Snaffle to curb - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-10-2012, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Snaffle to curb

Hello!! A friend of mine recently purchased another TWH from a natural horsemanship guy who plucked her from a kill pen. She is an amazing horse! Very sweet, kind and her gait is comfy. The guy broke her to ride in a full cheek snaffle which she responds to alright. She will woah, walk, gait, canter, back and has fundamental neck reining skills. Usually my motto is if it ain't broke don't fix it but her owner (my friend) would like her to go in a curb. She has MS so her balance is frequently compromised and her strength is a little less then average. It's really for her safety heaven forbid the horse should take off she wouldn't have a ice cubes chance in hell in a snaffle.

Last week I used my Argentine dog bone snaffle on her just at the walk working on woah and neck reining. I switched bridles before doing any other work with her in it as she still seemed a little bit confused with it.

Am I on the right track? Any tips on making this go as smooth at possible? How do you, personally, transition your horses to curbs?
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-10-2012, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SlideStop View Post
She has MS so her balance is frequently compromised and her strength is a little less then average. It's really for her safety heaven forbid the horse should take off she wouldn't have a ice cubes chance in hell in a snaffle.
I'll let others respond to your actual question but would like to say that if you switch to a leveraged bit just for this reason, you're really providing a false sense of security IMHO. A horse that is intent on running isn't going to be stopped by a curb bit.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-10-2012, 01:04 PM
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Edited to add: My Mom has MS and I know what your friend is going through. With something like that, it's not really the lack of faith in the horse's training, but the fact that the rider has very limited strength. Even a well trained horses will sometimes need a little bit more pressure to remind them that they really do need to listen....and if you simply don't have the strength to give enough pressure in the snaffle, then a leverage bit really is safer.

There is almost always some initial confusion when a horse is first changed from a snaffle to a curb. What I suggest, since the mare has only basic neck reining skills, is to spend some more time working on that. Get her to where she's neck reining really well before trying to move to the curb.

Then, choose a curb with a solid or barreled mouth. The thing about using a broken mouth curb bit like a tom thumb or a dogbone bit on a horse that doesn't neck rein very well is that when you pick up one rein as a direct rein reminder, it causes the bit to collapse into both sides of their face and can cause some real confusion.

I would advise something more like one of these, this is the type that I use and have always had good results with this style.
Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Reiner WIde Port Swivel Shank Bit

Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Francois Gauthier Antique Hinged Futurity Bit

Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Kelly Copper Inlay Arch Mouth Bit - 5"

239091- Partrade Cowboy Collection Short Slotted Futurity Bit

What I do for the first few minutes of the first ride in a curb bit is I will generally take up light pressure on one rein, just enough to get them to feel it, and pull it out away from my body in a very exaggerated direct reining motion. There is usually some resistance and confusion at first but I just keep the light pressure until they figure out the new pressure points and leverage and give to that side. When they do, I immediately release all pressure and give them a scratch and then start again. I do that to each side until they are comfortable giving each way to the new bit. I do all that before I ever ask for any type of forward motion. Sometimes it takes just a couple of minutes, sometimes it takes 15 or more but they all get it eventually.

Then, just ride her like you expect her to ride. Until she has some more time under her belt with neck reining, you may have to give a direct rein reminder occasionally, but with a bit that won't collapse on her face, that is no big deal.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/

Last edited by smrobs; 05-10-2012 at 01:07 PM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-10-2012, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PaintHorseMares View Post
I'll let others respond to your actual question but would like to say that if you switch to a leveraged bit just for this reason, you're really providing a false sense of security IMHO. A horse that is intent on running isn't going to be stopped by a curb bit.
She knows just as well as I do that accidents happen. Falls and accidents can't be prevented. A run away horse might not ever be stopped with anything. Small things that won't upset your balance could for her. She also uses one hand to counter balance herself so she ride with one hand and the snaffle isn't super conducive to that. Plus, the horse is ready to "graduate", she has all the basics down and has a real solid foundation. No corners were cut with her. I don't see any reason not to as I have very well educated hands, I typically always ride my horse in a curb (same bit as mentioned above) or a rope halter. I personally have never made the switch though. Her hands are very quiet and light as well. The both of us treat the horses like gold. I know when I'm over my head and I already know exactly who I'm going to if I can't make the switch myself. I really do want the best for her and the horse.

