So, we’ve all been there, riding around the arena on our horse, desperately seeking the elusive ‘On the Bit’. Pumping with our legs, ‘sponging’ with our hands; doing our level best to achieve what is beginning to feel like the holy grail of riding a horse!
All the while hoping, praying, wishing (hey, when you are desperate you will resort to anything!) that a lightning bolt will just shoot out of the sky and, **Poof**, your horse is ‘on the bit’!
The sad part is that the more we pump with our legs, push with our seat and plead with the Good Lord to show us mercy and deliver us from this agony that is our desperation… The less and less likely we actually are of achieving our goal!
For many trainers, it can feel like there is a fine line when explaining this concept. I am taking the brave (or stupid, depending on where you see the line) step of trying to decipher this massive mystery. A feat by which so many riders define themselves.
What Is ‘On the Bit’?
The term ‘on the bit’ is an extremely misleading one as rather than focusing on your horse’s head, neck, and mouth.
Your focus as the rider should be on what you are staying to your horse through your aids. And then noticing how your horse is then using his body in response to this.
The key to truly having your horse accepting your contact is the reason behind wanting him to do so. So you can collect and then channel the energy that is being created in his hindquarters as it passes through his body to his front end.
Developing On the Bit in Your Riding
As this energy is then gathered and channelled, you will find both you and your horse on the bit. You may only see glimpses at first; but over time this will develop. you will both learn to establish on the bit earlier in the ride. And also, maintain this contact and connection for longer periods as you both develop.
The rider needs to begin making small adjustments. Not only their body, but their mind, so as they can become ‘feather riders’ and allow the horse to actually use his back underneath them.
I discuss this topic in far more detail in the following blog and episodes posts:-