Harsh bits, why use them? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 4 Old 11-12-2010, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,014
• Horses: 3
Harsh bits, why use them?

I was going over some information on tack the other day and it was talking about pressure points of bits, the types of bits, etc. I started getting more curious about bits and started looking them up on the internet. Kinds of bits, what bits are allowed in what discipline, etc. I had a few questions about the harsher bits though, corkscrew bits, gags, wire bits.

Why do people use them? Is there an honest to god reason that people need them? Is it a lack of training put into the horse, like do people just want the easy way out? They don't wanna put the time in to there horse that it takes to get to just a snaffle bit?

For example, there's a girl at my barn who has an OTTB. Now I've never really talked o her as she comes out way late cause she's in Uni and super busy. I've seen her ride the OTTB once and she seemed okay. She uses a corkscrew. Now I a not judging her in any way as I haven't been able to ask her why she uses it. Its not my job to pick her horses bit and she seems nice so she probably has a reason for using it. But why use a corkscrew or other harsh bits instead of taking the time to train a horse to be okay with a snaffle?
Beau Baby is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 4 Old 11-12-2010, 11:17 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 4,510
• Horses: 2
Aside from the natural progression you'd see on a Western horse going from a snaffle to a curb for finesse on a loose rein, for the most part, harsh bits are a replacement for most training - I think. I am ashamed to admit I have resorted to them before, and I am FULLY capable of admitting I used them because I didn't know what else to do - I didn't have the experience to fix the problem, to find a better way to control the horse.

It's a controversial topic. I encountered a bit of a dilemma a few weeks ago at a demo - a local barrel racer, my personal hero. This woman rides beautifully - her stallion is local barrel racing champion and virtually unbeatable. He is calm and collected, and never spastic. He runs with a quiet, smooth and fluid grace and his owner/rider is a picture of ideal horsemanship as she sits quietly in the saddle, not kicking and not flapping. I watched her school him for half an hour before the demo, putting him through reining moves including spins, flying changes and sliding stops. She trotted and loped the pattern several times, all with him being quiet - he is a TRAINED horse first and a barrel horse second and is as quiet as they come.

My dilemma? After the run, she fielded questions and upon closer inspection, it was noted that she was running him in a curb/gag combination bike chain like bit. I was horrified - and she seemed rightly embarrassed. Someone pointed it out, and bashfully she admitted she was having some problems with his whoa and normally he runs in a standard curb but she'd resorted to this the last couple weeks with the intention of going back to his curb when she sorted the problem.

I didn't get further detail, but it's REALLY made me want to call her and grill her - a bit invasive though right? I wish I knew the reasoning, because I firmly believe that EVERY horse should go in a standard snaffle, and her horse of ALL horses is the horse who should be able to. So is there a time and a place for a vicious bit? At no point was she hauling on him, at no point did she have a contact, at no point was he hollow and fighting her - so is it a harsh bit, or is it only harsh if she was reefing on his face?

ROFL, sorry for the novel but I think it's a touchy subject! I know a lot of people who use "harsh" bits, and yet their horses are perfectly trained so why do they NEED that bit, why do they USE that bit if they don't need it's harshness? It's complicated, I hope someone else can shed some insight!

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

MacabreMikolaj is offline  
post #3 of 4 Old 11-12-2010, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,014
• Horses: 3
Yea it is a very controversial topic. I was just wondering because I've only ever used snaffles on my horses, loose ring and french link. Most people I know just use a snaffle but I know one girl who uses a gag. She had to resort to it after he horse took off during a cross-country lesson in a regular snaffle. It took her a good amount of time and lots of hauling to stop the horse in a snaffle. this horse responds well to a gag and she's responsible in her use so I understand that. I guess I jsut don't see why people need t resort to stuff like the corkscrew or bike chain. If they've laid a good foundation and trained the horse properly it shouldn't be neccessary.
Beau Baby is offline  
post #4 of 4 Old 11-13-2010, 12:02 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 340
• Horses: 1
i use a dr. briston eggbutt snaffle. its kind of like a french link, but the link is rectangular and set at a 45 degree angle to put more tounge pressure. ive heard a lot of people saying it is a harsh bit, but i tried a friends french link one day just to see, and he HATED it. even on the buckle he was throwing his head as if it really hurt. he used to have a regular snaffle, but the nutcracker effect didnt feel too great since he has a low palate.

any bit can be harsh in the wrong hands =/ i just use what works for my horse, and what he is comfortable with.
cosmomomo is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Soft Bits vs Harsh bits? Velvetgrace Horse Training 48 04-29-2015 09:28 PM
Be harsh if you please.... Cowgirl140ty Horse Riding Critique 7 10-07-2010 06:13 PM
What makes bits harsh? paintluver Horse Tack and Equipment 13 11-03-2009 03:41 PM
is this bit harsh?? savvylover112 Horse Tack and Equipment 13 07-20-2009 08:50 AM
Why use harsh bits? Brighteyes Horse Tack and Equipment 52 07-08-2009 06:25 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome