• Create an account
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.

Why use a Cavesson?


correct-snaffle-bit-horse s-mouth-1.8-800x800Randy I have a question, "why do you use a Cavesson?"
thanks Brock Holbrook


That is a great question and here is my answer:

Analogy:
Think of using a cavesson like you would if you went to the orthodontist to get braces put on your teeth. It is a temporary tool to fix a problem. Once the problem is fixed, you now have a beautiful smile. I used the cavesson to build a beautiful, respectful, obedient, soft, supple, happy, light, responsive horse. Do you like to see horses gaping their mouths open when asked to move laterally?

Short answer:
Can you train a horse without a cavesson? Absolutely you can. I have done it for years without, but many of us have grown, learned, and become better horseman. Using a cavesson just makes life easier and makes a happier horse.

The #1 reason why I use a canvesson is to relieve the pressure off of the TMJ. It then become a preventative measure of future issues. The weight of the reins is transferred to the bridge of the nose rather than than to the TMJ. When using a snaffle, the simple answer is, to keep the horse's mouth shut and it helps stabilize the bit when you add pressure with the reins. If used properly, a cavesson is used to keep the horse from evading contact until the horse learns to be soft and supple. It is also valuable for young horses just learning to go "on the bit", as it supports the jaw and helps the horse to relax its masseter muscle, and flex softly at the poll. If the cavesson is adjusted snug, the rein pressure applied will be distributed more evenly over the nose rather than just the lower jaw and TMJ. 
You do not want to create a problem (mouth gaping) by solving another (resistance) through suppling. It should not be used to mask resistance. The cavesson is a temporary training aid to teach resistance free riding. As you can see in the picture below, Carbon is a happy horse, knows his job, is feather light and moves like butter. It took four years to get to this point. If Carbon lives to be 30, only 4 years of his life he wore a cavesson. 

edit-5911-2Long answer:
Yes, I have heard all of the arguments as to why cavesson should not be used.
  1. It is a device or gimmick
  2. It masks good horsemanship
  3. It is dangerous
  4. It is not needed
  5. Creates a dependency
Some of the things I have noticed with riders that do not use a cavesson is that they do not notice their horse is gaping his mouth for two reasons. 
  1. they do not have enough contact to cause this,
  2. they can't see the horse's face from the saddle when they make contact.

Other horses will open their mouth without contact just because they have something in their mouth.

There are two layers to training a Bridle horse. One layer is using the snaffle bit, and the other is using the curb bit or bridle. When you activate the port of the curb with the shanks, the port will act as a wedge prying open the mouth. Again we do not want to teach him to evade the contact. Once the horse accepts contact with the bridle and has self carriage, the cavesson has done it's job and can be removed.

Now for a deeper understanding of a cavesson. First, let's talk about some concepts.

The first concept is being effective with your Communication:

Horses are very simple creatures. When it is time to teach something new, we want the horse to learn it as simply as it can be taught. As a person, we would not want to be nagged and nagged all day when learning something new. I have a phrase I use, "get in, get it done, and get out" ! Horses do not want to spend all day being pulled and poked at, they want peace and to get back to their buddies. So the more effective we are at teaching and communicating our intentions, the happier our horses will be.

The next concept is "Expectations":
I am NOT building a ranch horse that runs around herding cattle or a trail horse that snatches grass along the side of the trail. My goals and expectations are to build the ultimate Western Dressage Bridle horse. This is an art form. To have and build a Bridle horse is a valued PRIZE. It takes years to build the top-line for self carriage and the cherished mouth of a Bridle horse. It is the top priority to protect the mouth at all times with respect. To build the WD Bridle horse it takes a new set of tools and rules. 

The last concept: "The use and acceptance of aids"
In order to build that valued prized Bridle horse, you need to use all your aids to teach the horse how to move certain body parts. You want to have control and move the feet like moving across a skating rink. To effectively communicate with the horse, you want a clean static free communication line. It is very common in most horses to pull and resist contact with the reins as soon as you ask them to learn something new. When you apply pressure to the snaffle bit, it is not uncommon for a horse to give you his bottom jaw, but not his top. This is an evasion to the rein contact. This happens because the horse is not soft and manifests resistance.

Every time you make contact with the mouth and release pressure while the mouth is open, you have taught the horse that it is okay to gape his mouth and evade contact. If you never allow the horse to gape his mouth in the first place, you save hours and months of aggravating your horse. The truth is that Carbon does not need a cavesson. With Carbon, I show him with or without a cavesson. (I have videos in the archive that attest to this).

