Few questions about the snaffle bit (horse relearning to use it)
   

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Few questions about the snaffle bit (horse relearning to use it)

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  • Bitless bridle means relearning for rider
  • Riding horse in snaffle on trials

 
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    11-02-2010, 06:43 PM
  #1
Weanling
Few questions about the snaffle bit (horse relearning to use it)

I have to first say that I am not a fan of bits, I don't mean to cause a bit debate it's just my opinion.

Having said that I recently bought a french link dee ring snaffle for my horse. For reasons currently unknown to me he decided that he's had enough of his bitless bridle and is not listening and giving me all kinds of grief while riding. So I decided to get him a very mild bit to do a little retuning. It arrived yesterday along with a new bridle. I chose a suffolk dressage bridle (mostly because it was only $40 and I didn't want to spend a lot of money if he's not going to take to it very well).

Anyway, so I went out tonight and fitted the new bridle and bit, the bridle has strange sizing, the cheek pieces are long but everything else seems to run quite small. I can get away with the throat lash as I can add a few extra holes; the nose band on the other hand was fairly tight on the last hole so I might have to contact dover and see if I can replace it. It said it was a full size yet my horse who has a normal sized head was finding it a squeeze.

Sorry to go off on a bridle tangent there... I do actually have questions about the bit. So my horse wore a single link snaffle 4 years ago when I bought him, he seemed okay with it until he had a tooth out which caused him problems with a bit, hence the change to bitless. I lunged him in the bit tonight to let him get used to it and he chomped on it a lot. I haven't ridden a horse with a bit for nearly 2 years so is this normal for him to be chewing on it and foaming a lot?? I figured he was testing it out to see what it was for.

Another thing I noticed was when we were done and I took it out of his mouth his tongue seemed to have a black streak down it. Is this normal with a new bit? The bridle is black so could this have caused it?

I have to say though I hated every second of it, I don't know how he felt but I hated seeing him chewing and foaming and looking so tight, he didn't relax for the whole workout. He usually trots around with his head quite low and stretches his neck out but tonight he seemed really tight and anxious.
     
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    11-02-2010, 07:32 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
What maker is the bit? Is it sweet iron? Do you have it positioned at the correct height?
Sorry to hear that it is making him tense. Maybe that will pass in time. However, if he is really tense with the bit, he may not bea any better at "listeing to you" than in the bitless bridle. You said he was just running right through that bitless? But he didn't used to? I wonder what has changed?
That would be something to think about, what may have caused a change in the horse's fundamental attitude that makes him run through the bridle now as opposed to former behaviour.
By the way, how did that trail ride go that you posted about before? Everyone behave themselves?
     
    11-02-2010, 07:54 PM
  #3
Weanling
I believe I got a JP Korsteel snaffle, I don't think it's sweet iron but I honest don't know. I think I have it where it's supposed to go, um, with a few wrinkles at the corners of the mouth? Maybe? It's been a while like I said. I'm pretty sure I got the right size, plus the bit isn't too thin so it should be pretty mild as far as bits go.

I honestly think the trail ride changed how he feels about the bitless, I might just be being silly but he hasn't been the same since we got back. It went okay, no one died or was seriously injured so I call it a win. I got stepped on when he was coming out of the trailer and have a half blackened toe nail. He bucked when we were starting the ride, he was nervous and excited and he's never liked that entrance to the trail because it is filled with monsters and things that eat horses heads.

He mostly didn't do anything too bad on trail, after the initial buck he was tense but didn't spook, didn't shy, didn't run or offer any more bucking. I think I might have made him dislike the bitless; I know that to slow a horse you should primarily use seat and position and whatnot, but he was jigging for the last 20 minutes and I have mild scoliosis so he was killing my back, I yanked hard a few times on the reins to try and get him to stop but he just pushed right through the contact and yanked the reins back away from me. I think because he wasn't listening to me then and my back was getting more an more painful I got angry and was pulling way too much. I probably hurt his face in some way but to be honest I couldn't walk the next day so I think we're even.

