View Full Version : Which bit?!
16th Feb 2002, 08:09 AM
I am definitely no expert on tack and apart from the basics and am stuck on which bit to use with my new horse. She is a 12 yr old 17.2hh ex racer. I got her bit with her which is a dutch bubble gag and is also ridden in a martingale. She tucks her head right under and it feels like you have no control over what she is doing at all. I was warned not to raise my hands at all as if you do she tries to throw her head right up in a kind of right `I'm off' kind of way - does this mean it is hurting her mouth? I am lost on this one - can anyone give me a dummy's guide to how this bit might affect her as opposed to other ones I might try???? She is very forward going and strong, cantering as much as possible even on the spot and if you let her go she will gallop being very difficult to stop :-) am I mad? However she is a lady and is excellent on the roads.
16th Feb 2002, 02:57 PM
The bit you are talking about uses pressure on the poll and slightly on the lips.This bit is quite harsh ,and by what you describe her doing with her head it seems as though shes going behind the bit to avoid it.Have you tried her in a pelham? lots of horses seem to go well in them if used correctly .Have a look on the Enlightened Equitation forum it talks about the pelham in depth.Good luck!
16th Feb 2002, 04:49 PM
Thanks for that advice. Someone today has also recommended trying her in a pelham - am off to read all about it :)
16th Feb 2002, 05:27 PM
i would try a less harsh bit, bits don't stop horses so there is really no need for something so harsh, i ride in a snaffle (eggbutt).
16th Feb 2002, 05:54 PM
Bits do stop horses. I don't care how much you sink you weight into the saddle and sit deep, some horses need pressure on the bit to stop. A snaffle bit is probably not the best bit for any ex-race horse. My Thoroughbred used to race and she is unstoppable in a snaffle bit. My old trainer reccomend that I try her in a gag, but I thought, and rightfully so, that it would be too harsh for her. Now she is ridden in a kimberwick and responds to the slightest pressure on the reins. If I rode her in a snaffle, I would have to haul on her mouth to stop her, now I just have to squeeze my reins. That is a much kinder choice. She has also worked well in a pelham, but I do not feel comfortable jumping in one, because I don't feel I have enough control over the curb rein, and might inadvertantly hit her in the mouth.
16th Feb 2002, 06:23 PM
i work at a racing stables and every single horse, no matter what there like is rode in a eggbutt snaffle. None of them have martingales.
I also think a pelham would be good for your horse though becasue i think they tend to relax the horse.
If your horse runs off try to stay balanced and relaxed and rest you hands on top of the witheres. Just pull slighylt cus the more you fight the worst the horse will be. try saying whoa too.
17th Feb 2002, 04:54 AM
Hmm ... as everyone else had already said, the bit you are using is probably too harsh. I wouldn't recommend a smooth jointed snaffle (not right now, at least), but perhaps a small twisted wire snaffle would work.
17th Feb 2002, 12:20 PM
sorry, this is just one of those subjects everyone has an opinion :) everyone is taught differant, my instructer has just taught me to keep soft hands and not to fiddle with reins to much :) though i agree that some horses need a good pull once in a while :)
17th Feb 2002, 07:18 PM
Cheers for all the advice. A snaffle is definitely out of the question as a few of you have already stated - I know thus much!! How does a twisted wire snaffle work?
Ive got hold of a pelham but wont be trying it until next weekend.
I wont be jumping just hacking along the beach and up the hills.
