I need some advice on a bit to use on my new horse. When I rode him, the owner had a tom thumb on him. He seemed to do ok but I was something that I can encourage him to soften his neck and head. I was thinking an eggbut snaffle or a full check snaffle. Any advice would be great.
Also, I was wondering if anyone knew of any great suppling excercises.
I use a full check snaffle with Christy and we both love it. I say both, because she will willingly pick it up in her mouth to be bridled. And doesn't mind haveing the bit at all. She is also much more responsive with this bit than the tom thumb she previously had. Watch the eggbutt, some of them pinch. Take the bit in your hand, and move it around, see if the edges/corners pinch. If they pinch you, they can pinch the horse.
For suppleness, I like to stretch them. From the ground I have them bend their head to where my foot would be if I were in the saddle. First on one side, then I move to the other side and do the same thing. Three times. If I am in the saddle, I do this also, three times, pull the head around to my toe, first to the left, then to the right. It helps to flex their neck muscles, and helps to teach them to give to pressure. I also do this exercise that is designed to teach the horse to give to pressure, and it flexes them around. With a long lead, move the rope from one side of the horse around their butt to the other side, go up to their head, and gently pull. The horse learns to bend away from you and toward the pull then bends all the way around until he/she is facing you. Well, at least it works with Christy. I'm sure there are many other exercises too. These are the ones I use.
This is possibly the best bit to increase softening and roundness. Its is called a copper roller bradoon and can be ordered from the shires equestrian trade website for under £15 (also ebay)
It has copper rollers in the centre that the horse can play with, increasing the likelyhood of them staying soft through their jaw. The rings are placed on the centre. Because this bit is in three parts in prevents the nutcracker and pinching effects single link bit can have, making the horse more comfortable and trainable.
It also had copper inserts on the bit where the lips would begin making the horse salivate, and mouth correctly. It is also loose ring preventing the horse from leaning and relying on a fixed cheek (and your poor hands) to take the weight of its head!
Overall this is the best bit I have ever used! I bought it by accident thinking it looked different and that maybe my baby horse would like to play with it. However my instructor came and said to use it and my competition mare as she was needing more than a snaffle at the time. She has been in it for 6months now, and hasnt got board as she usually does. We have breaks in a wide open field, she softens even on a hack, she schools perfectly and is never heavy (all the things we used to struggle with!) I don't even require a stronger bit to jump 3ft6 courses in (even x-country!!)
The above bit will NOT help with softening. It will cause them to avoid the bit and suck back, the opposite of being on the bit and suppling. A very mild and pleasant bit will highly encourage the horse to mouth and stay on the bit. However, if you switch from a Tom thumb to a milder one, you will initially have less control. You will eventually gain this back once the mouth becomes more soft.
I also recommend something with copper to increase salivation.
Thank you for all of the advice. I have ordered a full cheek snaffle to try. When I was younger, the lady I worked for used this on most of her young thoroughbreds. If that doesn't do the trick, I will try that copper roller bradoon. He's a young horse (4) so that would keep him interested I think.
Anybody else know of any suppling exercises? He was pretty stiff on the right side when I tried him. I figured a little extra round pen work to the right may loosen him up....
I am also planning on introducing him to side reins in the round pen. Will this teach him to give to the bit more easily?????
Plain snaffles generally bore young horses but definitely try one! I have the copper ring bradoon on my rising 7 year old dutch mare bringing her back to dressage after a long time off- its working a treat!! Also my rising 6year old dutch x tb- I have never seen her flobbing and mouthing so much! She can also now bend her head and neck each way while walking, trotting and cantering on a straight line, a very good way to proove a horse is supple! Hehe
And my rising 4yr old is also in this bit- he is very young in the brain and so this keeps his mind occupied very well, we also have steering in this bit due to him listening more!
I would highly reccomend it for your youngster!!
Also before you jump on bored try using a favourite treat of his getting him to follow your hand with his head and neck between his legs, round to touch his sides, and upwards a couple of times-gets them to stretch so they are bending before you get on!
If your going to put side reins on in a round pen make sure that the inside rein is around 2wholes shorter on the inside. As you will throw him off balance if the side reins are keeping his head and neck straight but your asking him to bend around a circle!