Bit question...??

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Bit question...??

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  • Overuse of twisted wire bit
  • Curb bit head set

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    03-22-2011, 10:55 AM
Bit question...??

I bought my horse off of a local trainer and boarded him there. Things went south between me and that trainer so last weekend I moved my horse to a friend of mines house that I pen with. It works out great for me because they go to practices/shows all the time and they have room for me in their trailer. Really nice people. Brand new indoor arena….its awesome.

The guy that owns this place is a trainer as well. Last night when I was riding he asked me why I ride my horse in the bit I have him in. Currently I have him in a short shanked medium port bit. He is super soft in the bit and listens to it well. This is the same bit that my old trainer rode him in. When we are at shows I put him in a twisted wire snaffle since penning can get a little rammy…I would never ride him in a big bit penning. I do dry work at home in a snaffle some times but he just isn’t as responsive to it. He will give to pressure softly but as soon as I give him any release he sticks his nose back up in the air…hence the reason why I ride him in the bit when im at home.

I know riding him in the bit at home just avoids the whole issue of trying to get him more broke in the face with a snaffle. So I need tips on how to get him soft with the snaffle. This new trainer told me to just straight up quit riding him in the bit….is this a good idea?
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    03-22-2011, 12:51 PM
First, the twisted wire snaffle is MUCH harsher that your med port bit (from the description you gave). I'd drop that snaffle all together - it's a nasty bit that works on pain, not pressure and communication.

Next, why not work with the trainer at the barn you are at now to get your horse more responsive? Is there a reason you can't pen in your regular bit (assuming your horse likes it and is soft in it)? I used to pen in a regular low port curb. Nothing fancy just your basic bit. My horse liked it better than the snaffle when we penned (we'd barrel race in a simple snaffle).

Just remember bit does not = brakes. Bit = your telephone line of communication to your horse. If the bit you use is based on pain, just think how much the horse is going to want to continue that conversation! (and that's where evasiveness begins...) good luck and congrats on the new barn it sounds nice!
    03-22-2011, 01:01 PM
I have much less problem with the curb bit than I do the twisted snaffle. I ride all mine in a short shank ported curb and we get along great, even when I put them back into the snaffle. However, if you are using a twisted bit during a high energy sport like penning, then you are likely being a bit harder with your hands than you would just riding at home. One of the reasons why it is so important to never overuse a twisted bit (use it maybe a few days on a horse that disrespects the bit then go back to a smooth). Once they get accustomed to that twisted mouth, the smooth mouth means nothing to them.

Go back to basics in a smooth snaffle, work on constant pressure and release. It won't be an overnight fix. When he sticks his nose back up in the air, apply pressure again until he puts his head where you want it and gives. When he does, don't give him a full release (throw the reins away and make them really loose). Move your hands just enough so that he does get a release from pressure but if he decides to pick his nose up again, leave them short enough so that he would run back into pressure.

Geez, I am so horrible at explaining things like that. Let me see if I can find a video showing what I am talking about. It's basically riding him as if you are a pair of side reins. Put the release at a certain headset point and keep it there. You might have better luck if you work with the trainer that you have on hand.

Here is a video that shows the basic idea though they use equipment instead of just the rider doing it. Teach him that release comes at a certain headset and keep it consistent. With time, he will learn to keep his head more correct and will give and tuck the instant you apply any pressure to the bit.
    03-22-2011, 01:39 PM
Super Moderator
Isnt that what's called a Chambon?
    03-22-2011, 01:47 PM
I honestly have no idea, I've never used anything like it.
    03-22-2011, 02:18 PM
When you pen, are you neck reining or two handing?
    03-22-2011, 02:20 PM
I'm not sure I like it. It may just be a personal thing, but I don't like the idea of pulling a horse's head down via the side reins between his legs. A rider's hands are up above the horse's withers and should have no connection to the horse's chest. The idea is not to pull a horse's head down, but to lift up and ask the horse to give. Roundness comes from the haunches engaging more than anything else... if you just pull their head down it makes them heavy on their forehand and their haunches just drag along behind like an after thought.
    03-22-2011, 02:34 PM
Originally Posted by mls    
When you pen, are you neck reining or two handing?
2 hands
    03-22-2011, 03:12 PM
That's true Eolith, but that was the closest example I could find of what I was trying to explain . I have never used that set-up and probably never will, but it does take very good timing and good hands to be able to do it effectively while riding.
    03-22-2011, 03:17 PM
Originally Posted by NicoleS11    
2 hands
If you are two handed, then you do not want the curb at all. First - if there is no break in the bit, it is VERY harsh to two hand, second if you were to ever show AQHA, it is illegal to show two handed in a curb when penning and sorting.

I train with a softer bit and move up to a bit with a bit more 'ompf' when we compete. In training or conditioning there is time to go back and redo. When you are working cattle against a clock, there are no "do overs"!

I would use a regular snaffle for the at home work, curb is good for trail, and the twisted wire for cattle work - if the horse needs the extra bit of attention grabber.

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