Why Shanked Bits are Utterly Evil, etc.
   

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Why Shanked Bits are Utterly Evil, etc.

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  • Can glory bits be used without curb strap
  • Horse bits are evil

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    10-25-2011, 11:21 PM
  #1
Banned
Why Shanked Bits are Utterly Evil, etc.

The curb strap on your bridle can slam into position to stop your horse much like the arms at a railroad crossing drop to stop your vehicle. At first glance, either action seems abrupt, yet neither comes without forewarning.

Before the crossing arms drop, lights flash and bells peal, and you see a speeding train. Likewise, a well-made bit sends your horse built-in presignals, warnings that change is imminent before the curb strap grabs his chin. These systematic presignals give your horse ample opportunities, or signal time, to respond before the curb strap takes hold.

In addition, says Les, a bits signal time, leverage, power and your hands, as well as something called preload, can affect a horse's response time. Vogt should know. The lifelong bit maker and horseman has used his wares to claim 15 reining and cow horse world championships.

Theres no comparison to really explain the value presignal and all those things have in enhancing your ride and the pleasure of communicating with your horse.

Although people thing of a horses mouth being about 5 inches wide, the bars are only about 2 - 2 1/2 inches apart and on top are shaped somewhat like a fish's back. The inner sides of the bars are bone and skin, but the outer sides have a spongy, fatty-type material under the skin.

Preload
If you set a bits mouthpiece across your fingers or the palm of your hand, the shanks gravitate forwards, rather than hang perpendicular to the ground. This may not seem balanced but this gravitational effect is what Vogt refers to as preload. A thoughtful bit design creates preload by putting weight in the cheek, behind the mouthpiece, so that gravity swings the shanks forward.

This allows the bit to unload-release pressure-whenever the rider releases the reins. Pulling the reins loads the bit.

The quicker a bit unloads, the quicker you release your horse when he gives a positive response, the quicker he understands and the better your communication. You want all the preload you can get. You actually can feel it when you release the bit to unload and your horse is rewarded.


Pressure Points

A bit works by contacting different pressure points for which its presignals are designed. The presignals go from one pressure point to the next, Vogt says

Pressure point 1 includes the horses lips and the corners of his mouth, the first areas where he feels a change

Pressure point 2 is the horse's tongue, where he feels the bit mouthpiece move.

Pressure point 3 may be the horse's palate, depending on the bit design

Pressure point 4 is where the mouthpiece, more like a straight bar at either end, loads straight down onto the bars of the horse's mouth.

Pressure point 5 affects that spongy tissue. A more triangular shaped, open port rides on the tongue, but as the bit rotates it puts pressure on the fatty tissue. The more the mouthpiece rotates, the more it wedges against that outer layer

Pressure point 6 is under the chin where the curb strap rests to give the final signal for your horse's response.



Presignal

Why is presignal important in a bit? Put yourself in the horse's place. If someone says "whoa" and twists your ear hard each time, you soon jump at the word, associate it with pain. Then you hold your breath and brace through your neck. When a horse braces through the neck, all your training or performance capacities go away. You can never maximize your horses abilities unless his neck is resistance-free, so there can't be any shock to the communication. That communication comes in sequence with its presignals in exactly the same order every time the bit moves. Its a wonderful machine.

Any broken or hinged spot in a mouthpiece, including where a bit swivels on the cheeks, gives a presignal. Although some bits have more presignals than do others, the presignals always occur in a systematic order.

Presignal 1 occurs when you pick up the reins. Your horse feels that slight movement. Preload gives you that feel, as does the weight of decent reins. If you have sensitive, educated hands at all, you feel that weight move, which gives your horse plenty of presignal

Presignal 2 occurs when your horse feels the bit cheeks move. Vogt prefers a bit fairly loose where the cheeks mount to the mouthpiece. The horse feels the 'click-click' as the cheeks move. That's not a really sophisticated signal, but definitely exists. Loose cheeks provide more presignal and are more forgiving than is a solid bit, which causes things, good and bad, to happen fast.

