it’s the little things

that can just derail your ENTIRE RIDE.  These little things.  These tiny, irritatingly significant little things.

I’ve mentioned that Murray and I are seeking a new bit for dressage.  The D-rings might be poking him, he doesn’t really seek out the contact, he occasionally violently inverts himself… these things happen.  I’m okay with looking for a new bit.  It beats looking for a new saddle.
Me after five minutes saddle shopping

A lot of horses at our barn love the Stubben EZ Control, in both D- and loose-ring versions.  They love them!  They go insanely well in them!  They are made for princesses!!!!!  So I borrowed one and tried it.  And at first, I kinda hated it. I was deeply suspicious.  I did not like.

So there was that.  But I know I’m supposed to give a bit a few rides to get used to it, so I rode in it again.  And it was okay, so I thought, sure! Let’s give it the full two weeks.  Today, when I went to bridle Mr. Princess I got full on teeth-squeezed-shut-lips-pinched-closed-run-away-from-the-bridle antics.  We had to discuss.  I got the suspicion that Murray really wasn’t a fan of this bit either.

(You should know that this is not intended, in any way to disparage Stubben or their bits.  I know several horses who genuinely love that bit.  Mine just turns out not to be one of them. I also love their leatherwork and saddles. This is not a story about Stubben, it’s a story about princess creatures.)

My hesitation with this bit was that riding in it just didn’t feel quite right.  It was super hard for me to pin down.  Nothing I asked for was challenging, but nothing was right either.  I did some counter canter loops and Murray did flying changes instead.  I asked him for a half halt and to sit down at the canter and got no response.  I asked him to come through at the canter and he was like, “meh, don’t gotta.”

I was seriously losing my absolute mind over it before I realised it.  I did not understand how I could have gone from “Everything is great! I had a fantastic dressage lesson tackling new, challenging concepts with my trainer!” to “My horse has lost all ability to dressage hahahaha *sobs*”  And then I realised.  Murray was not listening to a single goddamn thing I was trying to communicate to him through my hands.

He is a soft horse.  I try my hardest to be an equally soft rider.  I don’t think of the bit as some kind of punishment or torture device or evil thing that I put in his mouth — it’s there for communication.  But we were not communicating.  At least, not communicating the way I had become accustomed to (and, I would like to say, Murray if you are reading this, the way you have trained me to communicate with you.)

Something about the action of the bit did one of the following:
a) completely translated my half halts to another language that Murray does not speak
b) suggested to Murray that dressage schooling now means “do whatever you want time!”
c) allowed Murray to hear my half halts but run through them because he’s bigger than a tiny piece of metal
d) all of the above

So we’re out of the EZ control.  I took it off right after our ride.  I have some more ideas, got some advice from a Tack Ho, and also offers from the ever-lovely Peony for loans.

But isn’t it funny how this one, tiny piece of metal can completely unhinge my ride?  Like one tiny thing can make everything so not right?  Yeah, Murray ain’t the only princess in this equation.

All credit for gif finding goes to my boyfriend, who filters the filtered internet to find perfect things just for me.