Horses are thinking animals that should be offered the ability to use their minds through play and fun learning methods. A loyal horse is the one that has learned to try to please us by doing what we ask to the best of its ability. Every horse just wants to be understood, and through patience, and understanding it takes little time to teach them once they start to catch on.
I feel horses should be offered the right start, and as long as in the matter of a horses learning life, and as long as progress, and the difficulty is always on the forward movement, that a horse should be taught by different trainers.
I find this has a wonderful effect on their overall temperament. A horse that is only taught by one person is a horse who only knows one person’s ways… what about yours, what is your sell, a horse should be able to have the knowledge to adapt. A new owner like a young girl can be the person that the horse will love forever. Even if she will spoil him with gifts.
I also feel that much as we have had many different, and exciting educational sources in our lives, I feel horses should have the same opportunity. Make sure your horse is vaccinated and wormed on time. All horses must have their vaccination and Coggins done before being accepted on the property, copies of veterinarian records may be asked for.
If you can’t get the job done in a snaffle….Then you can’t get it done!
I know that sounds like a trite, old timer’s way of putting it but it is absolutely true. All of the concepts both you and your horse need to accomplish any discipline – whether it be in the hunters, dressage, reining, jumping or even western pleasure – are all taught and should be maintained with the use of a snaffle. We’ve all heard the saying “being in the bridle”. Very few of us know exactly what that means or how to achieve that goal. Our work in a snaffle is the key.
A snaffle teaches the horse balance and collection, frame and trust in the riders’ hands. A snaffle also teaches the rider to become softer and use their hands less – instead relying on their seat and leg aids to send the horse forward and “into the bridle”. As always, the correct use of a snaffle is the key.
A snaffle is an indispensable tool in bending, flexion, and collection, creating a soft and balanced horse and a rider with soft hands. However, the snaffle, just like any other bit, if used in a harsh, jerky manner will only create a horse that evades the bit, throws his head or displays other forms of resentment. So make sure your horsemanship skills are optimally developed!
The train of thought I usually run across is that the rider, because there is less “bite” in a snaffle, thinks that they have to be heavier and stronger in their hands and pull all the more. Not true! A snaffle is a “direct pull” type of bit – meaning you have a direct line from your hands to the horses’ mouth – no leverage as in a shanked bit. If a rider simply pulls constantly the result will be a horse that simply pulls and jerks back.
As we all know, our bit and reins are lines of communication between our hands and our horse. Most often these aids are not used in that manner. The correct use of a snaffle would be to use softer, more elastic tension in one or both of the reins. Giving and taking as if to pull too hard would break the line of communication.
I often tell my students to think of this tension as if they are slowly squeezing a rubber ball – increasing tension and then releasing. This method encourages the horse to soften in poll and mouth – lowering his neck and relaxing into a soft frame. Read also these horse trainer reflections.
I have ridden horses in the hunters, dressage, equitation, western pleasure and trail. The snaffle method I use is no different for any of these disciplines. While many of the breed associations require that horses over the age of five, (Aged or Senior Horses), when showing in the western disciplines, be shown in a “full” or shanked bit, all my horses come out to warm up in a snaffle.
The results of softening and relaxing a horse with this program are worth the bridle change! My horses go into the arena already relaxed and giving at the poll, are soft in my hands and are better focused and more easily directed for the maneuvers we will need to accomplish. The problem often is that there are more and more people, so less and less land to work with our horses.
The best caveat of training with a snaffle is the trust it can create with your horse. Your horse will learn to trust your hands, relying on you for balance and guidance as you are able to send him forward to the correct frame with your leg and seat. This is ultimately what being “in the bridle” means!