This is my first attempt at a blog post so hope this is not too silly! It is 90 something degress outside, full sun so cannot ride until later thus I decided to blog. My topic: happy mouth bits since I have found a tack item that I really like. I started using the happy mouth loose ring snaffle on my OTTB. He was right off the track. I started with my double jointed D-ring snaffle. He did not seem to like it, seemed confused ( he is a horse that wants to please, like most TBs) but I knew that did not understand what I wanted since all he has ever done was race. He would carry himself inverted, not flex at the poll and flip his head when he started to get frustrated. I have been told that I have very light hands and I have learned how to be flexible with my elbows and follow the horse. Even so, I started worrying about my hands. I started riding him with loose rein, not much contact and he would still flip his head. So I tried more contact, that created resistance and he would actually lean on the bit!
After reading several forums and such, I learned about happy mouth bits. Immediate happy horse. After a few months of learning how to be soft and responsive, his topline developed and no more inverted horse. Little to no head flipping! It has been 2 years and I still use a happy mouth Double jointed loose ring. I did ride in a dressage clinic and the clinician smiled at my plastic bit but did ask if I had a bit the may get his attention more (our dressage frame did need some work!). I put my standard double jointed snaffle in my dressage bridle and was a bit worried that he might protest but he responded to it great, nothing like the first time I tried it on him. I think the happy mouth helped him learn that bits are not bad and was a great training tool. I still use it on a regular basis for hacking and cross country. I do switch to my 'normal' snaffle for dressage and it seems that the bit switch also helps my horse understand what discipline we will be doing for that ride!
As for the happy mouth, I do need to replace the bit. In my case, I replace it about every 3 months. It is apple flavored so yes, it does get chewed on! But it is still his favorite so happy to replace as needed.
I have a younger horse I am just starting. She is 17.1 hands and knows this. After basic training in a rope halter, I started with a basic, standard metal snaffle for her bit. She would raise her head and after some work, the act of putting on the bridle became better but not super. So I switched out the metal bit to a happy mouth. First time, head went up. I asked again for her to put her head down and let her check out the bit. Bit in mouth, bridle on after just a brief discussion. Next day, I pulled out the bridle, got ready to put it on her and she lowered her head the first time of my asking and opened her mouth! no fuss! She rode lovely in the happy mouth. Thus she gets one as well!
My next adventure is the Micklem competition bridle. I found it for a great price and just had to try it! It will arrive sometime next week! I figure nothing wrong with tack experimentation! We advance our technology such as our phones, computers, cars...why not our tack? I would be interested if anyone is using the Micklem bridle and what are your thoughts?