Which bit is gentler?
 
 

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Which bit is gentler?

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  • Are sweet iron bits gentler than other bits
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    06-07-2013, 05:12 PM
  #1
Foal
Which bit is gentler?

Hey everyone,
I ride a 7 year old gelding, 15hh, cobish but light. I do a bit of everything with him, eventing, show jumping, dressage, hunter trials. He is a bit strong but rides mainly off of seat rather than hands, so ther is not much pulling but he needs the back up every now and again if he wont listen to my other aids or wont round himself. For flatwork he goes fine in a snaffle but doesnt really listen or carry himself as well as he can and for jumping he won't listen at all. He has been going quite well in a three ring dutch gag, jumping and flatwork, single jointed but recently I tried a three piece curb, double jointed with copper on him and it suited him. I was wondering which bit would be the gentler option since he goes quite well in both and I don't want to up the bit strength but work towards having him work well and jump in a snaffle. I have heard the three piece curb is a strong bit but it seems more gentle to me as it is double jointed whereas the dutch gag has the nutcracker effect and poll pressure.
His Dutch Gag
Http://m1284.photobucket.com/albumview/albums/Retrospectorr/de247c20-4720-4dee-9ee2-4896ffe425a2_zpsc5ad3cc0.jpg.html?o=1
Three piece Curb bit ( English Tom Thumb)
Http://m1284.photobucket.com/albumview/albums/Retrospectorr/si2695-sweet-iron-tom-thumb_1_zps5d141d19.jpg.html?o=0

Thanks for your help, I want to do right by the horse, he shouldn't suffer for my ignorance.
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    06-07-2013, 05:58 PM
  #2
Weanling
Just use the snaffle, and work with him on the holes in his training. Sounds like there are quite a few that need to be worked on.

IMO no bit will make up for things missing in a horse's education/training, and moving to a stronger bit will only cause problems.
     
    06-07-2013, 10:38 PM
  #3
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdmontonHorseGal    
Just use the snaffle, and work with him on the holes in his training. Sounds like there are quite a few that need to be worked on.

IMO no bit will make up for things missing in a horse's education/training, and moving to a stronger bit will only cause problems.
That doesn't really answer my question at all. I know that ideally I would be working him in a snaffle and that bits don't make up for schooling but I cannot just go straight to a snaffle because he doesn't respond to it, so I plan to work down gradually. If I just ride him without him working or listening that will cause problems too and he doesn't seem unhappy with those two bits. He is riding just fine, how can you tell anything about his trainig without even seeing him. I knew I was going to get pretentious answers like this, my question was which bit is more gentle in the horses mouth. Thanks for replying anyway I guess.
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    06-07-2013, 11:31 PM
  #4
Yearling
The bit is only as gentle as your hands are. A snaffle can be harsh with someone jerking and yanking on it just like any other bit can be. Its not the bits that are harsh its the riders.
     
    06-08-2013, 12:23 AM
  #5
Trained
Some horses respond well to poll pressure. Snaffles are not the end-all of bits.

I've used the gag bit,


and rode tonight in one similar to the second. My mare has always preferred one-link snaffles to 2-link snaffles, and she did OK in the gag bit. She did better in it than in a snaffle because her trick of getting the bit in her teeth didn't work - there was no escaping the pressure on the poll.

I then moved her to a bit like this:



It took a little ground work and a few rides to get her used to the curb strap, but she has done well in this bit. About my only complaint is that during a trail ride, she'll sometimes decide to chomp on the bit. Doesn't seem to harm her or the bit, but it annoys me.

My last two rides on her, I've tried this bit:



She neck reins better in the previous bit, but she likes playing with the copper rollers on this one - and that is NOT as annoying as when she plays with the whole darn bit.

I don't consider any of them to be harsh bits. Some horses like one bit better than the other. I like going outside the mouth to add pressure on the poll instead of going harsher in the mouth with a more severe snaffle. I also don't think a snaffle the horse is willing to fight is as gentle, long term, as a curb bit the horse responds to right away.

If I could only own one of the three bits, I'd go with the middle one -even if it annoys me when Mia plays chomp the bit with it. She is responsive in it, neck reins best in it, and it seems the most comfortable to her. But I do like the little copper rollers on the third bit...
     
    06-08-2013, 03:08 AM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrospector    
That doesn't really answer my question at all. I know that ideally I would be working him in a snaffle and that bits don't make up for schooling but I cannot just go straight to a snaffle because he doesn't respond to it, so I plan to work down gradually. If I just ride him without him working or listening that will cause problems too and he doesn't seem unhappy with those two bits. He is riding just fine, how can you tell anything about his trainig without even seeing him. I knew I was going to get pretentious answers like this, my question was which bit is more gentle in the horses mouth. Thanks for replying anyway I guess.
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a bit is only as gentle as the hands holding the reins.

