Best bit for Cross Country?

HaloHoney

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Right, thinking ahead a few months now, and we're hoping to get out for a fun ride around Windsor Great Park at the end of May.

When I bought Flash on the photos that his old owners sent me before I viewed him - they sent photos of him jumping out on a cross country, and also hunting, and I was able to look at those pictures and figure out that he was in a Pelham in some of them (with roundings), and a Kimblewick in others.

Now, at our yard he is settled and I have only ever ridden him in a loose ring snaffle (French link). Cross country course at the yard - snaffle is fine. SJ at the yard - again snaffle is fine. When I took him out for the dressage on the lorry the other day he was really REALLY excited, and felt bloody strong at times, though I was able to calm him down a notch or two in the warm up, in honesty I understood why they may have opted for a stronger bit. He was massively off the leg, my riding has come a long way since I had him, and even with my new abs of steel (I'm a gnat's whisker away from having a six pack for heavens' sake, from nothing other than riding!), "guns" for arms and much MUCH stronger leg muscles, I still felt like I was sitting on a volcano that was about to erupt!

He's quite calm standing around (total dope on a rope on the ground) no silliness in terms of his behaviour, just strong, and very excited (he knows his job and knows what a competition day is). I'm much more confident in my ability to ride with soft hands now - so I would like a stronger bit so that if he's as excitable as he was about the dressage last weekend (and he's pretty underwhelmed by flatwork in general if I'm honest) I still have steering and brakes if my seat and core muscles fail to contain his energy!

So, what bit would you go for?
 

CharliesAngel

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if he was in a kimblewick or pelham with roundings then i would start off trying a simple kimblewick. A much underused, old fashion type of bit,( used to be popular for strong kids ponies). I have one in my bit box and used to use one for XC. You do get one with slots for extra adjustability - called a uxeter. You can also swap out the curb chain for a leather one or use a rubber cover to make it more mild.
 
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HaloHoney

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Thanks, that’s helpful. Which brings me into my next question- I can see what the bit was... (it did have slotted D rings) but not what was in his mouth.

So which would be gentler on his mouth (I understand about bits only being as kind as the riders’ hands ;) ) options a straight bar with tongue port? Or a single joint? Or one with a lozenge?
 

Lissie

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I'd probably put him in what he went on with previous owners but with a mindset of this might now not suit him and you, so see how it goes and you may want to change to something else. For example my horse is extremely forward, use legs at your peril. She trotted for 1.5 miles with me in a Waterford Pelham previous owners had told me they'd tried her in that, but I can (just about) hold her in a mullen mouth gag.

As for the mouthpiece that will depend on the shape of his mouth and what he prefers. Straight bars put pressure on the tongue, bars and lip pressure but some horses like the stable feel. A ported mouthpiece takes some pressure off the tongue. Single joint will have the nutcracker action.

Try it in a similar setting before the fun ride, so a fast hack with friends. Also I wouldn't be too worried fun rides you can just let them go forwards, once they know they can go forwards they do tend to settle and it sounds like it may help to help liven him up in your schooling.
 
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HaloHoney

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Thanks Lissie, both his other bits (he has a riding school bridle and one I use with him) are either a lozenge or a French link. He goes very nicely in them both. Will avoid the single joint/nutcracker.

If it’s not right, he’ll tell me. :) and then we’ll try something else.

Hoping to box out to a fun ride which has a mini XC course - £6 entry on the day for a blast around a 15-acre field with XC jumps. A mate has a green pony who she’s never boxed out to anything before, but a year’s worth of schooling has happened since her ponio was last on a XC course and didn’t understand that there was any other option than 90mph... :eek: thought we’d both go and try a little inviting, confidence-giving 1’6” course of brush and solids- both for different reasons. :D
 
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Lissie

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The mini xc sounds fab and ideal place to try out breaks. As you're on a big yard can you ask about to maybe see if if anyone has different bits you can try. What noseband is he in? I have no hope of holding Lottie in a cavesson learnt that lesson so she's been in a grackle since I've had her but recently swapped to a drop noseband and that really helps, more than the grackle so maybe worth a noseband change too. You may find with a noseband change you don't need to up the bitting quite so much.
 
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carthorse

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A joint in a pelham or kimblewick will reduce or remove the curb action so you might as well go for a 3 ring if that's the mouthpiece you want to use. A mullen mouth or straight bar with a low port makes far more sense of the bit's intended action. If you up the bitting do be very sure you don't block him with your hands, if you do you may make matters even worse. Personally I'm old fashioned enough that I think a pelham should always be ridden in two reins, if you can't then go for a kimblewick instead.

Out of interest what noseband do you have on him? It may be worth looking into changing that before you change the bit, a drop or grackle can make quite a difference to some horses.
 
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Lissie

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Agree with @carthorse about being careful about not blocking with your hands. I've always had forward going strong horses and I've found a way of riding them, I seem to get on with that sort best, I can now hack Lottie on the snaffle ring, yes only alone but a huge improvement to when she came to me. I try never to get in their face too much and a lot of it is in your body, being very relaxed and sitting quietly, sounds daft but i use my shoulders to hold them and don't brace. Don't be scared of the power, use it.
 

