Tennessee walker with a "bit" of a problem!

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Tennessee walker with a "bit" of a problem!

This is a discussion on Tennessee walker with a "bit" of a problem! within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category

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    04-14-2014, 06:31 PM
Tennessee walker with a "bit" of a problem!

My buddy has a 4 yo big headed, sweet as pie TWH gelding. I do most of the work with him, although I myself don't come from a gaited horse background and he's the first TWH my friend has ever dealt with. He came with training from his previous owner, and when we started working with him (we had very limited knowledge on his past) we didn't know what to ride him in. Started him in a Tom thumb with copper rollers, but he would get really mad at the nutcracker action of the bit. Tried him in my old OTTB's Mullen eggbutt happy mouth, and he appreciates the straight mouth and rides fine for me but doesn't stop or maneuver well for my friend. I found a short shanked bit with a low, wide port. It wasn't a perfect match and he's not the biggest fan of it. However, I like the way he worked in it, but he sticks his nose in the air and gapes his mouth to evade the bit with my friend. The horse is heavier in mouth yet particular about what goes in it, and very sensitive to leg. My friend is quite stubborn, heavy handed, and has incredibly long legs and doesn't use leg pressure the way he should, so here lies my problem. I need to find a bit that the horse likes that I can teach him to respect and give to the bit properly, but also will allow my friend to safely ride without making him really mad. Does anyone have suggestions for me?

Sincerely, a thoroughbred owner lost in a gaited horse world!
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    04-14-2014, 11:01 PM
Every walker I've ever ridden had a curb bit with a curb chain. I will go out on a limb and say that many people who ride walkers don't ride with a lot of leg aids. Not in the way you would ride a quarter horse or tb at least. Their primary use is to be an easy going trail horse and much of the steering is done with light pressure from the hands.

I'm sure this doesn't go for every walker, but from the age of 8-20, nearly every horse I rode was a twh and this was true for them. They're great horses and I hope you're enjoying him!

If you look at pictures of walkers in the show ring or on the trail I'd guarantee 90% of them have a leverage bit. I would try to stay away from the tom thumb though, those tend to confuse the heck out of them. I would try a general curb with a chain! :)
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    04-14-2014, 11:15 PM

Sorry couldn't edit. But here's a TWH show for reference. Leverage bits and minimal leg pressure, mostly only to change gaits.
    04-15-2014, 02:30 AM
I ride my TWH in an short Argentine snaffle with a dogbone/copper rings almost identical to this:

It doesn't have a severe nutcracker effect and he is very light and responsive to it. I'm sorta a mash-up of riding techniques lol I do use my legs/body cues equally, if not more, then I use my reins, which I apparently use in a similar fashion to my friend who is in dressage....but I ride western but it works for us. I can one-handed neck rein Rylen but I find he gaits better if I don't.

A french link snaffle, with no shanks or leverage would probably be the softest bit you could get that still would provide the communication you need. That said, any bit is heavy hands can be harsh.

The horse is telling you all you need to know with his reaction to your friend's riding. Some horses are more tolerant to unrefined handling, but I would highly suggest your friend take lessons and learn to properly hand his horse. I would hate to see it end up as a frustrated horse who can no longer take it and is written off as a "bad" horse.

Also....unless you are participating in Big Lick, I would not look to those people as examples on how to pleasure ride a TWH....a horse should not move like that. Again, I would highly suggest finding a knowledgeable natural gait TWH trainer to guide you and your friend.
    04-15-2014, 08:49 AM
The problem here is not the horse nor the equipment. It's the rider. Unless you fix that you won't fix anything.

Regarding bits, I just wrote about using a sidepull to address an issue. One lesson from that experience is that using a device that instills "stress" in the horse (and heavy handed use of a bit will induce stress) will impede training and performance.

The Big Lick Walker is a cruel caricature of the Walking Horse. It's sole positive value is to be a clear demonstration of what NOT to do with a Walker (or any other horse). It has no purpose in this discussion except to be a massive DON'T BE.

