View Full Version : Bits
H & Bailey
15th Apr 2002, 08:28 PM
Can anyone give me abit of advice with bits..as they arent my strong point.My friend was asking what bit she could try on her 14.2hh cobx mare who is 3.She is ridden in a normal snaffle at the moment but says she feels like she doesnt have much control and her pony can be quite hard to stop.I didnt know what bit is the next step up for her to try..any advice?
Also now bailey has learned to canter and keep going without me shouting canter all the time,today he felt a bit strong and didnt want to pull up.I did but i dont want to have to pull on his mouth too much.He also very nosy and is always swinging his head around to stare at things should i ride him out in side reins and will this help with his cantering or make him worse.What would be the next bit up for him as at the moment he is in a fulmer( loose ring full cheek snaffle)and has a flash and a standing martingale on.( when i got him he used to open his mouth stick his head up and 'go')Do you think If I persevere and do lots of schooling his brakes will improve?
15th Apr 2002, 08:38 PM
sometimes a change of bit can be the solution BUT bits arn't SUPOSED to stop a horse and i understand that sometimes on some horses that isn't the case...but it is the riders seat/voice/....ext not the bit. maybe she should try some exersizes in a round pen like walk to trot to halt canter halt......stuff like that....half halts and more halfhalts help too. Or maybe she can ask a experianced trainer? and have the ponys teeth checked?it is possible she is hurting? her back/legs/teeth/feet??? hope this helps somewhat
15th Apr 2002, 08:52 PM
your friend should have some lessons on her youngster and learn to ride with her seat and to teach her pony to listen to her. a stronger bit is *really* not the answer for a three year old. if she needs a stronger bit now, what is she going to do in 10 years time when she's been through every bit on the market and the horse has a dead mouth? i'm not saying this to be rude, but it's a thing i feel strongly about. overbitting a baby who is probably just a bit confused about what she's meant to be doing will cause a whole lot more problems than it will solve. as she's so young, your friend can nip the problem in the bud before it becomes an ingrained habit that will be really hard to deal with.
i think schooling rather than changing bits is the answer for you as well. strong bits and devices like side reins only hide the problem, they don't solve it. it's like treating measles by painting over the spots. you and your friend could always go for lessons together - it'd be cheaper for both of you, and your ponies will appreciate it a lot more than they will appreciate stronger bits and sidereins.
H & Bailey
17th Apr 2002, 08:15 PM
Hi thanks for the advice.I am going to continue baileys schooling as I have now made the winter field into a schooling ring for the summer and see how he goes.Its just trying to undo what people have done before me!!!I am getting there slowly as he tends to re-lapse if he sees other horses and gets a bit friendly.
As for my friend I havent ridden her pony lately but did when she got her.Her pony was quite under the weather when she bought her and was really quiet ,but now she is well she is really lively and I think it is more lack of confidence on my friends part..I dont know why as she used to have an arabxwelsh which was a nightmare to ride.I have tried to explain the principles of schooling but she doesnt seem to understand so have suggested she gets the local AI who breaks and teaches in our area to take her pony out and see what he thinks then maybe she could have lessons..I would give lessons myself but its quite hard as I have little baby and it wouldnt be fair to 'park' the pram in the field while I teach her,as in my spare time I work with Bailey.
17th Apr 2002, 09:36 PM
Sounds like a good idea for your friend to have some lessons if there's someone in the area who can do that for her.
One thing it might help her to remember is that a baby (which is what a 3-year old is) will probably be unbalanced and on the forehand, not too good at steering, plus gawping around at things, and all that together can make it feel as if you have no proper control, but it will soon come if she's carefully handled. A youngster needs someone confident, quiet and well-balanced themselves to help them along - NOT, as Es says, a stronger bit. Hope she gets on OK.
17th Apr 2002, 10:30 PM
There's a nice article by Michael Peace in this month's Horse & Rider about riding a youngster - how you have to be very light and subtle in your aids, least possible use of reins aned "bump" his sides with your legs rather than squeeze them. I think your friend should definitely get help, from someone who understands young horses.
18th Apr 2002, 01:34 PM
lots of lunging to teach voice commands will help, tone of voice helps a lot too. My youngster is getting there, I do not have good brakes, but she understands whoaaa!
H & Bailey
19th Apr 2002, 08:16 PM
Thanks again.I am the type who uses voice aids continually when riding and am always getting stared at for talking to 'myself'.
My friend doesnt use them at all and i have tried to tell her to talk to the horse.In fact when we went out together for a ride the other day Bailey was looking all over and rosie was jumping and spooking and i ended up talking to rosie to settle her which i thought worked.today she had let someone else have a go on rosie and it galloped off with them!oops no brakes!
I think she really needs to get rosie back to the start as she has left her all winter then just decided to get on and expect her to be brilliant.i had seen how much Bailey had done..nothing really finished breaking then I had left him 'off ' over winter then re-started him and he is doing great.His balance is improving alot and apart from his gawping at everything he is getting really good .He tends to stare more when we are out with another horse..I think this is because he has had very little equine contact this is why i thought side reins might be a good idea to try as I didnt lunge with the side reins on much and havent ridden out with any on at all?I dont want him thinking he can swing his head round to get away with things.I ideally want him so kids can ride him..He is practically bomb proof now and he is only 4 So think i havent done bad.
