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Help me choose a snaffle, please

This is a discussion on Help me choose a snaffle, please within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category
  • Difference between a 3 pc snaffle and a 2 pc bit for a horse

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    02-01-2013, 11:30 AM
  #11
Super Moderator
Bsms, I take my boys' choice into consideration very seriously. If not for him, I would have continued riding in a rope halter, but his attitude showed that he dislikes it if I try to ask for something more than turning and stopping. I then changed it to a sidepull, but he clearly hated that type of pressure, so then I tried out an S hackamore, although it was in a way "bitting up" - just bitless. And all of a sudden he is again willing, soft and a happy camper, and we've progressed very much since we started using the S hackamore, which will be his main headstall in the nearest future - and a cordeo, which he likes a lot, too. If he hates something - he shows it loud and clear, so I don't think that I just supressed him with the leverage action of a hack - he'd protest, which he never did. So I will listen and observe him closely, as soon as we start trying out a new bit, and I will have both a trainer and some experienced friends to watch us and help if needed. :)

Thanks, NBEventer, your experience really helps and encourages my gut feeling about the choice I had made mentally!
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    02-01-2013, 11:52 AM
  #12
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by NBEventer    
...However in my 20+years of doing this I have always had the best luck with a simple german silver loose ring "beanie" bit on a horse with a sensitive mouth.

Must be nice to have a bit that works for darn near every horse. I've only got 3 horses, and 2 of them don't care much about what bit is used. One is picky. Maybe Mia is a 1 in 100 horse that is fussy. I don't know about all horses. I'm just reporting what I've seen with my horses.


Regarding double reins with a 3 ring gag. Think about the action that bit has. By only having one rein on the leverage rings on the bit you are constantly applying leverage action with no break for the horse.

If I rode with constant contact, that might be true. I don't. We mostly ride together with slack in the reins.

Having a snaffle rein with the leverage rein you are offering the horse a break from the heavy action the leverage causes. If you have a horse that has had a bad experience with a heavier bit and hard hands you are going make the horse panic before it even has a chance to accept the bit. When you are taking a horse back to learning to accept a new bit you do not want to apply heavy pressure on them. You want something light, soft and gentle. Give the horse a chance to soften up and realize that the bit is not the be all and end all...

Mia was started in a full cheek snaffle. We also rode about 3 years bitless. Leverage bits are also not about heavy pressure. Bits are about communicating, not punishing. That is why I think each horse needs to be thought about on an individual basis instead of saying one bit is milder than another bit. What works for Mia is not what I use for Trooper.

My mare will go over backwards on you if you touch her mouth with more then a soft "yes I am here". Last summer when I was doing jumpers with her she was getting strong. I put a 3 ring gag(dutch) and before I even got on her she was in a panic. So I put a french link full cheek and she was good to go and happy as can be.

There has never been at any one point that anyone has said one type of bit works for every horse. However there is one style of bit that works best for soft sensitive horses. Not one bit. One style of bit. BIG difference.
I didn't criticize your choice of bit. Nor your choice of STYLE of bit. I can easily see how an elevator or gag bit would make some horses panic. I can see how a Waterford would not work with some horses. I've tried a western curb bit with Mia...worked well one ride, but I think both of us felt it was kind of strange. I may work with her over time to teach her how to respond to a western curb, or maybe not.

My main point was to think about the choices as an integrated whole. It isn't all about the mouthpiece. It is also about the shape of the mouth, the training and previous experience, how the bit interacts with the bridle, how the sides interact with the horse's lips, etc. And the rider's hands.

You couldn't pay me enough to use a spade bit with Mia. Neither Mia nor I have ANY business with one. But with the right training, and with the right person, horses do well in spade bits.

When I stopped riding bitless, I was still thinking that bits were about inflicting pain, and how could I avoid inflicting pain. Mia has taught me that bits are about communication, and how a horse understands the various pressures. They get a vote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saranda    
bsms, I take my boys' choice into consideration very seriously. If not for him, I would have continued riding in a rope halter, but his attitude showed that he dislikes it if I try to ask for something more than turning and stopping...then I tried out an S hackamore, although it was in a way "bitting up" - just bitless. And all of a sudden he is again willing, soft and a happy camper, and we've progressed very much since we started using the S hackamore...If he hates something - he shows it loud and clear, so I don't think that I just supressed him with the leverage action of a hack - he'd protest, which he never did. So I will listen and observe him closely
I agree. When I first walked along side Mia and watched the action of the elevator bit in her mouth, I thought she would hate it. But she seems happy with it. I thought a 3-piece snaffle would be the cat's meow for her, but she doesn't like them. I don't know why. But it is nice to have a horse who communicates her opinions. If Trooper disliked a bit, I'm not sure he would ever show it. He's more of the suffer in silence type.
     
    02-01-2013, 12:05 PM
  #13
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
I didn't criticize your choice of bit. Nor your choice of STYLE of bit. I can easily see how an elevator or gag bit would make some horses panic. I can see how a Waterford would not work with some horses. I've tried a western curb bit with Mia...worked well one ride, but I think both of us felt it was kind of strange. I may work with her over time to teach her how to respond to a western curb, or maybe not.

