It’s been a busy week around here! Rocking Horse is this weekend, so we’ve been doing the usual show prep and making sure everything feels good to go. The farm’s first foal was born this week (one of the TB racehorse boarders, not a WTW foal), and I’ve been doing breeding consultations and working on some exciting stuff for my Patreon peeps. And of course, riding Noodle and Nunez.
I tell you what, if you need to feel loved by an animal, this pony would be the one to buy. He does these soft little nickers at me when I feed him, and if he sees me coming he neighs and runs up to the gate. Is it food motivated? Probably. Is it still freaking adorable? Absolutely. I’ll take his love in whatever form I can get it, because I mean look at that face.
Going back and forth from him to Presto isn’t quite as awkward as I had imagined. I mean… it’s weird for sure, don’t get me wrong. Mostly because of neck length more than anything else. With Presto there is A LOT of real estate in front of you, so that’s the weirdest thing to get used to. Otherwise I feel like my leg sits on him pretty well though, and I don’t have a problem putting my leg on or anything like that.
On the docket for Presto this week was a jump lesson on Tuesday and a fix a test with Debbie Adams on Wednesday. We had talked the past couple weeks about playing with a new bit for him for jumping, and we had tried a 2 ring with definitely no success. Next on our list of things to try was a slow twist, but when I got there on Tuesday Steph was like “This is going to sound crazy, but just try this myler combo bit. I have a hunch.”. I know for a fact that I looked at that bit, looked at her like she was smoking some kind of very potent meth and crack combination, but somehow forced my mouth to say “Ok”. Presto is so opinionated that he thought a 2 ring was a medieval torture device and you want me to try this thing on him?
I would never have picked that to try, not in a million years. But I’ll admit that I don’t really have a lot of experience playing with bitting, so if someone I trust says “lets just see what he thinks” then ok, let’s try.
When I warmed him up I really still wasn’t sold. I don’t think he quite knew what to make of it yet. But he had no real objections (and he is never shy about expressing his opinion) so we went ahead and popped over a few jumps. Those went well, so we did a small course.
And hell if it wasn’t great. Like… what. What the fuck.
Steph said she had a hunch that he might prefer nose and poll pressure to tongue/bar pressure and I think she’s correct. Which, thinking back, I actually thought that about him way back in the beginning when I first started him under saddle, so this isn’t a new thought, just one I hadn’t really connected. I do have to be very conscious of giving with my hands in this bit, but his balance stayed more uphill, each half-halt was just a one stride say-it-and-be-done, and I was able to ride him more forward because it wasn’t such a long discussion about keeping the balance.
That’s the ride he really likes, and it just made everything smoother and easier.
Him liking this bit blew my mind completely. Naturally I had to go home and research it to figure out exactly how it works and why he might like it so much. This article helped it make sense. As did this one.
The fact that there’s a “stop” on the main ring means that there’s a limit to how much leverage it has, and there’s nose pressure first and foremost. Which I think it why he likes it. I pretty much never even get to the point of enacting the actual mouthpiece. It’s sort of hackamore-esque but less nose pressure and better steering. You learn something new every day man.
We’re going to use it this weekend, bringing a backup bridle with his other bit just in case the second time isn’t as successful as the first.
Yesterday we did the fix a test, which was at Alyssa Phillips’ farm about 15 minutes away.
He had a real halfway meltdown in warmup because a horse and carriage passed by on the other side of the tree line. Which… fair. That’s fair. I thought his heart was gonna shoot right out of his butthole, it was pounding so hard. He also thought the mirrors lining the arena were definitely the keepers of demons. It took about 15 minutes of very insistent “no sir, you have work to do, pay attention to me” to put the hamster back on it’s wheel. What I do appreciate though is that 1) he didn’t completely explode 2) the hamster was indeed capable of going back on it’s wheel.
He went in with more tension than he usually carries, but he was also being more expressive in his gaits. That tension can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending. The key at this point is learning how to channel it for good.
The fun part was that Debbie loved him. Like loved him. Asked his pedigree, thought he was super nice, really talented, thought he for sure looked the part of an upper level horse (Jennie Brannigan had gone a couple horses ahead of me and she commented on him in warmup too)… which, like… it’s never a bad feeling when people like your horse. She was complimentary of how I rode him too, which was also nice to hear. We ran through the test once, she gave me some suggestions, and we ran through it again with her talking me through bits of it. She gave me some good suggestions, just little things that I think do make a difference. Her overall advice was to not get so caught up in riding the test perfectly, but to ride the horse in the way that’s best for him, shows his quality, and teaches him how to be correct. She said that’ll be more helpful in developing him properly, and this is the type of horse you should always ride with the future in mind. That was helpful feedback!
We capped off the day yesterday with taking Henry and his current rider over to Steph’s for a jump lesson. He was every bit as delighted with himself as you would imagine.
He earns new members of his fan club wherever he goes. It makes me so happy to see him out there having a good time and teaching things to new riders. He’s so good at it.
Now we’re in show prep mode, with dressage tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates (I’d prefer not to freeze to death please and thank you).
5 thoughts on “Well I’ll be damned”
Curious if the Presto you have today reminds you more of Sadie or MM??
I really like the idea of the Myler combination! I thought about it for a looong time for my horse, when I realized I needed something “more” for when she gets forward on trails. It’s pretty popular with the trail/endurance crowd. I ended up not getting it because I was worried about the shank length and my horse’s very short face (it’s an Arab problem, for sure), and that they’d get caught on something while she was grazing on the trail (allowed and encouraged when you’re out riding for 4+ hours at a time!), or stopped to itch on a leg, or whatever.
My OTTB mare also loved that Myler Combo. She was always really fussy with her mouth in any type of bit, and this allowed her to be soft and focus on my aids rather than getting upset about the bit.
Good luck this weekend!
Thank you for sharing the Myler learning experience! I’m not familiar with it either, but I also have one that might benefit from a hackamore-bit combo. 🙂
Your girth problems are my life as someone who doesn’t ride anything over 14.2.