Custom blog header by Bre!

In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crab Cakes

It's been onward and upward for Gogo and I this week. After Friday's fantastic jog-out, I got back on her on Saturday, a little nervous but hopeful that all would go well. It was, after all, the true test of how she was actually doing - whether or not she looked good on the ground was going to all be for naught if she felt off at all under saddle. I walked for about half an hour, doing simple work at one end of the arena, then went, okay... here goes.

And we trotted.

And...... she felt great!

My set of eyes on the ground, the same boarder who has been there to watch her all week, told me she looked fantastic. I kept the trotting to a minimum, going somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, a little both ways. She was still pretty fussy with the contact, which I chalked up to being fresh at the time, but it was interesting - I've been trying a new bit these past several rides, and while I attributed the ridiculous antics she was doing immediately before coming up dead lame to pain in the RH, it was odd that she was still doing them but without any hint of ouchiness. It seems like there had to be a different cause, and the only thing that had changed was the bit. With it, she'd just been a total CRAB.

The new bit:

While we all love the famous blue bit (the mullen mouth Happy Mouth that happens to match everything else we own), she really tends to get quite heavy in it, and it's difficult to isolate the different sides of her body with such a cumbersome mouthpiece. I wanted to use something that still had the eggbutt rings, but had a more versatile double-jointed mouthpiece. This was my try, with an addition on top: a new metal that I haven't used before with her, a copper alloy called Cyprium. She was going so well in the KK Ultra Aurigan eggbutt snaffle that I thought I would try the knock-off version of it (because I really can't justify spending $200 on a bit!!). It DID make her salivate quite a lot, I am happy to report, but... in all honesty, I think that irritated her, as odd as it sounds. She went in it just fine, fine, fine, and then... BRAIN FART! Head tossing, sideways leaping... not ok. It just seemed so excessive. I took Gogo for a 20-minute outdoor hack on Sunday, and was surprised to find that when faced with something scary (the hay truck), she spooked, hit the bit, and about launched into outerspace with her head in my lap. Just a little bit, well... excessive! We all know she's fussy, but this was a little bit much.

So, I went back to the other bit, thinking that if the new bit was what was actually causing the issue, it would be resolved by going back to the one she already likes, and if not, then there was still an underlying pain issue we needed to address. Back in the blue bit yesterday, Gogo was super. Just SUPER! All the fussiness was gone. She was salivating plenty, and was predictably a little heavy in the contact like she normally is in that bit, but I think she really just likes the steadiness of it - it gives her something really solid to take and doesn't have all those annoying movable parts to it. Or well, if I was an obnoxiously fussy mare that's what I would think.
The weather yesterday was ridiculous - a mini Snowmageddon - but somehow I managed to shlep through all 8" new inches to get to the barn safely, even while the snow was still piling up. (For those of you that just got 3' of snow, I know 8" doesn't sound like a lot, and it isn't compared to what we get at home, but people in Connecticut just can't deal with this kind of weather and everybody freaks out and drives like grannies or crashes into stuff!) We stayed at one end of the arena and didn't do too much in the way of complicated things, mainly because every time we'd go down to the scary end of the arena she'd start leaping around, but for what we had to work with, she was excellent. And the best part was that she felt so good that we tried a little bit of canter - she was amazing! Going left she felt fantastic, but going right she was still pretty crooked, albeit much better than before. Oh well, we'll get there. We've got time.

So back to the blue bit for now, I suppose. We shall see if I can find anything more suitable that she likes. Probably not, but you never know!

Don't worry, I wasn't moving when I took that picture - everybody was piled up all trying to get down a hill safely. Like I said, Connecticut people can't drive in the snow!

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday, we dressage. Sunday, we hack. Monday and Tuesday, we go back to dressage, and if that all goes according to plan, it will be our first 6-day workweek in 5 months. I think she's looking forward to it, don't you?:

(PS: Make sure to go peek in at the blog's new chatbox on the sidebar. Leave Gogo a message, and she'll leave one back!)


