>>I have actually taken lessons on her other
lesson horse with a kimberwicke and hardly needed to use a lot of leg to get
him to come to the bit softly so I'm not convinced about using strong leg
aids to overcome the curb action for all horses.<<
I have no idea what your level of
riding is, nor how developed your "feel" is, so please don't take this as a
personal attack on you, but rather as a general observation (and perhaps, a
I, too, can get a horse "on the
bit" with very little leg contact, in a KW. Hell, on Toc, I can do it
while he's still on the buckle. Being "on the bit" is NOT what we want
from our horses. What we want is for them to work in a rounded frame,
using their quarters, and softening in front. I've seen horses above
the bit who were still soft in their backs and engaged behind. I've
seen horses ridden deep (which sometimes looks like they are "behind the
bit") who are working well. I've seen some with their noses on the
vertical, but their hocks are about as engaged as a hermit's
This is the danger with a bit
like a KW (or a Pelham, or Weymouth, or similar curbs) : the horse drops
easily onto the bit. What some riders don't appreciate is that a horse
can work just as incorrectly in this "frame" as it can in any
>>Actually, with any Arab I have ever ridden,
strong leg aids was not necessary.
I've heard this, too, when people ride "hot" horses.
"Oh, he's so hot, you use hardly any leg". My experience with hot
horses is that they require as much, and sometimes more, leg than a calm
horse, it's just used in a different fashion. Hot horses will often
give the impression that they are moving "forwards" when in fact, all they
are doing is moving fast! There is a difference btw speed and
impulsion, and what you are looking for is impulsion, and that comes from
the correct use of the rider's leg.
I have tried a KW once on my
horse, when I was considering taking him to the Boxing Day Hunt. My
reason for trying it was not because I needed brakes (Toc will stop when I
ask him to, because I ask him to, irrespective of what is going on around
him) but because he has a buck from hell, and I thought the curb chain might
help to keep his head up.
This horse has had five years of
solid work under his belt, moves strongly off of the aids, and carries
himself in a balanced frame. What I found with the KW is that he
backed off of the bit, even when I was riding him "on the buckle". No,
he didn't get over-bent, no he didn't go behind the vertical. The
"backing off" was only evident if you looked at what his back and quarters
were doing. Tense through his back, with quarters strung out behind
him. Oh, and the old "draw rein wither effect".
I guess what I'm saying is that
it seems to me that folks are awfully caught up with what their horses'
heads are doing at this point, and not with their horse's
Which brings me to Jim's post
about a lowered head being a sign of a calm horse. In most cases, this
is true, but not always. Some horses will lower their heads, because
it's what they've been taught to do, without relaxing in the jaw, at the
wither, or at the SI joint (this is usually the last place to "give").
Others will carry their heads above the wither and be utterly relaxed
throughout their bodies.
If you want to see if your horse
is relaxed, you have to "feel" it. It's not about head height, it's a
whole body thing.