Finding time to ride two horses during the week right now just isn’t happening, so pretty much all of my Presto time is relegated to the weekend. Which is fine, he doesn’t need to do much anyway besides eat and fill out. And good news, so far his cheaper stop-gap corner feeder solution has been working just fine. It’s high enough to where he can’t get his feet in it (yet), and it’s bolted down really well so he hasn’t been able to tear it off the wall (yet). I mean, I don’t trust him long term, because… Presto. But it’s working for now and he’s actually getting all of his food, so we’ll call it a success.
Since I spent a lot of time on Saturday setting up my new jump course, I saved Presto’s ride for Sunday. I did get him out very quickly to try my two new bits on him just on the lunge line to see what his reaction was. For those who don’t remember, he’s shown some classic signs of disliking tongue pressure (chomping, trying to get his tongue over the bit, etc) so I wanted to see if a tongue-relief bit made him happier. He didn’t seem to care for the Bomber right off the bat, but the Trust looked more promising, so I put that one on his bridle for the next day.
On Sunday I got him out, tacked him up, and got on in the arena for his official ride #12. We walked around there for a few minutes and he seemed pretty settled in his mouth. I was feeling encouraged. We walked out to the grass arena and walked over some poles, and practiced steering, I let him look at the new jumps – he wasn’t impressed. During this time he chomped on the bit a little, and leaned on it it a little, but he seemed to want to go down to it, which I thought was an encouraging sign.
And then we trotted, and it kind of all went downhill from there. The more we did, the fussier he got about any kind of remote hint of contact, even steering. By the time we cantered he completely flipped me the bird and just about planted his poll into my nose. Message received. He made it abundantly clear that this was not the bit for him and it wasn’t going to get any better, so I went back to walk, ended on a good note with some wee baby leg yields, and aborted the mission. Although he was a little chompy and fussy in the Myler, he was nowhere near THAT. So, baby horse has spoken. Back to the Myler (the loose ring comfort snaffle) we go. That’s been his favorite so far.
Even though the bit situation was relatively tragic, there was still some positive. He walked and trotted over the poles out in the field like they were no big deal. His trot rhythm continues to improve. He was brave among all the new stuff out there, which is more than I can say for Henry who had snorted and spooked his way around the field earlier. And to Presto’s credit, even as he got more wound up he never quit going forward or actively tried to plant me into the ground. I appreciate that, because he definitely could if he tried.
It’s almost time for their 6-month vaccinations so I will have the vet check his mouth again just to make sure nothing has changed since the last check. Given the variety of bits we’ve tried and how he has reacted to bitting for… well… his entire life… I think he’s a naturally sensitive, fussy-mouthed horse that just doesn’t quite get it yet. Still, I want to be totally sure there’s nothing in there that needs attention. At this age his mouth is still changing a lot, and changing fast. I want to be sure he is as comfortable as possible.
I’m going to try to make time on one weekday per week to lunge him for a few minutes in the balancing reins, just to let him continue to figure this out on his own a little bit. They’ve been really helpful to him so far, and now that I’ve answered the “is tongue pressure bothering him?” question (nope) I can go back to that with more confidence and consistency. We’ve got all the time in the world, so if he needs to figure it out on his own and at his own pace, we can totally do that. He’s good at telling me what he needs, so I just need to listen.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly when his first trail ride experience will be, haven’t firmed up the plan yet, but SOON. I’m itching to get out with him and see what he thinks of the big wide world. He’s still really fun, even when sometimes he isn’t.