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2019 Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange

For the fourth year in a row, I participated in the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange, which Tracy so kindly hosts (and has for seven years)!  I love choosing gifts for a fellow blogger, trying to find just the right thing to match their likes and interests.  And it is definitely fun to come home from work to a surprise package of horsey things for me!


This year, I received my gift quite early!  Thank you so much Eventing Saddlebred Style for the two surprises this past week!  She must have been checking out my Pinterest board I indicated I have, as these are both from my "want" category haha.

Plus, this is a new-to-me blog, so as soon as I finish this entry, I plan to tag along as a follower.  I like adding to my reading list, even though I have been terrible at commenting lately.


The cute little fox mug just makes me laugh.  I definitely cannot bring it to the middle school where I teach hahahaha, but I have already used it here at home a few times!

And the teal lead rope is aw…

Bit Fitting Clinic

On August 1, I traveled to Amesbury, MA to Around the Bend Farm for a bitting clinic with Kim Gentry.  After learning about this idea of someone fitting a bit/bridle for your horse with the same attention and expertise of a saddle fitter, I was intrigued.  Then I read Jen's account of her experience with Kim Gentry, and I knew this was absolutely something I wanted to do with Ellie.
such a pretty barn
and Ellie looks tiny in the stall

I reached out to Kim in late June to see if she would be in New England any time this summer.  Come to find out, she was coming to Massachusetts, just two hours away, on August 1!  I emailed the barn owner, a lovely woman named Melanie, and she was happy to have me join the clinic!  

Where else can you try out numerous bits and bridles at once and only have to pay a clinic fee?  I was pumped!  Ellie was quite good when we arrived at this gorgeous barn, and we were given a stall to use to tack up.  It was super hot in the indoor, without a bit of a breeze or open door, but the footing was nice and Ellie was relaxed.  I was essentially bathed in sweat even when standing still, but it was worth it haha. 

It is funny that I explained to Kim that while I did not see any specific problem with the Neue Schule Tranz Angled Lozenge Eggbutt she was currently in, I wanted to see if I was missing anything about her mouth/tongue shape and if a different bit might be even better.  These fancy new bits on the market are really innovative, but they are way too expensive to purchase unless you know your horse will go well.  And even doing the cheaper bit rental route still takes a lot of time.  This clinic allowed us to change out different bits quickly and get right back to work.

Kim watched us do our regular warm-up routine in the NS bit and Micklem bridle I have been using for over a year.  After watching us, she checked out Ellie's mouth, determining she has a really small mouth and a thick tongue.  She had a small lesion on her right bottom lip, which looked like she was somehow biting her lip when working in the bit.  Ouch!!  This made a lot of sense with the trouble I had been feeling going right.  (Fun fact: since the new bit, she is 100% better going right.  It is crazy!!  The way the new bit sits in her mouth is much more comfortable for her and the lesion has healed.)

We ended up trying seven different bits, and she was totally different in each one.  Loose rings are a definite NO for Ellie and she also does seem to prefer a double-jointed mouthpiece over a single jointed.  These were not surprises for me.  However, the way her mouth softened and her tempo relaxed in the Neue Schule Turtle Top Eggbutt was not something I expected.  This was the first bit we tried and after six others, we went back to this one again to try.  It was such a noticeable difference!! 
the Neue Schule turtle top
I do not believe a bit is going to solve all of your problems, but when it makes such an incredible difference, it is clear that the bit is a better fit for the horse.  Kim sold the bit at the same price I can find it online, so I ended up purchasing directly from her.  However, I feel as though had I wanted to purchase one on my own from a retailer, she would not have been upset about it at all. 
yup there's a turtle on it hah
Once we were through with finding the right bit, it was almost the end of our hour session.  Kim was not happy with Ellie in the Micklem, as she felt like it was impeding her ability to find self-carriage and truly stay on the bit.  Interesting.  She's a GP rider and clearly knew her stuff, so I trusted her on this.  She called the Micklem "training wheels that need to come off".  She also showed me how the crownpiece did not give Ellie's ears enough room at all.  

We tried a Passier Marcus Ehning II snaffle bridle which fit her head and ears much better. 
the Passier
In the end, I decided to purchase one and also found a screaming deal on a Schockemohle Equitus anatomic bridle, so now I have both and can use one for schooling and the other for showing. The base of Ellie's ears are just big and need a more curvy headstall.  
the Schockemohle

Removing the Micklem didn't show as huge of an immediate change like the bit, but in the six weeks since the clinic, she has definitely started to understand self-carriage, especially in the canter, and we are not fighting at all about staying on the bit.  Granted, maybe we have just improved a lot in six weeks, but it is a marked difference in how much steadier she is in my hand and how much easier she has become to ride!  And let's face it, the Passier and Schockemohle are both GORGEOUS bridles, so I am worried I am now going to become a leather snob hahaha.
Schockemohle, top
Passier, bottom
Once Ellie is ready to try a double, I will seek out Kim's assistance again.  She does 90-minute sessions for doubles, rather than the 60 minutes for a snaffle.  It seems like a no brainer to take advantage of the expertise of a bit fitter instead of fumbling around on my own.  Beth was amazed at the difference and remarked that we definitely wanted to have Kim fit her to a snaffle/curb when the time comes!

I wish I could have audited the entire day, as bit fitting totally fascinates me.  I wholeheartedly recommend Kim if you ever have a chance to do a clinic with her.  It is worth the time and money to have her opinion!

Comments

  1. Sounds like you got some valuable information out of this clinic which is always money well spent.

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  2. How cool! I'm so glad you had such a good experience too. Connor is the same around his ears, and the Micklem was tight around his ears/over his poll because you get so few options to adjust it compared to a normal bridle. If I adjusted it to fit in the cheeks, it was too tight up top. I feel the same way about the double, I'm not even going to spend a cent on a double until I see Kim again.

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  3. Wow, this is so cool! Glad you had a good experience and got some good options for her

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  4. I wish these existed in my area. I would love to try some different options for Cisco, especially that Turtle Top!

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  5. Very cool to do that and have some noticeable changes with the new items! Those bridles are gorgeous...!

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