Advice for Bit on 3 yo - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-30-2008, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for Bit on 3 yo


My mother recently purchased a soon to be 3 yo filly. She is green broke undersaddle but has had approx. 4 months off since. I am not too sure about the gear they were using with her. My mum bought a steel loose ring snaffle to use with her, it is a medium thickness. My sister has ridden her a few times and I have only had the chance to ride her once. When I rode her she seemed very uncomfortable with the bit. The size is fine, it was fitted with a english bridle with a noseband, no drop nose band so she would open her mouth and shake her head alot. Should I just put the drop noseband on her?

So my plan for today is to bridle her up and just lunge her and observe her. See if I can pinpoint what is upsetting her. I have read and heard about using the flavoured rubber bits on young horses. Anyone have an opinion on these here? Or any other suggestions on what to use? She is just so fidgety with the steel bit, no matter where I sit it. Should I just try to ride it out of her?

I am pretty new to training such a young pony, and I am looking for some advice and support. I try to read as much as I can online and chat to whoever will listen about training too.
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-30-2008, 06:27 PM
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I really like a copper roller d-ring snaffle. They are really nice to start them in and give them soemthing to play with. Also someting with a nice sweetiron is nice too, sometimes those plain metal bits just taste funny!
An example of a nice sweet iron!

A roller snaffle. My personal favorite!
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-30-2008, 09:26 PM
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If she's only 3yo, she hopefully won't be getting much riding for a while anyway. I don't believe in adding a bit to the equation until the horse has learned to yield well to pressure from a halter first. You don't say how she responds to the bridle or otherwise, but I would assume with so little training, she probably needs to get a fair bit better at it all.

Sounds like the horse is reacting to the discomfort pretty normally. Whether or not you choose to use a bit from the start, I think it's important to let them get used to wearing one first - desensitise them to the feel of it, without any further pressure. Do you remember the first time you wore a tie, a skivvy, sunglasses? It was irritating until you became used to it.

I'd be letting her wear a bridle whenever she's supervised - you're playing with her, but using a lead/reins attached to a halter, not the bit. Don't try to strap her mouth shut & put more pressure & discomfort on her. Wait until she's got over the feel of it before asking her to yield to it or anything. Unless you can't help it, don't remove the bridle unless she's quiet with her mouth.

I also like to start a horse to a bit in the 'gentlest' one possible. I train in such a way as to avoid or minimise any big reactions or confrontations, but sometimes they still happen & I don't want to be using a device that causes great pain. I would choose a straight bar or double jointed snaffle - the 2 joints prevent the nutcracker effect if there's pressure on both reins.

Regarding training generally, I think the most important lessons are those on attitude - do whatever you can to encourage a good attitude towards you, your toys, your games. Prove to her you're fun, trustworthy, considerate of her & a respectFUL leader, and the rest will follow.

Teaching everything in small, easy & rewarding steps is the way to go, gradually working towards your goals.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-30-2008, 09:32 PM
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I would stick with some type of snaffle... But maybe her head movement could be a teeth issue or the bit is too tight. She could also just be still getting used to a bit. I think you have the right idea of lunging and observing her movements

It's not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.
- Paul "Bear" Bryant (Former college football coach)
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-30-2008, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

So I was just out there with her. I put the bridle on and lowered her nose band a notch, it seemed a little high to me. Then I took the reins off and put a halter over the bridle loosely and attached the lunge line to that. I didn't want to touch the bit, I just wanted to watch her and see. At first she chomped a bit but once I lead her into the arena my parents came out and started chopping a branch off a tree, great timing! So she was a little pre-occupied and stopped chomping and just googled around. I was letting her just do her own thing, which was stand and stare or graze and stare. So once the parents left, I tried leading her around the edge of the arena (20m round yard), nice relaxed walk, my hands on the lunge line and she was fine. So I gradually started to move further away from her and she walked fine, stopping occasionally to sniff her own poop! Once she was walking out nicely I asked for a trot but got no response. She just walked on and looked at me like I was an idiot. Then trouble started. I tried to encourage her to trot but she refused to. I used vocal command, I wiggled the whip behind her butt, I tapped her butt lightly, nothing. Sooooo maybe this was the wrong thing to do but I thought I if I got up next to her and ask for trot, so I am walking next to her and say "trot" and I start to jog slowly, she stops. I give a little tug on the lead. She doesn't move. So I don't want to start tug-of-war I use the excess lead and tap her sides, she stops. Then she started to get really nippy with me. I couldn't lead her and she kept trying to bite me. I decided I had better finish up before I lose my patience and just try to get her walking next to me again. Which she does fine. So I take her back to take the bridle off, she is fine. Go to lead her into the paddock and she is soooo mean to me! Nipping, throwing her head about, gah. So I get really firm and snap the lead down when she throws her head at me, then she quietly walked through the gate.

I don't want to lose my patience with her, I don't want to get mad but it was kind of frustrating because every in my family keeps telling me she is so sweet blah blah blah but and she has "never" tried to bite anyone else!

The biggest problem is we don't have an enclosed arena to work her in. We have a 20m round yard but the "fence" around it is only 70cm high so she can jump out. Then there is a small paddock about 40m by 20m. Is there exercises I can do to make her trot in a rectangle paddock? It also has trees along the short edge.

Any opinions/tips greatly appreciated!!! And thanks to anyone who has read this, I am trying to keep it short...
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-31-2008, 10:15 PM
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Rubber O-ring snaffle.

"Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness."
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post #7 of 7 Old 08-02-2008, 03:03 AM
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Hmmm, she sounds fun! Seems you have a feisty one!

Without being there, I'm only guessing, but... I think your trying to get her to trot originally may have confused & alarmed her, but she then perhaps decided you were playing with her & started playing back. You probably realise that she won the game when she flipped her head at you when you got to the paddock??

I would start her as if from scratch, getting her to yield to pressure with halter, hand, lead, stick.... Make everything easy and rewarding for her to get right, so the right behaviours(& attitudes) become more likely. Try to avoid confronting her until you've established some good stuff. Once she's got the basics going OK & has learned that it's worth her while to keep you on side, then I'd suggest a kind of join up thing.

Use the small paddock you mentioned to play with her in, then if she gives you any attitude, drive her away forcefully & work her a bit. I'd use a lunge whip or a stick, rather than just a soft lunge line, so that you can create as much pressure as needed to stay safe. Whenever she softens, quit the pressure & walk away. If she comes to you nicely, invite her in & reward her for it. If she comes at you with her ears back, drive her away again. Pretty soon she will decide it's worth showing you some manners.

I much prefer to work with a horse in the open generally. It keeps me on my toes, because if I'm not doing the right thing at the right time, the horse will just leave. Likewise, a pen with 70cm fence sounds great for testing your skills in this way. However, until you establish some willing control over her, she just won't want to be with you if you try to push her. Driving her away won't work if you're not in an area to keep it up, unless you're super fit!<G> I don't know what the problem with a rectangular yard is, altho a little smaller would make it easier to start with. If you've got a hotwire, it would be the easiest way to divide the paddock.
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