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
Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 09-18-2011 at 02:41 PM.