Why is using a cavesson so taboo?.  Some people think that the use of a cavesson will mask the problem. In reality, it will only mask the problem if you do not FIX the problem! Using a cavesson is not mean, cruel, or abusive to the horse. It is more abusive being unclear with your communications and prolong his training with ineffective methods.

What are the drawbacks or dangers in using a cavesson?
Horses are claustrophobic by nature. If you have been training your horse for any length of time, he has had the freedom to open his mouth and evade contact without your knowledge anytime he wants. Now that you have closed the door to the evasion of opening his mouth, he could panic and do something like rear and flip over backwards. The key to introducing the cavesson is slow progression from the ground first then transition to under saddle. Teach your horse to accept your aids and move on.

Supplemental info: many of the bitless bridles incorporate a type of nose-band concept for different reasons. 

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to train, you need to consider each horse as an individual and do what works best for each situation.
I hope this helps add a perspective to your training. 

I hope to see you down center-line at "8" or "X"
Randy & Carbon
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Articles

Written on 11/01/2016, 12:26 by admin
modern-vs-classical-dressage-is-there-a-differenceModern vs Classical Dressage, is there a difference? You Have you ever heard of an instructor say "I only teach classical principles" or "classical dressage"? After all, isn't Western Dressege built on classical principles? I can't recall anyone bragging about teaching competitive or modern...
Written on 23/04/2015, 11:23 by admin
genghis-khan-in-the-art-of-riding-correctlySomehow I don’t think Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire (1162-1227 AD) rode "two handed” in a curb bit while cutting off the the heads of his enemies on horse back.  For years I have felt that my rants have fallen on death ears. I am glad that I am not the only person that feels...
Written on 23/02/2015, 13:06 by admin
light-handsWhat does the term "Light Hands” or "Soft Feel" mean to you in regards to Western Dressage? What can we learn from great leaderships like Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower? The USA won the cold war in part because President Reagan was willing to back up his words with unyielding...
Written on 11/02/2015, 09:08 by admin
new-article Where has common sense gone these days? Have you ever seen something that made you shake your head in disbelief? This reminds me of a phrase I have heard: “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.”  “Wisdom is not just the use of knowledge, to properly use wisdom you...
Written on 11/05/2014, 09:01 by admin
seeking-truth-one-hand-at-a-time “The greatest enemy of knowledge is "NOT" ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”  ― Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself What does the above statement mean to you? What is the best way to gain power and infuence over folks? The...
Written on 20/03/2013, 18:25 by admin
what-does-true-collection-look-like Randy, "How do I know that I am doing Western Dressage correctly?" That is a great question, I am glad you asked. I get this question quite often. It would be helpful if the water was not so muddy, right? To help answer this question I have a few questions for you as well. "Are you a truth seeker...
Written on 10/03/2013, 13:49 by admin
proper-use-of-holding-a-bridle-horseRiding out on the trail or schooling, riders often hold their reins in whatever way is most comfortable or useful. Riding casually, we might use two hands, or cross the reins, or switch frequently from hand to hand, but in the horse show ring, rules are very specific about how the reins are held, and...
Written on 01/01/2013, 21:31 by admin
the-what-is-the-difference-the-five-ws-of-western-dressageThe “What is the Difference?” "The Five W's of Western Dressage": “What? Why? Who? Where? When?” Do you need an excuse to be with your horse? If you are like me, probably not. Even mucking Carbon's stall is enjoyable; I love every minute I spend with my boy. Have you ever gotten on your horse and...
Written on 28/12/2012, 23:58 by admin
demystifying-the-pyramid-what-is-the-training-scaleDemystifying The Pyramid "Training Scale?" Do you remember sitting in high school and not understanding the question that everyone else seemed to know the answer to?  Do you remember being so afraid to raise your hand that you pretended you already knew the answer and regretted it when the...
144700
Written on 15/12/2012, 21:31 by admin
the-five-ws-of-western-dressageThe “Why?” "The Five W's of Western Dressage": “What? Why? Who? Where? When?” In the last year, there have been lots of people asking, “What is Western Dressage?” You may have seen an article or two labeled, “What is Western Dressage?” Simply put, Western Dressage is a method of training that brings...
Written on 15/10/2012, 18:00 by admin
snaffle-vs-curbI have a question, Randy: If a horse goes nicely in a snaffle, why do you need to change to a curb or (bridle)? Good question, here is the answer: "Very few folks can ride bridlelss, but even fewer can ride with a bridle!" ~ Eitan Beth-Halachmy The simple truth is that you do not need a...
