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 MAVERICK
Preparation Log

by

Eric Hought

12/12/04

Maverick #4

Maverick's progress for the 2004 riding year was impressive. I started him in March and rode him consistently through September. Interspersed were layoffs of 2 to 3 weeks. Layoffs are not always necessary. However, they can be beneficial to horses of all ages especially young ones as it gives them an opportunity to relax and absorb their new lifestyle. Predictably, Maverick was better after each layoff. In the fall, his progress seemed to reach a plateau so I replaced the ring snaffle bit with a shank snaffle.

The first ride using the shank snaffle was as I expected. He took the bit when bridled as he had with the ring snaffle. I mounted and sat in the neutral position. He stood still and waited for a cue. Using slow hands, I took the slack from the reins to let him know and feel there was something new which was the curb strap that would produce a new feel. I did not want to surprise him with the grab from the curb strap, consequently I adjusted it loosely, as is my normal practice. The technique allowed him to respond to the slack being removed from the reins before he felt the contact from the curb strap. This was part of preparing him for a signal bit.

Maverick showed no confusion between the shank and ring snaffle bits because pressure was offered slowly, softly and without sharp contact. My only aim for his first ride using the shank snaffle was to just go the distance. During the ride I would offer a suggestion, a feel here, or a pull there. I wanted to give him time to become comfortable with the timing between the rein movement and the curb strap contact.

The second ride was impressive. I followed the same saddling routine as always. I then offered him the bit and allowed him to take it rather than me putting it into his mouth. The common practice is for the rider to place his thumb in the corner of the horse's mouth in order to put the bit into the horse's mouth. Do you recognize a difference between the two methods?

When Maverick was saddled and ready to be ridden, I mounted and sat in the neutral position. Then came the surprise. I slowly began to remove slack from the reins and as soon as he felt them move, he immediately bridled. His head was vertical and I never felt any contact with his face. He waited in this formal position for a cue from me. What do you think I did? Yes ! I waited a few moments and released. His response was the correct answer to rein movement, so the release was his reward. It was as though he had thought about it all night and figured it out. I am still excited because this told me I had done a good job preparing him for a position of transition. Keep It Simple. I have continued to ride him cross reined and one handed. If I need to use two hands, I can. He seems ready to advance in his preparation toward becoming a finished horse.

Maverick is riding better early in the shank snaffle than I would have guessed. He does experience "hard spots" which is normal, but all of his rides have been positive. The "hard spots" have been addressed by "increasing the volume" not by overpowering or intimidation. Less is More. On a few occasions it has been necessary to "keep the promise." Consistency and careful choosing of when and how I send a signal have built his confidence and ability to give the correct answer.

My goal is to ride Maverick in a signal bit which has a high ported mouth piece such as a spade bit. The following is the sequence that takes place when using a signal bit. First, there is rein movement followed by the top of the spoon contacting the roof of the mouth, "the signal". Next is curb strap contact. Finally, the mouthpiece bar exerts downward pressure on the tongue. Look at all the get ready signals before the final promise of tongue pressure. When Maverick becomes comfortable and responsive with the shank snaffle, a signal bit will be introduced. There will be a transition bit between the snaffle bit mouthpiece and the spade bit. That transition will have a California Pleasure Horse mouthpiece probably without a roller. I doubt he will use a roller because he is relatively relaxed. I will however, make sure I do not leave him in the shank snaffle too long. Horses tend to become dead in the mouth with the snaffle which takes their brightness away. Since I have not used a hackamore on him, I will not use the traditional California Two Rein method. I am not in a hurry therefore I have confidence he will do well in the higher ported bit.

Maverick's overall evaluation is a strong "A." His attitude and self confidence are exceptional. I plan to ride him during the winter as good weather and opportunity permit. Maverick is an outstanding prospect irregardless of his breed. He is just a nice horse.

 

Keep It Simple.

 

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