'On the bit' without 'Fiddling' - On The Bit - Rider Biomechanics
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‘On the bit’ without ‘Fiddling’

By on May 29, 2014

Fiddling, twiddling, squeezing and sponging of the rein is not the solution to ‘on the bit’. For some very few horses it might work temporally  – when the horse’s head goes down his back might actually come up for a while. But generally, horses will resist your attempts to bring the head when the back is also down, as this puts them into a contortion. Human spines are the same – when the back is hollow the neck is hollow, and the chin lifts. Conversely as the back fills out, the front of the neck softens and the chin comes down.

So in the contorted version of ‘on the bit’, it looks like the horse has had it head squashed back into its neck, and its neck squashed back into its withers. He might over bend, break at the third vertebra, etc. He shows a cramped version of the beauty and power available when the horse is truly in the seeking reflexes: up through his back and reaching – of his own volition – into the rein.
Influencing the horses back, and working with the seeking reflexes is a very different ethical approach to methods that are based on ‘fiddling’ or pulling the head down. To get more information on ‘The Seeking Reflexes’ you can register to get a free chapter from my book ‘The Natural Rider’


  1. victoria

    May 30, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Hello I have subscribed to download the free chapter but can’t find the download link anywhere? I just keep getting sent back to registration. Could you tell me where to find it please? Thanks.

    • Mary Wanless

      May 31, 2014 at 11:56 am

      Once you have registered you can go to the membership page which has the download link. You should have been sent the registration details via email. Any problems contact marywanless@onthebit.org for help.

  2. debs jenkins

    May 30, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I’ve just ordered two of your books based on reading the free chapter – really looking forward to reading them!

    • Mary Wanless

      May 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks Debs, have fun learning.

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