I bought Red last year in May. He is turning 7 years old this year. When I bought him, he was ridden in a twisted wire O-ring snaffle and a tie down. I ditched the tie down and the twisted wire, and went to a smooth snaffle.
While he does listen "okay" in the smooth snaffle, he listens better to the Wonder Bit.
The Wonder Bit also worked great to teach him how to break at the poll. His head tends to shoot up to the sky when something catches his attention (he is very ADHD, so that happens alot) and that's why they were using a tie down on him. Obviously, I want to fix the head set issue, and not just slap a tie down on him.
I have been using a German martingale on occasion, which really, really helps me teach him to lower that head and travel in a more relaxed and rounded frame, along with proper leg and body cues from me.
However, I don't want to ride him in the Wonder Bit all the time, because he does have the tendency to start to ignore the gag action. I'd rather save the Wonder Bit to use with the German martingale as "tune ups" when he needs them, and ride him in something else.
So, here's where I am looking for suggestions: On something that would be similar to the action of the Wonder Bit .... but without the gag, that I can use for our regular every day riding.
I have a twisted wire Jr cowhorse that I have tried, but that really is too much bit for him. He doesn't need that much bite. I think this bit may eventually be a good competition bit for barrel racing, but we aren't doing more than slow loping the pattern right now so he doesn't need a competition bit yet.
I've tried a sweet six bit (smooth mouth) that had a combo rope nose on it. He hated that! Threw his nose a ton, which isn't like him.
The majority of riding that I do is trail riding, with a focus on conditioning. We'll typically go at least 4 miles a ride, usually 5 or 6. He's got loads of energy and needs the conditioning to stay fit.
I guess I am big fan of using different bits for the different events I will do with him:
--daily trail riding / conditioning -- bit?
--training bit for barrels/poles -- not sure yet, but a Little S hack has been working well for poles
--competition bit for barrels/poles -- not there yet, but potentially a Jr. Cowhorse if he gets to the point where he needs it
--tuning up bit for breaking at the poll -- wonder bit + german martingale
--competition bit for reining and western pleasure (I just do these for fun at low key horse shows) -- bit? Or this could be the same as my regular riding bit.
I do have a non-gag bit that I bought to try a while back, but I can't remember what it looks like, haha. I will take a picture of it when I am at the barn tonight.