what is a gag bit? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-08-2010, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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what is a gag bit?

I was wondering what exactly is a gag bit. It sounds horrible.
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-08-2010, 10:24 PM
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Gags are defined by the movement of the shank/rope through the bit ring. They are sometimes known as elevator bits, and cause pressure to the mouth and poll in a vice-like way - the tighter you pull, the tighter the circle of strap/bit through the mouth and over the head. As to being "horrible," that will always vary greatly as to the mouthpiece and the rider's hands. Gags can be anything from a fat hollow snaffle (nice) to twisted wire scissors (severely nasty). But some horses who may be a little stronger in a snaffle with the same mouth can benefit from a gag, and they can be quite popular for eventers.

Unlike other bits, gags are never used in conjunction with a curb chain, unlike other fixed-ring/elevator bits like the Kimberwick.

Gags come in three main styles, a running gag with a length of rope through the bit ring, an American style with a long shank, part of which moves through the bit to create the desired elevator effect, and the Dutch/Pessoa gag, in which the entire main bit ring rotates to lift the bit. Running gags are extremely popular for Polo, and are ridden with two reins. In other sports, gags are most often ridden with roundings or with only one rein.



RUNNING GAG




AMERICAN GAG




DUTCH GAG




WONDER GAG




ELEVATOR BIT




KIMBERWICKE

Last edited by noddy; 10-08-2010 at 10:30 PM.
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-08-2010, 11:02 PM
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haha i've always wanted to know this to. basically those all look like snaffles to me. besides from the outside part that doesn't go in the mouth. and the 3 piece one looks similar to a dogbone snaffle.. hmm when i first got my horse i just bought a pretty bit and used it and it works well for us... now i wonder what her bit REALLY is.... maybe i need to get some pictures


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post #4 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the thorough answer.
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post #5 of 12 Old 10-10-2010, 08:20 PM
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Yeah i use an american gag for eventing. Pretty much gags are used in upper level jumping or eventing to keep a horse off the forehand and for leverage to slow them down. My gag is actually a waterford to so its prety severe but i tend to have soft giving hands and i only use it when i need it i.e. my 17hh warmblood x tb tank goes into a 25mph flat out gallop out of no where, then i used it lol.

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post #6 of 12 Old 10-10-2010, 08:27 PM
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The mouth pace isn't the part that applies the leverage, it's the parts that go outside the mouth that make the leverage, thats why they can look like snaffles which people commonly get confused about
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-10-2010, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Do they apply pressure to the poll as well as the mouth if you only attach the reins to the circle at the bottom of the shank? I always thought these bits were called Tom Thumb bits.
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-10-2010, 09:01 PM
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Tom thumbs are a leverage bit not a snaffle. Even though a lot of places call them "tom thumb snaffle" or something similar.

The shorter the shank, the less severe the leverage so i think the only way to make it act without leverage (Though ive never tried it) is to attach to the largest circle.
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-11-2010, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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hmm, I am still a bit (no pun intended) confused. So the point of a gag bit is to put pressure on the poll and mouth, correct? Where as other bits are only working on the mouth? Does a curb bit not do that, because it has a shank as well? Is it because you run something through the circle at the sides of the bit that makes it function differently from other bits?
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-11-2010, 03:59 AM
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Curb bits put pressure on the jaw through a chain or strap, as well as on the poll and mouth. I'm not entirely sure, but I think curbs put more even pressure all over the head instead of a sharper pressure on the poll/mouth. Most bits called curbs don't have a snaffle ring though, only a leverage point.

Gags work on the bars through the snaffle point (or direct rein, which attaches to the main ring on, for example, the running gag), and on a "vice" around the poll and mouth through the gag which would attach to the strap running through the main ring on the running gag.
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