With the showing season coming up, I thought it was high time that T looks the part. His flatwork has come on leaps and bounds in recent months and he’s really starting to keep a consistent outline through all the paces, and he’s even finding it easier in canter, which he had struggled with for a very long time. So, the time came to ride him in double reins for the first time!
Ever since I have owned T he has always been ridden in the same bit: a D-ring jointed snaffle. He has the D-ring bit as sometimes he can be a real pain to steer, but he’s never strong so the snaffle is enough. Ever since he’s started going well in an outline, I’ve been contemplating trying him in a rugby Pelham, hopefully for a few extra points when showing!
The correct tack for many showing classes is a double bridle, however in local shows, a Pelham with double reins is acceptable. The rugby Pelham is favoured by many as it has the appearance of a double bridle without the two bits. This makes it incredibly useful for more novice horses or those with smaller mouths. It looks very like a double bridle since the snaffle ring is not directly attached to the bit but is set back; this ring should then be attached to a slip head, just as the bradoon on a double bridle would be.
Since T is not a strong horse, riding predominantly off the snaffle rein with a loose curb rein was sufficient. Equally, by keeping the curb chain relatively loose and not applying too much pressure on the curb rein, the rugby Pelham is not too severe. Indeed, I believe that any bit can be gentle in the correct hands, whereas rough hands can make even a rubber snaffle harsh.
The next question is which mouthpiece to go for. Whilst any will be suitable if used correctly, I have no doubt that horses prefer different mouthpieces. T has had a single jointed bit for as long as I have had him and the ‘nutcracker’ action does not seem to bother him at all, like it does with some horses. The mouthpiece of the Pelham I have tried him in is a thick mullen mouth and I definitely got the feeling that he was slightly uncomfortable with it. So, the choice is now between a single joint and a French link Pelham. I am inclined to try the gentler French link to see how he goes in it; maybe I’ll even move to a French link snaffle if he likes it.
Watch this space to see how we get on.