Which bits to use for my horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-21-2010, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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Which bits to use for my horse?

I was going to enter some shows next summer, and was trying to figure out which types of bits to ride my horse in the shows, and at home.

Right now, when I ride english, I am using a regular loose ring snaffle, with those rubber circles that go on to protect corners of mouth from getting pinched. She is pretty good with the plain snaffle, but I was interested in buying a dee ring snaffle, or full cheek snaffle, because it would look nicer for shows and the snaffle I have, I've had for along time. Since Im buying a new one, I was wondering what is the difference between full cheek and dee ring? Also, what does a french link snaffle do, and would it be better?

For western, I have been using a low-medium port curb bit, with pretty short shanks. She didn't enjoy it much, and was really heavy and wouldn't give to the bit very well. I was constantly having to have contact with the bit, and giving tons of half halts. Her old owner used a high port with longer shanks, she was reining and western pleasure horse. That is the bit I used when test riding her a year ago, and she responded amazingly to that bit. The second I put a little pressure, she gave to it.
So, I was thinking of getting a higher port curb, with longer shanks?
This is like the bit I have now: (mine might be a little lower of port)

The thing is though... is that she can be ridden with a halter and lead, even with no halter! She will spin immediately to the side by just a placing on my hand on the opposite side of her neck.
I prefer to ride her without any bits, and she enjoys it more.. but for shows, you have to use a bit. In english, a snaffle and western, if the horse is over 5, I have to use a curb bit.
So, there is no escaping :(

Would a correction bit be good for her?
I would prefer a bit that she responds to right away, that she can have a loose rein with, because in the end.. if I am using a less harsh of bit and constantly pulling on her.. is it really any better than riding on a loose rein with a harsher bit?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! :)

He knows when you're happy He knows when you're comfortable He knows when you're confident And he always knows when you have carrots.

Last edited by horseluver50; 12-21-2010 at 04:00 AM. Reason: picture didn't work
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-21-2010, 05:32 AM
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First of all there are lots of sources on the internet to get some more information on bits and their uses. There are also some videos on Youtube showing the effects of different bits.

This is also a great thread to take a look at and read through:

Will your horse respond to your bit?

Here's My Advice:
There is one big difference between a full cheek and a D-ring. When your horse decides to run away with you have you ever had the problem that your horse just opens his mouth and lets the bit slide through? A full cheek will prevent the bit from going through the mouth. Instead it will help push the mouth. A D-ring is a more simple bit that will give the basic tools you need to steer a horse but it won't prevent the bit from going through the mouth.
The difference between a regular snaffle with a single joint and a snaffle with a double joint(ie. French link, Dr. bristol etc.) is that the double is softer. Go to your local tackshop and lay a single jointed bit accross your arm. With your other hand pull the two sides of the bit down. You can feel that it pinches. Now take the double or even a triple jointed one and do the same. You will notice they pinch less.
I don't know as much about bit in this discipline as I do english but I do know that the longer the shanks the more pressure and leverage you put on our horses mouth. If you don't know how to handle a long shanked bit and you have hard hands you do run the risk of severly injuring or even breaking the horses lower jaw. The higher the port on the bit the more it touches the roof of the mouth. If you don't have soft hands you could bruise the roof of the mouth and the horse may refuse taking the bit, open its mouth and sometimes hold it's head high to try to release the pressure.

Choosing the right bit ofcourse depends on the horse itself and how advanced you are. What I recomend is borrowing some bits from your follow horse friends and see how the horse responds. You also have to remember the soft hands eventually make a soft horse.

Hope this helps!
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-21-2010, 12:19 PM
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In My experiance with leveraged bit is that you need to make sure your horse is well trained enough to respond to the leverage bit. From the sounds of it your horse has had experiance with a western curb. If you have time please check out Myler bits, I have had a lot of good experiance with there bit systems.

here is their web site:
Myler Bits USA
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-21-2010, 01:55 PM
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I don't neck rein and so never use leverage bits. I ride Western these days and have a nice oval D ring snaffle that works just fine.
In my opinion, a D ring will rarely pull through the mouth. For English showing it looks much better than a full cheek. Also, Full cheeks can sometime (rarely) catch on things and cause real problems.
I would think that the D ring would be best.

I didnt' realize you HAD to wear a curb in Western showing. H M M M

Whatever you do, use the least amount of force you can, that's just a generally good rule of horsemanship.
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-25-2010, 02:59 PM
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Dave Myler of Myler bits has a few great videos on bits on youtube. They have a great book and video out to explain their work.
They also have a great theory on how bit resistance is caused: ie. not giving the horse enough tongue relief. The horse - like the human - needs to be able to elivate their tongue to swallow.

As they would say: " the mouthpiece is for the horse... the shanks are for the rider."
So the length of shanks needed is based on the level of rider you are. The idea that long shanks can cause a lot of pain, etc., etc. is if a rider doesn't know what they are doing. Otherwise, a rider, with long shanks can communicate beautifully with their horse - a slight whisper.

In reining, we usually use correctionals and long shanks - the idea being that you know what you are doing as a rider.

In terms of a mouthpiece, the idea is that as more trained and skilled your horse is, the less tongue pressure you need to use - ie. a port. So the more skilled your horse is, the more of a mouthpiece with a port you can use on your horse. It rewards them for their mature attitude and training.

Western horses, once trained, have self carriage. The same is true for english horses. A horse with self carriage does not need a bit with a lot of tongue pressure.

Hope that helps.
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