Question about bits...

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Question about bits...

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    05-08-2010, 08:37 PM
Super Moderator
Question about bits...

So, as some of you know, I'm going to be the Head Wrangler at a local summer camp this summer. Basically, that means that I'll be in completely control of the horse program.

I'm going to have 12 horses that I need to figure out the bit situation for. The outfitter's that send the horses recommend curbs and (american) Tom Thumbs for most of the horses. I am not going to know most of the horses and what they go well in, therefore, I'm inclined to just go with what the outfitter says. However, most of the horses do not seem to neck rein so basically the riders will be direct reining in a TT or a curb. We will be teaching the kids to direct rein since the camp horses are really pretty sour most of the time and since kids don't learn to use their legs reliably in 2 days, direct reining seems to be the way to go. Since each camp session is only a week long, the kids get two days in the arena practicing turning and stuff, then two days out on the trail. Any less time on the trail and parents start complaining to the camp and I get in trouble, so I can't just not take them out.

So, I guess I'm basically wanting reassurance that that'll be ok. I don't feel right about it, but I also feel uncomfortable putting all the horses in snaffles since most of the horses do not respect a snaffle and will totally ignore a little 80 pound kid asking them to stop. I only have a week, at most, to work the horses before the kids arrive and I have no idea about the riding skill of my assistant wranglers. At best I'm hoping that they've ridden before. It's highly unlikely that they have any real horse expierence. So I'm not too hopeful about getting all the horses comfortable and reliable in snaffles before it's time for them to beput to the test.
I'm trying to get a meeting put together with all of my assistants before camp so I can throw them all up on Lacey one at a time and see what I have to work with, but that's looking like it'll happen less and less since the camp director keeps ignoring my requests for their contact info.

But anyway, what would you do? Obviously, I'll be watching for signs of a horse with a mouth that just cannot handle direct reing in a TT/curb and I will definitely put them in a snaffle if that seems like the best route to take.
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    05-08-2010, 08:45 PM
These horses have seen more camps than you probably ever will and the outfitters know the horses pretty well in most cases. Do what they say and ride in the bits they tell you to. Those kids are there to ride horsies not learn horsemanship so keep them safe and let them have fun.
    05-08-2010, 09:02 PM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
These horses have seen more camps than you probably ever will and the outfitters know the horses pretty well in most cases. Do what they say and ride in the bits they tell you to. Those kids are there to ride horsies not learn horsemanship so keep them safe and let them have fun.

That's the thing though, most of the horses, probably 8 out of the 12, will be brand new to the camps idea, straight out of the auction house. Most, if not all of that number will have never been ridden by the outfitters. I talked to them about their buying procedure last summer and they generally buy horses, that were ridden through the auction, about a week, or two, before camps begin to get them all shod and stuff, then they stick them on the truck and take them to the camps. They'll even tell us that they have no idea about a certain horse. That's the money making gimmick these outfitters have. They sell most of their stock in the fall at auctions, only keeping the ones that they know are really good horses over the winter, then they just buy a new lot in the spring. I guess it works for them, but I'm not exactly a fan.

I'll try to not worry about it though. It is true that the outfitter's probably do some sort of temperament test on the horses, even if they don't ride them. I cannot fathom them just sending them straight out to be around kids. That is true.
    05-09-2010, 12:37 AM
If I'm not sure what a horse has been ridden in, I just slap them in an O ring snaffle and direct rein. I think that the vast majority of horses are started in a mild snaffle bit- western and english alike- and would think this would be the simplest way to go.

I might be tempted to use a rubber snaffle bit just to save their mouth a bit from heavy handed grabby kids.
    05-09-2010, 01:14 AM
Ehhh, this is a tough one.
I'm in no way an expert, but I think a full cheek bit would help with the steering, especially if both the horse and rider have no idea what they are doing. I'm also tempted to say a slow twist because you also mentioned that the horses might blow through a simple snaffle. Since the kids' safety must be first and foremost, I know that a good whoa is vital.

Either that or just go with whatever you are provided with and don't worry too much about it. If the business is still going strong, they must be doing something right. Or at least their methods haven't backfired on them yet.

P.S. If the curb bit shanks can swivel, they are easier to direct rein with.
    05-09-2010, 02:27 AM
Thats true too island. A Tom Thumb has swivel cheeks- I bet they would work well.

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