When do you have too much pressure on the bit?

You don’t want to have too much pressure on the bit, but what is too much pressure? Can you express that in so many pounds or kilograms?

A member of my online training asked me this question during a live Q&A. This is what I had to say about it:

It’s a very good question, but also a difficult one to answer.

For starters, you can’t say X amount of pounds or kilograms is correct.

That depends on a lot of factors, like for example the training level, but also character and confirmation have an influence.

What you can say is that in principle you always have to take a light contact with the mouth of your horse. And with light I mean that you don’t hang on the reins.

Or that you use the reins to make a certain head-neck frame.

Ride the body of your horse towards his head

But that’s where it often goes wrong.

Often we do try to make a certain head-neck frame with our reins. And it’s very likely that it will lead to high pressure on the bit.

Ór too little pressure because your horse doesn’t want to take the contact, because he doesn’t trust your hand or doesn’t find the contact comfortable.

Eventually the average pressure on the bit will become less as you make progress in training.

But that depends on the degree of collection and how much weight is being distributed from the front legs to the hind legs.

And that’s a process you can’t influence of force by changing the head-neck frame.

Or by ‘making your horse soft’ or ‘bending your horse to one side.’

In order to get the right connection and the right amount of pressure on the bit,

you want to ride your horse from back to front

Or to put it in a different way, by riding the body of your horse towards his head.

If you do that and you take a light contact, without making a head-neck frame, you’ll always get the pressure that suits your horse in that moment.

One Response

  1. I’m all in with the contact. I’m all in with the fact you should ride your horse from behind to the front.
    So, how do I do that? If I have a horse that 1) isn’t comfortable with consistent contact unless he’s “through” and 2) falls on his shoulders if told to go more forward.
    Would transitions between walk and trot and later on fast/slow in the same gait be my only option?

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