Which bit should I use? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 10:15 AM Thread Starter
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Which bit should I use?

Hello everyone, newbie here and I love the Forum.

I have a bit of a situation and I am really looking for some unbiased advice about bits. Apologies for the length of the post but I am at a real crossroads.

Here's a bit of background. I grew up in a town outside of London, England, and horses were something you saw on the tv. I didn't ride horses until I moved to Spain and met my wife 7 years ago. I am 45. My horse, (Nube) is about 9 years old, only having been ridden regularly for the last four years, mostly by me. We get on very well. She was broken as a foal by a Spanish 'expert' which means he knows how to use sticks and stones better than most people. Therefore she is a very sensitive horse, doesn't like loud voices, quick movements...you get the picture.

Up until about 6 months ago she was riding beautifully in a combination snaffle, which apparently turned out to belong to a friend of ours. She replaced it with a very harsh snaffle which Nube took an instant dislike to. At one point, while trying to fit the bridle, she reared and then lunged forward and if it hadn't been for the fact that she hit the tack room wall, she would have landed on my wife.

The same friend who took away our combination snaffle and gave us the harsh snaffle then advised us to try her in a rubber bit. Worked very well to start with but I soon had difficulty turning her head. Then the same friend suggested a Hackamore. Have had one good ride and two bad rides so far.

Another complication is that my wife's friend (another 'expert') came to ride Nube and brought with her a Pelham bit with a D-ring connection to a single rein. I had a go a few days later and really enjoyed the ride. Nube seemed to enjoy herself as well. First friend (comfort snaffle-harsh snaffle-rubber) later took one look at the Pelham and declared "You should never ride a Pelham bit with a single rein" and set about removing the D-ring connector and fitting a second rein. Suddenly I am learning to ride with double reins. The worst part is that the two 'expert' friends don't like each other and I am concerned that I may be in the middle of a "who knows the most about horses" war between the two.

I would really like to return to a comfort snaffle as we were both really happy with it, but they are very difficult to get hold of here, or in the UK. Has anyone got any advice they could offer, or suggest an alternative to the comfort snaffle that is easily available?

I would really appreciate any advice on this.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 10:22 AM
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could you post a picture of the combination snaffle as I've not heard of it before.
Also what "harsh" snaffle were you told to use.

Its all relevant information as all snaffles have distinct actions so we need to know so that we can figure out what she is reacting to.

I personaly would suggest that a rubber snaffle was probably too much in her mouth as they can tend to be quite bulky.

I hate hackamores perticularly in inexperianced hands so I would say get rid of that immediatly.
I also don't like pelhams with roundings and a single rein. This muddies the action of the bit and every time you use the rein brings the curb chain into action. If you can't ride with double reins or don't want to then a pelham is not the bit for you, use a kimblewick instead.
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 11:03 AM
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Howdy and welcome to the forum, David. It's unfortunate that you seem to be in the middle of a "pissing contest" between your two friends, that is a very awkward position.

I agree with Faye, can you find pictures of the snaffles that you've used on her; the one she liked and the one she didn't?

Unfortunately, I don't know what all bits might be readily available to you over there and I don't really know a ton about common English bits (I'm a western rider), but I agree that instead of a Pelham where you have to use 2 reins, you might prefer a kimberwick. Same basic action as the Pelham, though slightly milder and without the trouble of 2 reins.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 11:15 AM
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"comfort snaffle"

Are you talking about this?


... Energy is an admirable thing, but the energy of stupidity seldom avails much..." - On Seats and Saddles (1868), Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars (light cavalry)
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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thanks everyone, very useful information, never heard of a Kimblewick so will definitely check it out

The bit she used to have is very similar to the picture here




I will post a picture of the old rusty snaffle we were given as a replacement but just as a guide for now, you could tie an anchor to it.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 03:51 PM
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Aha! That's one of those expensive Myler combination bits. If she rode well in that, then I'm sure she'd get along just fine with a ported kimblewick.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 04:10 PM
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There is a pretty wide range of Mylar bits here:

Horse Bits & Hackamore Bits By MikMar, Tom Thumb, Sweet Iron & More!

I have yet to convince myself to pay over $100 for a bit, but a lot of them look well designed.

One like this may share a lot of the features for a fraction of the price ($24):

Reining Snaffle Brookside (Supplies Tack - Bits - Working)



This one might also have a similar effect ($18):



Western SS Low Port Futurity Bit - Statelinetack.com

Don't know if any of those would be OK. I might be totally out to lunch. They are not snaffles, though.

... Energy is an admirable thing, but the energy of stupidity seldom avails much..." - On Seats and Saddles (1868), Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars (light cavalry)
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 05:58 PM
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BSMS, those are great suggestions, but since the OP appears to be riding english, I'm not sure how well those would fit in .

Also, I don't know if any of those companies ship to Europe or not.

OP, you might browse around on Ebay. You might have some luck finding something there that will ship to you (and perhaps be cheaper than buying direct from a company).

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-26-2013, 06:47 PM
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The bit the OP showed is a shanked curb bit, although of a style more congenial to English riding than a standard western curb. Mia often treats my variation of that bit more like an English bit - I try to keep slack in the reins, but sometimes she insists on "slack out'.





I've heard some people refer to bits like Mylar's and the one above as 'comfort snaffles', which is why I asked. While they aren't designed for two handed riding, they seem pretty forgiving of it for those of us who feel weird with one hand on the reins.

Mia gets stuck with some pretty odd tack combinations. She's a forgiving horse, though.




I tried a Kimberwick with her once...her Highness was not amused. It was this style. I don't have the chain, but I could mail the mouthpiece to Spain if the OP wants to try it. 5" mouthpiece.


... Energy is an admirable thing, but the energy of stupidity seldom avails much..." - On Seats and Saddles (1868), Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars (light cavalry)
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-27-2013, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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Hi everyone, thanks again for your help and advice.

Bsms - I don't ride English, I have a western saddle (not a Spanish Vaquero) so now I'm really getting confused. Have I been using completely the wrong bit then? I often only have one hand on the reins, and I am working with her trying to teach her to neck rein. Up until now I have basically gone with whatever suggestion expert no.1 has been giving (assuming she knew what she was talking about, because I don't) but I've now decided that my horse is not a pawn in other people's game of chess, so am taking the responsibility for her bit myself.

She is happy to take the bit when I put the bridle on, she actually stands with her mouth open (as I said, we get on very well) so I just need something that is going to give control but is not severe, as I don't want to damage the trust that she has in me. Remember, she was badly treated when she was young so is very sensitive to 'strong arm' tactics. I'm going to research the Kimblewick, and thanks for the offer of sending one over by post bsms but I've seen similar bits in the suppliers shops in Spain.
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comfort snaffle , hackamore , pelham , snaffle trouble

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