07-31-2011, 11:43 PM
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I absolutely positively hate the fact that the Josey Million Dollar bit is promoted as the be-all and end-all of barrel bits. It's frankly a terribly contraption, and rarely is its use justified (it's only good, in my opinion, for the obscure horse who likes such a bit, and then for inexperienced or bad riders on an otherwise would-be runaway horse). It does not give clarity of cue in the slightest. There's way too much crap going on for that. You can't directly access the corner of your horse's mouth to ask him to lift or move over without first yanking and tugging at the curb, the gag, and the noseband, thus placing pressure all over the place, on his chin, his mouth, his poll, and his sensitive nasal bones. The rope noseband is extremely abrasive, and I frequently see horses with permanent dents in their noses from it constantly digging in up there. The shanks are too long, the gag is too extreme, the twisted wire mouthpiece is completely unnecessary....I'm *not* going to stick my neck out and say that it's a harsh bit, or a cruel bit, because it some rare instances, in the right hands, it can be an appropriate and humane tool. But rarely is it used in such a manner. Instead, it's used by novices to yank their horse around barrels, and as such, it serves as a substitute for proper riding and training. I cannot in good conscience recommend such a bit.
Yes, I was fed all these lines to begin with. My Josey Combo was the first bit I ever owned, and I used it for everything from trail riding to competition. I was lucky enough to have a tolerant, long-suffering horse. His mouth was, however, ruined from a lifetime of being ridden in similar bits.
To the OP, I say switch to a smooth snaffle, and as you get into barrel racing you might find it advantages to switch to a smooth or dogbone Argentine or Junior Cowhorse--the curb and leverage action may help you with communication and control at fast speeds.