18th Feb 2002, 09:38 AM
If she has been racing I would suggest getting her checked over by an equine dentist and a chiropractor - pain issues in the neck, back and mouth are not unusual and often cause stopping problems, if you haven't had your saddle fit checked in the last 4 months get it checked - these horses can change shape very quickly and tend to be very sensitive to poor saddle fit. I would actually spend some time sorting out the schooling problems before hacking out and try to get her in a snaffle - she is probably running away from the bit. TBs tend to have shallow mouths so try a JP snaffle or a french link snaffle. Another that I have found useful if horses fling their head up is a hanging cheek snaffle - they do not have any significant nutcracker action and provide some poll pressure to stop the head up and away performance. I have reschooled a 16.2hh TB stallion who came off the racecourse as a 7 year old and he never wore anything but a snaffle for ridden work, he did wear a drop noseband in his early days but once he had learned a few manners he went quite happily in a Fulmer snaffle and a cavesson noseband. It does take time - it took nearly a year to reschool him to a decent standard. He eventually worked up to Medium level dressage and he had a superb jump ( he had steeplechased), he was covering mares as well as being ridden so he had to be well-mannered.
19th Feb 2002, 12:02 AM
I definitely second getting the back and teeth checked, my friend bought a 10 yr old exracer, he had huge hooks, had to knocked out to remove them, though his back was fine.
Doing lots of inhand work, getting her obedient inhand, lunging and 2 rien lunging plus getting him used to your voice aids will be a big help.
Keep ridden work slow, establish your legs and seat aids. Stay away from situations where he will want let go. Try to keep things very relaxed, with a soft contact on the rien.
With the bit, I'd get rid of the gag, they raise the head. I'd go for something like a hanging cheek snaffle, or a french link.
She needs to accept your legs/seat first and foremost. The bit is useless if you can't ride them into it. Upping the bitting power just makes things uncomfortable/painful for them and they'll soon learn a way to evade.
Mix up your work, keep her mind busy. Long reining is brilliant at getting a good response, personally I keep the head collar on, and put the bridle (without a noseband on) over the top. I clip the the long riens through the bit ring then onto the head headcollar side rings so the rein is attached to the head collar noseband, but they still feel an action on the bit ring, but if things go pear shaped they don't get a sock in the mouth.
You use the long reins as you would your legs, and your hands exactly as you would when your riding. You set can set up all sorts of different obstacles. cones, poles, tarpaulins to walk over, lunge on 2 riens, change the rien, halt, back up. Then get on and ride her through it.
By what you've described she's already evading the bit, you need to create an enviroment where you can give her a relaxed rein and ask her to accept the bit. A pelham could help, as long as you use 2 riens, only using the curb gently when neccessary, but your legs are the most important factor. She must accept your legs.
19th Feb 2002, 03:11 PM
i'd also say ditch the gag, but a pelham also acts on the poll (although not as much) so be aware she might not like that either. it might be worth trying a french link snaffle and a different noseband, a flash or a drop. that will take the pressure off the mouth so much and give her something else to think about. also try training her to obey voice commands (lots of lungeing), and then use your voice before anything else when you ride. and definitely get her back and teeth checked. don't think of a snaffle as being out of the question - it's probable that your mare is only running away from pain from a severe bit. whenever you hit a prblem, i'd always recommend seeing what tack or gadgets you can lose, rather than adding to them.
19th Feb 2002, 04:26 PM
A flash or drop noseband is not going to take the pressure off of her mouth at all. It fact, my not allowing her to open her mouth it is going to do the opposite. You recommend losing unnecessary tack or gadgets, but that is exactly what those nosebands are.
19th Feb 2002, 05:28 PM
my friend has a ex racehorse and he behaves in te same way as you described. She has been through numerous bits, starting with the gag, tried a waterford , then snaffle... and was having no sucess, she brought a kimblewick last wkend and its excellent! he still tucks his head righjt in when cantering but she doesn't have to haul on his mouth and he responds to the smallest amount of pressure. it all depends on the horse, differnet horses respond differently! i ride my horse in a waterford and he gets on really well with it! when i brought him he was in a gag aswell (seem to be popular) but i found it too severve for him!
20th Feb 2002, 11:14 AM
a lot of horses are more comfortable with different nosebands than stronger bits. head tossing or tucking the head right in is usually a reaction to pressure on the poll, and a snaffle and flash is going to alleviate that pressure. you can't always solve problems in one step, and if the horse is used to a gag bit it might not respect a plain snaffle and cavesson at first. obviously the objective is to ride in as little tack as possible, but you can't always do it all at once.
