Different bit needed

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Different bit needed

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    04-18-2013, 10:43 AM
Different bit needed

Hi guuys, I need some advice. I have a gelding, probably somewhere around 8-10 yrs old. Ex cart horse, his previous owner used a liverpool driving bit on him. He is a hot horse, hard to stop so they somply used the "sharp" side of the liverpool. I think his mouth has been damaged to the point where he will unfortunatley never again be able to be ridden in say a snaffle. We currently use a jointed pelham on him, curb rein only. I know that's not the correct way, but that's the only way his riders know. His current rider however is complaining that he's become increasingly resistant, hard to especially stop, but also recently steering has become a problem. I know retraining him from scratch would probably be the ultimate answer, but I need him to work the cows, my "old faithfull" is really seeming to feel his age this winter and is slowing down faster than I bargained on.
So I guess my question is this, what kind of bit can I use on him, I try and keep all my horses in the softest bits possible. Only he and "old faithfull" work in pelhams, the rest snaffles only. I almost bit the head off off one of our workers when he put my mare who works in a souble link snaffle in a pelham. ButI need something either stronger, or "different" for Kroon. I know getting out of his mouth would probably be good, but I am scared of a mechanical hack, scared if he resists and his rider takes a grip an the reins he might end up with a broken nose. Any suggestions? Please?
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    04-18-2013, 11:08 AM
Teen Forum Moderator
You're right, no Mechanical hacks. So are you looking for a bitless bridle or a bit? I realize that you think he's too strong for a snaffle but you also said his mouth is too damaged for one. Is this because of the nutcracker action? What kind of damage has happened to cause him to be unable to use one? Lesions, cuts, swelling? Or by damage do you just mean that he has quit responding at all to the bit?

I really don't know what to tell you. Obviously you're correct, he just needs to be started from scratch again, but I've also been in your place, needing him for a job now. Fact is though, a hard mouthed, hot horse is probably the last thing you want to be working your cattle with.

My first reaction for the best way to start retraining him, is begin with a bit that has completely different action than your current bit. I believe pelhams work on the tounge, chin, and poll typically, but I don't know how this effect might be changed by you using the bit incorrectly as just a curb. My guess would be less tounge, more chin and poll. For that reason, definitely stay away from a MH not only because they can be way too strong, but also because they work on the poll, nose, and chin. Take my words with a grain of salt, but I might try a kimberwick if you are completely against just a snaffle. Perhaps a ported mouthpiece with no joints, so that you are using pressure on the bars of the mouth, chin, poll, and roof. Keep your reins on the highest slot to get lessen the curb action. Only use this bit of you know how it works though.

I still think a snaffle would be ok, either double jointed with rollers, or single. My suggestion would be a full cheek with keepers.
    04-18-2013, 12:22 PM
Endiku, thanks. Yes Kroon is by no means the perfect cow pony, but you work with what you've got. It's him or the Appy mare and she's completely clueless with cow gathering. I am afraid of not being able to stop him AT ALL in a snaffle. I tried putting his pelham on snaffle rein a while back, his rider said he couldn't stop him. I don not personally ride this horse, so unfortunately I only have his riders words to guide me.
Bits I have in my tack room: mullen mouth snaffle, low ported pelham (we used it on the Saddler mare when she was still alive), and a full cheeck fulmer snaffle with keepers. O yes and a set of rein connectors. Which of these would be the best " next step"?
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    04-18-2013, 05:51 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
Again, just to make sure this is clear, I'm not a bit expert. Just standing in until someone else answers you xD I'd think that for your purpose, the fulmer would be your next best step...for now. It will apply some pressure to the side of his face to help guide him when he's being 'steered' and also won't be pulled through his mouth. If you set the keepers about mid-way up the shaft, you can increase the strength of the bit a little, if absolutely necessary.

Has this gelding been taught to one-rein stop? It doesn't work well in a 'power' bit, but in a fulmer it should be fine. It sounds like this could be a very helpful took if he gets out of hand and too excited. It sounds like he's had all kinds of funky done to him though to correct problems though, and once you get past needing him right now for the cattle, I VERY strongly suggest quite a bit of retraining. It sounds like he's gotten out of hand, and using just the curb rein of the pelham has probably upset and confused him even more, being that it is jointed and jointed curbs often give confusing signals, even to a well trained, light horse. Large amounts of contact is to be avoided with curb bits because all it does it teach the animal to brace against the bit, evade the bit, end eventually just completely ignore the bit. If the curb is broken, it also causes the bit to fold up in the horse's mouth, which can be painful, or at very least uncomfortable.

