Myler Levels of Training and Bits
Rather than just using one bit throughout your horse's working life, the Myler system is progressive and different bits may be required as your horse moves through his training. The bits are rated according to the horse's level of training:
Myler Level One
A horse at Myler Level One is at the beginning of its training, where basic balance and obedience is being asked for (e.g. trot to walk, walk to halt, basic turning, etc) and where few of the rider's body aids are understood.
Level One bits use mainly tongue pressure, but also some bar pressure and, depending on the style of bit, some curb or poll pressure. A Myler Level One bit uses the sensitivity of the tongue to give clear, concentrated signals at its centre, which can be released quickly and evenly when the horse does as he is asked.
Myler Level Two
A horse at Myler Level Two has achieved a basic training, and is now progressing in a particular discipline, with a degree of balance and collection. He will be relaxed and fully broken at the poll and will be able to hold his outline when rein pressure is released. He will be stronger and able to sustain longer periods of work with better concentration and understanding. At this stage the rider wants to refine and define his aids for more precise work.
Myler Level Two Bits still use the tongue for signalling and control, but with a more subtle, spread pressure. The horse has shown that he can work without the concentrated tongue pressure of a Level One Bit, but it is still too early to release the tongue completely. The bars, curb and poll may also be utilised to a certain extent and Independent Side Action becomes very important as the work becomes more complicated.
Myler Level Three
The third level of training relates to "finished" horses from whom quite a high degree of collection and athleticism is expected. A Myler Level Three horse will be relaxed and will work well off the rider's seat, leg and hand.
Mouthpieces at this level give maximum tongue relief, working largely off the bars with a little poll and/or curb pressure, although the appropriate bit will depend very much on the horse's disposition.
These levels are not definitive and a horse will straddle two of the levels for much of his career.
The Myler Approach
This is to allow a horse more freedom gradually as he progresses through his training, rather like allowing a child more and more responsibility. The Myler's point out that we do not communicate and interact with a small child in the same way we do with a teenager, or indeed another adult, so why should we seek to use the same communication tool throughout our horse's training?
Most snaffle type bits are Level 1, and if a horse is resisting a traditional snaffle, there is not much point putting him into a Myler Level 1 bit, because it will act in a similar way, (albeit more comfortably). The horse is probably trying to communicate that he needs more tongue room, so a Level 2 or 3 bit, depending on what stage he is at, would probably be more suitable.
Level of Rider
Don't forget that the rider's experience and skill should count for a lot in the choice of bit, especially in the cheek style selected.
No bit will hurt a horse without someone pulling on the reins!
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