Whatever happened to.... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Whatever happened to....

Whatever happened to the idea of riding a horse in the bit they go best in? Most of the time all I ever hear is "Why are you riding your horse in that bit? Why not a snaffle?"

I know that some horses work best in a bit with more leverage and others don't. So really what happened to that idea? If your horse works best in it, why not use it?

"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 #2 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 09:18 PM
Green Broke
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Ive never heard of that idea going away... everyone I know goes with the bit their horse is best with.
In higher levels of dressage it is mandatory we use a double bridle... but we always choose the one the horse is happiest with. Personally, i will go with pretty thin (nice thin, not cruel thin, lol) because rena has a small mouth, and i can only imagine how terrible it would be to have to carry arounf huge chunks of metal in your mouth, and as long as i make sure my hands are light, that will be most comfortable for her.

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #3 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 09:21 PM
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I've noticed that in the hunt world in this area, the bit favorite seems to be a french link snaffle. I've noticed on this particular board that the bit favorite is a snaffle, I think we have a large majority of hunt riders here as well. I personally feel if the bit works, it's legal, and the rider is using it PROPERLY, then it shouldn't be an issue. I use a double copper roller snaffle on my 26 year old QH. I've used that particular bit on him for about 20 years. It works, he's happy... I'm happy... we're happy.

My 4 year old go's in just about any bit. I actually use a ported d-ring for english. It works. I probably won't change it for show, although on occasion I will use a slow-twist or a snaffle.

I think what has happened is that, out of ignorance, people will go to a harsher bit to solve training related issues. There are alot of people that don't have trainers and will surf the web looking for ways to solve a problem and I think that's why people ask the question... Why not a snaffle?

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post #4 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Maybe it hasn't gone away, but it seems like it has. I'm just going off of observations.

"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 #5 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tempest View Post
Maybe it hasn't gone away, but it seems like it has. I'm just going off of observations.
it probably has in some areas, haha luckily in mine (or at least the people i know) it hasnt.
But i just read farmponys response and that made me think... and there has been a lot of people thinking about just going to a harsher bit to solve problems....... i hope someone figures out that doesnt work forever.

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #6 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 09:56 PM
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Snaffles, especially 2-joint snaffles, are "safe." You can't do a whole lot wrong, even if you're a green rider without quiet hands. Also, training a horse to go in a snaffle means the horse is light on the bit and responds well. All of my horses go in some kind of snaffle, even if I had to start them with a curb at first. I "wean" all my horses back down to snaffles as I like the control I have over the horse with one (I can more easily influence the horse's way of going without creating a "false" frame) and I give lessons, so I don't want a " big" bit in the hands of a new rider.

If someone comes on here and ASKS for advice on a bit, I'm going to advise to go with a snaffle, or I will give the "step down" training bits to go from current stage in training/going to snaffle trained.

I may ask why someone is in a certain bit, but only if they're asking about training issues or behavioral issues under saddle, as the bit can influece my answer for both type of question. A change in bit or whatnot could help "fix" the issue.

That said, I am a big believer of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." If you like the way your horse responds to the bit, the horse's head is at a natural level without a tiedown or training fork, and/or the horse doesn't toss their head or gape when you pull on the reins, then there is no reason to switch to something different. And, if you are having problems in one or more of those areas, a change in bit may or may not "fix" your issue. There could be other reasons for those behaviors as well, however, the bit is a simple thing to rule out by trying a snaffle .
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post #7 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 11:12 PM
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I ride what works for the horse but I know some people feel that all curb/leverage bits are the devil and that snaffle bits are sent from heaven. I think in the wrong hands, both can be a recipe for diaster. That goes for hackamores and bitless too!

When starting a young horse, I always choose the lightest, easiest bit I can get. Usually a big fat hollow eggbutt snaffle. My goal is always to have them light enough to ride a curb.

I really think there is a lot of judgement passed on different bits. If you ride on an eggbutt you can be sure that someone is going to think that you are some bleeding heart softie who doesnt wanna hoit da widdle hoorsey.

If you ride in a curb people think you are either cruel and uneducated on horses or trying to be some kind of cowboy.