Presignal 3 results when the mouthpiece rotates. Otherwise, it rests on your horses tongue. For example, when a triangular shaped low port mouthpiece rotates, your horse feels the port leave his tongue and move toward the spongy tissue on his outer bars. Your horse could respond to presignal 3. If he is educated to the bit, he knows that presignal 4 is coming...

Presignal 4 happens as the mouthpiece gradually wedges against that fatty tissue outside his bars. The more your horse fails to respond, respect or acknowledge your request, the more the mouthpiece rotates and the greater the pressure on the outside bars. Your horse has fair warning, signal after signal. He can respond now or feel the curb strap.

Presignal 5, the final one, is the curb strap grabbing your horses chin, telling him he should have listened previously. Many bits work primarily off the curb strap, Vogt explains, which isn't so great because there's little presignal. With a solid grazer bit, for example, everything happens abruptly through the curb strap. The horse doesn't feel that presignal sequence. A horse can feel those presignals, Vogt says, even when your hand is faster than it should be. That's the glory of a really good bit compared to one that 'slaps' a horse.

Power

Power is in the bit mouthpiece, which should attract your horse's attention and respect. Otherwise, Vogt says, "your student is looking out the window. There is no respect"

Vogt references a statement he frequently hears from people about wanting to "save a horse's mouth". He then describes a graph with a line running from the bottom left diagonally to the opposite corner. A mild mouthpiece at the bottom says "no respect", a medium mouthpiece halfway up the line says 'some respect", all depending on a horse's attitude, tolerance and attention span. Near the top of the line, the graph reads "a lot of respect" but just past that point, the red zone says "fear"

"You want a lot of respect," Vogt says. Don't begin your bitting process with the lowest-power mouthpiece unless that's all your horse needs to give you maximum respect; otherwise, you're giving your horse a choice of pushing on the bit or respecting it. That shouldn't be a choice and it isn't what you want. You want a mouthpiece that your horse responds to with respect, not fear.

Once you make a choice about the particular mouthpiece power your horse needs, you can think about other things, such as the leverage and presignal you like.




The above is an excerpt from an article by Les Vogt that an old expat was kind enough to type up and share.
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    10-25-2011, 11:55 PM
  #2
Green Broke
Some very good points in there, thanks for sharing!
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    10-26-2011, 12:14 AM
  #3
Super Moderator
Yes, very interesting. I like the part about the presignals. I don't ride in a curb, but only because I direct rein all the time. But I appreciate even the very slight presignal heavy rope reins and thick slobber straps will give.
     
    10-26-2011, 12:22 AM
  #4
Trained
This goes right along with, would you rather be picked at all the time (snaffle) or get jumped on hard one time and have it be over with (Spade bit). I vastly prefer to get on my horse hard one time and make it a learning experience than to be constantly picking at him and saying, no, no, no, no.......

Get him hard once and give him relief.
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    10-26-2011, 12:36 AM
  #5
Banned
Well, if you're using a spade bit, you presumably have an extremely well-trained and finished horse, so you should never have to get on him hard....

The way the old vaqueros rode in their spades, they do a test to see if your hands were light and your horse was broke. It consisted of attaching the reins to a strand of horsehair and the horsehair to the bit. If the horsehair broke, you were not up to standard.
     
    10-26-2011, 01:44 AM
  #6
Trained
A spade isn't a curb bit anyway. They are a signal bit. As the bit changes balance and moves in the horses mouth the horse gets the signal that a cue from the body is coming. A spade bit is NEVER used to get after a horse ever. Riding with a spade bit is really its own discipline. It differs as much from the rest of western riding as Spanish riding school dressage differs from polo.

The people that are really spade bit men can ride a horse in a beautiful frame and do everything a dressage horse can do and never even begin to take the slack out of a rein. There is nothing more beautiful than watching an expert horseman on a horse that is "straight up in the bridle".
     
