Since Monday was technically a holiday, lessons for the day were cancelled and Trainer A held a clinic instead. I planned on watching the clinic (they were practicing their pattern work), but thirty minutes in my Locker Buddy (who shares my tack locker when she hauls her horse in for a few days at a time) convinced me to get on her cute little mare, a grade Appaloosa/POA-type named Star that she bought from a rescue around the same time that I got Ezhno.
LockBuddy’s a young rider that’s paying for all of her tack and equipment herself, so she doesn’t have the luxury of being able to afford lessons or training for Star. LockBuddy’s ultimate goal is to be able to run barrels/poles and they’re doing well together despite their lack of formal instruction.
LockBuddy had some trouble with Star on the trails a couple of weeks ago (Star took off at the trot and refused to stop), so she recently switched to a Tom Thumb for more stopping power. I don’t have any experience with Tom Thumb bits, but once I got in the saddle I cringed. Star felt stiff and resistant in her turns and even the slightest pressure on the bit had her slamming on the breaks, no matter what my legs were saying. Then we got in a fight over backing up where I had to bend her head to my knee to prevent her from rearing…
Apparently nobody else likes Tom Thumb bits, either. Here’s a quote from the Certified Horsemanship Association:
“People tend to think they are mild because they think it is a snaffle, because the mouthpiece is jointed. In fact, it is a leverage bit, not a snaffle at all, and when you pull back on both reins at the same time, the joint pushes into the roof of the horse’s mouth, causing a gaping mouth, and the sides of the bit squeeze the jaw in what is referred to as the “nutcracker” effect. Almost all horses with this bit will open their mouth and try to evade the pressure and pain.”
I got ten minutes in before I insisted we get a simple loose ring snaffle, at which point Star’s halts got worse but everything else vastly improved. I spent the rest of my time introducing her to spurs (get off my leg, yo) and working on her steering, her halts from the walk/trot, and her rein back. No cantering, just filling in some gaps on her basics. I finished things off with some advice about the snaffle (you’ve got to train for the stop, not just bully through it every time) and I recommended that LockBuddy saves the Tom Thumb for situations where she’s uncomfortable (like out on the trail).
I spent the rest of the week putzing around on Lexi. Tuesday she was a little whacky, so I let her loose in the arena before I tacked her up. Thursday she was still a little crazy, but she settled down on the lunge line. Friday there wasn’t space in the arena, so I ended up getting on without a lunge. All three days she was very well behaved under saddle, great about her turns and yielding to my leg pressure. We spent some time on her transitions, too—more work needed, as always, but not half bad.
Lexi’s at the point where I think I’d feel comfortable cantering her, so at some point next week I want to ride her in a lesson with the Trainer so that we can tackle that together.
I was supposed to have a lesson on Boston on Wednesday, but I ended up feeling run down (both physically and mentally) and it started to hail (very noisy, Boston was not digging the sound), so we gave up before we were even properly warmed up.
On the Ezhno front… well, doof face ended up cast in his stall on Thursday and on Friday I went into his stall, gave him a few pets, and then had to scramble to get out of the stall when he whirled around and tried to kick me a couple of times, so… yeah, we’re not really talking about him (or to him, for that matter).