Behold we put bits in horses’ mouth and thereby turn their whole bodies. James 3:3
This verse is in a context where little things control big things- rudders, sparks, tongue. I think in the horse world it speaks volumes of how we can control our mounts. It is not a natural thing (and with natural being a buzz word in horsemanship circles this will not be popular). Moving a horse’s feet by using a bit takes skill. I am not talking about pulling the horses neck into a shortened position or yanking the neck around to the saddle and leaving the horse to stand for hours to “limber” him up. There are many horses who evade the bit and still obey. These horse often have a dipped muscle in front of the withers and an overdeveloped muscle behind the jaw bone. There are horses who pull on the bit and still obey. These horses may have overdeveloped lower muscles in the neck compared to the top line. There are few that accept the bit. Acceptance requires systematic, progressive training. Proper bit contact requires resistance, and there is such a thing as good resistance (again, an unpopular concept to some) . We tend to be extremists, either taking it all or throwing everything away. Teaching acceptance takes time and trust. Fixing evaders and pullers takes even more time and trust. It is never a waste of time to improve our communication and our horse’s well being.