Anonymous said...

Horses are so specific in their bit preferences. If she doesn't like a double jointed mouthpiece - I've got one mare that loves it and one that hates it - have you tried any of the Mylar ported mouthpieces - they've got a low port (or even no port with roller) and a higher port - for different tongue sizes - and some horses like the stability of the bit as it only moves slightly with pressure on one rein. These bits also do a good job of isolating rein aids, I find. And then some horses hate them - who knows?

Glad she's doing so well!

Andrea said...

Hi Kate,
Unfortunately ported bits are not dressage legal (unless on a double) so I don't think I'll be able to try any of them anytime soon. She is difficult to fit - has a teeny tiny mouth and a huge fat tongue - and I even think the mullen mouth is too thick for her sometimes. She always went really well in her super-thin double jointed loose ring, but last year when we were dealing with her one-sidedness that bit always got pulled through one side of her mouth as well. Now that we're just getting back into work, her one-sidedness is back with a vengance (guess that'll happen when you stand around in a stall all day!) so it's probably not a good choice right now either.

Too complicated!!

SassySki said...

My Olly uses mostly a loose ring with a french link. I tried a Kimberwicke on the open, xc like days, to lower his head and slow him down. He doesn't mind the bit but hesitates to open his mouth for it. I know he likes his french link better, so we alternate to keep in mind that it is ok to slow down. It seems to work.

SprinklerBandit said...

Horses and bits, oh boy. My mare goes in a thin KK ultra loose ring that I borrowed from a friend. Of course when I tried to put her back in her french link eggbutt, she threw an absolute fit. Nope, MUST HAZ EXPENSIV BITTS!

Suzie said...

Don't count out the french link just yet!

I would suggest trying the bit again at a later date once she is more into her work. Being that that was your first ride in a while, of course she would be a bit zesty and then calm down the next day.

Andrea said...

I won't count it out just yet - I like it personally but it's not going in my mouth ;) She's been in it for going on two weeks, but was having this reaction every ride. Crazy mare.

Golden the Pony Girl said...

Ah yes the bit game. Look on the bright side with a horse like that you are not left guessing what she is thinking. She makes her opinions abundantly clear!

Ambivalent Academic said...

This may sound weird, but your bitting issues sound very similar to my gelding's. He really liked a mullen-mouth happy mouth but got kind of heavy, and we had the same troubles trying to isolate different sides. I had him in a fat standard snaffle KK eggbutt for dressage, which was mostly OK, but sometimes a little wonky about seeking the contact.

He went best in a thinner mouthpiece full-cheek which is what I used for XC/jumping. This particular bit had sort of rounded-triangle shaped barrels, such that when he was seeking/maintaining contact the flat side of the triangle was against his bars, but when he sucked back and tried to avoid contact the "point" (it was not pointy at all - I'm probably doing a crap job of explaining things) of the triangle shape rested against his mouth. It's this bit:

Best bit I ever had for him. So light, always seeking contact.

He didn't have a huge mouth (but did have a pretty big tongue) so I think that the fat eggbutt was just too much in there. With the triangle mouthpiece it was still distributing pressure over a wide surface area without taking up so much room in his little mouth.

You won't find this mouthpiece on anything but a full-cheek since the little full-cheek keepers are required to keep the flattest part of the mouthpiece stable against the bars. I was too vain to use a full-cheek for dressage and I still kick myself for it now since he went so well in it. You should give one a try.

Ambivalent Academic said...

PS - I just found one on ebay for &23!

little K said...

My horse loves his happy mouth bit. He was started in a metal french link but in winter I changed him into a loose ring french link happy mouth because I figured it would be nicer in the cold (it's frequently -25 Celius round these parts). He now throws hissys like Gogo when I switch it so I've stopped trying. I also have a happy mouth elevator for field hunting that gives me some extra "woah" and keeps him balanced. But is still pretty gentle.