Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cautiously Optimistic. On bits, hay, and coaches.

I decided I needed to take a step back with respect to WIlly's weird mouth issues.  I borrowed a bitless bridle from my friend and plan to use that for the next couple weeks. I think perhaps I didn't give him enough time to recover, though I did try by giving him time off, riding bitless and using wrapped/rubber/happy mouth in the meantime. At least this way I can remove the bit as a possible source of discomfort and hopefully start with a clean baseline.

My first bitless ride (since the one a week and a half ago) was Wednesday. When I brought Willy in I could already tell he was better. I can't really articulate the difference but I'm sure most of you know what I mean. He was himself again. I tacked up and off we went.

He's generally been a lot better this week on all fronts and the last few rides have been a lot better too. I think, in part, something had resolved itself and that his improvement was reinforced by keeping the bit out of his mouth. Still, he did some very minor head bobbing at the very end of the last two rides (bitless) while I was cooling him out.

I do wish bitless bridles were a little more...refined. It's hard to pinpoint what I don't love about them. I've used a bitless now and then with both Brumby and Willy. The bridles available to me are synthetic, Nurtural bridles. I like the design but the problems I find are that it's hard to know how the release and take translates to the horse (I wish the release of the cross pieces under the jaw was more pronounced, for example). I find them fairly crude in terms of contact. The synthetic material also makes his face sweat more and this irritates him. Aside from that, I'm glad I have an option to turn to.
On another note, the lab results of our hay tests are in! I'm working on translating that into what he is actually consuming nutritionally, with the help of some information Jason passed on a few months ago (thanks Jason!). It's a bit of a slow process as I haven't had much time. I spent last night getting ALL the info into spreadsheets which should greatly facilitate my calculations and make any future changes/updates etc. easier to incorporate.

I seem to recall Jason saying something to the effect that determining a horse's nutritional requirements and/or intake is based on a whole lot of assumptions. As I begin sorting through everything in earmest I sure can see what he means. At least the assumptions are based on logical estimates and therefore have to be better than nothing!

I'm really looking forward to getting a better handle on Willy's feed. I'll post more about this soon.


As of today, I officially have a new coach! I know I've hinted about this change but it's been a mentally and emotionally taxing process and I just haven't had the umph to blog about it yet. But now that I have secured coaching from my first choice when I thought about getting a new coach, I am feeling optimistic and excited for the future. Hopefully I'll still have a reader or two to read all about it!

Ok, that's my update. Oh, and I'm working almost every weekend in March. Ugh!! I`m conducting some research and we will be more successful scheduling participants on the weekends so...yeah. I'm just trying to focus on the accrual of some much-needed lieu time!


Anonymous said...

I've found a lot of the bitless bridles to be the way you describe - too much "travel" from the moment you take up contact and too much movement in the bridle itself to allow precise cues and light contact. I've had some luck with a very simple western sidepull - basically just a closely fitting headstall made out of leather with a stabilizing jowl strap - got it from Buckeroo Leather. It's not perfect but it works pretty well - the action is very direct.

Laura said...

Glad to hear that Will is a bit better this week!! Hopefully that trend continues for you guys. Interesting about the bitless - I've never ridden in one...

I'm glad you found a new coach! I'm looking forward to hearing about your lessons once you get started.

Too bad about working weekends - hopefully you guys get OT...?

RuckusButt said...

I agree Kate. They are a weird combo of too much movement and yet not enough where I want it.

I could only one sidepull locally and it was very cheaply made so I didn't buy it. Not sure I want to order one online for what is hopefully a temporary problem.

Laura - I'm so pumped for my new coach! All my seconds thoughts magically disappeared when she agreed to take us :)

This project is a rare case where we are offered pay for the OT or time in lieu. I'm choosing the time!