Bit perplexion - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-23-2012, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Bit perplexion

My daughter's 11 year old QH mare seems to be very fickle with her bits. She likes a cheap o-ring snaffle--for awhile, but then she starts to ignore it. She likes a Myler mild correction bit (level 1-2) for a while, but then starts to get pissy because it has more bite. (By pissy I mean very tail swishy, tossing her head around, but she doesn't ignore it.) She also likes a smooth Jr. cow horse bit, again, for a while, then sort of does a combo of the other two. Right now my daughter mixes it up. One ride, uses a snaffle, then rides her in the Myler a few times, then switches to the cow horse bit and sort of does a rotation. When she's doing cow work or barrel racing she specifically uses the cow horse bit, when she's doing 4-H performance/reining, she uses the Myler because 4-H requires a curb. When she's playing around on the trail course or on a trail ride she rides in the snaffle.

Is it normal for a horse to be this fickle? Are we screwing things up by switching on and off? Truth be told, when we regularly switch it up, she listens to all of them better. Right now we're borrowing the Jr. Cowhorse bit and that seems to be her favorite, but I need to double check to see if she can use it for 4-H fair in 3 weeks. In my experience each horse I've ever ridden has a "favorite" bit and that's what the do best in. I know that people try a lot before finding one that really works, but it seems like if you use the same bit on her for too long, you get a snotty horse, but mixing it up keeps her happy.

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post #2 of 5 Old 07-23-2012, 10:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Sometimes you have to do whats better for the horse. If she is responding better when she switches things up, awesome.

All the bits youve listed are great bits. As long as your daughter has light hands, i dont see much of a problem.

Most horses arent that finicky but some as just...weird.

Have you tried a french link snaffle? I know many horses that work very well in them.
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-23-2012, 10:59 PM
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To be very honest, if the horse is swishing her tail, this is more likely an irritation from another source. At least, I would not assume it has any connection to the bit.

And, again, to be very frank, a horse's response to the bit is really based a lot more on the rider's hands. So, it could be that your daughter , after using a bit for awhile , starts to get kind of blase about her signals/releases and start losing that clear communicaiton with the horse. Horse gets grumpy about it and humans assume horse has ceased to respond to the bit. When, in actuality, the rider has ceased to ride correctly with the bit in her hands.

Is this something that might be true in your situation?
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-23-2012, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Did I fail to mention we call this horse princess? She's outrageously particular--about EVERYTHING, and God forbid she get a bug bite! She won't eat an apple if it isn't sliced, she won't eat a treat if it isn't peppermint (they've sat in the corner of her stall over night, she's that picky!), and she won't eat grass if it's wet.

My daughter is pretty consistent with her hands unless she's in a new situation, then she tends to be a little too heavy. She's only 10 so we're working hard on that with our trainer. We have been around the block and back trying to figure out the tail swishing. We've had her massaged, we've sprayed for bugs, we've checked to see if she's cycling, we've double checked the saddle, the pad, the boots, taken off the spurs...when we change bits in the middle of a lesson when she's doing it, it quits.

My daughter is used to a horse that needs more contact, (we've had this mare for 3 months) and this mare prefers a little to no contact for riding. That's not always possible considering the disciplines she rides in. She's been working hard at staying off the horse's face, however she tends to need a lot of reminders. A bit switch every few rides seems to make them both a lot happier.

I should also mention that we are working with a trainer 2-3 times a week so I'm not winging it without an experienced person guiding me. This horse gets bored easy if she doesn't have variety in her training too. 2-3 days of rail work and she's a mess. We have added cow work in just to do something different, and reining is like a party for her. We try to go on at least 1 trail ride a week for a change of scenery. She LOVES the challenge trail course and arena trail classes. BUT if we do anything with her for 2-3 days in a row she's a hot mess. She is one of those horses that needs variety. We (my husband, the trainer and myself) sort of thought that her bit issue was a little like her personality and that she just needed to mix things up.

All of this said, she does it ALL with the best attitude, even when she's unhappy. Which is why we bought her for a 10 year old. She can do just about any western discipline well, and keeps a very level head, never spooks at anything, is always happy to see people and ADORES my daughter.

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post #5 of 5 Old 07-23-2012, 11:23 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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If the horse works well that way, who cares as long as the bit chosen is legal to be ridden in the class?

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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