The Return of the #AskMandy Series

Before the start of the next show, Giant Steps Charity Classic, for Team ACP, Mandy had the chance to answer a few questions submitted via her social media channels. Here are three Q&As in the continuation of the #AskMandy series:


Question: We’re trying with a young WB to come out of a pelham and into a lighter bit. How do you know you’re in the right bit? Do you show in the same bit that you school in?


Answer: For me, changing a bit is completely horse dependent. Generally speaking, I start with a snaffle and see where to go from there. And often, I will show in a different bit than the one I use for schooling.


If you are looking to change the bit, I would start over from the beginning and work up from there. I will use a pelham for a strong one. I ride WT Leapfrog in a pelham and sometimes in a double bridle (but he will often flat at home in a snaffle).


As a side note, it's important to know that a double bridle is not always a sharp bit. The reason why I like a double bridle is because I find the horse will take a contact on the snaffle and if I need the extra leverage of the curb I can access that—but I'm not always pulling on it.


If someone says to me, 'I don’t know what bit to put on my horse,' I always say to start with a snaffle and go from there depending on how the horse reacts.


Question: What is your routine for warming up your horses prior to a class?


Answer: Generally speaking, with most of my horses, I will flat in the morning, well in advance of a class. This is to get some suppleness and softness—or if they’re fresh, to get some of that freshness out of them—and then I don’t have to work them too hard when actually warming up for a class. I don’t like to wear them out before a class.


In my warm up, I test all of my buttons: the gas pedal, the brake pedal, steering. I'll do some lateral work (but most of that I do in my earlier ride).


For a horse that gets tired easily or doesn't have that much blood, I don't do very much in the morning. You need to know the horse to know how much to work them.


Then, in the actual warm up before the class, I generally start on verticals on most horses and do a few before moving onto oxers. Some horses need to start with an oxer if they jump them better or if I feel like they need to get adjusted to an oxer before the vertical. It all depends on if a horse needs more practice on an oxer or vertical more than the other.


I try to keep the jumps to a minimum. And for a jump off, I really try to keep it to a minimum. A lot of times, you hope that the warm up is more for the rider than for the horse. I try to do the training at home and use the warm up as a reminder and as a confidence booster to a horse.


Question: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from your time at Gerhard Etter’s?


Answer: My experience at Gerhard's really taught me that each horse is an individual. It was a unique opportunity to ride a wide variety of horses and to bring out each individual's best. The barn was (and still is) a very big dealing barn so all the horses were for sale. My goal was to be able to get on any horse and ride them around—to feel comfortable with, and confident in, my capabilities to ride any type well.

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