On The Bit
Alex's Dressage Tips
On the Bit???
I can understand totally that it looks so simple to pull the head down into a lower position and hold it there.
If it were only that simple!!
We had an old Massey Ferguson tractor at the Cottenham Point-to-Point course for decades that was used as a work horse all year round. I remember it well. In order to start it you needed to turn the key with the choke full on, wobble the gear stick between 2nd and neutral, press something down with your left heel, whilst another person sprays starter spray in up the exhaust.
This is a little like what you need to do to get your horse working round, through and ‘to the bit’.
You need to use in synchronization…
- Hand (contact)
The leg and seat are key to creating a supple energy that can be ultimately contained in an even yet elastic contact. Practice different ways and see how your horse responds. With time, training and persistence you will soon instinctively know how to encourage your horse to be round enough and to come 'on the bit'.
Use all three in such a way that it increases concentration / focus, whilst engaging the hocks further under him and encourages extra energy through a supple frame in a round outline to an even and elastic contact.
Couple this with accuracy and fluency, then you're looking at high marks.
Things to AVOID doing…..….
Lighten your seat, lean forward, lower your hands fiddle with the bit and raise and push forwards your centre of gravity. If he resists further and hollows, shuffles and loses balance then it’s not attractive to watch, believe me.
There are always times in a test (especially at the lower levels) where the horse is distracted, loses balance a little and for some reason or other he loses connection. Regaining this connection is best achieved through an effective ‘half halt’ or sequence of half halts. So speak with your trainer about half halts, aim to make them seamless before and after every transition and try to keep your horse “On The Bit”.