Going to a fresh mouth is an old term used by very good horsemen to describe a technique that allows a horse to be more responsive to his rider. It's a technique that enables a hores to "listen" better. The end result is a horse that is softer in the bridle and is more consistent.
A short while back, I was judging a schooling show and noticed rider after rider struggling with transitions, struggling to set up for the correct lead and struggling with just plain old collection. Each and every time the horse failed to respond in the desired manner, these riders would just pull harder and harder and get more stiff. The horses would respond by elevating their necks, noses would go root outward and backs would hollow. Not a very attractive picture.
So there are a couple of salient points here. Firstly, when problems with the bridle inevitably occur, release the rein or reins slightly. The horse will then soften his jaw. This is called "going to a fresh mouth". Then ask the horse to "bridle up" agin with a little more contact. Repeat if necessary - each time releasing the pressure for a moment before asking again. This keeps a horse softer in the mouth and encourages a willing response. Secondly, this technique helps to prevent the rider from becoming rigid and unforgiving with their hands. You now no longer have the unsightliness of horse and rider pulling and resisting one another and, a really cool thing happens: the rider can feel the horse and the horse can now feel the rider and the two can communicate! (Incidentally, this technique works equally well with snaffles or curb bits.) See you next week! JD