By Jennifer Landers
The primary objective of the GMO Education Initiative (formerly known as the National Education Initiative) is to create and support new and affordable programs to engage members. GMOs hosting these programs can be confident they are delivering high caliber instruction and educational content consistent with classical principles of dressage and the Pyramid of Training. Events are USDF University accredited and members who attend automatically earn education credits.
Participation in this program demonstrates commitment to providing quality educational opportunities and the promotion of classically correct dressage training at all levels and in all locales.
Arkansas Dressage Society was thrilled to host a Horse By Horse Bit and Bridle Fitting Clinic with Stephanie Brown-Beamer over the weekend of September 25-26. It was held at the beautiful Valley View Farm, and big thank you to Patty Hale and barn family for your hospitality. This could not have been possible without our many volunteers that donated time, food, items, and much more to make this clinic happen. Thank you to our participants who were as excited about this clinic as I was. Special thank you to USDF for graciously funding the GMO Education Initiative Grant to help support this event.
The bit clinic was amazing! It was such a wonderful educational experience as Stephanie thoughtfully and thoroughly explained the different aspects of the horse’s mouth, each bit, bridle fit, and how it all relates together. She tailored each session to the horse and always seemed to know which bit to start off with. Many times, that bit was the one that was circled back to and ultimately decided on. She had a very large variety of bits on hand and fit both snaffle and double bridles. Stephanie welcomed questions from our audience and engaged with them effectively.
Stephanie would begin each session with the horse presented in a halter and the rider carrying the bridle in hand. She would measure the horse’s mouth as well as check the horse’s teeth, ridges on the roof of the mouth, and overall make-up of the mouth. She would then check the fit of the bridle on the horse and point out anything that needed to be adjusted to provide better comfort for the horse. Next, she would observe the horse and rider warm up and listen to any feedback from the rider on what their issues may be. Each horse and rider pair tried a series of bits selected by Stephanie based on the information she had received. The pair would then walk, trot, and canter in each bit. It was very interesting to see the horse’s reactions to each bit. The visible differences in the horse were fascinating! They would relax, reach more into the bridle, more visible swing in the gaits, and some even quieted their mouths. It was equally as visible when the horse did not like the bit. It was amazing to witness the changes, and the riders listening to their mounts. Stephanie also had bridles on hand and tried those on a handful of horses to gauge their feedback.
A few interesting facts from the clinic:
- Many of the horses had a “short smile” meaning they had small mouths.
- The larger and deeper the ridges in the roof of the mouth signaled the more sensitive the horse was.
- Many crown pieces on the bridles were too tight on the TMJ joint.
- Fleshy parts of the mouth in the cheek area can also cause a horse to have a very sensitive mouth.
- Horses will let you know which bit they prefer!
Overall, it was an amazing and educational weekend! Many horses left being more comfortable in their bits and bridles, and that is all the riders wanted. We just want our horses to be happy! We also went away more knowledgeable about bits and bridle fit – thanks to Stephanie!
What did some of our participants think?
Anne T. – “The Horse By Horse bit clinic was so incredibly helpful. Stephanie quickly determined the cause of our issues and the very first bit that we tried was a vast improvement. Sophie’s balance became visibly more uphill and her connection more honest. I highly recommend Stephanie and hope to ride with her again when I start my young horse.”
Suzanne C. – “I thought she was knowledgeable and open to each individual’s input from horse and rider. I felt that you could see the differences between each rider and bit exchange throughout the process. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I really think you would get another full clinic if she came again.”
Ashley M. – “I am so thankful that we were able to participate in the bit clinic with Stephanie! My horse was immediately more comfortable when we started trying bits based on Stephanie’s evaluation. He was softer in the connection and relaxed throughout his neck and back. When you know better, you do better, and Stephanie has enabled me to be so much better for my horse and our partnership!”
Eileen K. – “The bitting clinic was very interesting and informative. It was quite interesting to see how the same style and size bit but different brands of bits had quite visible and different effects on the same horse. Also learning about how pressure on the TMJ and/or poll affects horses was fascinating. The right bridle with the right bit can make a huge difference in the horse’s attitude and performance.”
Alex M. – “The bit and bridle fitting clinic with Stephanie from Horse by Horse was an eye opening experience. It was amazing to see how the horses responded differently with each bit change. I learned so much about mouth conformation and the fine details of bitting; I look forward to using this knowledge to benefit all my horses in the future.”
Kerry E. “It was so interesting to see how the horses reacted to different bits – you could tell when they found their favorite! I also learned a lot about bridle fitting that I’ve already put into practice.”
Aislin F. – “She was very knowledgeable and very helpful. I learned a lot about the different kinds of bits and bridles, how they are supposed to fit the horse, and what was the purpose of the different kinds of bits.”
To learn more about Stephanie, visit https://horsebyhorse.com/.