Bitting Confidence

‘’Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence'' - Vince Lombardi

During the winter there are many factors out of our control, but we can build on our confidence with every outing

Positive thinking, practice through our training sessions, knowledge and talking to others are all useful ways to help boost confidence levels

With no where to exercise at home during the week we rely on weekend lessons and shows over the winter months. I tried to pick a handful of tests and found shows that were holding these tests so we go out each time with the aim to improve one thing each test

If you have been following our FB page you will have seen our frustration with our bitting and contact issues throughout the winter

Dec 2018 we had lots of, on hind leg, freestyle in the walk movements which was proving difficult to ride with tongue over bit moments

We have a Bomber Happy Tongue we can use to encourage the tongue to stay where is should be and he does tend to move forward into the contact in this most of the time. However he can be very heavy in the hand and we do get mouth opening throughout the tests

We tried him in a NS Verbindend a few times and although he was lovely in his lessons and in the warm up most of the time, in the test environment the contact became exceptionally light and we couldn't get forward motion once the triggering had begun. In one test we also had the tongue waggle which I really needed to nip in the bud before it got hold again.

The big no no to this bit was a few shows later when in the warm up we had tongue over the bit and onto hind legs which was a real shock as in the previous lesson I had commented how much straighter and easier in the hand he had felt.

Jan 2019 Bomber Bits had recommended I try the Ported Barrel. To begin with I couldn't get to grips with how heavy to the hand Alfie felt but it's a better option to too light and not being able to touch/move the contact. I wasn't convinced for tests, we had a very fussy contact and mouth opening and walk jogging reappeared.

Went back to using the NS Tranz Angled Eggbutt. We have two ring sizes of this bit, previously thinking this could be our bradoon option. Although we got on rather well with the smaller ring version over the winter it was rubbing the hair off. This time a 1/4 inch bigger in the mouth piece and with bigger rings I felt we had the stability in the contact without the rubbing

We were still losing canter confidence in the tests (Another blog topic to follow) but the warm up was starting to really feel like a work in progress rather than a reactive ride and hope.

Throughout the winter months my frustration was starting to think we would never have a comfy Alfie again.

We used a happy mouth for poles and gridwork moving onto a three ring from a loose ring with fair success.

We tried a nathe for some of the pole work but had heavy hand, mouth opening and pulling reins out of hands on the flat.

We went back to our NS Loose Ring Team Up, this was the bit we won our fabulous RoR 2017 Championships tests in. This bit was fabulous for basic work but once we started competing Elementary it wasn't going to be the bit of choice.

Our instructor was selling two versions of a copper roller so we took both them to try. One with D rings and One with Cheeks. I love both of these bits. They give us a lovely feel down the rein and in the tricky moments I had weight in my hand making it easily ride through the corrections required. What a shame I cant compete in this bit

April 2019 almost ready to give up searching for a competition legal bit we went back to the NS Tranz Angled Eggbutt. The smaller ring he fought the contact in the transitions but the larger ring he started to settled nicely into the hand with a decent weight.

To date I am using the Copper Roller for training and the Eggbutt for competitions. Having dropped back to a mix of Prelim and Novice tests I am beginning to feel the confidence for moving back up to Elementary

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By Gaelann East
The Wacky Racers Dressage Team
England UK

© 2017 Gaelann East

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