A number of years ago, I worked for a time with a graphic designer, Gunnar Swanson. He also taught graphic design students, and he told me that when a student was concerned that a design element was too big, he told the student to make it bigger. The idea was that some elements just “want” to be big, and they need to be released from “big, but not quite big enough”, and that in other cases, making the element bigger would cause the designer to see the design in a whole new light, and come up with different solutions.
Maybe a decade ago, I applied this idea to bits: If a bit isn’t giving you enough control, switch to a milder bit. For my part, it led to riding in a rope halter (more about that in a later post). The basic idea is that, although bits are for control, they are never for more control, and that if a bit seems inadequate in that regard, the rider should return to the basics of horsemanship and forget about metal gadgets.
A second example of “make it bigger” occurred to me recently. If your horse is going too fast, ask him to go faster. “Too fast” gaits are often the result of nervousness or pain. If you ask the horse to slow down, it may very well increase the nervousness, even if it relieves the pain, because restraint never made a horse less nervous. If you ask the horse to go faster, that can sometimes relieve the nervousness, and then the horse will be able to slow down more calmly to the speed you wanted in the first place.
Restraint never makes a horse less nervous
Of course, you should only do this if you’re ordinarily comfortable riding the faster speed. Many riders get nervous when a horse speeds up, and this feeds the horse’s nervousness, but when you ask the horse to go faster, you’re not reacting, you’re doing something, and that should calm you down, as well.