Education

Purpose of the Bit Explained

We all know that a horse can do all the maneuvers that we would like him or her to do without us being on his/her back. So why does a horse struggle with those maneuvers when we ride them?

I think some of the problems arise, because the rider does not fully understand what has to take place to allow the horse to maintain his or her balance. The other issue is the horse will compromise himself to accommodate the rider’s cues and signals, even though they may not be beneficial to the horse’s body to maintain balance, while in motion.

Understanding what has to take place in the horse’s body, to maintain balance, should come first.

Some horses just as with humans, are better athletes than others. Not meaning we all couldn’t be better if we exercised and practiced. I believe there are three anatomical areas that I can explain to help the rider better understand what needs to happen for balance to be achieved.

The bit’s physical purpose is to cue the horse through contact points to find balance without creating resistance.

Resistance slows the reaction time down. You need to be aware of the difference in discipline and teaching. Horses learn through repetition. Yes sometimes they need to be disciplined, but only if they do not try to please after they have been taught to do the maneuver and the maneuver has been repeated enough times so the horse understands what to do. Once the horse learns the maneuver they then have to do it enough times to allow the body to become strong enough to find the position quickly and hold the position for a period of time.

The three main elements of anatomical balance would be Side To Side / Top to Bottom / and Front to Back. Once we explain these three areas then we will have some insight into which bit contact points we can access to help the horse move toward a balanced position.

I believe that bitting should be more of a mental process rather than physical. The more we challenge ourselves in understanding the horse as a professional athlete and ourselves as their coach/trainer the easier it will be for both parties to communicate.  

Watch for the next post which will go into more detail on the Side To Side aspect of balance.

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