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Giving To The Bit : Part 1

Due to the magnitude of the subject, “Giving to the Bit,” I will begin with an overview. Giving to the Bit Part 2 and Part 3 I will discuss the topic more in-depth by covering how the horse physically changes, how the horse benefits mentally and how it makes training the emotional side of the horse easier. The previous articles; Consistency, Repetition : A Valuable Tool, and Lower Your Head Cue; are also directly related to this series.

There are many popular training practices that talk about the horse giving to rein pressure. What makes this “Giving to the Bit” technique unique is that it is broken down and enables us to get more in-depth in the understanding of what can be attainable by teaching this method. The horse begins to give to the bit and soften on a single inside rein. This recognizes the fact that the horse evolves through many physical phases. Of course it doesn’t end there. When we have the horse working well on both inside reins separately, then we teach the horse to respond to the other rein, also known as giving to the outside rein.

A horse’s performance is greatly improved if the horse develops the proper muscles to support his body. Not only does the horse benefit physically by developing muscle structure, but also enhances and improves overall quality of the gait. A result of this evolutionary process is the horse becoming more responsive and learning to elevate its front end. When we learn how this all fits together, we can fall back on it when we notice the horse begins to stiffen. For instance, when teaching a new maneuver it’s inevitable that the horse gets heavier. If we know what to do when this happens we can improve our performance with the horse.

Not only can we achieve the above, but we can also learn how to get control of the individual body parts of our horse off of each rein and by itself; later we can talk to multiple body parts by using both reins.

When the horse is giving to the bit, the horse is recognizing us, responding to our request and turning over control of a body part to us.

What age does the horse need to be to teach this? We can teach this to a young horse that has never been mounted, we can also teach it to our favorite horse whether he’s 4 or 40!

What discipline is this geared for? Any discipline you would like to pursue. It’s based on basic dressage which makes the pleasure, performance, reiners, jumpers, endurance, trail and dressage horses of tomorrow!

Where do we teach this? We can teach this on the ground and also up on the horse. By teaching it prior to the first mounting, we have taken steps to ensure a safer first ride. One important thing we should have already taught the horse is to move its hips over. It’s nice to know that we have brakes when we may want to use them.

Where does this all begin? There are at least nine spots, this doesn’t include the hips or shoulders. These first nine spots are only seen in order as the horse progresses. This is what we mean by evolution. First we are looking for Spot 1, when we are getting 1, the horse is automatically starting to soften Spot 2. When we pick up the rein and see the horse is softening Spot 1 and 2, we know he is already starting to soften Spot 3. This continues through all the spots on the horse. We just can’t pick and choose what spots we want. For instance, the horse begins to break at the poll when the horse is softening Spot 3. But if the horse is not giving us 1 or 2, we can’t just jump in and work on Spot 3.

For more details about the spots read Giving To The Bit Part 2. This will cover what we are looking for and the physical changes we see in the horse.

The 9 Spots shown on Thomas.

SPOT 1 : The jawbone.
SPOT 2 : The ears.
SPOT 3 : The short muscle line in the neck.
SPOT 4 : The poll.
SPOT 5 : The mane, from withers to ears.
SPOT 6 : At the bottom of Spot 7. As the horse advances spot 6 moves forward up the horse’s neck.
SPOT 7 : The line that runs along where shoulder and neck meet.
SPOT 8 : The shoulders.
SPOT 9 : The withers.

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Hello! I've been helping horses and horse riders to have a better relationship around the country and at my farm through training, lessons and clinics. I get help from my wonderful horses Caz, Holy Socks, Mouse and Sir Thomas. Recently we have added Caz's cousin Jinx to our little team! The articles on my website are free to read and I encourage you to learn more by calling to set up a riding lesson or to attend one of my clinics.

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