While I was visiting Miss Pia, S had a ride on Prairie and experimented with a new bit. A decently thin, loose ring, jointed corkscrew.
It makes the Pony Club kid/Dressage lady in me scowl in disgust but it also made me a little bit curious as to whether or not it might interrupt freight train tendencies over fences.
S reported back a light, easy, very fantastic Hunter-esque ride.
So for my Friday morning lesson I gave it a go. Prairie was admittedly - pretty well behaved (mostly) in it. Once we warmed up a bit and played with some transitions I could tell that she was much more mindful of my seat and half halts than she usually likes to be.
And it was really satisfying (dare I say, fun?) to canter around on a nearly looped rein and not have to micromanage her front end.
Jumping away from home she was tidy, responsive and very balanced. But even the death-bit couldn't erase all freight-train resemblance as we cantered a line going home. Prairie wasn't totally running away, but she was ignoring my requests for a correct 6 strides, or any signals that I wanted to add a stride.
Finally, one time through (headed home) I almost got our sixth stride in when Prairie managed some sort of odd stride-not-a-stride-boingo-boingo-jump that caught me off guard, and as she caught herself on the far side I reeeaaaalllllly jabbed her in the mouth.
Usually I pride myself on my ability to easily slip my reins. It's a skill I picked up when I was almost exclusively jumping green beans and was semi-used to them hurling themselves over things at odd distances in odd ways. I've also been pretty good at it with Prairie since she can have a big 'ol jump and I'm never quite sure if she's going to jump the 2'6" vertical at 2'6" or 3' or 5'2". It's a mystery. I try to be prepared.
But this time I wasn't, I think maybe I was 95% convinced she was adding that last stride and didn't totally read her correctly. Who knows. All I know is I thought "oh shit. Sorry mare" right before she landed, freaked, bucked, and bolted.
I probably would have tried to run away too.
I didn't really get after her since I was 99% sure that she got scared from the intense pain in her mouth, and she came back quietly. I popped over the same fence again at an easy trot to make sure she didn't assume the jump bit her (nope, just a bad mom) and we moved on.
The rest of the ride was uneventful and we finished with some easy courses that were pretty decent. After a ride where she waited to every fence and got all her leads I was just sitting back and letting her stretch in the canter on a loose rein about to drop to a walk when... BUCK.
Not big. But a buck.
This horse has bucked a total of 3 times with me on her, and twice was during this ride.
The first one was clearly a response to the bit/jab, but the second? She was on the buckle, getting pats and nothing out of the ordinary (that I noticed) coincided with it.
I can't help but think the bit is a bit too strong and freaks her out, but that second buck has me wondering...
S asked if maybe it was a "wheee! I'm so good!" buck. But P2 doesn't seem like the type. Maybe it was.. she didn't bolt or scoot after, just dropped into the walk and stayed loose.. but still weird.
I'm on high alert after the falling out behind earlier in the week (seems to be gone) weird high windpuffy things (also currently gone), and atypical bucks.
Something is up I think. I keep hoping it's just the aches and pains of building muscle and fitness, since nothing seems to linger... but who knows....
I do know that we'll be back to our old bit for our next ride. The Corkscrew might be a good tool for riding off property, but I don't want it to be our daily choice. I also ordered a regular full cheek slow twist as an alternative show bit, and might start playing with some happy mouth bits for regular schooling to see how she does with a really friendly mouthpiece (but maybe with different action...).
We shall see.
here's a quick video of one of the rides through the line looping back to jump the fences individually after. Not horrid but we have some work to do: