Saturday, December 3, 2016

Working with a Grazer Bit

I'm reading a bio of the Hall of Fame trainer and showman, Don Dodge.  In the book,  he talks about his foray into cutting horses.  At the time, the early 1950s, there wasn't much cutting going on, especially in California.

Our "Grazer" Bit
Reining was king and the reiners used either a hackamore or a spade bit.  Don writes about using a "grazer" bit to train and work the cutters.  I wasn't sure what a "grazer" bit was, so I looked it up on Google of course.  It looks like one we have in our tack room, small port, leather curb, so I got it out and tried it on Scratch today.  (By the way, you could help by checking out the photo and offering your opinion on our bit.)

First, I checked YouTube for a video on how to fit the bit correctly.  I found one by Larry Trocha and made the necessary adjustments.

The first thing I noticed was how sensitive Scratch was to the movement of my hands. I was very aware of when I engaged his mouth.  It didn't take much movement of the reins to get a response and it was an effort to remind myself to give him the release.

Scratch and I worked on our stop and improving his response time.  One of the things we struggled with in the cow pen was rating the cow, stopping and rolling back.  It is imperative that he stop when I ask, even with all chaos going on in there.

Since it was his first real work with this bit, we didn't spend a lot of time working with it.  Actually, it was more for my benefit.  My eyes were often on the lower part of the bit so I could catch a glimpse of when the curb strap might be engaging.  That's a tough deal and now I know why they say all the really good trainers have soft hands.  We'll keep practicing and hope for improvement.

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