Its pointless. I don't want any horse to be in pain but if we got a nasty case into the rescue that was riding on a double twisted gag bit...for about the first 10 rides...thats what he would be riding in. While I dont want any horse to feel pain...im not fond of it either!
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post #8 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 11:22 PM
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I've noticed that this message board (which I love by the way!) is very pro-snaffle and very anti-curb. Somehow if you use a curb, you must be cruel and unusual, lol!

I don't find the "real world" among my friends and neighbors to be the same way. I have nothing against a snaffle, nothing at all. I just think my horses go better in curbs and if you dare suggest that to someone on the message board, brace for backlash, lol!

I just think I have a lot more finesse in a curb, even those "evil" tom thumb/Argentine snaffle types. With a regular snaffle, well, my horse bobs for grass and is slower to respond at the canter/gallop when I need him to slow up. He just doesn't respect it enough. Sure, I can ride him with it. I can ride him in a halter if I want to. But I don't get the respect and finer elements of control that I get in a curb.

I actually sometimes wonder if it isn't a bit dangerous to suggest a newbie (whose horse we don't even know) to ride in a snaffle because let's face it, it's not a perfect world and sometimes horses run through snaffles, especially if they get spooked out on the trail. You could actually get someone seriously hurt for suggesting they ride in a snaffle if you don't know the horse and the rider usually uses a stronger bit.

I think one of the major things backwards with the horse world today is that newbies are taught to ride with contact. And they don't have the seat and hands for it, so yes, they ride the horse's mouth. But instead of going to a ubber gentle bit, maybe riders need to learn to stay off the horse's mouth until they have a well balanced seat and learn to have gentler control of their hands. Then the rider never learns to hang on the horse's mouth in the first place.

I guess what I am saying is this, I learned to ride western in a curb, and I rode on a totally slack rein for years. Literally for years. I only used the reins when I needed to neck rein or gently control speed. Then, years later I learned how to ride two-handed, with contact with the horses mouth. I really respect the horse's mouth and think I have pretty light hands. I think that came from riding with the curb from the beginning. I knew it was best to stay off the horse's mouth, so now, even with contact, I am very light with my reins.

What do you guys think about that idea- learning to ride without contact first, when you are still green and learning. Then riding with contact when you are balanced and a better rider??? Good idea, bad idea? I think it trains you to always ride like you are in a curb, even if you aren't.
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post #9 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 11:34 PM
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My barn is an odd case in this situation. Its an all lesson barn with a few horses leased out (but they still mostly get only group lessons.) Most of the horses ride in gags. None of them seem to mind at all. Almost all of the horses come from polo, where they were rode hard on their mouths in gags. They appreciate that we don't kill their mouths, and enjoy the gag. One horse actually freaked out when put in a bridle with less bulk, even though it had the same exact actual metal. This was before they even had a rider.

I've come to think that, yes, these horses could be ridden in something a little "nicer," but a lot of them do need and enjoy the gag. In fact, two of the horses have double twisted gags that they love. One of them had the bit changed to a regular and the horse ran through everyone's hands. It could be trained out of them, but its a lesson barn, and its really hard to find that kind of time.
If I had a nickel for every person here that told me to switch barns because of this I'd be a rich girl.
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post #10 of 21 Old 09-04-2010, 11:57 PM
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I agree trailhorserider. It sometimes boils down to the English-vs-Western discussion. I also learned to ride on a curb. I ride very light and barely flick the reins. A good *western* horse should need nothing more.

I have ridden english and saddleseat and have always had issues riding with contact. I just always feel like my reins are too tight...when in actuality they are probably still too slack.

The only problem I have with people riding curbs is that some don't realize that a curb isnt designed to ride with contact. It works differently from a snaffle bit. My problem with the Tom Thumb bit is that most people associate it with being a snaffle bit. Its just not. People ride them two handed and that is confusing to the horse.

I generally don't judge unless I am asked for an opinion. In the local show ring...big ol nasty bits are the theme. The bigger the gag action, the more severe mouth piece the better. While I don't agree...I keep my trap shut!
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