March 4th- Bit Training

ah, brandy and the bit.. you just never know where quirks come from when you buy a older horse, Brandy is very good about tacking up in so many ways,  call her and she will meet you at the gate, I have even been able to get her to learn two different names for where I want her to go, she can be harnessed up for draftwork without even being tied up, she is just put into stand mode and she understands it and does so well with it.

When it comes to the saddle, blanket or fiddling around with gear etc, she is very good, and again when being worked regular, she is trustworth 98 percent of the time being put in a ground tie

But the bit, that is a different beast.. if you get her in the right working mode and can get the bit in on her first try, she is good and you are done and all is well..

She did not like the first bit I got her, it was a straight bit in the same size as what I had been told she had before.. she hated that bit, and her mouth was so soft it was crazy, yes I had her teeth checked, yes I checked other things as well..

My dad sent me the most amazing bit for her, properly fitted, full cheek and copper roller, better fitted to her mouth, giving her a sweeter taste and something to play with.. 200 percent better in so many ways..

She does not fight the bit once its in, she is so much better to ride, it was like taking her from stick shift with someone just learning to auto drive,  the head lifting and dropping disappeared, she softened and was so much more willing to do her turns and flex’s.

She is calm and play’s with her roller and you can see she likes it..

But the fly in that soup is that she still does NOT want to take a bit.. and did I ever get reminded of it yesterday, the two favored tricks are head to the ground, with maybe half a inch clearance from ground to nose or head as high up as she can get, both are very effective at keeping you from getting the bite in the right postion because as soon as it is in the right spot and touches her mouth, she then relaxes, opens and takes it..

Now this means that you end up needing to tie her up to a post to keep the head in the correct postion in order to have it happen as smoothly as possable if you forget (like I did yesterday) you end up having a battle and then needing to retie her..

Not how I want to start getting ready for a ride..

So this is my current small baby step challange.. teach Brandy to not just take the bit but to look forward to taking it and learn to bite herself.. and the secret is answered in this photo!

2012-12-24 2012-12-24 077 001 (500x375)

That’s right, i’m going to bribe her into it.. I am even using the straight bite because i want to just start working with a bit only and it holds its shape really well for training, so the first thing we did was just stand there with a bit in my hand and offer her cookies in the same hand, this alone showed me just how much work I had cut out, as she circled and at first gave me rump.. it took a good ten minutes to get six cookies taken within six inches of the bit.

The second lession was easy, let her taste the molassies and then smear it all over the bite, so she could lick it off, first two times she would not take it, just lick and lick and then back off.. Third time offered a molassies covered bit and she licked and mouthed it and took the bite herself into her mouth and cleaned it and I took it back out..

Good enough for now.. will continue to do these until she is looking for that bit and treat, and at the same time I will start adding in the bridle rattle, shake the bridle come and get a cookie, walk away, repeat, then work her up to needing to touch the bridle, then cookie, then touch the bit, then cookie..

Going to work the free bit and the bridle at that time, then will start to sweeten her riding bit, anytime she is being tacked for riding, I will sweeten the bit but with apple sauce, as the molassie scent is going to be a training tool for the moment, then once I want to transfer it to the riding bit,  I will do a mix of molassies/apple sauce, the goal is to have her looking for that bit and wanting it in her mouth for her sweet treat..

So how long do you think it will take to make this happen.. I want to do three short 2 to 5 min training sessions daily but can go upward of ten min depending on Brandy’s reaction..

This is a slow and steady, and she gets to set the pace of this learning curve..  Dibs that by the end of the month, I will have her taking her bit willingly..

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