Bits? - Page 4

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This is a discussion on Bits? within the Barrel Racing forums, part of the Western Riding category

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    08-16-2010, 08:51 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by King    
I have nooooooooooooo idea how bits work!
I need a 'bit physics' master class!
lol I'm with you sister! Haha jk all I know is that I use a shank, that isn't mine, and I have a pony bit a horse bit and some kind of antique driving bit or something! Lol
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    08-16-2010, 08:52 PM
See tom thumbs are not just useless. Some people like them some don't.... there not my favorite I have use different bits for different horses..... I just don't like when people diss on your way of life. Its like if someone told you to go sell your horse and decide which horse to get.... its by your choice your opinion and how you feel about it. Some people get there head stuck on one thing(the lady who thinks tom thumbs are so bad) and you don't open up to new options.... theres always new things in life
    08-16-2010, 09:07 PM
A bigger bit will not make the horse. Training makes the horse.

The whole POINT of useing a shank bit of ANY type is for SUBTLE cues. You see the big time WP horses out there in those big spade bits? Take a look at the riders hands during the class. They don't MOVE. At all. Because they are using very subtle finger movements to direct the horse. Plus all the other vues such as leg, weight et. The more you see a rider move in a WP class the less trained that horse is.

For gaming horses, I prefer broken bits with some slide to them. Something LIKE a gag but not the gags on the rope bridles. Those are pointless. Also the shanks on those slider bits should be loose ring so when you pick up a rein you arent engaing both sides of the mouth (as you do with with most shank bits.. like the TT). Or a good fitting short shanked hackamore, which stays out of the horses mouth and still gives a good bit of stopping power... for stupid people. Teach your horse to whoa. Preferably at the end of a run you say :whoa: and start a circle and before the circle is complete he is walking, head down, realxed and your not in his mouth.

A good barrel horse will danged near do the pattern themselves. But you need to train them to do it. And you do it being consistent, using clear cues (verbal, hand, weight, leg). You don't haul on their mouth. Ever. If you do all you are doing is confusing your horse. Kick kick kick, yank yank yank!! Would you want to run if someone was doing that to you???

If your horse is bucking either somehting isnt right with his tack or you, or it could be a physical problem with him, OR he is being really really frisky! All of which will not be fixed with a different bit.

Personally I don't mind twisted wire bits. Only use them when I have to, till I can work the horse back down to something softer.

Never heard of using two reins with a kimberwick. A pelham, yes, kimberwick no. And also what KIND of kimberwick? Curb? Snaffle? Dogbone? Kimberwicks sometimes have slots, sometimes don't.

Haveing taken horses in all 3 diciplines (hunter under saddle, weatern pleasure, and gaming) during every show we hit in one day- I totally understand teaching the horse what he is doing by chaning his tack (aka bits). They can learn it and they do know.

Good luck.
    08-16-2010, 09:14 PM
Phew. I had to take some deep breaths before replying to this. OP, just a warning, there is a lot of mis-information in this thread, so read things with a grain of salt.

As i've said before - I never understand why people insist on gameing in shanked bits.

Gameing is a high adrenalin sport - things go wrong, things fall apart at speed that work fine slower. There will always be a time when you need to pick up on a direct rein, hard.

A curb is designed to be ridden on a loose rein, and neck reined, not direct reined.

You can never ensure that will happen when gameing. Even the most experienced horses need a pick up every now and then - Actually my experienced horse needs it more because he knows all the tricks and tries to get lazy by dropping his shoulder :]

So I have started gaming with my horse. I first used a snaffle, but he was not very responsive, so I switched to a kimberwick ( I have no other bits).He is fine unless he is grumpy, which happens quite a bit, then he puts his head down and bucks. I try to pull his head up but it doesn't work. I don't want a harsher bit, but one that encourages him to keep his head up.

Does anyone have any recommendations?
I'll give you some generic reccomendations, but I would like to know - How was he unresponsive? He didn't want to turn, or didn't want to stop? Or he wouldn't rate? Or he was dropping a shoulder?

Once I know that I can give a better answer.


Personally, I only ever game in a snaffle. A snaffle is completely neutral when not being touched. It is very easy to neck rein in a snaffle - Neck reining doesn't involve the bit, so it isn't exclusive to curb bits. It sends a clear, easy to understand signal when you need to pick up on a direct rein to emphasise a turn or lift a shoulder, and it releases immediately. It has good lateral pressure and only applies the amount of pressure on the mouth that you apply on the reins.

Once I know what the 'unresponsive' issue was I can give you tips on how I would fix it, in a snaffle.

So why don't I like seeing leverage bits on a gamein horse?

Well firstly - What is a leverage bit for? Refinement. The curb bit is created so that you can aid your horse with a flex of a finger and the shank allows that tiny signal to be transmitted to the mouth. Even the weight of the reins become a signal. It is very subtle - That is how reiners and WP horses go round without any visible cueing from the rider.

What is the bit NOT designed for? The curb bit isn't designed for direct contact OR direct reining. If you think about the mechanics of it, you can see why. I'll use a solid mouth curb for my examples, but a jointed curb is simlar, just more confusing as there is play side to side in the mouthpiece.

