Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Sweden - the land of carrots and apples
I have no idea if it will benefit your horses gait.
But if your horse is like all other horses, gaited or not, any shank bit without a chain/strap will work for a stiff and hollow back and tensions, which in un-healthy for any horse, without making much sense for the horse, and it will take way more in tthe horses mouth than you can imagine by feeling the preassure in your fingers.
Any shank bit with a curbstrap will work to make the horse lower his head and while that works for a nicer, rounder back (as long as the horse just doesn't break off in the neck) it will make it more natural for the horse to trot, or go towards a trotty gait. It could be good if your horse is gaiting in a very lateral way, but then I'd still prefer a snaffle to soften the horse up in the sides and back. A shank with a curb strap would also be much stronger than a snaffle, but it's more honest in that that you'll feel the bits strength in your hand.
A snaffle is a good bit for keeping the horse relaxed and soft/flexible in the sides, which is important for a healthy horse. It's easy to allow a higher headset without causing tensions and allow the back to move, annd you can also lower the horses head if the horse tends to go more to a pace than a four-beat gait, or raise it if it goes towards a trot or diagonal gait.
But, it's easier to get a horse to gait if the horse is tensed up. However, my personal belief is that no horse should carry a rider with a tensed and/or hollow back, no matter if they're walking, gaiting, trotting or cantering. In the long run it's unhealthy and can cause serious back injuries (''kissing spines'' might be caused of a long term hollowed back, and less serious back problems caused by it can still be painful.) And back problems gets the horse more tensed up and more eager to chose a gait rather than a trot, it can even make the gait flashier.
I rather work for a soft, flexible horse that perhaps offer a less flashy gait for much more work, but at least I know that the horse is sound and carry my weight in a way that won't hurt it in the long run. But that's my choice.
I'd choose a snaffle, anyway. I can very well use other, shanked, bits when I see a benefit from it, but the naffle is what I use on Crow, and a snaffle is what I'll use for Sólon when he grows up. (standardbred and icelandic horse)
Of course you can still get a good, carrying horse with a shank bit, but I find it much easier to get a tensed/stiff horse that gaits and think that ''hey, this is great, he's gaiting!" instead of continuing from there to make the gait less stiff and more carrying as the horse learns to gait better.
After what I've seen, a whole lot of gaited horses are asked for a hollow back when they move up to gait.. I just don't agree with that.
Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.