Don't give up hope though! We bought a cow horse a few years ago, a bit younger than Kroon, but same issues. Hot, bracey, and uncontrollable. We had to pull her off of the cattle and do quite a bit of retraining, but she did get better! She came to us wearing a thin, twisted wire wonder bit (gag, curb, AND twisted wire. OUCH!) but she now hacks out quietly, works, and rides smoothly on a loose ring, wearing a mullen mouth full cheek snaffle. As it turns out, half of her problem was that she was VERY unbalanced. Her solution to feeling unbalanced was 'RUN FASTER!' and she quickly became out of control. She was always on the wrong lead, fell into circles, and acted incapable of going slower than a speedy trot. As soon as we started working on her balance and 'holding herself' she became MUCH softer on the bit and got even better as we retaught her how to respond to leg and seat aids. She's about 8, almost 9 now and you'd never know it was like riding a tornado only a year or two ago. She's one of our most reliable riding horses now!
    04-18-2013, 06:06 PM
Super Moderator
When we had an OTTB like that we actually did go for a 'mechanical hackamore against everything I would normally think to consider but we were desperate and someone suggested we at least try - we used an English hackamore for general riding and a german hackamore for showjumping. We had thick sheepskin sleeved over the 'noseband' to reduce risk of too much direct pressure there though he actually never tried to pull against it yet would take off with you at the trot in a bit
Some horses that have had harsh bits often run away from the bit more so than the rider - just how their brains work sometimes.
    04-18-2013, 06:59 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
I don't see how the sheepskin would lessen the leverage pressure being put on the horse's face.

If you must use a hackamoor, use a little S. I know quite a few people in my area who ride in MH with direct pressure, and its aweful to watch. IF you choose to use a MH, your horse needs to be the type that will ride quietly with no contact at all, and which responds to leg and seat aids VERY well. Mechanical hackamoors were not designed to be direct reined with, or to be ridden in with contact.
    04-18-2013, 07:09 PM
You are right, he needs retraining. A bitless bridle, or any hackamore, or even a bosal might rub him bc he doesn't know how to listen to any pressure to reliably halt. He shows signs of reluctance to halt probably bc of pain, but he is obviously beginning to believe that he doesn't HAVE to halt or slow down when asked. Therefore his emotions will kick in and he'll resist the NEW "bit." This horse will get more and more dangerous.
Your priority is to ground train him to a halt and half-halt using a lunging halter and lunge line. Also, I would recommend ground driving him. This is going to take a lot of time, so I hope you are patient and really like this horse.
Only after he listens to verbal cues and body language to halt and half-halt ALL OF THE TIME should you consider the next "bit" to use.
It is never the bit that controls the horse. It is the authority of the rider and the obedience of the horse.
Also, I think his mouth will heal, and perhaps by next year he'll be able to manage a bit again.
    04-19-2013, 04:35 AM
Guys thanks to all for your replies. Had a talk with his rider this am, he reports that Kroon's brakes aren't too bad currently, but steering has become a problem. But apparently the problem lies with his pelham. Rider claims the shanks keep "turning around" and facing forwards. Very weird. I've ridden different horses in the same set-up and never had that problem. Will probably get him to saddle Kroon and ride him in the stable camp a bit so I can see if I can spot the cause of this mysterious problem. Otherwise it will be the fulmer for a while till he's steering well again, then we'll go from there. Either keeping him in the fulmer or changing to just a loose ring snaffle.
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    04-19-2013, 06:16 AM
Hi everyone. Me again. Had his rider saddle up Kroon. His problem is bit evasion 101; he throws his head up to evade the bit. We will be trying different bits. Something that doesn't have the nutcracker action of his single jointed pelham. We tried him in a mullen mouth snaffle and he still threw his head up but not as high. We will also put him in long lines and reteach him steering. I suspect that as a cart-horse he never learned to properly turn. So lots of ground driving and lots of barrels. Or cones. Lots of turning.
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    04-19-2013, 10:10 AM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by Endiku    
I don't see how the sheepskin would lessen the leverage pressure being put on the horse's face.

If you must use a hackamoor, use a little S. I know quite a few people in my area who ride in MH with direct pressure, and its aweful to watch. IF you choose to use a MH, your horse needs to be the type that will ride quietly with no contact at all, and which responds to leg and seat aids VERY well. Mechanical hackamoors were not designed to be direct reined with, or to be ridden in with contact.
The sheepskin cushions the contact on the nose but if a horse is pulling so much against a hackamore to put so much pressure on its nose as to cause injury then its not the right thing for it and shouldn't be used
The English and german hackamores were actually designed for the European market mostly for showjumping so were intended for direct reining (no neck reining in showjumping) The german hackamore achieved its most popularity when used by top Irish Showjumper Eddie Macken on his horse Boomerang who was pretty much given to him as he was a horse nobody wanted

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