Monday, March 7, 2011

And Sometimes More is Just Right...

Last Saturday was the Regional Finals for the PWF IEA team, coached by My Honorary Big Sister Jen.  This doesn't really relate to much in my life (other than the fact that Star carts children around at IEA shows).  However, what does relate to my life is Star's bitting.  I feel like I'm always talking about bits...

Anyway, at the Greg Best clinic, Greg had wanted to try a single-jointed rubber Pelham on Star.  One was not available that day, so we modified a loose ring elevator (fitted it with a curb strap) to use, and I used that the rest of the day.  And I then proceeded to go on a Bit Procurement Process.  During said process, I purchased a Myler jointed Pelham (curved metal mouthpiece), a Korsteel Flexi Mouth jointed Pelham, a JP jointed loose ring elevator (curved metal mouthpiece), and the icing on the cake: a beautiful Stuebben single-jointed rubber covered Tom Thumb Pelham with a 15mm-diameter mouthpiece.  Most rubber Pelhams have pretty thick mouthpieces, so I was very excited to find what I thought was pretty close to the perfect bit.

Only not.  Just as she tends to do with every other jointed bit, Star pretty much ran through the "perfect" Pelham.  (And the modified loose ring elevator, too, once back on home turf).  *Sigh*  Can't put a crossrail rider on a horse that runs through the bit.  So back to a solid, unjointed mouthpiece for Star.  Which is fine... it just means that the Bit Procurement Process continues.  If anyone can point me to both a Tom Thumb and "normal" (longer) -shanked mullen mouth rubber covered Pelham with not greater than a 16mm-diameter mouthpiece, please let me know.

All three horses (including Kellie here) flatted well last week.  I kept Star in the bit she ultimately wore for the IEA Regionals - a traditional Pelham with a ported mouth.  I did not, however, ask her to carry herself in a "Morgan" frame.  Instead, I asked her to carry herself in a (fairly nice, if I say so myself) lower-level, long-ish and low-ish dressage frame.  And I'll be damned if she didn't actually work the bit in her mouth and end up with some "lipstick."  I think that in the immediate future, I'm going to just keep her in a Pelham, and not switch back to a snaffle for flatwork.  I know there is a danger of a false frame using the Pelham, but really, the bit just works better for her right now.  Why intentionally make my poor mare dislike even more something she already doesn't like (that would be dressage, folks)?  So we'll stick with the Pelham until she has better built the requisite muscles for dressage-y work, and then we'll try to switch back to a snaffle.

Sparky has seemingly forgotten what it means to bend, so we're working to re-establish that.  We've also been working quite a bit on his right-lead canter.  I'm not so much concerned with it being a truly quality canter right now... the goal is to build up his "right-lead canter muscles" so that we CAN have a quality canter in both directions.  I may actually work with Susan a bit on counter-canter for Sparky, to help strengthen those muscles.

Kellie had a really good work.  I did something very different with her than usual: we walked for a good 30-40 minutes before doing ANY trot work at all.  Bending, in her mind, is iffy, and staying nice and swingy through the back at a trot is also suspect.  So we stayed at the walk for a good, long time, and I slowly took up more contact (while still encouraging her to stretch over her back) and slowly asked her to bend.  We did circles, serpentines, spirals-in, spirals-out, baby shoulder-in and baby haunches in... all at the walk.  When we finally picked up the trot, she seemed much more willingly to maintain good working form.  More circles and changes of direction and then finally a right-lead canter.  Just a couple circles, with relatively decent transitions and not much "omigod, I can't hold myself up!"  Called it good with that.  We were supposed to have a lesson on Sunday with Susan, but with the crappy weather (a cold, windy day with all her pasturemates running around like idiots sounds like perfect conditions to ask an opinionated part-Arab mare to bend, no?), we postponed until Tuesday.  I'll definitely try to get on her ahead of the appointed lesson hour so we can walk around again... though, by then, it will have been a week since she was last ridden, so who knows what she'll be like!

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