Love this post from Denny Emerson this morning. I see so many people posting on forums that you are not an accomplished rider unless you can ride your horse in a snaffle. Preferably a loose ring or egg butt snaffle.
Bits and bitting—-A dose of reality—
Much of training horses on a daily basis is theoretically done in ways to get the horse calm and quiet and comfortable in its work, sort of like a person going to a library to study, a somewhat “serene” atmosphere, where the horse can ‘listen” to subtle aids.
But then there’s cross country. Some horses are blase about cross country galloping and jumping, but some instantly turn into “crotch rockets”, “attack machines”, like that saying from “Top Gun”, “only happy going mach two with his hair on fire”
If you think you can use a big fat snaffle and subtle, harmonious aids when you are ripping down a hill toward a solid stack of vertical railroad ties on one of these nice horsies, by all means, be my guest.
There are theoreticians and there are realists.
The difference is that the realists know what it feels like to be trying to hold the Union Pacific with a piece of thread, and the theoreticians are sedately trotting around the indoor arena.
Last year I posted on a horse forum that I ride Freedom in a Mikmar Circle Shank Bit. One poster went so far to tell me:
If you have to use a Mikmar, are thinking of using a Mikmar, or want to use a Mikmar…. You probably should consider another sport all together. Perhaps one that doesn’t include an animal.
I don’t think that this person had ever ridden cross country. At a gallop. Following hounds. Certainly some horses can do this in a snaffle — I ride Zelda in a PeeWee bit, which is a mullen mouth snaffle — but it’s not a requirement.
To begin with, while this bit looks severe, it’s not. And, even if it was a strong bit (which is not), I don’t hang on my horse’s mouth. And finally, Freedom likes it. He detests snaffles, especially the “friendly” kind that drape through the mouth with a lozenge in the middle. When I don’t use the Mikmar, I ride him in a Kimberwicke with a quarter moon mouthpiece. He listens very nicely in that bit so I don’t need to use it much.
Nice to hear a trainer as accomplished as Denny Emerson putting some reality into the myth.