Finding a French link baucher didn’t prove as easy as a plain one, but on Friday I ordered one from VTO Saddlery, who are awesome. It arrived yesterday, which I didn’t realize until Liam checked the mail this morning. So out to the barn it went today, and I decided to put it on my dressage bridle, since it’s dressage legal, and we need to work on our flatwork for a bit anyway.
So it’s just a basic French link, with separate rings to connect the cheekpieces and reins. Information on the internet seems to be mixed on whether or not there’s any actual leverage, or whether it’s akin on a fullcheek with keepers (do people use fullcheeks without keepers?). Looking at it, especially on the horse, it seems like logic and physics would dictate that there is some sort of pressure though. She’s incredibly fussy about her poll, but it doesn’t seem to bother her.
It’s been a while since I’d ridden in my dressage tack, so it was nice to bust out the dressage saddle again and do some flatwork. Lots of walking warmup, with a lot of her least favorite thing, lateral work. It’s difficult, because she doesn’t want to use her back end; she’s got a long, heavy front end, and she’d much prefer dragging around on that.
But she warmed up wonderfully, and as we picked up the trot, I couldn’t help but notice how much happier she was to go forward into contact with this bit. I did a lot of circle work, and some spiraling, and it was not all great, but was at least all solid. The canter work was less solid, but feels a lot more adjustable, and she feels a lot lighter up front, much less pulling along than pushing along.
I ended up with a bit of very nice long stretchy trot, and she felt so wonderfully forward and on to the bit, that I really wished someone had been there to video. If I can get her consistently going like that, and starting to go that way at the canter, we’ll be great for the season.
Obviously, the bit is not a cure-all, it’s part of a training program. We’ve been working on these things for a long time, and for whatever reason, the message just wasn’t translating clearly or consistently between the two of us. This doesn’t fix my locking my elbow and causing her to get tense, but it seems to start us out in a much better place, where messages are getting through in a way we both seem to agree on, so that ought to make progress a lot easier on both of us.