Picking a bit - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Picking a bit

I've been working with Blaze since October '08. I think he was mostly used as a Western trail horse before I got him, and I ride him English. His owner's daughter shows/trains horses (and has given B and I lessons), and she suggested I get a full cheek snaffle for him. I have, and I'd say it works moderately well.

It's my personal opinion that he has somewhat of a hard mouth. He often tries to run through my hands (and I'm very aware of not hanging on his mouth) and will try and get his head down and brace against my hands. Does he a need a "harsher" bit? I toyed with the idea of getting a full cheek french link snaffle at first, but had an easier time finding a more affordable regular snaffle. He gets very rushy at some gaits and we're working on slowing things down (thinking legs to seat to hands to soften-THANK YOU HGS), but he barely acknowledges my half halts.

Bit thoughts/suggestions?

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post #2 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:12 PM
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I would try an eggbutt slow twist snaffle. It is what I use on my TB and is what I used last year on the Arab I leased. Both tend to get speedy, especially during cross country.
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:21 PM
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I would look at re-training before getting a harsher bit. I don't believe that a harsher bit solves anything and it would only be a matter of time until the same problems turned up again. Try riding him on a loose rein and when he starts to speed up, either stop and back him or turn in a one-rein stop (switch directions for stop often). This should help him to control his speed better. When I have a horse that is not responding to the bit and trying to run through it, I will get them on a flat a long way from home. I let them jog a little and then ask for a stop. When they stop, I release pressure and ask for a jog again. I do this often and before long, they are responsive to even the slightest cue to stop. When they have that down, I start asking for a back after each stop. This will get them stopping harder and faster. I also keep pressure on until they give their head and flex at the poll even the slightest bit is rewarded with release of pressure. It will take a lot of time and patience to work through these issues and I would make sure that you have control with bit and legs before you try working on direct contact because it sounds like to me, he wasn't properly introduced to it and has started nosing through the bit. The best option is to start from the beginning and retrain him. I wish that there was an easy fix, but with this kind of thing, most of the time there isn't. Good luck.

Also, I don't think that a regular snaffle is that bad. That is what I use on all my young horses. Since you already have one, that is what I would stick with.

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post #4 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:22 PM
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Try a few different types of bits. Don't get a more severe bit until you know if that is the problem. The first bit I would try is the Pelham. Snaffles can be cruel bits if the rider has harsh hands and rides the mouth. Only use a gag bit if it's your last resort and your trainer suggests it. Try a roller bit or a curb. I use to ride a horse that would run through every bit we put on him in the show ring.

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post #5 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:23 PM
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We never found a bit that worked on him. And we tried mild and severe. We never tried bitless because he would run away with you if you let him.

"And somewhere in the northwoods darkness a creature walks upright. And the best advice you may ever get is: Don't go out at night..."
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post #6 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:30 PM
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Sorry Tempest but I disagree with starting with a Pelham. It can actually be more severe than a snaffle because it uses leverage. Although some snaffles do have the 'nutcracker' efffect I would not reccomend going to a Pelham until after you have explored othe snaffles. I have nothing against a Pelham. I used a Kimberwicke for everything with my old pony.
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 10:37 PM
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The horse needs proper foundation work, not a harsher bit. A harsher bit is NEVER the answer. It's a quick fix and quick fixes by nature do not cure problems...it usually only adds to the problem.
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post #8 of 11 Old 02-14-2009, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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Since the consensus seems to be training/versus new bit, any exercises/suggestions? Riding him in a smaller, round arena today proved very successful, since he likes to get speedy on the long sides of a large arena. He was a former trail horse (like at a commercial trail riding facility) and then just dinked around on, so I don't think he's really had extensive foundation training. I'm open to all suggestions; anything that can help us work better together.

Smrobs, your post was spot on-thank you! Good suggestions on some things to work on. I do something like a one-rein stop when he starts to race off, and when he tries to lower his head or brace himself against my hands I try to keep him driving forward with my seat and legs. I definitely think he has some holes in his training and has gotten away with a lot. He's a very sweet horse and does want to please, but he's also stubborn and will test you.

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post #9 of 11 Old 02-15-2009, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
I would look at re-training before getting a harsher bit. I don't believe that a harsher bit solves anything and it would only be a matter of time until the same problems turned up again. Try riding him on a loose rein and when he starts to speed up, either stop and back him or turn in a one-rein stop (switch directions for stop often). This should help him to control his speed better. When I have a horse that is not responding to the bit and trying to run through it, I will get them on a flat a long way from home. I let them jog a little and then ask for a stop. When they stop, I release pressure and ask for a jog again. I do this often and before long, they are responsive to even the slightest cue to stop. When they have that down, I start asking for a back after each stop. This will get them stopping harder and faster. I also keep pressure on until they give their head and flex at the poll even the slightest bit is rewarded with release of pressure. It will take a lot of time and patience to work through these issues and I would make sure that you have control with bit and legs before you try working on direct contact because it sounds like to me, he wasn't properly introduced to it and has started nosing through the bit. The best option is to start from the beginning and retrain him.
Totally agree!!! Lots of transitions and half-halts!
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post #10 of 11 Old 02-15-2009, 07:05 AM
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Smrobs has given you the answer, I just wanted to add that I use a verbal cue to slow down. I don't know the proper "slow down" word so I just say 'Easy'. After awhile, hopefully he will slow down with just the word cue. I don't like saying whoa when I just want her to slow down.


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