May 17, 2012


Bryan truly lived in his own world. He wasn’t remotely aggressive. He wasn’t even particularly ill-mannered. He just ‘wasn’t there’. I had never seen a horse like that and of course took it as a personal challenge. I wanted to get him to realize that things had cause and effect. This meant doing things in new ways. I felt like Annie Sullivan, spelling meaningless shapes in to Helen's hand. Would any of it connect?

I can’t separate a horse's mind from his body. We do lots of physical therapies with the boys; more on these later. But since Horses Are The Sum of Their Parts™ , and we want to reclaim them as riding/performance horses, we ride them.

I started Bryan's New Life with a different bit. There are two bits I like for this sort of reclamation. The Myler Comfort Snaffle Combination bit is my favorite. The Myler mouthpiece protects the palate and the tongue and the bars. I like that it’s loose ringed and the horse can lift it comfortably with his tongue. I also like the combination hackamore aspect, as a horse that has given up on his mouth, through unskilled and inconsiderate riding, can gain confidence again when ridden well with this bit. The nose pressure can reduce the defensiveness/dullness/pain associated with bad riding and regain the horse’s  understanding. It can help teach a horse to give, rather than pull. You can adjust the reins to have some leverage effect, you can use two reins, what have you. There is a lot of versatility, and it is very gentle.

The other bit I like is the Linda Tellington-Jones bit. You may not realize just how much it takes for a George Morris groupie like me to admit to liking anything about Linda TJ, but I’m a Big Girl with Healthy Self Esteem  and I can attest that  if you can get past talking to the fig trees and wondering if your cat is really your mother reincarnated, her work has real value.

So Bryan had a mouth like a spoonbill. Low flat palate, skinny flat tongue, and wide but sharp bars. I didn’t think he could handle the LTJ bit, with its big port and roller. So the Myler it was.

He accepted it with his usual mindlessness. He probably would not have noticed if I had put barbed wire in his mouth, actually, he was so removed from his body. But the Myler fit well and didn’t poke his palate or hit his bars. I put the rein on the bottom ring to have a little leverage. I wanted him to feel the bend in his poll if possible. I also wanted to ride with no, zero, nada, zipperoonie contact. Some day I will vent about how deeply misunderstood are the words ‘contact’ and ‘connection’, but today will suffice to say we rode B with no contact at all.

And so, the work began.


  1. To the fig trees! To the fig trees! :o) You cracked me up on that one!! Love it!

  2. Linda seems to have moved away from some of her total woowoo stuff. im glad, cause she really does have the horse girl cred, and as a Guild Certified Feldenkrais practitioner, her work has incredible value. I just had to train myself to look past the Creeping Tarantula type names of the 'Ttouches'. Her Encyclopedia is really excellent and explains how and why she developed the Ttouch. Its well worth study!