Archive for April, 2011

Conventional Wisdom

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

It has been nine months since the last relapse. Fudge has never recovered the full use of his lips and/or tongue. He still drops some feed, although not as much as he used to. He doesn’t respond to the bit well. Many EPM horses have neurological symptoms that don’t heal.

Conventional wisdom would send me to the tack store looking for a bit called “Doesn’t Respond to Bit Well,” or “Bit for Heavy Mouthed Horses.” I might try several bits, each more expensive and touted by a different trainer. I could end up with my very own bit library.

For each EPM neurological symptom that doesn’t heal, you need an uncommon answer. You need to be more than a casual observer, think outside-the-box, and search for solutions to work with the deficits.

I have wanted to try a bitless bridle for a few years on the Mustang. Why wouldn’t this work for Fudge? I borrowed one from the ‘bit library’ at the local tack store. I tried it on the Mustang during a lesson in the indoor (I like to keep the lessons interesting for the instructor at the show barn). After one lesson, I tried it on the Mustang in the pasture, and then went on the trail. I haven’t looked back.

All of the cougars have disappeared from the woods. The spooking is gone, the horse is relaxed, and I am much happier with the results. I have given up some lateral control, but I’ve just started a completely different way of communication. I’m making changes to my seat and legs. I have better brakes than I did with a bit.

I haven’t even tried the bridle on Fudge, but I will soon. In the mean time, he is ponied 2-3 miles at a walk-trot 4 or 5 times per week. Fudge is getting stronger, and has started to misbehave. I’ll have to ride him next time, and see how he responds to the bitless bridle.