done this past March. While it is possible that something has changed in his mouth since then, I have felt around in there and even taken a quick peek. Nothing seems to be amiss, but I will let my vet know we've had some bitting issues.
The main reason I don't suspect a dental problem is because he seems to like the Myler Correction bit. He packed it around for three solid weeks without complaint or resistance. And in fact, even after having a melt down over the double, he stood quietly and let me put that bit on.
I am ordering a dressage legal Myler bit today. If I am going to have a tack issue, which I'd rather not, but if so, I'd much rather it be bits than saddles. And no, Universe, I am NOT tempting you. Who all has been down this particular path?
12/27/2016 06:13:36 am
Ugh, how frustrating!!!
12/27/2016 06:40:43 am
Thanks, jenj. With my trainer's help, we found the mouth piece with the absolute maximum tongue relief allowed in a dressage legal bit. It's a loose ring with a very wide and low port. Riding Warehouse is having a big sale right now so the bit is under $70. And since I have to return the double, which my husband bought as a gift, he's getting a huge deal as the bit is half what the bridle cost. :0)
12/28/2016 10:21:24 am
If you haven't gotten this bit yet, I have the exact bit for sale.
12/29/2016 06:21:35 am
Rats! Yeah ... I had already ordered it. Too bad as I could have taken it off your hands. :0)
I too have a horse that is 'expressive'. What's driving me nutty is her saddle. If's at all tight anywhere she begins pitch a fit. The trick is figuring out what's "I don't wanna' and what's "ow".
12/27/2016 09:43:37 am
Exactly! It IS really hard to distinguish between the don't wanna and it hurts/can't understand. I think I am seeing the difference now with Izzy, but it would sure be a lot easier if they spoke English!
12/27/2016 09:44:17 am
Seriously, me TOO!!!!!
12/27/2016 09:46:34 am
Glad you found something "acceptable." It's unfortunate that Izzy likes the correction bit because it's not show legal, but I am using it for a while since he seems happy in it. Hopefully he'll like the new one, but if not, at least I have a lot of choices!
12/27/2016 04:09:40 pm
Is it possible that Izzy has wolf teeth as well as needing more tongue room ? these are tiny teeth just in front of the molars and metal bits knock on them and cause discomfort. I have had them removed in two of my horses and it improved bit acceptance.
12/29/2016 06:32:20 am
No problems there. My vet likes to remove them early. Speedy's were pulled when he was three. Izzy's were done when he was a long yearling before I got him (I have his health records). My vet has even filed down wolf teeth on a horse I used to have because those were causing some bitting problems. He also likes to do a small bit seat just to make bridling and unbridling more comfortable for the horse.
I've pretty much been able to use the same type of bit, a loose ring KK Ultra or something very similar, on all of my horses. This includes the horses at the track. With Indy, the Sprenger was a no go. When I decided that wasn't working, I tried a double jointed Stubben eggbutt on her. Even though there is very little difference in the mouthpiece, she is much happier in the Stubben. It seems like with hot and sensitive horses, the smallest change can make a huge difference. On top of that, they can be fine with something one day and then find it unbearable the next. I'm sorry that the double didn't work out. Hopefully, the new bit will work for him.
12/29/2016 06:34:34 am
I am not disappointed about the double as it was a lot of bit and rein to deal with. I just want him to be comfortable and happy. He was going quite well in the correction bit which suggests that he does want the tongue relief. Hopefully the next bit will work, but if not, there are still a lot of others to try as you already know. :0)
I went through a lengthy struggle with Nilla regarding bits. It's still not 100% resolved, but it is so much better. I found her s Mullen mouth with a high port and she's gone from flopping her tongue 8" out of her mouth (and earning us quite a few dressage test penalty points) to keeping her tongue in her mouth except for brief flicks.
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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.
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