Tuesday, December 6, 2016

6th December, 2016 Vote Hilary

The American election maybe over but there is still time to vote Hilary...

Looking at the conformation of Reggie's mouth
There seems to be chasm between the two statements, one from Mark Rashid that "It's not about the bit" and the other, from bitting expert Hilary Vernon, along the lines of "It's our responsibility to get the horse as comfortable as possible" but actually there is less than a sheet of paper between them. Just think, if we could teach the horse everything he really needs to understand about the bit but do it in the most comfortable bit for him, how perfect could that be? So Hilary might teach things from the mouth end, and Mark might teach it from the brain end, but actually there's only a few inches of tongue from one to the other.

Out with the old....

...in with the new

Today I went to see Hilary at a bitting clinic for the first time in ages, but in the gap in between I have been relying on the things I heard her say at earlier clinics in order to encourage people to think about the way that they bit their horses, also as to whether they really need to close their horse's mouth with a flash or crank noseband. As a bitting geek, there's nothing she doesn't know about bitting, but she is always interesting and humorous to listen to; she's also pretty straight about what she says. She takes a holistic approach and will explain if she thinks that a saddle, back, or riding style is getting in the horses way.

Out with the old...

...in with the new.
Transitioning into the new bit by asking him to soften.

Looking softer already.

It was good to hear her repeat things that I have always loved, for example, the need to release muscles by allowing the horse to relax. Like Mark, she points out that many horses have learned to push through the reins in order to force that release.

Myler Low Port 04

I could only stay for three of the horses today but all of them made an improvement in a short time. The last one was working happily in a Myler, the bits that Hilary was mainly working with when I first met her, and for his dressage work she felt that this was absolutely fine; indeed his mouth was very still and he seemed happy. However, she also felt he would benefit from a different bit for greater clarity when training him to soften to the reins and for external work where, as an ex-eventer, he can become quite strong.

This is the Clarity Edgeware bit

Hilary has designed a lot of her own bits now which offer subtle changes for particular objectives, but all are aimed at getting the horse to feel more comfortable.

As always I am grateful to the people who took part in the clinic for allowing me to take photos and will make sure they get a set of their own.

Rebecca and CAKE!