bridle or no bridle...that is my question (considerate replies only please :) ) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-18-2011, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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bridle or no bridle...that is my question (considerate replies only please :) )

So I have been working with my green horse Raisin. I can now sucessfully ride him at the walk ( but I am fighting with him the whole way because he wants to choose which direction we go etc) and I'm using a rope halter with clip on reins. It just seems to not be doing what I would like it to as I can feel it in my arms today. He leads very well on the ground. Has excellent ground manners gives to latteral flexion and gives to pressure. And I have put a loose ring snaffle on him (w a split ear headstall) and he responds to it very well but he will not get used to it for the life of him. (Keeps playing with it, gnawing on it,yawning continiously etc) even though I put it on him daily just seems like he will never get used to it. So I was thinking about possibly a sidepull? Or this "controller caveston" that is in my schneider's magazine. I personally would like him to respond with no bit in his mouth so that he does not develop a "hard mouth" eventually yes I would like to use a. Bit ...but until that day comes I would like to feel my arms the next morning :) anyone out there who has some pointers? Anything conciderate would be awesome as I am new to training horses but not new to horses. He's been doing so well since I've gotten him and he is a 15.2hh qh tenn walker cross. If that helps any :) thanks!

Last edited by maura; 09-18-2011 at 12:05 PM.
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-18-2011, 11:50 AM
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When were his teeth done last? Young horses' teeth need to be done (or at least checked) twice a year as their teeth are growing at a more rapid rate. If his teeth are bothering him, it could be the reason he's fussing at the bit.
Another suggestion is to try a fixed-cheek, French link snaffle - I tend to prefer full cheek or d-ring for youngsters. I've worked with many horses who simply don't do well in a single jointed bit.
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-18-2011, 12:04 PM
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Also consider that the bit you tried on him might not be a good fit for the size and shape of his mouth. The most useful and most used bits in my tack boxes are Dr. Bristols and French Links with rollers - the extra joint in the bit means that they tend to fit more horse more comfortable. Many horsepeople report great success with Myler bits with horses that aren't comfortable in conventional bits.

If you wish to experiment with a sidepull or another form of bitless, that's certainly an option worth trying, but your statement about fighting with him the whole way and your arms being sore tells me that there's a hole in your training that may not have anything to do with equipment. Sidepulls, bosals, hackamores, bitless bridles and bitted bridles are all used with the principle of pressure and release. The difference is in where and what applies the pressure.

Also, riding in a bit does not necessarily make the horse's mouth hard or make it less responsive. Not using a clear sequence of aids, not using ask, tell, demand and not being consistent wtih your aids will make a horse unresponsive to whatever equipment you have on him, not just a bit.

But I have gotten ahead of myself, sorry. By all means, experiment with equipment until you find something he's more comfortable in.

ETA: Just Dressage It's suggestion about getting teeth checked is an excellent one, and probably the first thing you should investigate.
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post #4 of 23 Old 09-18-2011, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the wonderful replies :) I had his teeth checked a month ago and all is well in that department (I should have stated that...oops!) And I was also thinking about a different bit. I have had good luck in a french link before with my last horse but have never tried ones with the rollers. That is definately something to look into :) its just odd because he goes everywhere I poing him while on the ground. I was also thinking about using a bridle with a throatlatchand a noseband for more stability possibly? I am not all into the western headstalls. They are very.... unstable and seem to move around a lot (I've ridden english all my life just made a transition to western since no one here rides english in my area) I cannot thank you all enough I really apprechiate all your help :)
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-18-2011, 02:38 PM
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If your hands are soft, if the bit fits and is fitted properly, if the horse's teeth are OK without sharp edges, then the horse should accept the bit which is your key communication aid with the animal. Hard mouths come from heavy hands, harsh bits or the horse fighting with the rider.

I personally would be reluctant to give up on using a bit on a horse which has already accepted the bit.
By the way does it salivate? If it doesn't then try rubbing some mild toothpaste on the bit

Side pulls are fine on a well trained horse but even then, a bit works better on a horse ridden collectively. If you have a friend with a hackamore, then try it - but again I'd rather see a horse ridden in a bit.

Certainly the teeth need to be checked by a competent horse dentist. (Vets are not dentists)
A good dentist works by putting his hand in a horse's mouth - he knows what he is doing.

