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Giving To The Bit : Part 2

Evolution of the Baby Give

During this sequence of muscle softening the horse evolves in their own time, beginning with the muscle around the jawbone. They progress by relaxing more and more muscles from their jawbone, back throughout their body. As they soften a muscle, they are turning it over to us to do with it what we want. We must realize we can’t make the horse soften these muscles, not can we change the order in which the softening occurs. We can only learn how to properly pick up the rein and release it when the horse has answered our request. The horse begins by giving us just one muscle, we build on that.

It’s also beneficial to memorize the chronological sequence the muscle spots soften i and also the order of the muscle changes that occur that allow us to recognize those spots. If we memorize this sequence, we will always know where our horse (or any horse for that matter!) is at that particular moment. The horse softens the muscles through spot #5. Spot #6 is unique, it is the only spot we make happen. As the horse is giving when we pick up the rein, we direct his jawbone (Spot #1) and wait for him to give toward Spot #6. At this moment we need to let the horse stretch his neck out for a few steps before asking again. Up until now we could pick up the rein and request another give immediately after dropping the rein. In this phase o the evolution we have to let the horse stretch his neck, in addition to the horse softening those muscles for us, he is now also BUILDING them! It is still important to let it happen, not make it happen!

HOW DO WE LEARN THIS? First, memorize the order of the spots and what happens (also in order!) at each spot. Then dedicate time to teach yourself how to ask and allow the horse to respond. You must CONCENTRATE! This is done by picking up the rein and waiting for the jawbone to give. Each time we pick up the rein the horse must give at least their jaw before we release the rein. We must continue to repeat over and over again, until we feel comfortable. When we begin to feel comfortable we’re becoming more consistent. The horse will not become consistent unless we are concentrating and consistent!

The 9 Spots of Giving to the Bit

WHERE CAN WE GO WITH THIS? The horse is learning that when he gives his jaw he gets a release on the rein. We are building on the concept that release is the reward. As he is softening he is giving more to us for this reward. Skipping ahead: At a later point we can connect the rein to his hips and shoulders. When the hose understands this we can capture any area, because he understands and gives control of those muscles to us and allows us to use it!


The Spots that soften and the Changes we see at them.

SPOT 1 : The Jawbone

  1. No Pull,
  2. Not Just Neutral,
  3. Energy or Movement in the Direction of the Pull.

Each and every time we pick up the rein, this is the first spot the horse must give to the rein! The jaw should NOT move further than 12 INCHES to the side! When the horse gives, we may only feel a slight give and only for a split second! Be careful though, it is easily confused with neutral or slight pull. A pull is still pull, even if it is less pull. Don’t release on a

SPOT 2 : Behind the Ear

  1. This spot moves 4 inches to the side (horse takes the nose back forward).
  2. This spot moves 4 inches to the side and the horse leaves it there for a few seconds.

SPOT 3 : Long Muscle in the Neck (But it’s just a short segment of it!)

  1. It becomes parallel,
  2. It begins to wobble or bounce,
  3. It begins to curve laterally.

SPOT 4 : Top of the Forelock (Poll)

  1. A = The area from the withers to 4 inches ABOVE.
  2. B = STRAIGHT OUT from the withers.
  3. C = The area from the withers to 4 inches BELOW.
  4. F = The area outside the A & C Zones.

SPOT 5 : Mane

  1. The muscle along the mane becomes curved laterally. This is really a further development of the short line in spot #3.

SPOT 6 : Located at the base of Spot 7. (MUSCLE BUILDING BEGINS HERE!)

  1. The #1 Spot gives to the #6 Spot,
  2. The horse begins to break at the poll.
  • This is the only spot we can and have to make happen! We do this by directing the #1 to the #6 spot.
  • We must do this in order to get the horse past #5, and to continue getting the horse lighter and more responsive.
  • We direct Spot #1 towards Spot #6, NOT PAST IT!

BONUS : When we direct Spot #1 to Spot #6 –

  • We can prevent his head from coming around too far to the side,
  • We don’t lose proper head elevation,
  • The horse learns to break at the poll with his face vertical.

IMPORTANT NOTE! At this point we need a major body part (hip or shoulder) to move in conjunction with the horse giving his #1 Spot (jawbone) to the #6 Spot! If we don’t, we will separate the front of the horse from the back of the horse.

SPOT 7 : Line of muscles where the neck attaches to the shoulder.

  1. Wrinkles appear on the surface along this line (called surface softness; the muscle is beginning to show relaxation),
  2. Hinge develops from this wrinkling along the line,
  3. A fist-sized hole develops just below Spot #3 and just above the base of Spot #6. This is where elevation and lightness come from,
  4. The neck really starts to invert in thickness. Withers begin to widen, the dip disappears and the definition in the neck changes from skinny on top, large on bottom to large on top, skinny on the bottom,
  5. Spot #3 becomes a horizontal, rainbow arch.

SPOT 8 : Shoulder muscles above the forearm

  1. The shoulder muscles begin to ripple, 
  2. The opposite shoulder drifts, or moves away from the rein while the horse remains moving forward. You may also recognize this as a diagonal or moving to 11 or 1 o’clock.

SPOT 9 : Muscles on the side of the withers

  1. The horse moves to the side and withers step down,
  2. The horse moves to the side and the withers step level,
  3. The horse moves to the side and the withers step up (the saddle will raise about 2″).

This is where we feel the horse elevating his shoulders. When the horse engages these musccels, you will feel teh horse’s movement stop going forward and move directly to the side. As the horse evolves further in the #9 stage, we feel the spot change through the 3 phases: down, level and up. The benefits we receive are unimaginable! The horse becomes lighter, more responsive and physically stronger, allowing him to carry himself (and us) in a balanced manner! He is also able to achieve more precise shoulder, hip and eventually, foot placement! When we are able to achieve this, we are able to capture any part (or room) of the horse. When we have this much control of our horse we are able to effect his whole body and improve performance. The benefits are endless!

Have fun memorizing! Look at the spots on your horse, what do they look like? In Giving To The Bit #4, I cover the finer points on teaching the baby give!

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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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