Sunday, November 20, 2011

Horses and Mechanics

     Horses & mechanics?  Yes, they do mix.  Many amateurs don't consider how their choice of equipment works and what it is designed to do.  This is particulary true of bits. Remember that bits are divided into two categories:  snaffles and curbs.  A good way of thinking about it is: direct leverage vs indirect leverage.
     One must consider how and why each bit is made and how it's designed to work.  Each design has its own purpose and some designs, of course, are better than others.  Also remember that a horse's mouth changes as he or she becomes accustomed to carrying a snaffle or a curb, and they become educated and understand the bit (i.e. "giving to the bridle"). Importantly, their mouths also change as their teeth continue to grow.  Be sure to include good dental care for your horse in your routine - this will insure they can carry the bit without discomfort.  Other factors that have to be taken into account when considering bits are:  thickness of tongue, depth of palate and thickness of lips.  A rule of thumb is that horses with thinner lips tend to be softer mouthed.. but back to mechanics....
     No one piece of tack does everything.  An owner must consider what he or she is trying to accomplish, what needs "fixing", or perhaps just fine tuning.  Choose the bit and equipment that was designed for the work you are asking your horse to do and the stage of training it's at. Other things to consider is that some pieces of tack work well together and others do not.  Horses certainly do have preferences and will show you, if you "listen".  Remember to move on as your horse progresses but that it's also ok to temporarily go backwards if need be.  I personally like to change my horses up occasionally as it keeps them fresh - for instance: I don't over-school them in their show bit.   
        One last word: read everything you can find about bits.  Books and catalogues (which have lots of info) and articles in magazines - you will be a better horseman for it.  If you have any questions about bits or equipment or any subject I've written about, please feel free to email me!  Talk to you next week.  JD

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