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Bit recommendations for trail riding

This is a discussion on Bit recommendations for trail riding within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Changing horse bit on trail horse
  • Good bit to trail ride a horse in

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    04-08-2013, 12:07 PM
  #11
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
Well, Mia was a real spook monster when we first went out on the trails. Of course, she was still a bit spooky in the arena back then. We used a D-ring snaffle. It was fine for controlling her spooks. She always is more graceful turning left, and I found a sharp 180 to the left worked well if she was about to jump forward. And it worked well with a D-ring snaffle.

Fast forward a year or more. I'm slowly introducing her to a curb bit, but one with no break in the middle (not a Tom Thumb). I've only made one short trip off property with it, because she & I both need to get used to a leveraged bit. I want her to get used to it because she will try to race another horse out in the open.

Maybe it is just me, but I would never try a new bit on a trail ride. I want the horse & I to BOTH know what to expect before we go out into the horrible wilds of Arizona, where flowers sometimes fall, branches sway, and sometimes a rabbit runs underfoot.

If you go out with a snaffle, here is a video with a good technique to have available:

Emergency Stop on a Horse - Pulley Rein - YouTube
Excellent video...thank you. I am definitely going to ask my trainer about the pulley stops and see if we can work on it. I like the looks of this much better than the one-rein stops we've been practricing. When/"if" we change bits, the trainer would be the one to work her in it in an enclosed area first, before I do. My gut instincts are telling me I'm not going there though with a different bit. Very content working her in enclosed areas with the snaffle for now and if we can't trail ride for a year till she's ready, that's okay. I'm enjoying the overall experience and in no rush to push, but want to prepare properly for when trail time comes
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    04-08-2013, 08:09 PM
  #12
Weanling
I don't like changing to a curb if the horse does not need it. Sometimes changing a horse to other bits all the time can but them in worse mood. If a horse is doing just fine in a snaffle leave it at that. My horse is the same way. He is all ways on a light curb, low port straight bar bit for both driving, riding English, and western. He will not stand for a snaffle in his mouth let alone changing bits all the time. Horses need to get use to things, deer, animals, the killing water puddle. However a curb is sometimes way to harsh. If your horse knows the one rein stop and you have a good seat go for it. Just walk out half a mile or so and come back. Even if you have to walk back, do it. See what she does. If you do this every day, soon she will learn there is nothing to worry about. There are no killer bunny's that will bite her head off.
     
    04-08-2013, 09:12 PM
  #13
Yearling
A one rein stop will save your life, its saved mine and multiple friends. It is EXTREMELY effective but should not be used on steep hills or narrow trails. I'm not familiar with the pulley stop but upon watching the video will definitely stick with the ORS. The problem with pulling back on both reins is that the horse can take the bit and bolt off. You can not overpower a horse and make it stop by pulling on both reins even with that little bit of leverage I would not feel safe trying the pulley stop besides the fact of how complicated it is. I've been in incidents where the pulley stop would not have been possible but a one rein stop can be done from any position, including half way off the horse. As a general rule of thumb horses will go where ever their nose is pointed and tight circles are hard work for the horse. I always suggest the ORS but that's my personal preference. And with a respectful horse shouldnt need to be used. I learned from Clinton Anderson himself "there is no horse problems, its a symptom of a cause and the cause is either disrespect or fear. You have to determine which one and address the over all issue, once solved all the other problems disappear.

I think your horse seems fine in a snaffle and as long as she is respectful and has good brakes then I say why change anything? Why fix something that isnt broken? Also if she is a bolter then a harsher bit will not solve the problem. It will only mask the problem. Too often people use quick fixes instead of actual training. I think switching bits is a pointless idea and maybe you should switch trainers because what I hear is someone who can't follow through and will use quick fixes even if it makes things worse in the long run. Instead of a harsher bit she should be properly preparing you and your horse by exposing her to trail situations and teaching her to use her thinking side instead of her reactive side, you should be thoroughly taught the ORS and the emergency dismounts, she should have you both focusing on communication and learning to read each others body language. Horses are the fastest reacting animal but they will warn you first, you just have to know the signs. I watched Clinton Anderson take the most reactive mare I've seen and had her using her thinking side in a matter of minutes, and it can be done by the average person because I've done it and I am not a trainer. Look up Clinton Anderson. Im a huge fan and have personally met and worked with him.
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    04-08-2013, 09:39 PM
  #14
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by countrylove    
...I'm not familiar with the pulley stop but upon watching the video will definitely stick with the ORS. The problem with pulling back on both reins is that the horse can take the bit and bolt off. You can not overpower a horse and make it stop by pulling on both reins even with that little bit of leverage I would not feel safe trying the pulley stop besides the fact of how complicated it is. ...
A pulley stop does work well. When Mia was convinced she was Secretariat reborn and galloping without a thought of slowing, it brought her to a stop. It will not make a horse bolt.