19th Apr 2002, 09:25 PM
sometimes a bit with a side piece (e.g.fulmer or snaffle with cheeks) can be useful with a young horse to help them understand what the rider is asking when they want to turn.
The 'hard to stop' bit with your horse may be to do with him finding his balance. If he has a lot of weight on his front end, it won't be easy to stop. Try it yourself - run leaning forward and see how easy it is to stop versus running 'balanced' !
Then schooling towards self-carriage, and the horse being fit enough to support himself will help you a lot :)
If you want an exercise to check and practise self carriage in canter, then do a give and retake of the reins will in canter.i.e. canter normally, then push your hands forward for a few strides, letting the reins get a bit loose, then retake again. If he falls straight into trot when you give, then he is using your contact to balance himself and you need to work on getting the canter more balanced. (Work on suppleness, good upwards transitions, half halts etc).
Ultimately you should be able to give and retake with very little change to the horses balance.
Side reins would be a bit like the grass reins that get used on little ponies. At least it would encourage him to stay straight without you worrying that you might be doing horrible things to his mouth. But he may learn to lean on them :(
The alternative is just to keep your hands 'straight' in the direction you are going when he swings. Then HE is putting the pressure on his mouth it will be released when he faces front again. So you are just making it more comfortable for him to do the right thing and less comfortable to gawk about.
19th Apr 2002, 10:21 PM
I don't think it's really a bad thing for a very young horse to gawp about - it's just natural. In addition to learning to balance with a rider on board, she's taking in a lot of new things around her. If you try to restrict her too much she'll just get resentful and spooky and you'll probably spoil her paces. Balance will start to come with minimal interference from the rider, and can then be improved by gentle turns, transitions, riding up and down hill and so on. But nothing must be rushed or forced.
Oh, and I really would forget the side-reins.
22nd Apr 2002, 09:31 AM
i'd agree with ros - at 4 years old i actively encourage them to look at things that worry them and to go over and sniff them. it gives them the "stop and look at scary things" mindset rather than "scary thing what is it RUN AWAY RUN AWAY" mindset. if he isn't allowed to investigate things, then he might think "i don't know what it is and i'm not going to take any chances so i'm off". a fulmer snaffle will help with his steering - we use them on all the babies, but at this stage it just doesn't matter if he's looking around and taking everything in.
22nd Apr 2002, 09:05 PM
Es - I find it useful to use the same phrases, so my horses know what "d'you want to look?" and "d'you want to sniff?" mean! Sometimes they say "er, not really..." and sometimes they say "well - I might just have a little nose at it if you REALLY think it won't eat me..."
I just ask them what they want to do, and provided we actually get past (at their choice of distance) I never bother trying to force them to go closer to something they don't particularly want to explore. How do you approach such situations?
(Sorry if this is veering away from the subject.)
23rd Apr 2002, 09:23 AM
i tend to chat away to myself and the horse all the time i'm on anyway, so i don't really have particular phrases i use. i don't make them go up to things if they don't want to, but i don't let them turn round or back off. i know some people don't like dismounting to get past scary things, but if they're really worried and we aren't going to get past it without a big stress, i'll sometimes get off and go and sit on or next to whatever it is, so they realise it hasn't eaten me and it's probably not going to eat them. they'll normally come and investigate it then.
i normally just stand until the eyes stop popping out, give them a pat and ask for a step, and keep doing that until we're past it, or get whoever i'm riding with to stand their pony next to it so the baby will go and see the other pony. i also try to keep them on a longish rein so there's nothing out of the ordinary about it. another thing that can be useful is to turn the head away from it slightly and leg yield past it, so they don't think you're making them go up to it. i teach leg yielding quite early, i find it really useful for taking their mind off things!
23rd Apr 2002, 09:43 AM
i find it keeps everyone stress free and laughing if i insult the horse furiously in a really happy and calm tone of voice - aren't you stupid, yes you are, mummy's going to have to get off and pull your ears off in a minute, are we scared of the nasty leaf on the floor then you big brainless thing - and so on. it stops things getting stressful and generally gets things done much quicker.
H & Bailey
24th Apr 2002, 09:00 PM
Hi Bailey is already in a fulmer bit.He is getting better i have decided to be a bit firmer with the staring as I was letting him look around a bit much and he forgets what he supposed to be doing.Just to comment on ros' statement on getting past things.I think you have to weigh each horse up.Some need to be bullied a bit if they are the stubborn kind but with bailey if you try to force him past things he freaks,I just sit quiet and talk to him and let him 'go see' the item that is scary sometimes we sit for 5 mins but we always get past.I was really proud as there was scary goats today and he was very brave and walked past he is also getting better with me opening gates whilst onboard too.I do leg yield him but he tends to go better on my right leg away but doesnt seem to get it when I ask with my other leg.i think its because i use the right more when on the road to keep him in away from the traffic.On the balance in canter side of things he has just learned to canter and finds it hard to keep his canter going without alot of help from me...if I dont keep saying canter or nudge him he will just trot.So this is probably his problem I have noticed his balance has improved alot from when i got him.
I have give up giving my friend advice as she just sat there today like a bag of spuds and didnt try at all.She is lucky her pony walks nice and straight and only has to overcome the traffic now.
25th Apr 2002, 10:17 AM
it's a shame your friend isn't very receptive to advice...
good luck with bailey though, he sounds sweet. it's often just a matter of trial and error how firm you need to be with a baby, it sounds like you're getting to know him well.
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