So I am not sure what kind of bit to use with my new horses. My gelding seemed to respond well to the curb bit. I tried a split snaffle on my mare and she didn't do well with it at all. Now I have no idea if it is indicative to their level of training or if it has to do with the bit. I am going to try the mare with a curb tomorrow and see if she does better. My last horse we rode with a hackamore, so I am not real knowledgable about bits. Any suggestions?
Each horse is different. I would start of with snaffles, which are bits WITHOUT shanks. Solid snaffles, broken snaffles, French links, anything with a smooth mouthpiece, and go from there.
Pictured: eggbutt. Gentle/mild bit.
Pictured: d-ring snaffle. Pretty mild bit.
Pictured: eggbutt. Gentle/mild bit.
You can get snaffles in a few different O-ring or loose ring, D-Ring, Eggbutt, and Fullcheek. Avoid gags.
For reference, here is an o ring or loosering snaffle.
And a fullcheek with copper mouth(helps keep a horses mouth moist)
Half cheeks are usually used for driving but some people ride in th em as well.
There is also another kind of bit, called a Baucher, which is like an upside down half-cheek. What that bit does, is apply poll pressure, which can encourage the horse to drop its head.
As a general rule, the thinner the mouthpiece the harsher the action the bit has. As always, any bit can be harsh, but one ounce of pressure on a bit that is 16mm thick can feel like a little push while one ounce of pressure on 8mm bit can feel like a big pinch. Twisted wires, corkscrews, slow twists and anything other than a smooth piece intensifies the bit. Here is a website about various bits. It may be helpful as well.
You can get just about any bit I posted, with the french link, which softens the action a little. Single jointed bits have what is called an utcracker effeect, where when you pull both riens, the bit can hit the roof of the horses mouth, some horses this can hurt, while others it doesn't effect. The middle piece, whether it be a french link, dr. Bristol, or an oval or bean, will eliminate that effect.
I would say that if the mare doesn't respond well to the curb then to try her in a french link....... but if she doesn't like that and needs some leverage then I reccommend a billy allen type mouth piece like below
I tried her with the curb bit yesterday and she did fantastic. I didn't have to move my hands at all. She still didn't neck rein but all I had to do was move my ring finger to ad tension to the rein and she turned in which ever direction I wanted or stopped. She did much better than with the split snaffle. I do have a couple old and rusty straight snaffle lying around. I will see if I can find a new one or fix them up. I always thought curb bits seemed a little harsh (that is probably just because I did use a hackamore on my old mare) but she seemed to do quite well with it.
I would say go to a snaffle. But even a snaffle, depending on the type of mouth piece (smooth, light twist, twist) could still potential be harsh. But in a smooth to mild snaffle you can work on flexing and such which every horse needs, where in a curb compared to a snaffle, doesnt work as well for flexing. Someimes you have to try many different bits to find the perfect one. Best of luck!!!
A bit is only as severe as the handler. A snaffle in the wrong hands can be more harsh than a spade long shank bit in the right hands.
I prefer French links, but not a loose ring. This eliminates possible pinching on the sides, and there is no crackerjack action on the tongue, as you get with any single-jointed bit, such as the snaffle.