HaloHoney

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He’s in a cavesson with a Flash.

Might go for a low port Kimblewick if the joint means that the action of the bit is reduced then...

Not many people on my yard with the same bit size. He’s a 6”!
 

carthorse

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Before you try changing the bit could you borrow a drop or grackle to see if they back him off? For some reason a flash doesn't have the same effect. Be aware that if you go for a kimblewick or pelham you should only use a cavesson because any bit with a strap that goes below the bit can interfere with the curb chain's action.
 

HaloHoney

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Before you try changing the bit could you borrow a drop or grackle to see if they back him off? For some reason a flash doesn't have the same effect. Be aware that if you go for a kimblewick or pelham you should only use a cavesson because any bit with a strap that goes below the bit can interfere with the curb chain's action.

I’d figured as much re: removing the flash if using a curb.

Problem with the “trying it out” is that he is a total dope on a rope at the yard, hacking, jumping, etc. Load him, travel him, and only then does he get massively excited! :rolleyes: So I can try anything on him at home, but I have nothing that I need to “back off” until we’re out... o_O
 

CharliesAngel

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Just be aware that you need to keep your hands low or this bit will not be working properly. Do you have someone to give you a hand?
 
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HaloHoney

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Be aware that if you go for a kimblewick or pelham you should only use a cavesson because any bit with a strap that goes below the bit can interfere with the curb chain's action.

I figured as much... but looking at the photos that’s not what I’m seeing. :confused:

70223D38-8076-4BB1-8480-BB80F4E033AD.jpeg

Because that looks very much like a Kimblewick with a curb... and a Flash. :confused:

6B65B7F5-921D-42EA-82EB-CA276649BD5F.jpeg

And that looks like a Pelham with roundings, ?curb (or maybe not, hard to see!) and a Flash...

1043B2C0-C3E7-40EA-A97A-3FBBB1132EFC.jpeg
And that also looks like Pelham minus curb, + roundings + Flash...
 

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CharliesAngel

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yes you can use a flash / grackle although lots of people do say otherwise , i remember having this debate about 10 years ago lol when i wanted to try a grackle with my kimblewick. you just have to ensure they dont interfere with the curb,
 

Lissie

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If I were you I'd have a lesson xc then you'd have a good pair of eyes oh the ground. Also I'd box up go somewhere firstly with a noseband change, grackle and drop, you could take a bit to try as well if that doesn't work. I've done multiple bridle and bit swaps before. Do you have transport? The more you get them out the more routine it gets for them. If it's his first time in a while he's probably just raring to go.

From your previous post of how to get him more forward and videos it might you're used to him being slightly behind the leg and just not used to it, has someone swapped my horse moment :p The more you take him out the more you'll get used to him and learn ways to hold him. I know it took me a few different bit changes with Lottie and lots of outings to settle on what I felt worked for us.

I know so many people who over bit, horses I've held in a snaffle or 2nd ring of a gag easily with other people they are in Tom thumbs, waterford gags etc. Simply because they were too novice/didn't have the balance/seat/hands too high or simply nervous of a horse who is forward thinking so don't get too hung up on what they had him in. It's also often a quick fix instead of actually riding it out. You may find it's a different noseband/bit combination that works for you.
 

carthorse

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Yes people do use flashes etc with them, but that doesn't mean it's right. They can interfere with the curb chain and without that action a lot of the point of these bits is lost, likewise using them without a curb chain - you might as well just go for a 3 ring. Roundings on a pelham remove the ability to only use the curb action as the rider chooses, use a kimblewick instead.
 

carthorse

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If I were you I'd have a lesson xc then you'd have a good pair of eyes oh the ground. Also I'd box up go somewhere firstly with a noseband change, grackle and drop, you could take a bit to try as well if that doesn't work. I've done multiple bridle and bit swaps before. Do you have transport? The more you get them out the more routine it gets for them. If it's his first time in a while he's probably just raring to go.

From your previous post of how to get him more forward and videos it might you're used to him being slightly behind the leg and just not used to it, has someone swapped my horse moment :p The more you take him out the more you'll get used to him and learn ways to hold him. I know it took me a few different bit changes with Lottie and lots of outings to settle on what I felt worked for us.

I know so many people who over bit, horses I've held in a snaffle or 2nd ring of a gag easily with other people they are in Tom thumbs, waterford gags etc. Simply because they were too novice/didn't have the balance/seat/hands too high or simply nervous of a horse who is forward thinking so don't get too hung up on what they had him in. It's also often a quick fix instead of actually riding it out. You may find it's a different noseband/bit combination that works for you.

Well said Lissie.
 
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CharliesAngel

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@carthorse we will have to agree to disagree as i can assure you the noseband never interfered withe curb when i tried both and it is a fairly common sight in professional SJ/XC circles. A 3 ring gag has a completely different action.
 
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