    10-26-2011, 09:06 AM
  #7
Foal
I read this yesterday, and decided not to comment because I felt the thread title was loaded and didn't want to go there. However I think a valuable discussion has stemmed from the article. One of the things we can learn from the article is that a bit is a COMMUNICATION device, not a discipline tool. A bit is your telephone to the horse, what you say and how you say it is all up to you. You can get in a shouting match, or you can talk sensibly. You can talk demeaning and degrading or you can talk uplifting and encouraging. You can blame or you can understand. The type of bit you use does not determine your ability to communicate with your horse anymore then a Smart phone allows a person to speak better than an old rotary phone. I have seen people do incredible things in a snaffle, but in order for a horse to progress, a different communication device is needed. These new devices are used to build on the conversation that has already started, you are only refining the conversation. A spade bit is used to have an incredibly intellectual conversation with a horse, very few horses have been to enough schooling or studied enough to understand the conversation. In the same regard very few riders have been to the proper university to understand how to even begin the discussion. I see too many people getting caught up on the fact that a snaffle is direct pressure and curb bits are leverage. BOTH are a form of pressure to the horse, BOTH can ruin a horses mouth if used improperly. Our time would be better spent understanding information such as was provided in the article. What are you communicating and how are you communicating it, once you learn how to have this make sense to the horse then you can begin having the conversation.
     
    10-26-2011, 04:00 PM
  #8
Banned
One thing I've found is that after a broke Western horse has been ridden in a curb for awhile, he will no longer respect the snaffle, and will often brace against it, fighting with mouth gaping open, even while he remains soft and responsive in the curb. The traditional answer is, "Oh, his mouth has been ruined from the harsh bit." But I think it has more to do with him taking offense to the rudeness of cues and lack of finesse that the snaffle provides.
     
    10-26-2011, 04:02 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toymanator    
I read this yesterday, and decided not to comment because I felt the thread title was loaded and didn't want to go there. However I think a valuable discussion has stemmed from the article. One of the things we can learn from the article is that a bit is a COMMUNICATION device, not a discipline tool. A bit is your telephone to the horse, what you say and how you say it is all up to you. You can get in a shouting match, or you can talk sensibly. You can talk demeaning and degrading or you can talk uplifting and encouraging. You can blame or you can understand. The type of bit you use does not determine your ability to communicate with your horse anymore then a Smart phone allows a person to speak better than an old rotary phone. I have seen people do incredible things in a snaffle, but in order for a horse to progress, a different communication device is needed. These new devices are used to build on the conversation that has already started, you are only refining the conversation. A spade bit is used to have an incredibly intellectual conversation with a horse, very few horses have been to enough schooling or studied enough to understand the conversation. In the same regard very few riders have been to the proper university to understand how to even begin the discussion. I see too many people getting caught up on the fact that a snaffle is direct pressure and curb bits are leverage. BOTH are a form of pressure to the horse, BOTH can ruin a horses mouth if used improperly. Our time would be better spent understanding information such as was provided in the article. What are you communicating and how are you communicating it, once you learn how to have this make sense to the horse then you can begin having the conversation.
Beautifully put.

The bit is merely a tool - some are harsher than others, but all can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

In an ideal world, every rider would have good hands and good seat, and every horse would be trained to be completely responsive to the rider's aids.

Since, we're not in a perfect world - we have to work to find the most effective compromise.
     
    10-26-2011, 04:21 PM
  #10
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubba13    
One thing I've found is that after a broke Western horse has been ridden in a curb for awhile, he will no longer respect the snaffle, and will often brace against it, fighting with mouth gaping open, even while he remains soft and responsive in the curb. The traditional answer is, "Oh, his mouth has been ruined from the harsh bit." But I think it has more to do with him taking offense to the rudeness of cues and lack of finesse that the snaffle provides.
Oh so not so!

I've gone to a snaffle on my working cow horses when doing two man ranch sorting. The action is quicker and the cues faster than in the larger pens or working cattle out in the open.

I had always schooled in a snaffle to keep the horse light and responsive.
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