20th Feb 2002, 11:39 AM
my friends ex racehorse doesn't wear a noseband and even if he is ridden in a snaffle tucks his head down between his legs when cantering!
21st Feb 2002, 08:23 AM
I realise it is a minefield out there and there is so much to consider and try whilst minimising any negative effects on the horse. I am opposed to harsh use of bits when they are not needed and have a very strong feeling that the bit she has was a jump from a snaffle and there was no investigation into what might better suit her.
I have spent this last week spending time with her, walking out on leadrein and lunging her. My problem is she has been very insecure in the past (not looked after properly) and she has developed this independence from her owner (now me) with an air of 'I need to be in charge as no one else will do it and care for me' so she she is reluctant to bond in a way. My first step is showing her I dont want want want from her with no care in return. I've only had her three weeks and I see progress. I am having her back and teeth checked and then, subject to everything being ok, I am going to start working on the bit etc.
Thanks for all your help guys :)
22nd Feb 2002, 09:18 PM
Hiya, i own an ex-racehorse too, and he is very light mouthed and ridden in an eggbutt snaffle, though i agree that until you are more confident in your ability to stop your mare this is not a good idea, you might want to try a four ring.
Almost all the horses on our yard are ex-raceers and all of them are ridden in snaffles in the summer months, but we change most of their bits to four rings when they are kept in in the winter as lack of turnout tends to make them more excitable and then a snaffle is not enough to curb their high spirits.
Have you got any where to turn your mare out? How excitable is she? You may find that you will need a slightly stronger bit during the winter months (although i think her actions at the minute are showing the one you've got is too strong!) and will be able to switch to a soft bit in the summer months. try out several in an enclosed arena if possible until you find one that she travels forward happily in without getting too strong.:)
22nd Feb 2002, 10:09 PM
I am going to throw a spanner in the works now! My loan horse is 19 now and I have had her five years. When I first had her she came with a rubber straight bar pelham. On donation rides where there were lots of canters and jumps with other horses around, I really struggled to keep control, and often had to resort to turning circles to stop! I felt this wasn't good for either of us (!) so tried different bits. I actually use a dutch gag now, and lady is totally happy and controllable with it. To start with though, I used two sets of reins, one on the top ring so it was not much more than a snaffle (I suppose a hanging cheek one though) and another rein on the bottom for emergency brakes. She completely respects the gag and we don't have to resort to the bottom ring now for most situations although i would tend to add it if on a donation ride again where she gets overexcited!!
I agree with the point above that it is far better to have a gentle contact with a strong bit, than to tug away on a mild bit. Also different situations do call for different measures - in a schooling ring the atmosphere is totally different to being out on the hills with the wind up your tail! My choice of bit allows me to quickly change rein position if necessary. However a friend of mine hacks her showjumper in a plain snaffle but uses a jointed steel pelham for jumping.
There are no hard and fast rules, just try different things and pay lots of attention to the horse's reaction, and you'll find something to suit you both.
PS there are different types of gag you could try, from the jointed steel, to rubber, to straight bar happy mouth!
22nd Feb 2002, 11:05 PM
bacara had the same conditions and she was in a dutch gag but wouldnt be stopped in anything else. when i looked @ the bit it was really thin and strong so i bought a new one that was thicker and covered in apple flavoured plastic kinda thing and she went like a dream!! just try different bits and see wich one suits u and the horse
27th Feb 2002, 12:47 AM
You can get a hanging cheek french link combined bit.
I find it is probable the best bit for my strong but sensitive horse.
If your horse drops its head to avoid the bit, then no bit in the world will stop it. My horse also used to do this and when she did a rode her strongly forwards to encourage her to accept the bit once again.
The hanging cheek french link has a slight poll pressure effect but with the kindness of the french link. I also read that it is a favoutite bit of Sylvia Loch, the classical riding club founder.
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