Hi Guys,

Do you saw left and right on your dressage horse's mouth or wiggle the bit with both hands to get him "on the bit".

If you "saw" on your dressage horse's mouth by alternating squeezing and releasing with your hands, you're riding your horse from front to back. He might look like he's "on the bit" because his head is down and his nose is on the vertical, but you don't have an honest connection from back to front.

The only part of your horse's body that you can affect by "sawing" is his jaw. Moving the bit in his mouth encourages him to chew. When he chews, he flexes in the jaw.

So, if all you do is saw on the bit, all you have control over is a flexed jaw. And your horse has a whole lot more body left over that you have no influence over.


That's why you might think your horse is on the bit, but you wonder why he comes off the bit when you ask him to do something like a transition.

The reality is that he was never on the bit to begin with. All you had was a flexed jaw.

To put your horse honestly on the bit, use your "connecting aids". Close both legs to add power from behind as if you're doing a lengthening. When your horse "arrives" at your outside hand, close that hand in a fist to capture, contain, and recycle the power back to the hind legs. Do this for 3 full seconds.

THEN, lastly you can vibrate or squeeze on the inside rein for two reasons:

1. To keep his neck straight. Your goal is to keep him form bending his neck to the outside in response to your closed outside hand. This means that when you ride with his soft (hollow) side on the inside, chances are you won't need any inside rein because he won't try to look to the outside when you close your outside hand.
2. To move the bit, encourage him to chew so he flexes in the jaw.

Remember, you're riding your dressage horse from front to back if you wiggle both sides of the bit. So never do with two hands what you can do with one hand (move the bit). And you have the other hand left over for the more important job of recycling power back to the hind legs.

A Happy Horse



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Comment by Jane Savoie on December 26, 2008 at 7:58am
Me too!
Comment by Kareylee on December 26, 2008 at 7:56am
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. It drives me INSANE to watch people see/saw on their horses mouths.
Comment by Jane Savoie on December 22, 2008 at 9:10pm
My pleasure! :-)
Comment by Janet B on December 22, 2008 at 8:59pm
Thank-you again for your clarity! I love the way you explain what the wrong aids do and how to ride it correctly! This really helped me connect and balance my horse on the outside rein. I look forward to refining my technique! I look forward to your weekly blogs! thanks again! Janet
Comment by Stephanie H.S. on December 20, 2008 at 5:53pm
I like the explination. I hate seeing all those horses going round like that. And then theres the ones that are just jammed up in front. But that advice is good. :)

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