I have been riding in the Callisto bridle (http://www.callistosaddlery.com/) for almost two years now (will post about that in the future) and I’ve always had the chin strap set quite loose, in order to be the ‘least restrictive’ – or so I thought. I’ve been riding with the chin strap like that for quite some time (see attached figure B) and I noticed that it wouldn’t release properly. I literally had to lean forward and manually release it all the way. The quick release of the Callisto is the exact reason I bought this bridle (and because my horse loves it too!) because horses learn by operant conditioning. Therefore, if one applies pressure, it has to be released instantly when the horse responds to the pressure/cue in order for them to learn what the cue means. And, like my coach always says, the release has to be complete, not 50%. It has to be a full release from pressure to zero. With the chin strap set on its longest, the weight of the metal ring and the excess leather would actually be so much that the ring wouldn’t slide back to its 0% position (which is at full release, figure A) but it would get stuck at 50% (figure B). So the rein cue (figure C) would continue after I ‘released’.
Corrine Wilson (from Callisto) then noticed this on a picture and advised me to try and shorten the strap, so that it would release to 0% (ring to ring, figure A). I was hesitant, because my horse is so sensitive that I didn’t want it to be constricting, but I tried. And what a change! It releases completely every time, I don’t have to release it manually at all anymore. My boy can still happily eat (I undo the noseband when I let him graze with the Callisto on) and he is much more sensitive to my rein cues, which means that I have to use my reins even less because he responds so much faster.
It is amazing what big difference something so simple can make. I always mistakenly thought that ‘longer = more space = better’ but in this case, shorter is better because it’s more accurate and hence, kinder!
If all else fails — read the instructions!