01 September 2008 15:34
After years of riding, I finally have my first horse – a Warmblood x cob. I’ve kept him in the Waterford bit I tried him in, but I’d like to have a go at Prelim dressage. He is quite a heavy horse and very strong – what bit should I try to be dressage-legal? Also, I’d like to show him in a double bridle. How do I introduce a double bridle to my horse?
By Your Horse
Dressage Rider and Trainer Claire Lilley advises:
Keep the bit you use as simple as possible, so you can feel your horse’s reactions to your aids easily. A straight bar snaffle is the easiest to use, but your hands must be very quiet and still. A hanging cheek snaffle is permissible in dressage competitions, and this may help your horse to flex at the poll – a prerequisite of riding in a double bridle – but you must ensure that your horse accepts a correct contact with any bit that you choose, and you are not looking for a short cut.
Once your horse can collect and extend in walk, trot and canter, and do lateral work in a snaffle, only then should a double bridle be introduced. It is essential that he has correct muscle development and the ability to flex at the poll, which must remain the highest point of the neck, without coming behind the vertical, and chew quietly on the bit with a relaxed jaw.
If you train him well, his paces will become loose and elastic. It will feel great when you get it right, so I wish you well with your schooling.