Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sleeping under saddle and the new bit

I got the cheek pieces for Panama's trail bridle back yesterday, and today we rode in them the first time. I'd also gotten a new bit specifically for the trail bridle, so I wanted to see how he did with it.

We mostly just meandered around the pasture. He was reluctant to stop at first, but he always is, so I don't think it was the bit. All in all, I think he seems to like the new bit. But more about that in a moment.

While we were riding, one of the neighbors pulled up to the fence in his truck and parked. While he and the barn owner chatted, Panama was highly distracted by the oh-so-interested vehicle parked right on the other side of the fence. Finally I let him walk over and stare at the truck.

Of course I got drawn into conversation. Panama tried to sneak a little closer to the barn owner a couple of times (to bite the end of the mucking fork, sniff his leather gloves, etc.) but I corrected him and he subsided. Next thing I knew, it had been a while and he'd hardly moved.

The barn owner was surprised too. At my request, he even rattled the fence a little. Panama didn't budge.

"Do they sleep with their eyes open?" the barn owner wanted to know.

I laughed. "No, he's just in a zone."

But it really was kind of like napping. Surprisingly, he wasn't annoyed about my lapse in attention, either, the way he would be if he was tied. I suspect this is because I was stroking his neck and withers most of the time I was chatting (which probably also contributed to his extreme relaxation).

The neighbor started getting ready to leave, and I knew he would be starting his truck at any moment. I purposely didn't move Panama, because I wanted to know how he'd take it.

Like a champ, as it turns out. I felt his muscles jump under me, and he sort of leaned away from the fence, but he didn't move his feet at all!

Mommy was so proud.

We rode for a few more minutes, got a little trotting in, and then I dismounted. Despite the lack of a workout, he was a bit sweaty under the saddle pad, so I gave him a little sponge bath. (I always do if he's sweaty after a ride. That horse is sufficiently spoiled, I can tell you that!)

Anyway, my original goal had been to get some pictures of the handsome new trail bridle. I completely forgot, but I did get some pictures of the bit. The owner of the local tack shop helped me pick it out. It's a 4 1/2 inch eggbutt snaffle, and she said it's the second bit that goes on a dressage bridle. Not knowing much about dressage, I can only imagine what that setup looks like, but she says that the little rings and the pronounced curve in the bit work well for a horse with a really little mouth. Panama certainly seems to like it!

Gold-toned dressage horse bit

Gold-toned dressage horse bit

Tomorrow I'll try to remember to get pictures of the whole setup. He looks very handsome in his new trail bridle!



At September 11, 2009 at 4:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice bit - no pinching on the sides, nice curve and smooth mouthpiece - if he likes it, that could be the only bit you ever need!

At September 11, 2009 at 9:15 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I love finding bits that the horses agree with. I also like it when my friend stops me to talk while I'm riding. It forces the horses to learn how to stand still and understand that they can't be the center of my attention all the time. If they get impatient and paw to tell me they want to keep moving, I say no, and that's usually enough to straighten them out. Standing and waiting until we finish our conversation also helps them to relax if they were feeling high-strung during the workout.

At September 11, 2009 at 9:18 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, thanks! His other bit is a loose ring snaffle, but if he really likes this one, I may get another one in silver (for the English bridle -- I'm all about the matchy-matchy :o).

NM, I totally agree -- I thought of it as an unexpected opportunity for training, too. He sometimes has problems with standing while I talk or something, so I was really pleased with how relaxed he got this time.


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