Why does anyone transition to a curb? We want the same, plus its *potential* safety benefits for her. I'm not talking 8" shanks with a high port, just a simple Argentine snaffle with a 3" shank.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-10-2012, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
Edited to add: My Mom has MS and I know what your friend is going through. With something like that, it's not really the lack of faith in the horse's training, but the fact that the rider has very limited strength. Even a well trained horses will sometimes need a little bit more pressure to remind them that they really do need to listen....and if you simply don't have the strength to give enough pressure in the snaffle, then a leverage bit really is safer.

There is almost always some initial confusion when a horse is first changed from a snaffle to a curb. What I suggest, since the mare has only basic neck reining skills, is to spend some more time working on that. Get her to where she's neck reining really well before trying to move to the curb.

Then, choose a curb with a solid or barreled mouth. The thing about using a broken mouth curb bit like a tom thumb or a dogbone bit on a horse that doesn't neck rein very well is that when you pick up one rein as a direct rein reminder, it causes the bit to collapse into both sides of their face and can cause some real confusion.

I would advise something more like one of these, this is the type that I use and have always had good results with this style.
Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Reiner WIde Port Swivel Shank Bit

Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Francois Gauthier Antique Hinged Futurity Bit

Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Kelly Copper Inlay Arch Mouth Bit - 5"

239091- Partrade Cowboy Collection Short Slotted Futurity Bit

What I do for the first few minutes of the first ride in a curb bit is I will generally take up light pressure on one rein, just enough to get them to feel it, and pull it out away from my body in a very exaggerated direct reining motion. There is usually some resistance and confusion at first but I just keep the light pressure until they figure out the new pressure points and leverage and give to that side. When they do, I immediately release all pressure and give them a scratch and then start again. I do that to each side until they are comfortable giving each way to the new bit. I do all that before I ever ask for any type of forward motion. Sometimes it takes just a couple of minutes, sometimes it takes 15 or more but they all get it eventually.

Then, just ride her like you expect her to ride. Until she has some more time under her belt with neck reining, you may have to give a direct rein reminder occasionally, but with a bit that won't collapse on her face, that is no big deal.
Thanks so much, that was very helpful!! It sounds like I'm on the right track. That exactly what I was doing, bringing the outside rein across and enforcing with the inside rein. She did begin to pick it up towards the end which was very encouraging! I'll look into getting her one of those bits.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-12-2012, 08:32 PM
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The big thing to remember is to take your time. Switching between curbs and snaffles is like us switching between spanish and english...completely different ways of communicating. It may take the horse a little while to get the who syntax from the different bit. After all, nobody would just suddenly one day tell YOU that you had to use a different language from now on and completely understand it the first day :)
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-12-2012, 11:39 PM
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Learn to use a Pelham with four reins or a double bridle and get the best of both worlds.

G.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-12-2012, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Guilherme View Post
Learn to use a Pelham with four reins or a double bridle and get the best of both worlds.

G.
Actually I was thinking about that!! Thanks for confirming that for me. :)
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-13-2012, 09:47 AM
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I would think that a person with MS would have an even more difficult time mastering four reins.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-18-2012, 02:56 AM
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Have you tried a Kimberwicke? It's like an Egg-Butt snaffle but with curb and maybe 1/2" of leverage. The reins connect to a loop at the bottom of the snaffle rings. It's a great transition bit and can be ridden both ways. I'd recommend the mullen-mouth kimberwicke but if you feel the need for a jointed mouthpiece, they're fine too. They also come with low ports for tongue relief.

I ride my TWH in one (he's an ex-show horse) and he made the transition easily from a 6" shank in shows to a kimberwicke. I can't imagine it'd be difficult to go the other direction.
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