I've been following Kate's posts on gadgets and softness closely. My own concerns rotate around an axis of what my trainer uses (and she's a very gentle trainer, actually), my own lack of knowledge, and my goals for working with my horse. The trainer recommends this gadget, I am not sure how to keep my horses head down consistently without being in his mouth constantly, and I want to work softly with him.
What to do.
At this point I've decided on a sort of middle ground - I'm using the device, but only sporadically and only for 5 minutes at the start of a ride. I am finding that on the trail (in the round pen he doesn't put his head up much) I can get Smokey's head back down when it goes up, but it's much harder and takes more focus. And the challenge remains in keeping it there consistently. I can see how these gadgets can make you lazy and soon you stop communicating, relying on the device to do it for you.
Discipline certainly needs to be there for both of us.
Today we tackled the SCARY ravine, a long ditch about two feet wide, with a drop of about 6 inches to a foot. ooooo!
Smokey was convinced he had to leap across it. Which was progress from the inital balk we worked through. For the last three days we've walked, lead, and just ridden across different sections of it. Finally today he figured it out and stepped down into it.
I've heard horses can't really understand how deep things are. That it takes trust for them to just step down.
If that's the case, I guess we made another step on our journey together.