I've been exercising a horse for a friend of my moms. He's an older German WB that hasn't been ridden in about 4 months (He's been lunged so he's not completely out of shape). His normal bridle has a figure-8 noseband and an elevator bit (Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Jointed Three Ring Elevator Bit), with one rein on the ring directly below the snaffle ring.
I've never ridden in an elevator before and have found a lot of conflicting information as to what this bit actually does. I've been schooling him on the flat and over small jumps. He used to be a show jumper and then did hunters for a few years.
A few odd things I've noticed that I attribute to the bit and probably my inexperience in using it: when squeezing inside rein on a 20m circle to keep his bend (he tends to drop his shoulder) he starts to shake his head after a circle or two and 2-3 squeezes, as if he's annoyed by the contact. He also tends to fall apart on downward transitions, this isn't helped by the fact that I tend to throw away contact on down transitions, but he drops his head so low that it's tough to keep him "up".
Please don't criticize me for using this bit, this is what his owner and regular trainer insist is the right bit for the horse. I've only worked with his trainer once but plan to again in the near future-I'm just looking for any help in the meantime to make sure I'm not making the horse uncomfortable.
Any insight or advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!