Double Bridles - When is the right time?
So, you've trained your changes, have a good walk pirouette in place- it's time to do your first Medium test!
Whilst you ARE permitted to start using the double bridle at this level, should you?
Like many riders, using the double gives a sense of 'graduation', much like pointe shoes for the ballerina.
However, it is not a problem solver. It should add to your training, not cover up problems.
Here are some common reasons I see riders looking to move up into the double.
1. Stop horse being heavy or on the forehand.
If your horse is consistently heavy in the hand, there are some issues that need to be ironed out before jumping into the double. A horse will feel lighter in the hand initially, but this will not be a permanent fix. You may end up with soundness issues as the horse uses it's body to compensate. He must be strong enough in the core, hind and back so as to be able to use himself correctly. Solve the heaviness in the snaffle, because if you don't, it will come back to haunt you (even in the double).
2. Horse running through the hand.
Again, this is an issue that is best solved in the snaffle. Otherwise you may end up with more pressure on the horse, but with the same result.
3. Keeping the horse 'in a frame'.
Same as the above 2 points, a horse that hasn't yet learned to be consistent in the contact in the snaffle is not using his body correctly. A good relationship with the bit must be developed prior to using the double.
4. Big horse vs. Tiny rider.
This is very common, and if all of the above points are not an issue, this can be a good reason to start in a double. A 50kg rider on a 17hh horse only has so much strength. And although the double should not be used to pull on the horse, it can help keep him concentrating.
5. Needing more 'feel'.
High level dressage horses have loads of buttons. The addition of a weymouth can assist in making your aids very small and precise. Quite necessary at the highter levels. Using a double bridle is not just about throwing 2 bits in and seeing what happens. If not done with care and precision it can damage your horse's relationship with the bit and the contact. Remember you are adding curb, poll and leverage pressures that your horse may never have experienced before.
If you would like some help to guide you on your journey into the double bridle, please contact me.
Anna’s expertise in bit fitting is unparalleled in Australia. I would highly recommend her to anyone from high performance riders to pleasure riders. She’ll help you and your horse find exactly what fits for your partnership!
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