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post #11 of 16 Old 01-05-2014, 02:56 PM
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Its interesting that so many people use that bit on gaited horses. I used to ride a TWH (or ASB, definitely gaited but we weren't sure which) mare who also came to us in a twisted wire wonder bit. I tossed that bit in the trash. I also found that she didn't like a traditional single jointed snaffle, and I think its because the gaited horses need 'support' from the bit more than other breeds do, and when she searched for that support the bit would buckle and jab her. I had better luck with a full cheek French link (or double jointed, she liked both) snaffle. The full cheeks gave her a little more 'direction' as she learned to soften up to my hand and slow down (she came to us riding like a freight train, VERY unbalanced so to try to balance herself she tried to go faster) and the French link put more give into the bit.

When I was teaching her to neck rein and do some ranch work (roping, sorting), I used a Jr. Cowhorse double jointed (three piece) bit, with a leather curb chain. I thought it was a nice transition to a curb without using a ridiculously long shank like so many TWHs are ridden in. She seemed to like it well enough.
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post #12 of 16 Old 01-05-2014, 10:29 PM
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Arent gaited horses part of the Equus Caballus Genus species????? They dont know they are Tenessee Walkers (or a gaited variety). The only difference is they perform gaits other than the normal 3.. walk, trot, canter. They no more NEED to be in a leverage bit than a QH does or a TB or a Warmblood. Its all based on individual horse but mostly training, recognition of the properly performing gait and the maintaining of such through training regardless of the bit. Ive trained and retrain Walking horses for years using primarily snaffle bits (either single jointed or triple jointed, hinged, mullen mouthed depeding on the horse and even a simple vulcanite mullen mouth with rings.) to reach the goal of rebitting, responding to the aids (direct and indirect, lateral and horizontal). If I could have shown in a snaffle type bit beleive me I definatly would have had on several cases. My late mare? could have put a piece of bailing twine through her mouth and rode with just it and still got the same performance as if you were riding her with a leveraged bit. I rode her in a full cheek snaffle when I trail rode her but when I showed her I showed her in a leverage bit. I showed her western style and all I had to do was touch her with it to get a response. You do not need a leverage bit to get that good solid squared up "gait". With the snaffle one uses more direct approach. If I cant get it with a direct rein then what makes me think I can get it with a leverage bit?? I always teach directly when training, get them gaiting pretty square and responding to my aids before graduating to a leverage that is if I so chose to. Heck one could ride with a side pull and still get a good gait and response if the horse is suited to such just like a QH, TB, WB or a donkey.
Now for our more advanced works....perhaps leverage does apply. For example I worked with a horse that was strong in nature. I worked with him in a fullcheek, french link snaffle for a little while untill I got him responing to my aids, dropping and reaching forward with his head, relaxing and working nicely bending and other lateral movements. He was a strong horse (power house) but not out of control. This was his nature not a behavior issue. When asked to run walk it was very forward and very powerful and I graduated up to a 6 inch shanked bit with a hinged mouthpeice. I taught him to put the power into his rear and come off the bit more bringing in his nose more via a snaffle but now I wanted more and got it with a little bit of leverage....with pressure coming from the poll and chin. I pushed with my hips/buttocks and legs and brought him up in the mouth via the bit with out excessive pressure or pull. I was asking for more advanced stuff thus requiring a more adbvance bitting situation and boy did I ever get it. This guy rolled on like nobodys bussiness. His overreach was long and he tucked well in the rear. You could hear his teeth clicking at every head bob and his ears (rather large in comparison to his head) flopped lazily and if I had the means I would have bought him. Did i HAVE to ride him like this? nope I could have settled to riding him off the snaffle but like with a Dressage horse the more advanced you want to go the more advanced your going to have to go with your equipment...granted you know how it works.
IF a horse already has a bitting problem a more harsher bit is not going to solve the problem but will more than likely make it worse. Teach them directly first then graduate to something more according to what your desired achievment or goal is. If you just want a better responding horse (gaited or not) with good manners on a trail then who the heck cares if your riding him with a snaffle, piece of string, halter and lead rope or what ever. All horses are individuals regardless of breed and what gaits they perform, treat them as such and use a bit that best works with them.

I worked with a little racking mare, you could not get into her mouth at all and worse yet in her face with a hackamore/side pull or anything of that nature. She was a pain to deal with sometimes due to that fact. Well I was browsing about in a tack store and found a fat eggbutt snaffle bit. I bought it hoping perhaps I could work with it and this little mare (it was on sale also at a good deal). Bingo, she tolerated it quite well granted you didnt get up into her mouth with it. She had a pretty square rack to begin with so with a little strengthening exercises and some pole work and lateral work and getting the engine in the rear she got even better and would tuck that little head so took time to get this but it was acheived via patience, time and consistancy. All with a fat eggbutt snaffle.

Lighter side....
Oh and to add.......I rode a QH in a Walking Horse bit. The only difference was the style of the shanks, the mouthpeice was a low port solid, pretty basic. Dont tell the Walking horses.

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post #13 of 16 Old 01-07-2014, 11:42 AM
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What I have found with my horse is that she balances herself with a curb better than a snaffle. It did make a difference in her gait. You can use a very gentle grazing bit with curved shanks. You can use a bit that excepts a snaffle rein and a curb rein. You can get a 5-6 inch shank burb with a thicker bit and low port. Learn to use the curb reins and hands less. Legs and seat can turn horse, halt horse, half-halt.
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post #14 of 16 Old 01-07-2014, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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I have acquired a curb but and she is awesome in it
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post #15 of 16 Old 01-07-2014, 08:12 PM
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The conformation of the mouth of most gaited horses is a little different. A two piece bit or a high port does not fit in the mouth well on these horses and makes them very uncomfortable.

With the gaited horse I've trained, a French link (3 piece) snaffle worked well.
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post #16 of 16 Old 01-09-2014, 04:46 AM
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"The conformation of the mouth of most gaited horses is a little different"

I must disagree on this one. I have found that gaited horses have just as diverse mouths confomationaly as any other breed (QHs, TBs and etc.). I dont use anything with a highport anyways so that is not a problem. TWH tend to have a more boxy head conformationaly (a common characteristic of TWHs) and there for a wider mouth than many non gaited breeds. Finding a bit that is wide enough is a problem I have run into from time to time. Other than that, I think it all stems from that line of traditional thinking. "A walking horse must be in a walking bit." I say Hog wash. No more than a QH needs to be in a QH bit. I would think that with all of the educatioin, science, experience and diversity out there that things would be proven as such.

Each horse is different, treat them as such. If he works better in a curb then ride him in a curb, if he works better in a snaffle (regardless of the mouth piece) then work him in one. Dont let sterotypes and "based on tradition" make the judgement for you. If its going to harm him no matter how the bit works then its needs to go in the trash. Think about it........thier mouths are just as sensitive as ours. What would you put next to your gums and tongue?
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