A week of reviews begins with this: a review of the Herm Sprenger WH Ultra Aurigan D-ring Snaffle, and as an added bonus a little bit of a weekend recap.
Ahhh, bits … so easy to find a controversy in any bit any rider chooses. Let’s leave the controversy for another day (I’m super-opinionated about leverage) and discuss one particular bit that I was very, very curious to try on specifically just Eli. Eli responds well to the HS KK Ultra bits, although I have found he is marginally more manageable in the D-rings than the loose rings. For the most part, he accepts or even initiates contact and moves nicely forwards without tension when going in the KK Ultra D. But not everything is perfection (haha). We have transition issues, and at times I am at a loss as to how to get good ones. Mainly, the downward transitions plague my psyche, as Eli tends to hollow his back and root a bit. Nothing dramatic, but enough that I know these are in no way correct or even passable transitions, even if they are leaps and bounds better than they were a few years ago.
I decided to give the WH Ultra a try, my thinking behind it being a new sensation on the tongue might pique Eli’s curiosity just enough to hold that contact while asking for a downward transition. And when I say contact, I am not merely talking about the one point of contact that is the bit–I am actually far more concerned with the other much more important areas of contact, the seat and leg. I thought perhaps the extra sensation on the tongue would divert his attention from his attempts at evading the contact at the seat while transitioning downward. Perhaps I am over-complicating things, but the points of contact are all connected and truly dependent on one another, and especially in a quirky horse like Eli, a lack of harmony amongst the points of contact leads to anything from minor evasions to complete meltdowns.
So finally, I found one of these bits for a nice discount on ebay and tried it on Eli in conjunction with his hunter bridle. Initially, in our case, I think this bit is really just suitable for flatwork. I have ridden Eli in it roughly 5 or 6 times now, and I am actually quite impressed with how much of a difference it does make. Provided I keep my inside leg especially pushing up into Eli’s ribcage to encourage his back to flex up into my seat, I believe this bit is a piece of the contact puzzle we’ve been missing. Eli had one moment of “what is THIS” on the first day I tried this bit–it was at the walk, and he stretched his neck a bit as he often does, and he must have noticed the roller because he then stretched his neck out fully, poking his nose out and down almost to the ground while mouthing the bit. And that was the end of that. It’s like he figured out the bit completely with that one minor experiment, and he happily worked around at the trot and canter.
Our transitions were better with this bit. I really believe that. Something about the roller action keeps Eli’s attention and instead of just falling into a trot or walk, he really stepped into the lower gaits without losing impulsion. Now trust me, the transitions still need a TON of work, mostly for the purposes of keeping Eli’s back and hind end strong. We won’t be scored on transitions ever, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore bad ones and not try for good ones.
I’m not sure how helpful this review will be for anybody–it’s basically my two cents about a very particular type of bit for a somewhat peculiar Thoroughbred. But, as evidenced above, I am more than happy to talk shop about any bit for any horse, and I always have a well-thought-out reason for trying any bit on a horse I’m riding regularly.
But enough of me geeking out on bits. This weekend was pretty much a fantastic summer weekend, breaking up the doldrums of August in Texas. Friday I had a dinner of cheese, alcohol, and sugar at a popular Tex-Mex place in Austin with friends Amanda and Stacy. As you can imagine, the conversation centered on horses for most of the meal.
Saturday morning, Eli and I had THE BEST LESSON IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. I’m not kidding. He was on it, and I was riding like I knew what I was doing every damn step and we hunted the jumps like derby veterans. Seriously, holy shit. Where is this horse every day? My trainer exclaimed that was the best she had seen me ride in a while and Eli jumped everything beautifully right out of step. We just raised the bar on ourselves. And of course have zero media of it. Whatever, though. That feeling is burned into my sensory memory now, and I’ll be chasing it every ride.
Saturday evening, I went to a friend’s stock-the-bar housewarming and she has one of the most brilliant things in interior design I’ve seen: a flatscreen in the kitchen, hung on an end wall over her counter-height brushed steel dining table. Want one now.
Sunday, I visited Stacy in the morning at her place to ride her wonderful gelding, Weston.
I want this horse for myself! His gaits are outstanding and he’s a total champ about moving off the leg, and I love his instinct over a jump.
I don’t usually do quite so many activities over the weekend, but after this weekend I’m thinking I should! To cap it off, Sunday evening I watched football. Yes, football. I know, it’s just the Hall of Fame game and I only watched the first half, but still, FOOTBALL. Can’t miss The Bus getting inducted! Are there enough horse bloggers out there who love football that we could have a horse blog fantasy league? I volunteer to run it!
Upcoming tomorrow, I’ll do the first in hopefully a new series of reviews about non-equestrian products that still fit right in to the horse world.