A Little Leverage

So for my birthday, we tried out a new bit with Francis- specifically, the bit that AT uses with him when she rides. It’s a copper mouth French-link elevator, as such:

elevator bit
Just with a copper mouth

We started out with my main rein on the snaffle ring and the curb rein on the first ring down, to give me a change to get used to having a little leverage. From a mouthpiece standpoint, I did really like the French link- it felt like Frankie was softening to it a bit more than either the plain snaffle or the slow twist I’ve used in the past.

After warming up a bit and getting my “sea hands” so to speak, we took off the curb and then moved my main rein down so we could test this out for real. Overall I do really like it- it’s definitely a big adjustment for me in how I need to ride and it was far from perfect, but it did give us some tools that I was happy about.

The trot work in this was…eh. Francis was bracing and we had to focus on lots of bending and take-release-take-release for him to realize that while I wasn’t going to just hang on his face, I did expect him to carry himself upright and not hang on me in return. The canter work was a lot better, which I wasn’t surprised by. His canter is naturally his best gait, and he’s always had much better carriage and balance in the canter than in the trot no matter what bit is in his mouth. It was much easier for me to keep a light touch on the reins, give with that inside hand a bit more, and allow him to carry me without as much of a “discussion” on who has to hold his head up.

Then it was time to jump, and in this lesson we focused on some more interesting turns with the jumps set low. I was a bit surprised while we were warming up- Frankie was really cracking his back and putting in an effort over the crossrails we were trotting, which is rare for him. I actually got caught off guard a couple times and got a little left behind, so I tried to make sure I slipped my reins when that happened so he didn’t get punished in the mouth for doing his job.

After warming up, here was our first course:

dec21_lesson1

So we trot in the crossrail on the rail, rollback to the box, turn left and long approach down to the little oxer, canter up the long side, and then go straight down the middle by slicing- either a direct 2 or a teeny shaped 3.

My goal was to ride the first jump BEFORE riding the turn, which meant packaging him up and not throwing my shoulders at him. The rollback went much better when we stopped trying to get perpendicular to the jump and instead sliced it straight towards the end of the ring. The long approach was just fine, and he opened up his step nicely to put the two strides in the middle line.

With this new bit, my focus was to release more with my hands both over fences and in between, and rely more on my legs. It gives me great shortening ability and I don’t want to accidentally shorten too much. It doesn’t come second-nature yet, but that focus on controlling his stride from my seat and legs more intensely gave us much better turns and control of that shoulder.

Here was our other course:

dec21_lesson2

So short approach down the box, up the outside line in a flowing three, down the oxer sliced right to left to give us room to turn up the center line to do that in a flowing two the other direction.

I tend to have a tough time coming out of that corner up to 2, so we ended up getting a bit of a chocolate chip- but he listened fantastically and opened up to put the three in without a problem anyways. We had set jump 3 a little bigger to give him a chance to stretch and he jumped it really nicely.

IMG_1619.png
Well, nice is a strong word. Still cute tho.

Then the last part of the course was good- I didn’t keep as straight as I should’ve going up the center so it got a bit gappy, but not terribly ugly.

Overall this lesson was a really good test of working with some leverage. It’ll take some time for both of us to adjust and fine-tune with this new tool, but I do think it’s a great option for us to explore. My big concern is that I’m used to carrying a certain amount of weight with the snaffle, and with this I need to carry much less weight for a similar response. I like that I can be lighter with him and that he seems to like the mouthpiece, so now it’s just a matter of training myself to feel his responses and tweak how I carry my hands accordingly. Especially when we get him fired up and jumping the big jumps, I think this is a step in the right direction to have something that he seeks the contact with and is gentle on his mouth, but still gives me the control to get the adjustability we’ll need to safely get around.

Flying up to Rhody tonight for Christmas with the fam, and I can’t wait to see them all! Stay safe on all of your travels!

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7 thoughts on “A Little Leverage

  1. Alex 12/22/2017 / 12:35 pm

    Interesting post. I’ve never used a leverage bit but the lighter contact and lighter cues sound like a good idea. I hope you two get into the groove easily with the new equipment.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 12/22/2017 / 1:42 pm

      I definitely think it’ll take a few rides to really get a good sense of how best to work with it, but there’s definitely a lot to like.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Karley 12/22/2017 / 7:36 pm

    Henry tends to be a strong horse and sometimes I feel like he has no feeling in his mouth… it’s amazing how different bits feel and how you have to adjust yourself to them. Always a fun and cool to find one that works better or different.

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  3. Tracy 12/23/2017 / 10:08 pm

    With Niko, I’m having to learn a whole different way of riding through my hands. It’s really great, but will definitely take some time before I’m good at it.

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  4. Stacie Seidman 12/26/2017 / 11:25 pm

    Jampy goes in that bit too πŸ™‚ His is a happy mouth Dr Bristol, so slightly different but not much. I love the leverage for him. He’s definitely more of an uphill horse, but he occasionally grabs the bit and runs away with me, and the extra leverage gives me some brakes when that happens. I really like that this bit is as soft as your horse wants it to be. If they don’t lean and hang, it’s just a snaffle. But if they grab and go you have a little extra. Hope it works for you guys!

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  5. Liz 12/27/2017 / 6:18 am

    Since I rode Stan as a teenager, I’ve used a leverage bit. Being lighter with hand and giving more leg is a great way to describe how to get the most out of a bit like this. I hope you and Frankie continue to have success!

    Like

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