Friday, March 9, 2012

The Dreaded Shank Bit

It was a busy Friday for a number of reasons, but I still wanted to get out to the barn and ride Lilly. Since I haven't actually ridden in the shank bit in quite some time, I figured I probably should since we'll be showing in it tomorrow. So I made time for a quick ride, anticipating my girl to be a perfect angel.

Well, that wasn't what I got. That's what happens when I don't give myself all the time in the world to ride... I had a specific time I needed to leave the barn and I cut it way too close.

The ride started out well and we made it through our warm-ups without issue. We moved on to jogging, pretending we were in a class, and I rode with one hand, since I'll also be doing that tomorrow. She fought me a bit on the neck reining, but I reminded her that it was something she already knew, and she suddenly remembered.

Once we moved on to the loping part of our session, I had a horse who wanted to rush and evade the bit. It's a delicate balance between staying out of her face (which I need to do with this bit) and being able to take hold of her when she's being a booger. We ended up doing a lot of circles and she wasn't with me in the least. After many, many circles, I wanted to lope some straight lines, which is something I often do with the snaffle as well. I want to make sure she's listening to my cue, and not just loping on the left lead because we happen to be going counter clockwise. Every time I asked for the lope, she would take one lope step, then another, then another, in super slow motion. I couldn't get her to actual go into the lope without a lot of effort. I figured I was doing something wrong, so I made sure she had plenty of rein and that I wasn't pulling on her face at all during the transition cue. No matter what I tried, it took us about 6 or 7 lope steps to actually get going into a lope.

I'm not sure if she really just doesn't like this bit, or if she just doesn't like anything but her snaffle. Hopefully I don't have any issues with her at the show tomorrow, or I'll have to figure out something else to do as far as bits are concerned. I have another one I can try her in, but I really want her to like this one!


  1. What type of shank bit are you riding her in, and when did she last have her teeth done?

    Belive it or not she might be getting the 'slow' without the lift that is required to keep the flow going, she needs more drive from her hocks, and you'r getting to the next step of wp traing. Slow isnt going to be good enough anymore, her body needs the conditioning to hold it and that is why she might be doing the slow 'one stride' 'two stride' thing.

    Are you doing many exercisises to move her hips around? I've steped them up with Lucas and his canter has improved without me having to do much cantering...Although it still isnt helping our left lead much!

  2. It's a Billy Allen style bit. I posted a picture of it a few posts back, and you can see it here. It's pretty mild and should work similar to her snaffle, but she hasn't been very excited about it. She just had her teeth done at the end of January, so she's good there.

    She never does this in the snaffle, either, only in the shank bit, although I haven't ridden in the shank bit that often because we're still doing so much training.

    We're definitely trying to put the pieces together, so I really appreciate your advice! :)

  3. It might be time to call Alex back out and see what she has that you can try out next (there really should be a bit lending library!) Some horses don't like the mullen mouth effect that a bit like that might have. I would defently play around with bits for a while. Warm up in your snaffle then try a shank for the rest of the ride. I'm still looking for the 'right' bit to show Lucas western in, it can be a challenge!