Or, alternately, “pony knows best.”
This weekend, I decided to, on a whim, check out a consignment tack store not too far away from me in Phoenix.
I hit the jackpot in the bit department. A truly excellent deal on a Myler bit — which, as anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, is a major weakness of mine. Bit Hoarders R Us.
I was quite excited when I found this bit, since I thought it was a Level 2-3 mouthpiece I’d been contemplating as one I thought might work pretty well for Princess Fussy Mouth. Plus, it was a kimberwick, which is my preferred bit for distance riding.
Bought it…used it the next day…
She LOVES it.
She mouthed at it a couple of times while I was messing with the adjustment (no matter if it looks like the same height as the previous bit…it will inevitably require adjusting of the bridle), and then that was it. Once it was comfortably seated in her mouth, she didn’t seem to give it a second thought.
No weird jaw-crossing or mouth gaping, no tongue sticking out, and most amazingly, no leaning on the bit. At all. Walk-trot-canter-circles-stop. All light, soft, and responsive.
“Okay,” I thought. “Guess I was right that this would be a good bit for her.”
And then I started doing some research this morning. Turns out it wasn’t quite the mouthpiece I thought it was. Very similar…but it’s actually a Level 3 mouthpiece.
Which, in a twisted way makes sense: it’s designed for finished horses who work well off of leg, seat and hands. Which is Mimi.
I just always figured a Level 3 would be “too much” for her and that her small mouth and (presumed) low palate wouldn’t like having the higher port, which was why I always tried to stick with the lower level bits, figuring a lack of high port would be “kinder.”
Turns out all my pony wanted was tongue relief — which is why she leaned-leaned-leaned on any of the lower-level bits that would lay across her tongue, and she softened more when I put her in a Level 2-3 with more tongue relief.
This mouthpiece (MB33) has the most tongue relief of any of their mouthpieces, and she is one happy little girl.
Granted, we only used it in the arena and I haven’t tried it out on trail, but for her, I still prefer the s-hack for going “out” and saving the bit for the arena schooling stuff.
So, go figure. I think the lesson here is that horses are always teaching us stuff if we’re willing to listen to them. (And even after 16 years, my pony still has something to say to me.)