Most North American gaited horses are laterally gaited (tending to the pace). Most I've ever worked with go better in contact than on a loose rein. This does not require the use of a curb bit (although that bit is widely used). The style riding found in most North American gaited horse cultures is to ride with lots of hand and very little leg or seat. I suspect that is the reason we see lots of curb bits, to give more authority to the hand. Perhaps the other reason is that very few gaited horses are used in disciplines where lateral movement is required. If all you want to do with your horse is ride in a straight line then this hand-centric system works sufficiently to do the job. The biggest downside is that unless the rider is skilled and careful it is very easy to ventroflex the horse's back. This results in a smoother ride but will sore the back over time. Very few gaited horse riders understand this.

The bottom line is that a bit will give better and more efficient communication but must be selected to fit the horse (mouth conformation, temperament, and discipline in which the horse is used). The bit enhances the power of the hand. But the hand is only one of the three natural aids (the others being the leg and seat). If you effectively use leg and seat you need far less hand. If you don't then you need more. So there is no reason why a gaited horse needs a curb bit. Except that the rider has selected that bit for their own purposes.

Put another way, the horse is the canvas upon which the rider paints their desires.

Wallaby, texasgal, smrobs and 10 others like this.
    04-15-2014, 09:15 AM
Originally Posted by coalitions    
2013 WGC Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration Stake - YouTube

Sorry couldn't edit. But here's a TWH show for reference. Leverage bits and minimal leg pressure, mostly only to change gaits.
Im not really sure what this video had to do with anything here......

I find that most of the TWH that I have dealt with over the last several years were very forward horses, that for the most part had been tought to get "behind" the bit in an effort to "frame" them in to the prefered posture. I think for this reason, most odf those horses tend to need a bit with a touch more leverage to get their attention, on top of that getting one "behind" the bit is often accompolished through light constant pressure which in the wrong hands can become constant heavy pressure, I would say correct the rider then, work on finding a bit the horse likes.

texasgal and Pagancat like this.
    04-15-2014, 10:49 AM
Whoa! Easy guys! Clearly the video and post was misinterpreted. Sorry! It was merely shown to illustrate that many TWH owners, riders, trainers don't use leg (even on a show level!) and that's why we see so much of the leverage.

Please don't throw on the chains and boots and ride around in a top hat. As a side note: the above is correct, and I don't understand why such naturally beautifully moving horses are subject to this.

Admittedly I should have chose a more natural video as I highly doubt OP is doing these sort of shows, but it was hard to find another with multiple walkers in it. Again, it was just an example of the bits and loose leg I was referencing to. This occurs on the pleasure level as well.

As for the use of the leverage, as mentioned above, any bit can be cruel in the wrong hands. However in the right hands a curb can be very effective and much easier on a horses mouth than someone who tugs and tugs with a heavy hand on a snaffle. Certainly easier than a tom thumb. But in the end it all depends on the horse and rider.

I will say if you are doing arena work or using the horse for different purposes than trail, you may need another bit. That may also require some reeducation of the horse.

Still, in this case it appears to not soley be a bit problem. I know it can be uncomfortable trying to correct a friend. Wish you the best OP!
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    04-15-2014, 12:48 PM
Thank you guys for all the input! I've got a kimberwick coming in the mail (because if Cash the TWH doesn't like it, my ottb might) and a Pelham, so we'll try that. Abd yes, I'm fully aware it's my friend's riding... He's one of those "this is why I'm not doing that" instead of an "oh I didn't realize I wasn't doing that, let me fix it" types. He's a great friend and our boys have a serious bromance, but I'm really fed up with working with the horse just to have to go back and fix whatever issue my friend rekindled. I'm about to tell him he needs to either listen to me or sell Cash and get a western quarter horse that's trained. Cash is such a good boy and I'd love for them to work out their differences. Here's to hoping! Thank you again everybody!
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    04-15-2014, 12:58 PM
This is Cash on the left with my boy Samson on the right. They do love each other so!
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    04-15-2014, 12:59 PM
http:// https://fbcdn-photos-b-a.aka...50203871_n.jpg
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