Bit questions
   

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Bit questions

This is a discussion on Bit questions within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
  • Questions about horseits
  • Questions about horse bits

 
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    03-31-2010, 09:15 AM
  #1
Super Moderator
Bit questions

This is sort of a bit that I have bought for my 5 year old TWH mare. She is currently using a snaffle, with an english bridle because the 12 year old that rides her prefers to ride english. But with the way that a walking horse is supposed to "shuffle", the english bit isn't really... helpful in achieving proper movement.

I have a walking horse bit that I bought online, it looks sort of like this:

Coronet Loose Cheek Mild Port Walking Horse Bit - 5 - eBay (item 350326961276 end time Apr-09-10 19:12:57 PDT)

Do I need a chain with this bit? I feel like it needs one but I honostly do not know so I'm asking.

Also, is this the same bit one would use to ride english as well as western? AND... Is it proper to ride western with one hand or two on a walker? The 12 year old that rides her is planning to show her at a local series this summer and I'd like for us to at least "look" like we know what we are doing.....
     
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    03-31-2010, 12:02 PM
  #2
Green Broke
That bit seems to have a LOT of leverage for a horse used to a snaffle. And yes, to function properly it needs a curb chain.

I have a Foxtrotter with a sensitive mouth, and I was going to buy her something more like this (in a 6 inch shank)

Solid Cheek Medium Port Pleasure Horse Bit

Until I found a bit locally that was a very short shanked curb. Really, the shorter the shanks the better (in my opinion), especially if the horse isn't used to leverage. I have a neighbor with Foxtrotters who swears by short shanked curb bits for gaited horses.

Sometimes it's hard to find them with short shanks though, sigh!

I'm not 100% sure, so hopefully someone else will chime in, but I think you ride two handed on a TWH. At least, I know my neighbor with Foxtrotters does. Apparently you want to ride with a little contact with a gaited horse. That took a little getting used to for me, because I am more used to the one handed, basically no contact style of riding. Just keep in mind that contact with a curb is a lot of power over the horse's mouth, hence why I feel it is good to find as mild a curb bit as possible.

A lot of people like the Imus bits, but I have never used one, and I heard stories of them wearing out after several years, so I really can't speak to that having no experience with them. But I'm sure they have a short-shanked version.
     
    04-01-2010, 08:55 AM
  #3
Weanling
The bits depicted so far are very powerful. To the potential users: do you have the soft hands necessary to use these devices? You don't have to answer me, but you will have to answer to the horse's mouth.

I've got all three types of way of going in my barn and each will work in different types of bits. We start in simple snaffles and, as the horse gains skills, strength, and maturity we can move to a more "powerful" bit to assist us in more advanced work. A curb permits the rider to "whisper" to the horse with the hand.

But if you've got your feet on the dashboard, your butt on the cantle, the horse ventroflexed, and your gigging the horse each step to get it to move forward then adding a 6" shank curb bit is exactly the wrong thing to do. If you're balanced and the horse is balanced you can ride with almost anything and accomplish about any equine task for which the horse is generally suited.

Of course we must ask a question: What's the Object of the Exercise? Do we seek a comfortable way of going for the trail? An efficient gait for the performance of some equine related task? Or are we looking for a blue ribbon show gait? Just what we want to do will depend on what practices and equipment we select.

Note that a great many gaited horses, lateral or diagonal, like to to work "on the bit." They will seek contact. I don't know why this is, but I've observed it over and over. For that reason I don't recommend a loose rein style. Of course riding in contact requires the rider to develop a soft hand and not overburden the mouth with too much iron.

So review your own skills, review the horse's skills, review you goals, and then select the tack that will get you there.

G.
     
    04-01-2010, 09:12 AM
  #4
Yearling
I have to agree with Guilherme, that is a lot of bit! Personally, I wouldn't jump from a snaffle to a bit with shanks like that. There are a million bits that you could go to that won't be such a huge leap as far as leverage goes. I started my boy(Morgan/Rocky Mtn, very gaited) in a dring and once he reached the point in his training to move up I experimented to see what he works best in. I board and the BO has a zillion bits I was able to try with him, honestly he works better in a milder bit with short shanks. Right now he is in an Argentine snaffle with shanks about 3 in long and working very well. I know they're awfully expensive to buy just to experiment with, maybe see if a friend of yours has something you could try out before you go buy one?
     
    04-01-2010, 10:55 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Well, 6 inch shanks are better than 8 inch shanks, but yes, the shorter the better. For some reason it can be really hard to find short shanks on a solid mouthpiece.

Everyone who has seen me post a lot know I love tom thumbs/ Argentine snaffles, but I didn't suggest one in this case for two reasons:

1. My neighbor with Foxtrotters feels the horse needs a solid mouthpiece so they can have more contact through the reins, as she feels broken mouthpiece discourages the horse from having contact and backs them off the bit

And 2. My Foxtrotter doesn't seem to like a bit with a broken mouthpiece. I don't know why, and she is only one horse, but for some reason she doesn't.

That is why I was trying to point the poster to a solid mouth curb, with less leverage than the one they are buying.
     
    04-02-2010, 09:48 AM
  #6
Weanling
Solid mouthpiece bits can be an advantage and some horses take to them quite well. Others, not so much.

