Gag bit - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Gag bit

From what I know this bit should be used with double reins.
If that is true I have seen it used incorrectly alot lately.
I was going to use it on Phoebe just for hunts and it seems to put a lot of poll pressure on the horse if not used with double reins.

So I am just wondering about weather it is worse without double reins and do you think I should use them if I use this bit?

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post #2 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 02:55 PM
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I thought that type of bit used the different rings as leverage points not exta reins. You can use it as a regular snaffle or more like a tom thumb on the lower rings.

ETA Your right! I just looked it up. Here is a photo of one in use-

Here is a definition:
Dutch/Continental/Three-Ring/Four-ring/Pessoa gag: Similar to the elevator, except the cheekpieces consist of stacked rings. There is usually only one ring above the mouthpiece, to which the cheekpiece is attached. The ring below that is attached straight to the mouthpiece, and acts similarly to a snaffle. The lower ring(s), of which there are usually two, are for a second rein to be attached, and they provide the gag action. The lower the second rein is placed on the stack, the more "leverage" (raising of the mouthpiece up along the cheekpiece) is applied. Dutch gags are useful because they provide options for the severity of the bit.the bridle cheek pieces are attached to the top rings to produce pressure.the lower the reins are fitted, the stronger the leverage action on the horses mouth.

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Last edited by Vidaloco; 10-11-2009 at 03:01 PM. Reason: Added info
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post #3 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for input I am just not sure can't member where I heard that it uses two reins :S
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post #4 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 04:20 PM
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Don't use that bit at all. It's cruel and lying..usually bits can be severe but this type of bit is lying for the rider..

.it's..moving a lot in the mouth, putting pressure on poll and pushing the mouthpiece up against the horses ears,
squeesing the entire head, at the same time the rider can't fel anything of how much discomort it gives the horses aa it's only toune and lips there to signal back through the
reins..and that's soft tissue

The Dutch/Pessoa/Continental/3-Ring/4-Ring Gag Bit

A 3-ring pessoa gag.
The most common of these bits was one that became very popular, at least in Sweden, around 1994-95. It was generally referred to as the bit that would put the horse on the bit. Also, it got its Swedish name from world famous jumper stars Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa, and is simply called a pessoa bit. It's english name, Pessoa-gag, 3-ring gag or simply jumper gag is much more suitable. Because it IS a gag bit, have no doubt.
Many dressage riders resorted to this bit while training at home, because it could control hot horses, and most of all, put unwilling horses "on the bit". People generally speak of 'lever action' and how it was 'softer' than a pelham or a curb. But what this bit really does is create leverage, and by this leverage pull itself up towards the teeth, and cause the rider to ride way too heavy in the hands with a trapped horse who focuses totally on getting his teeth around the bit in some way. QUITE contrary to any unjointed curb bit with a chain.
How does that work? Well to start off, yes, it has leverage, because the side piece is fastened at a given point on the bit-ring, and the rein is fastened at another given point opposite to the side piece.

The bizarre function of a pessoa gag.
The mouth piece is somewhere in the middle and more or less stuck in the horse's mouth. So any pull on the reins will move the fastening point of the side piece in relation to the rein fastening around an axis which is the mouth cavity of the horse. This is the general function of any lever bit.
With the exception of course that it has a jointed mouth piece and no chin chain. The fact that it has no chin chain is in my view the worst part. Because when the rein is pulled back and up, the side piece is pulled forward and down. But since the side piece stops it from actually moving down, the pivotal point - the mouth piece will instead be pulled up, into the corner of the mouth, and against the teeth. The snaffle ring is pulled through the mouthpiece, just like the rolled leather sidepieces are pulled through the regular gag.

That would never happen if the fastening ring of the side piece had been fixed to the lower jaw by a restraining chin chain. That would have kept the side piece fastening from being pulled to the front altogether, and thus stopped the mouth piece from being pulled up into the corner of the mouth and against the teeth.
It would also have rendered a much more severe effect since the mouth piece would be pulled back against the bars and tongue and squeezed the lower jaw between mouth piece and chin chain.
But since it does not, it also does not have any direct effect on a slightly disobedient/rushing horse. All the parts of the bit and bridle give to some extent, when the rider pulls on the rein, and together that becomes quite a bit. The rider can actually pull the hand(s) back 4-6 inches before a really resistant horse is overcome by pain. (A rider with his hands 6 inches back from neutral position has his hands at the sides of his hips and the elbows waaaay back. Not exactly a position where it feels natural for a rider to release.)
First the side piece gives an inch forward (while the bit moves up) which results in 2 inches in the hand.Then the bit bends around the jaw because it is jointed which renders it even more horizontal and gives another 2 inches to the rider. Then the horse starts to open his mouth as far as the noseband allows, and then gives some in the neck. The rider can thus pull the rein back about 4-8 inches with a slowly increasing amount of discomfort for the horse. And if you pull your hand so far back from its assigned place above the withers, your fists will now be at your hips. Which will put your elbows well behind the vertical line of the upper arm. And from this position, you are not likely to yield with any quickness or feel. You will be pulling.
From: ::: Sustainable Dressage - Tack & Auxillary Equipment - The Bridle & the Bit :::

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

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post #5 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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WOW thanks for that really put that into a different light
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post #6 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 04:50 PM
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It's a good idea to get yourself informed on exactly how the bits you plan using, works. And what signals they give the horse :)

Thankfully, most isn't as bad as this (perhaps except other gags..) but many are just different because how each individual react on different things :)

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

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post #7 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 05:07 PM
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You can use either one rein or 2 reins on that bit.