I've tried to ride with the bitless loose, i've tried giving a loopy rein so there's no pressure but now he's just tuned it out. Completely my fault. I was hoping that I could tune him back in with a bit then switch him back to the bitless. I honestly wish he understood me so I could explain that I wouldn't do it again, but the first time I rode him after the trail ride and as soon as I got on he offered a half hearted buck, kind of like a warning.
     
    11-02-2010, 08:30 PM
  #4
Started
The bit you have probably isn't a sweet iron, and just like anything "new", he's going to be a little bit tense as he figures it out, and you are also going to be feeding into that not liking bits, and assuming that he hates them as well. Just to point something out, the gentleness of a bit is also determined by how it fits in his mouth, just because the bit is thicker doesn't mean its softer. If he's got a small mouth like my Arabian does, a thicker bit is actually worse than a thinner bit because it doesn't fit in the mouth very well. You are supposed to have a couple wrinkles in the corners, so that is good. The black on the tongue could be from the new bit, if you didn't clean it before putting it in his mouth. I am a little skeptical that the trail ride was the only thing that caused his issue. One ride of pulling harder, being a bit harsher, or whatever should not make him immediately that bad at ignoring the bridle. If you are still a bit tense because you still hurt a bit, or are expecting him to do something, then he's going to react to that. Aside from that, it sounds like the bit is fine, he's supposed to be mouthing the bit, and getting foamy.
On a side note, I got a suffolk dressage bridle forever ago, but I got the cob size, and it actually was like the opposite of yours. The cheek pieces were slightly shorter, (on the smallest hole it fit our halflinger pony), but the throat latch was bigger, and the nose piece was the correct size. It was the only bridle we could find to fit the pony, because pony size would fit his cheeks, but the throat latch and nose were too small, and with a cob, the cheek pieces were too big, though the throat latch and nose band fit. This bridle was smaller in the right places and larger in the right places for him. Just an interesting piece of information.
     
    11-02-2010, 08:45 PM
  #5
Super Moderator
Pheonix. Sorry to hear that the trail ride was such a trial. I know how that is when your back is hurting and the horse is stiff and jarring and you still have a long way to go back to the trailer.
Two things that come to mind;

One regarging the bit placement. Most people hav bits just a bit too high in the horse's mouth. The old way was TWO wrinkles, but I was taught only ONE wrinkle. If the bit is too high, the horse feel like he is gaggin. If it is lower, even low enough that he can pick it up and hold it with his tongue and position it a little (vs it being so tight that he can make no positioning), he might be happier wiht it. I agree with dressagebelle that it might also be too fat for a horse with a low palate, in which case it would really feel like it was intrusive.

Give him some time to adjust and try to keep your guilt outside of the judgement.

As for the hrose running through and jigging, is such cases, if you have the space available (meaning if the trail isn't too narrow), I would bring the horse's head around and disengage his hindquarters, then allow him to move forward on a loose rein, until he starts to run through it agian, then bend around, and disengage the hind and again, and again. Not only will it keep him from mentally settling into a brace and go frame of mind, it will physically supple him.
     