1633490
Written on 14/10/2012, 16:37 by admin
what-did-your-horse-teach-you-today  Question: I have a beautiful 9 year old Paint/Qtr gelding. He hadn't been handled in over a year before we brought him home, but we've been handling him everyday. However, most of the handling has been allowing him to graze on the lead. Last weekend, I attempted to give him some wormer...
219140
Written on 29/09/2012, 15:08 by admin
the-use-of-the-curb-bit-a-lower-levels Bethe Mounce Question---"why the curb chain and not a plain snaffle? This is lower level dressage, right?"This question is in reference to riding Western Dressage tests in a curb bit or snaffle bit. I am not sure if I fully understand the question, but  you mention a curb chain… I think...
Written on 29/09/2012, 15:03 by admin
why-use-a-cavasenRandy I have a question, "why do you use a Cavesson?"thanks Brock HolbrookThat is a great question and here is my answer: Analogy:Think of using a cavesson like you would if you went to the orthodontist to get braces put on your teeth. It is a temporary tool to fix a problem. Once the problem is...
311120
Written on 22/06/2012, 22:40 by admin
randy-byers-truth-revealed"Rearing and flipping over backwards is the single most dangerous thing a horse can do!"Why does a horse rear?Rearing is a refusal to go forward or an evasion to your "go forward" aids or cues!""How do you fix a rearing problem? Simply put, "keep the horse's feet moving in any direction except...
129870
Written on 11/04/2012, 12:29 by admin
what-is-a-bridle-horseDeveloping a good "Western Dressage Bridle Horse" is all about your expectations of what you want in a "finished horse". There are many training methods claiming that they are the only correct way to train a horse. Even though there are many ways to "start", "develop", or "finish" a horse, the...
156930
Written on 04/04/2012, 16:44 by admin
q-a-flying-lead-change"Transitioning from a Simple Change to a Flying Change"   "I am going to be showing this summer, but I have been working for a few months on lead changes and my horse can get where he does like half a trot stride then goes to the next lead, but I can't get him to do an actual flying...
Written on 26/03/2012, 01:13 by admin
ground-manners  "My name is Briana. I’m training a 2-year old mare and she does not know her ground manners. What do I do and how do I teach her good ground manners?"   Thank you for asking these questions. This is a very widely researched topic. There are many books, videos, DVDs and other educational...
101010
Written on 26/03/2012, 01:12 by admin
how-do-i-get-her-to-slow-down  "How do I get her to slow down, collect, and accept the bit and stop being so neurotic about whenever the reins are gathered and the bit makes contact with her mouth?"   This is a great question and you have given me lots of detail to help in forming a response. I like to define a...
Written on 26/03/2012, 01:11 by admin
speed-control  I like to define a ‘broke horse’ by saying that you have full control of direction and impulsion, regardless of how good your ground work is and how soft he is. Using this definition, If you cannot control the speed of the canter, he is not broke or not broke enough. The quick and simple...
Written on 26/03/2012, 01:10 by admin
anthropomorphism “My horse sleeps better at night in a barn because he feels safe, my horse comes to me in the field because he loves me, my horse won't take its medicine just to spite me.” We can’t help but love our equine friends because of their social nature, but can we be accused of the dangerous behavior of...
317570
Written on 26/03/2012, 01:05 by admin
i-can-t-control-my-horse-on-the-ground  Question: I have a beautiful 9 year old Paint/Qtr gelding. He hadn't been handled in over a year before we brought him home, but we've been handling him everyday. However, most of the handling has been allowing him to graze on the lead. Last weekend, I attempted to give him some wormer...
303790
Written on 26/03/2012, 01:01 by admin
active-vs-passive-leadership "In a world full of horse trainers, clinicians and equine professionals competing to make a mark for themselves, many find new ways to reinvent the wheel; however, several try to put their knowledge into some package where we may identify with it all. In the equine world, leadership is the key to...
193240
Written on 26/03/2012, 01:00 by admin
natural-horsemanship-what-is-its-message In the world of “Natural Horsemanship”, there is a widely used phrase “be as soft as possible and as firm as necessary.” It you ask 20 people what Natural Horsemanship means, you will get 20 different answers. There is also a growing concern about how firm is too firm and how gentle is too gentle. If...
103070
Written on 26/03/2012, 00:58 by admin
confidence-is-leadership-in-action-and-fear "I have been raising a family for the last 20 years and I need help with my confidence. I was a fearless rider when I was younger, but now I am nervous. Last year I got hurt and I am not sure if I want to just hop on, now. My horse is very pushy on the ground when I lead him." “Confidence” is...
You are here: Home Home Articles Articles Why use a Cavesson?