It's not enough to have a giant bit for XC. I have to be familiar with it and know how to use it. Since Cuna doesn't get super strong in the arena and we don't have a cross country course to practice on, I need to recreate the conditions that create his excess of forward, then learn how he, the bit, and I can interact successfully.
He lives in the mountains. We do not have a flat surface on which to attain a reasonably fast gallop, like a track. I do have a certain hill I like to gallop him up, but the physics of running uphill are such that gravity does most of the work and it really isn't that challenging to stop, whether you have a giant bit, a mild bit, or a halter.
Hm. What I really needed was a long, easy stretch of gently undulating terrain and decent footing on which I could practice letting him go and bringing him back. Over and over.
Hello ridgeline. There is a skinny ridge that connects some of the nearby hills/mountains. It goes up and down some, but it about as flat as it gets around here. The bonus is that it doesn't just go up one way, down the other. There is some genuine roll to it.
Plus, since I'm riding Cuna, I don't have to worry too much about a big spook and falling off a cliff when I already have a heights problem.
Off we went.
We walked and trotted to where the ridge sort of dead ends into a super steep downhill (think man of snowy river proportions), then turned around to head for home.
At a gallop. We went down a little dip, roared up a hill, and booked it around a turn towards another downhill. Um. Yeah. Brakes!! I sat up, put my leg up, and used my hands a little. He came back to a nice, balanced canter down the hill, then I let him got forward up the next one.
A windstorm was coming in and the sky was cool and grey. We ran against the wind up the next hill, half-halted at the top, then soared down to the bottom in a big, swooping turn. Half halt at the bottom, gallop up, then trot down the steep part.
And so on. It was more like flying high above the valley than riding.