My main point was to think about the choices as an integrated whole. It isn't all about the mouthpiece. It is also about the shape of the mouth, the training and previous experience, how the bit interacts with the bridle, how the sides interact with the horse's lips, etc. And the rider's hands.

You couldn't pay me enough to use a spade bit with Mia. Neither Mia nor I have ANY business with one. But with the right training, and with the right person, horses do well in spade bits.

When I stopped riding bitless, I was still thinking that bits were about inflicting pain, and how could I avoid inflicting pain. Mia has taught me that bits are about communication, and how a horse understands the various pressures. They get a vote.

You are completely missing my point. I did not say the exact same bit worked for EVERY horse. I am saying the STYLE of bit works. The "bean" shape and style change. The shape of the middle piece does make a difference based on the shape of the horses mouth. Not every horse is going to like the shape of a french link, but may like the more "bean" shape. The horse will tell you what they like best for a mouth piece.

The german silver is fantastic for soft sensitive mouthes as it encourages softness.

Also there is a huge difference between a western leverage bit to an english leverage bit. The 3 ring/dutch gag is applying pressure to lots of points on the horses head which will make a sensitive horse panic.

I am not against the 3 ring as I do use it on another horse I take cross country and my old jumper went best in one as he got heavy in the hands. Which is what the dutch is for, a horse that gets heavy on the hands. BUT it works more effectivly with two sets of reins.

And again you are putting words in my mouth. I have said time and time again that the same bit does not work for every horse. But generally the same style(the middle piece can be different shapes or even a different metal) works for sensitive soft horses.

I also need to correct you on your comment about a full cheek snaffle. A full cheek actually works on poll pressure. When you have the keeper on the cheek piece it works off very mild poll pressure. The full cheek and the D ring work in different ways

Apologies for typos/miss spelling, my browser on my work pc freezes and skips so it tends to miss letters or move them on me.
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    02-01-2013, 12:18 PM
  #14
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by NBEventer    
...A full cheek actually works on poll pressure. When you have the keeper on the cheek piece it works off very mild poll pressure. ..
Correct...except I don't know anyone who uses a full cheek with a keeper. I understand that many English riders do. It seems to be rare among western riders, although I've read of some who do. Just never seen it here in southern Arizona.

I considered getting keepers and trying Mia with the full cheek, and I may still do that. She seems to respond well to mild poll pressure, and we've done lots of miles together with a full cheek snaffle (keeperless). It might be a good approach for her.
     
    02-01-2013, 05:07 PM
  #15
Green Broke
Looking at the mechanics of a full cheek snaffle (with or without keepers) I don't see how it could apply poll pressure.

To get poll pressure you'd have to attach the reins below the fulcrum (formed by the mouthpiece) which would cause the cheeks to rotate with rein pressure and pull on the crown of the bridle. This is how leverage bits work.

When the reins are placed at the fulcrum, as is the case with all snaffle bits, a backwards pull on the reins pulls the bit further into the mouth, but does not rotate the cheeks. There is nothing pulling on the crown of the bridle, and thus, no poll pressure.
     
    02-01-2013, 05:15 PM
  #16
Trained
^^^ Hmmmm...that makes sense.
     
    02-01-2013, 05:23 PM
  #17
Yearling
Didn't read through this whole thread, but as far as weight goes, the heavier the bit, the better response of the horse. I really like starting colts in a weighted ring snaffle. But I finish out in big bits, so the weighted rings gets my colts ready to pack a bigger bit.
     
    02-01-2013, 08:31 PM
  #18
Started
It is a VERY mild poll pressure. With the keepers attached to the cheek pieces pulling on the reins applies a slight pressure to the poll. HorseChannel's Online Bit Guide: Full-Cheek Snaffle

I'm stuck with my right hand in a soft cast as of this evening so typing a long explanation is a pain. I will however get back to this when I can use two hands without being in pain.

I am open to being proven wrong, im just going off my pony club books and the books from my coaching program. Plus what I have watched in the action. I will get a video tomorrow to try and explain myself better :)
     
    02-01-2013, 11:02 PM
  #19
Showing
I think you need to do a pile of ground work and getting him bending and soft in the poll. He is resisting you no matter what you use. Teach him gradually to bring his nose around to your hip as you stand with your body facing his shoulder. Use the halter at first and take a light hold where the cheek piece joins the halter. Now you'll find out how resistant he is. Use just your pinky to bring his head around, the first knuckle as he may bend a little then suddenly pull away. When you hear the term "one rein stop", it is unlocking the poll and causing the horse to soften. When the poll is locked he's tight all the way down his back, his hips, his hocks, to his hooves. Above all be patient if you get only an inch or so at a time. He's had his own way for a long time. His behaviour may have nothing to do with the previous owners but what he figured out he could get away with, with you. It doesn't matter, just help him get rid of his resistance and he'll do better when under saddle. When he's loose(nose to your hip) do this every time you are with him. One day he's be loose on one side and a bit tight on the other and then it will change. Think of it as a pre-flight check that must be done before your ride.
     

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