A one rein stop is a technique, but it requires a lot of training too. Spiraling a horse to slow it down is not a one rein stop, although it is a very good technique if you have room. Where I live, there is almost never enough room to spiral a horse to slow it down.

There is no one answer, only a variety to things you can toss into your clue bag for when the horse hits the fan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by countrylove    
...Also if she is a bolter then a harsher bit will not solve the problem. It will only mask the problem. Too often people use quick fixes instead of actual training. I think switching bits is a pointless idea and maybe you should switch trainers because what I hear is someone who can't follow through and will use quick fixes even if it makes things worse in the long run. Instead of a harsher bit she should be properly preparing you and your horse by exposing her to trail situations and teaching her to use her thinking side instead of her reactive side...
A bolter can be controlled using a simple snaffle, provided you deal with the bolt as it is starting to happen. If you wait until the horse is racing at full speed, head extended, snaffle bit resting against its molars...then you're screwed. A pulley stop MAY still save you, or a ORS if your horse is trained for it, or a spiral if you have room - which is why having a LOT of tricks is a good idea.

Using other types of bits isn't hiding anything, but giving you options for when a snaffle has no impact on a horse. A snaffle bit works, when it works, with pressure inside the horse's mouth. If the horse extends its head and clenches its teeth, then a snaffle will have almost no impact on the horse. It just goes against the molars and the horse ignores it - hence the term, 'bit in his teeth'.

A curb bit has some mouth pressure, but also applies pressure to the poll, and can be used to leverage the head to a position that encourages a horse to slow (more vertical). Applying pressure outside the mouth is a good alternative to brute forcing the bit inside the mouth...

My mare also seems to respond well (instinctively) to a gag/elevator bit. She understands pressure on the poll. If she is calm, she'll stop off of seat alone. But she isn't always calm.

Learning to read your horse and respond appropriately is an excellent idea. It is critical to good riding. One suggestion for the OP would be to lead your horse on a lead rope out of the arena and however far she is OK with. When she starts getting tense, try for one more step, then let it be YOUR idea to turn around. That will give your horse confidence in you, and will help you learn to read your horse. Mia and I started at 100 yards, and worked up to several miles.

With Mia, if she is getting tense about something ahead, backing her a couple of steps is all it takes for her to calm down a lot. If need be, I can back her a few more steps and she'll lower her head and relax. Not all horses act that way, but it is something I discovered about her from taking her for walks on a lead rope.
     
    04-11-2013, 09:06 AM
  #15
Foal
Thanks all, for your thoughts. I tried the pulley stops a little, but with my mare and I both being unfamiliar with this, it was awkward. I'm going to ask the trainer the next time we work together. I'd like to learn different techniques like this. We've practiced one-rein stops regularly and we have really gotten that down well. Despite the recommendations/warnings at my barn about getting her to transition to a different bit, I decided when the time comes to trail ride to stick with the Myler snaffle she has been comfortable in. But will change things up if necessary. I walk her on the lead rope out into the woods all the time and it has been a great way to learn more about reading her out in that type of setting. She definitely has those Thoroughbred traits and tends to be on high alert and nervous, but does come out of it easily. Last night while riding her in the arena, a heavy rain storm suddenly hit and she bolted at the first sound of the rain on the roof, but I managed to calm her down immediately. Hope I can be as confident for her when these things happen out in the open. My husband's gelding is the opposite...very mellow and calm...almost nothing he comes across when riding out in the woods phases him, so he will be our leader.
     

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