When I got Ben, I was told he was always ridden in a simple, jointed snaffle bit. So that is what I gave him. He has a soft mouth, which was a nice surprise as I expected worse after his hunting career. But he would shut his mouth against the snaffle bit and when I rode I would see the side of his tongue protruding slightly. I thought that the joint of the snaffle was probably clunking against the roof of his mouth and also that there was more bit in his mouth than he had space for.
I tried a bitless bride. Sandra lent me a Dr Cook’s bridle and he hated it. He went behind the contact and tried to evade whatever pressure came from it and I put minimal pressure on. I thought it was probably due to the poll pressure from the cross under design.
Now I use a Myler comfort snaffle. It is shaped to the curve of his mouth and can not clunk against the roof of his mouth. Ben likes it. He opens his mouth for the bit and today did even more.
We went for a ride with Sandra and Cassie again. Ben has always yawned when the bridle is produced: some sign of tension I suspect. I had my hand around his head holding the bridle, with the bit just below his mouth when the yawns started so I waited, thinking I would let him get these yawns out of his system before proceeding. Ben stretched out his lips, seized the bit between them and pulled it up into his mouth.
I would like to try a bitless bridle with a different action, maybe like a lightrider bridle, just out of curiosity, but Ben seems to be telling me that he is more than happy with his Myler bit. He also tells me, so often, in so many different ways, that he really likes to just get on with things and what I see as considerate behaviour on my part he sees as QUITE. UNNECESSARY. FUSS.
He walked well without hoof boots again today; still searching for verges where possible, but with greater confidence starting out than last week. I wonder will I need hoof boots at all. The roads were also quite icy today and I would have hesitated to ride out had Ben been shod. As it was I could leave negotiating the icy spots to him as he was more than capable of feeling his way along.