The size and fit of the bit in the horses mouth should be checked - if necessarily by a another (but experienced ) handler (or the dentist).

Thirdly there is the question of your hands - are you jerking on the bit?
One thing to try is to tie a shoe leather across the pommel of the saddle and when you are riding then clip your thumb under the shoe leather so as to keep your hands steady.

Fourthly - are you riding long and low or are you riding on the bit?
If you are riding long and low, maybe the horse is reaching for the bit.

Fifthly - which other mild bits have you tried?
Sometimes a horse likes soft iron bits which make the horse salivate more. Generally speaking the french link type bits are regarded as being the softest - but try others with different sized and shaped links.

Myler bits are expensive but they make a very mild bit which I used to use on my own horse. Look up Myler on the internet.

Oh - one other thing - you do wash the bit after use - don't you?
and you don't feed the horse tid bits when bitted up - do you?

You need to get the problem sorted - your communication with the horse is through the bit and if the horse won't accept it then it will not be listening.
And you need it to listen at all times.

You could eventually fit a martingale, but only if you can't find an alternative route. The fewer tiedowns on a young horse the better.

But you talk about the horse wandering about.
Have you checked the saddle??? Does it fit properly?
Where are your calves - are they against the flanks ?

You should be steering a young horse with your heels, your crutch, your butt, your under thighs and your calves, at the same as indicating to the horse through the reins and the bit.
Play in the arena working some barrels in tight circles at the walk - no trotting yet until the horse is responding.

If you have access to a video camera - get a friend to video the horse misbehaving. Then sit and watch you and the horse working together. You might get a clue as to what is making the horse restless.

You mention that you are new to schooling - well this is what it is all about. You've got a problem now watch and feel and try to work out what is bugging the horse.

Best of luck


PS I hope this was 'considerate' - it was meant to be helpful
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Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 09-18-2011 at 02:41 PM.
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-18-2011, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the thorough reply! I really apprechiate it a lot! I think it may have something to do with the western saddle I'm using. It hasn't been used in over 10 years. I might just start with my english saddle. I can tell a huge difference with it. Hackamores actually scare me a bit though. Heard horror stories of proken noses etc. I have only used the loose ring snaffle and he salivates with the bit. I'm thinking that maybe he just needs some more time getting used to it. But I am thinking about trying this myler bit I found its like 150 bucks but its like a multi position bit with some sort of rigging that pressure is applied on the poll chin and nose (the bit doesent engage unless the horse does not respond and then the bit is engaged) I forgot the name of it but it seemed to be pretty good anyways) I have always been pretty light and quiet in my hands....most of my riding experience has been english...(dressage x country and stadium jumping) as for my riding position my legs are always long and flush with the girth....heels down shoulders back...tall in the saddle..looking up. I don't know of any equine dentists in my area (it is iowa lol) but maybe if I ask some people around here maybe I can find something? My vet has an indoor arena and I was thinking about going up there trailering him and working up there in an actual arena. I think that may help a lot. And I NEVER let a horse eat with a bit ... my old instructor was very strict on that when I was younger. And it stuck with me to this day. And I always clean the bit after every time I have put it on him but have never attempted riding with a bit yet. Just put on for awhile...the first time I offered him the bit I did not have to force my finger into his mouth he opened his mouth and took the bit quietly (he had never had a bit in his mouth ever) and still takes it willingly every time. I will look into getting some video ...that's a very good idea. Thanks for your time!
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-18-2011, 06:03 PM
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I saw this a while ago and if i remember correctly it gives advice on the type of bit, don't know if it would be of interest.

Bit Information (Curb and Western type bits and hackamores)
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-19-2011, 09:20 AM
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LD, that is the Western-type bit info article, there is one for English-type bits too.
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post #9 of 23 Old 09-19-2011, 09:29 AM
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Oooops sorry!
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-19-2011, 09:42 AM
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i just had to go through this with the horse i am training. at first i just got on this (unbroke) 6 year old bare back. and a friend led us around. then i had that same friend get on my horse and pony us. while we were being ponied i would attempt steering. (with just a halter and lead rope) once he got the hang of that with the halter i introduced the bit. he still resistant to the bit... but only to the right... it is probably because he needs his teeth done... which will be getting done soon.

"It is the difficult horses that have the most to give you." - LENDON GRAY
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