If you use 2 you can use it as a snaffle, but if you need a bit more control (say, out in a hunt field) you can take up more rein on the leverage rein.

If you only use 1 rein you just have to be very careful about how much rein you're taking up and make sure your hands are independent of your seat so you don't balance against the horse's mouth.

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post #8 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 05:07 PM
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What's you opinion of a gag bit like this?
Do you think it might be any more forgiving?

It's what Zeus goes in, has for years, shown in jumpers with, on the flat, and has been totally happy with it. I have read up on these bits and I'm wary about using it. I'm switching him to a snaffle soon, it's also rubber as he doesn't really like metal bits. I am riding him in it now, because when he first came home he definitely needed it. It's actually teaching me even more to ride from my seat because I am super soft and forgiving with my hands in this bit, and in general. I think it has it's place, if used correctly, but can SO easily be misused that it's mostly not worth it.

But that's just my opinion. My horse is happy and healthy and seems to like his bit.
I'm not really agreeing or disagreeing here I guess. But I will not be using this bit for much longer, at least on the flat.

I give myself very good advice, But I very seldom follow it
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post #9 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 06:15 PM
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To the OP - I use the 3 ring elevator bit while Fox Hunting on my TB. PLEASE USE 2 REINS WITH IT! 1 set of reins goes on the regular 0, the other set goes on either of the bottom two 0's - your choice.

My TB and I train 5 days a week on the flat. We are in dressage lessons and I ride allot from Seat into Legs into Hands to Soften. BUT when we are out on Fox Hunts, or Hunter Paces - I can use as much seat as I want, as much 1/2 halts as I want, till the cows come home, and he doesn't listen because he is in a different mind set out in those huge, loud, active, fast paced crowds.

I always ride in a French Link or one of my many Myler Bits in competition, lessons, clinics - but when we are out on a Fox Hunt/Hunter Pace - I throw that 3 Ring Elevator Bit on for that extra needed oomph needed to get his attention.

Nelson gets very forward, very strong out on Hunts. He's 18 going 5 out on them. He jigs, piaffe's, half passes, rears, and most of the time I have to fight with him just to keep in line so that we don't pass the Hunts Master or the other Members *rules n respect* - and the worse part, is that there are some HUGE mo -fo fences out there that I don't want to do, and if we are in a regular bit, and everyone else and the hounds are hand galloping over those are we.

With the 3 ring, I get his mind back on me -his rider. That way, we can by pass some of those fences when I choose, I can keep him in the order we were in when we started out. And we can have fun, and I don't have to deal with argueing with him the whole ride, I can enjoy the atmosphere, the ride and the others around me.


Gillian, I used to ride in a Singe Jointed Egg Butt Gag Bit. I didn't know otherwise to be honest. It was my Husbands horse and my Husbands bit, and I happened *Rolex Eventer and Olympic Eventer*

When we walked into the arena for our tack check before our lessons, it was all good until she saw me with that bit in my horses mouth.

Now, Dorothy trains directly under Jim Wofford *Jim Wofford is to Eventers as to whom George Morris is to Hunters* and when she saw the bit, she ripped me a new one.

I cannot remember her exact words, but they were something along the lines of "If you have to use a bit like that for a certain level of control while out on the CC course at this low level of riding, I would hate to see where you are control wise, IF and when you advance to higher levels" she then told me that when she see's riders in bits like that, it clearly shows that the rider and horse have holes in their training and need to go back to the start, to basics to fill them.

She sent me back to the barn to change my bit, and I did and never from that day on, did I ever use anything like that while training, schooling, compeating.

Now, when I was Fox Hunting, I pulled that bit back out of my tack trunk *Before I got the 3 ring* and tried it. Didn't work out well at all. Nelson ended up forward and just as heavy, but this time intsead of being able to keep his head up, he had to drop it due to the pressure that bit gave on his Poll - and I was now careening with 30 other horses around me at a hand gallop, and hounds, jumping fences out in the woods, in the rain - with his face to his chest.

I sold it for $20 at the next tack sale.

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post #10 of 38 Old 10-11-2009, 06:23 PM
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Thanks MIE. At first I wasn't sure how bad it could be because I know how much his owner cares about him, but maybe she just doesn't know? I'll be switching him out of it next time I go out there. I also have a french link. Sorry to hikack the thread, but which do you think would be better? My rubber d snaffle of the french link? Zeus will gets heavy sometimes and I TOTALLY know what you mean with the gag. I literally can't pull his head up when he gets into that frame of mind, he just barrels along with his head, as you saind, to his chest.

I give myself very good advice, But I very seldom follow it
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