    11-02-2010, 09:24 PM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by dressagebelle    
The bit you have probably isn't a sweet iron, and just like anything "new", he's going to be a little bit tense as he figures it out, and you are also going to be feeding into that not liking bits, and assuming that he hates them as well. Just to point something out, the gentleness of a bit is also determined by how it fits in his mouth, just because the bit is thicker doesn't mean its softer. If he's got a small mouth like my Arabian does, a thicker bit is actually worse than a thinner bit because it doesn't fit in the mouth very well. You are supposed to have a couple wrinkles in the corners, so that is good. The black on the tongue could be from the new bit, if you didn't clean it before putting it in his mouth. I am a little skeptical that the trail ride was the only thing that caused his issue. One ride of pulling harder, being a bit harsher, or whatever should not make him immediately that bad at ignoring the bridle. If you are still a bit tense because you still hurt a bit, or are expecting him to do something, then he's going to react to that. Aside from that, it sounds like the bit is fine, he's supposed to be mouthing the bit, and getting foamy.
On a side note, I got a suffolk dressage bridle forever ago, but I got the cob size, and it actually was like the opposite of yours. The cheek pieces were slightly shorter, (on the smallest hole it fit our halflinger pony), but the throat latch was bigger, and the nose piece was the correct size. It was the only bridle we could find to fit the pony, because pony size would fit his cheeks, but the throat latch and nose were too small, and with a cob, the cheek pieces were too big, though the throat latch and nose band fit. This bridle was smaller in the right places and larger in the right places for him. Just an interesting piece of information.
When I was lunging I tried very hard to put aside my dislike of bits and just lunge him like I normally do. Actually I had another question tat I forgot to ask, as i'm not used to using a bit to lunge, whats the best way to attach a lunge line? Normally I take it through the two rings on the bitless under his chin and that seems to work fine, with the bit I didn't quite know the best way to attach it so I went through one ring and over his poll and attached the snap to the other side of the bit. Is that right? Is there a better, easier way to attach it?

I didn't clean the new bit come to think of it, I meant to but forgot. I'll give it a good wash and hope the blackness doesn't come up again. The bit he used when I got him was actually thicker than the one i've got now, he went just fine in that bit (before the tooth incident) so I don't think his mouth is too small. I could be wrong but I was just going on what I remembered him having before.

Right now i'm in less pain than i've been in in a while, i've been going to a chiropractor regularly. Maybe the trail ride combined with my changing back is throwing him off. I know it's been a little strange for me, i've had to adjust my position and my stirrups and all of that. Hopefully when my back settles down again he'll get back to normal too.

It's strange how some bridles fit some horses great while they don't fit others at all. I'm hoping dover can help me or at least suggest a replacement nose piece.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
Pheonix. Sorry to hear that the trail ride was such a trial. I know how that is when your back is hurting and the horse is stiff and jarring and you still have a long way to go back to the trailer.
Two things that come to mind;

One regarging the bit placement. Most people hav bits just a bit too high in the horse's mouth. The old way was TWO wrinkles, but I was taught only ONE wrinkle. If the bit is too high, the horse feel like he is gaggin. If it is lower, even low enough that he can pick it up and hold it with his tongue and position it a little (vs it being so tight that he can make no positioning), he might be happier wiht it. I agree with dressagebelle that it might also be too fat for a horse with a low palate, in which case it would really feel like it was intrusive.

Give him some time to adjust and try to keep your guilt outside of the judgement.

As for the hrose running through and jigging, is such cases, if you have the space available (meaning if the trail isn't too narrow), I would bring the horse's head around and disengage his hindquarters, then allow him to move forward on a loose rein, until he starts to run through it agian, then bend around, and disengage the hind and again, and again. Not only will it keep him from mentally settling into a brace and go frame of mind, it will physically supple him.
Actually aside from the jigging and bucks the trail was good. We were out for over 2 hours at a walk so i'm actually not surprised he was jigging, the horse in front was too. Plus, I wouldn't have minded so much if it wasn't making me hurt. His jiggy trot is usually pretty easy to sit to when my back moves comfortably.

I'll try lowering the bit by one hole and see if that makes a difference. It definitely doesn't look like it's pinching. Like I said above his old bit was thicker than this one, plus didn't have the double break in it, I assumed because he'd gone alright in a thicker bit before it wouldn't bother him now. Maybe i'm wrong, I can have the barn manager check, she's pretty good with things like this.

I am trying to not feel guilty. I lunged him just like normal, I didn't go easy on him or let him turn in or get distracted by his buddies squealing at each other. If he can get used to it I think it could be some help to him and me, i'm feeling a bit at my wits end wit him at the minute.

I'm some parts of the trail it wasn't wide enough to turn him like that but in some spots it could have been. I think if I take him out again I won't go with 4 people, i'll try and just go with one other person so I can take the time and supple him when he needs it without having to worry about holding up other people with horses that are acting like pros.
     

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