So, direct contact in a curb. The shanks on a curb multiply pressure - So the amount of pressure you put on the reins is multiplied in the mouth. In a snaffle, you can hold the reins in a light contact with the mouth, and you are able to feel the muth but at the same time keep the contact light enough not to influence it. If you tried to do the same in a curb - It wouldn't work. To feel the mouth you have to have a direct line from hand to bit - To do this in a curb the shanks will be fully engaged, which is putting a LOT of pressure on the mouth, poll and chin, even though it doesn't feel like much on the rein. The beauty of leverage. To have the bit sitting neutral in the mouth, the shanks must not be engaged, which means no direct contact.

Now imagine being in a game, and needing to quickly rate your horse to avoid hitting your pocket wrong? You are pumped full of adrenalin, you only have a split second to react - You are going to pull up pretty hard on those reins to ensure a response. Multiply that by whatever ratio depending on the length of the shanks, and that is a LOT of pressure that you can't accurately guage from the reins.

Direct reining - Again, doesn't work in a curb. There are two ways to direct rein - With an open rein, freeing the shoulder to move into the empty space, and a closed rein, to ask the horse to bend around a corner. Neither one works in a curb.

Imagine an open rein - You move your hand out to the side and apply pressure. Now think about a shanked bit - the rein connects at the bottom of the shank, so pulling the rein outward is going to pull the bottom of the shank outward, which will tip the top of the shank inward, and tip the mouthpiece of the bit down on the opposite side. It actually pushes the horses head the opposite direction from the open rein, because of the top of the shank tipping into the head, and the opposite side of the mouthpiece tipping down onto the bars of the mouth. Whereas an open rein on the snaffle pulles the bit straight through the mouth, pushing the head over from the opposite side - Especially if using a full cheek or D ring.

A closed direct rein? Well, the mouthpiece is solid, so it pulls the bottom of the shank back and up, which then tips the opposite shank the same way through the pithpiece - So it then becomes a cue to stop, as both shanks are engaged. The shanks don't pull the mouthpiece toward you, they rotate the mouthpiece and pull up in the mouth and contrict the chin due to the curb chain. Again - not a very clear signal, compare to a snaffle - Which pulls one side directly back onto the bars of the mouth.


Once I know what isues you were hvaing I can give you some ideas on maybe fixing it. All my gameing horses run in snaffle - And my best gameing horse won our zone championships 5 years in a row, undefeated - in a snaffle.
    08-16-2010, 09:16 PM
Green Broke
Okay peeps, everyone is saying their oppinions. Lets just stick with that okay? Okay. There, anyone else have any OPPINIONS on their favourite type of bit?
    08-16-2010, 09:18 PM
Green Broke
Wild Spot- I'm not saying you were talking to me, but incase you were, I was just saying what I use, I wasn't trying to insist on a bit. Sorry if it sounded that way I was just saying what I use. I just wanted to make sure that you yourself didn't misunderstand what I was trying to say.
Just saying.
    08-16-2010, 09:23 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Cheyennes mom    
Wild Spot- I'm not saying you were talking to me, but incase you were, I was just saying what I use, I wasn't trying to insist on a bit. Sorry if it sounded that way I was just saying what I use. I just wanted to make sure that you yourself didn't misunderstand what I was trying to say.
Just saying.
Me too lol. I understand how you feel about not using shanked bits for fast sports. My arab is in a shanked bit, though, because that's what she does best in & I don't need to direct-rein her, even at a gallop. She's awesome with neckreining.
My other mare, Molly is in a TT for now until we find the right bit, but she's still in the process of learning the games, so we have yet to go faster than a slow trot She'll get there thoug...i hope
    08-16-2010, 09:24 PM
Sure, this is the bit that I use on all my horses after they are solid in the snaffle and are neck reining pretty well.

Would I use that on barrels? No way Jose. For work like that where I would be picking up a lot of inside rein for turning and support, I would likely stick with a D-ring, maybe a full cheek snaffle.
    08-16-2010, 09:27 PM
Green Broke
Yes, I was thinking of a full cheek myself for Molly. I've always had d-rings/TT's but neither one of those can convince her to turn at a run...
    08-16-2010, 09:36 PM
Wild Spot- I'm not saying you were talking to me, but incase you were, I was just saying what I use, I wasn't trying to insist on a bit. Sorry if it sounded that way I was just saying what I use. I just wanted to make sure that you yourself didn't misunderstand what I was trying to say.
Just saying.
Oh no - not you at all. I was more talking to the people who were dismissing good information out of hand because what they use works for their horse, of course it must work for every horse and be absolutely correct!

That kind of view really gets me hot under the collar. Every horse is different, and horses love to break the moulds we make for them. Of course there are some horse who go better in a leverage bit, even for gameing - but as a general rule, leverage bits aren't the most appropriate or well designed bits for that sport. I wouldn't bit for the exception, I would bit for the rule and if it didn't work, then change something.

barrels, bits, gaming, poles

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