I attended a Dressage Symposium about 10 years ago put on with Hilda Gurney, a Bronze Medalist from the '84 Olympics, as the presenter. She said her bit wall has over 50 different items on it, and she's used as many as half a dozen in a single training session on one horse! She noted that this was probably more than what most folks will do, but indicates that even a very experienced professional has to do some "trial and error" to find what works for any given horse in any given situation.

Or, put another way, one size still doesn't fit all!!!

One line of bits I've found to be very effective with a very large number of horses is the Myler brand. These are not cheap, but are well made and come in a wide variety sizes and types. Another very well make line are the KK bits. They seem to favor the big, warmblood type of horses and can easily be too big for the mouth of a lot of light horses. But if they they fit they can work. Again, you have to look at the type and then select the size.

IMO you want to avoid anything marked with the name of a very prominant "gaited horse expert" who hawks bits, saddles, etc. I've seen some of her products and was very unimpressed (except, maybe, by their overall poor quality). Stick with folks with a good "track record."

You don't want to "obscess" over bits, but it can take some trial and error to find the ones (note the plural) that work for any given horse in multiple situations.

G.
     
    04-02-2010, 11:33 AM
  #7
Showing
If you're talking about a curb chain/strap, then yes, I would add one.
I do think that the shanks are very long for an inexperienced rider but if the gal you plan to have riding isn't, then there shouldn't be a problem.
Just remember the psi on that bit is going to be very high.
I'm betting that's the type of bit they will want to see in the TWH show ring, but I'm not positive. Maybe someone else will know that one.


Good advice from Guilherme
Quote:
But if you've got your feet on the dashboard, your butt on the cantle, the horse ventroflexed, and your gigging the horse each step to get it to move forward then adding a 6" shank curb bit is exactly the wrong thing to do. If you're balanced and the horse is balanced you can ride with almost anything and accomplish about any equine task for which the horse is generally suited
.
     
    04-02-2010, 12:36 PM
  #8
Super Moderator
Thanks guys. I'm trying to take everyones advice and roll with it. I geuss I should clarify, When I got her she was using something more like:

Cavalry Curb Bit used in Civil War Reenactments, Horse Bits

I'm not sure why, she's a very gentle horse and her favorite speed is walk. She stops with just a simple whoa. I switched her to my old black horses bit when I got her, which is close to the mild one that I put in the first post. The 12 year old that rides her switched her to a simple d-ring snaffle. So in other words she'll accept just about any bit. The main reasons I was thinking to switch the bit doesn't really have much to do with control but more with "Proper show ring attire". Also, with the snaffle she carries her head low, almost quarter horse low, which is ok but she's a walker and in order to really move properly she should be carrying her head like a walker and that's where I think that bit comes in.

I'll try to get better pix of her tonight so you can see what I'm talking about.

Here she is with The Old Black Horses bit and then with the snaffle.
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    04-02-2010, 09:55 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by farmpony84    
Thanks guys. I'm trying to take everyones advice and roll with it. I geuss I should clarify, When I got her she was using something more like:

Cavalry Curb Bit used in Civil War Reenactments, Horse Bits

I'm not sure why, she's a very gentle horse and her favorite speed is walk. She stops with just a simple whoa. I switched her to my old black horses bit when I got her, which is close to the mild one that I put in the first post. The 12 year old that rides her switched her to a simple d-ring snaffle. So in other words she'll accept just about any bit. .
I compete every year in the National Cavalry Competition. Lots of our riders use the "Civil War Bits" because they portray cavalrymen of that era. This bit was developed to help the green trooper effectively control a green horse. In those days there was no "boot camp", no remount depot, no system of training. Everything was done at the regimental level. If you want to see a "Hollywoodized" version of this get the John Wayne/John Ford classic film Rio Grande there is a great sequence where recruits are being "trained." It's hysterical, but has a bunch of truth in it.

IMO these bits are best left to historians and re-enactors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by farmpony84    
The main reasons I was thinking to switch the bit doesn't really have much to do with control but more with "Proper show ring attire". Also, with the snaffle she carries her head low, almost quarter horse low, which is ok but she's a walker and in order to really move properly she should be carrying her head like a walker and that's where I think that bit comes in.

I'll try to get better pix of her tonight so you can see what I'm talking about.

Here she is with The Old Black Horses bit and then with the snaffle.
Head set comes from the back, not the front. If you start using a curb bit to "lift" the head you'll mostly training the horse to "root" and give yourself forearms that will make folks think you're Popeye the Sailor.

Instead use you leg and seat to "push" the horse into the bit. Bring the horse to the bit, not the bit to the horse.

Also, many horses have trouble with "head set" because they are not sufficiently strong to carry themselves properly. This is where lots of walking come is.

G.
     
    04-06-2010, 01:41 AM
  #10
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guilherme    

IMO you want to avoid anything marked with the name of a very prominant "gaited horse expert" who hawks bits, saddles, etc. I've seen some of her products and was very unimpressed (except, maybe, by their overall poor quality). Stick with folks with a good "track record."

G.
I know the trainer you're referring to, and I agree 110%. After personally experiencing the lack of quality from the product, followed by some very disappointing (and, IMO, irresponsible) comments from the trainer in response to my concerns. . .I will never purchase another one of that trainer's products.

Don't be afraid to experiment. . .try new bits, see what works and what doesn't. Just remember that the bit is just an aid.
     

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