I would not 'work down' to a snaffle. I would put a snaffle in that horse's mouth and not do any of the work that he would not listen well in a snaffle at first. This means no jumping until he is listening to you 100%. This means plenty of flat work until he is listening 100%, and then work up from there to jumping. One should not have to use a stronger bit to control the horse, but instead train the horse to respond to the rider's hands effectively no matter the activity or situation.

Many horses that are highly trained for dressage, jumping, western reining, etc have started with a snaffle, and don't graduate up to the curb bits until they are working well in that snaffle and listening 100%. Your proposal of working down to the snaffle is a little 'donkey' backwards.


Bsms, that is not a gag bit, it is an elevator bit.
     
    06-08-2013, 03:36 AM
  #7
Started
OP can do whatever she chooses with her horse, SOME horses DO need to be worked back down from being 'over bitted' and it's nobodies place to judge. I, personally, am not familiar with the bits in question so I can't give any constructive advice I'd just like to hopefully point this thread in the right direction.

There's also the issue that some horses just can't be jumped correctly in a snaffle, a horse can have all the correct training under its belt and still need a slightly stronger bit on course, it's not something I see anything wrong with and- as has been pointed out before- a bit is only as harsh as the hands that use it, if you are able to ride correctly and use the extra 'strength' only when it's absolutely required then great, keep using what you're using.
     
    06-08-2013, 04:48 AM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdmontonHorseGal    
a bit is only as gentle as the hands holding the reins.

I would not 'work down' to a snaffle. I would put a snaffle in that horse's mouth and not do any of the work that he would not listen well in a snaffle at first. This means no jumping until he is listening to you 100%. This means plenty of flat work until he is listening 100%, and then work up from there to jumping. One should not have to use a stronger bit to control the horse, but instead train the horse to respond to the rider's hands effectively no matter the activity or situation.

Many horses that are highly trained for dressage, jumping, western reining, etc have started with a snaffle, and don't graduate up to the curb bits until they are working well in that snaffle and listening 100%. Your proposal of working down to the snaffle is a little 'donkey' backwards.


Bsms, that is not a gag bit, it is an elevator bit.
That is all well and good but snaffles don't always suit every horse. Exavtly, the bit is only a gentle as the hand so a snaffle can be harsh too. He has a headstrong personality and sometimes he needs that extra bit of strentgh. I'd rather have him going quiet and listening in something stronger than having to do unecessary pulling in a snaffle. It would be great if ride in a snaffle sure but I would be wasting his and my time working him in a snaffle just for the sake of it being a snaffle if he wasn't responding. What works for one horse doesn't work for all of them.
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    06-08-2013, 04:49 AM
  #9
Foal
Thanks for the replies everyone.
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    06-08-2013, 11:02 AM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdmontonHorseGal    
... I would put a snaffle in that horse's mouth and not do any of the work that he would not listen well in a snaffle at first...bsms, that is not a gag bit, it is an elevator bit.
It is a gag bit. It can also be called an elevator bit, but it functions as a gag bit. It uses leverage to squeeze between the poll and the mouth. Internet picture, but it shows why they are sometimes called gag bits:



And there is little value in 'training' a horse in a snaffle if the horse knows how to ignore the snaffle. Mia figured out she can clench her teeth, stretch her head near horizontal, and then the snaffle just rests against her molars. She can totally ignore it for as long as she wants, or until I use brute force and darn near rip her head off - which I have resorted to, when she was 'racing' another horse and heading for a turn that would have flipped us both thru the desert & cactus & rocks.

As long as Mia isn't excited, she is completely fine with a rope halter. Or a snaffle. But when her blood is up, both are as worthless as tits on a boar hog. She'll be sweet & nice in a snaffle, but she always knows she has the option to ignore it - and that can kill us both.

With a curb or gag, she can be ridden with slack in the reins most of the time, yet controlled even when excited. Maybe if I owned a racetrack, I could train her to run near other horses and not get excited. I don't own a racetrack.

Snaffles are not the end all of bits. Two of my three horses use snaffles. One of the three would be trustworthy in a rope halter. But Mia rides better and behaves calmer in a curb or gag than in a snaffle. On a trail ride, she spends more time with head level and back relaxed in a curb than in a snaffle. That doesn't make her a bad horse or me a bad rider. She is just a horse who knows how to ignore a snaffle...
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