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.