Gag VS Snaffle bit for harshness?
   

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Gag VS Snaffle bit for harshness?

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  • French gag snaffle bit
  • Gag snaffle bit

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    11-01-2012, 09:29 PM
  #1
Foal
Arrow Gag VS Snaffle bit for harshness?

My question today is about gag bits and whether or not you'd deem them harsh. Yes we know the "any bit is harsh in the wrong hands" way of thinking, which of course is true, but people have differing opinions on different bits so let's hear it.

My gelding was being ridden in a single jointed eggbutt snaffle, which he completely ignored. I took it back to ground work, worked flexing and stopping, directing reining from the ground. He improved for direct reining but never got good brakes, he would just plunge his chin to his chest and keep and walking. Two trainers I asked both told me to really snap back hard on the reins when he ignores, but this was brutal, and I'm not in it to hurt the horse.

SO I looked at different bits at my local tack shop and brought this one home, it is a 4 ring french link gag: http://www.onlineforequine.co.uk/519...4-ring-gag.jpg

My way of thinking was, this is a 'watered down curb' in that it applies poll pressure with leverage, and pulls back on the lips but is very easy on the bars of his mouth. In fact the mouthpiece stays in almost the same spot when you pull back. I liked the french link since there wouldn't be any of that nut-cracker action as they call it, and because it's not a solid mouthpiece like a curb I get great lateral flexion. Anywho, he stops great in this, no pulling contest, he no longer does his impression of rollkur, nothing. He stops, and backs - it's awesome!

So the question is, does my argument for this bit hold true, is it a gentle bit like I believe it is, or do you guys agree with the online community in general, saying this gag is harsh and unnecessary? Am I being cruel without knowing?
     
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    11-02-2012, 12:39 AM
  #2
Trained
Hi,

No, it's not a 'watered down' anything, but is like a x between a curb & snaffle. I personally think it should be an 'either or' affair, that depending on how you train & use the bit, you should have something like a snaffle OR a curb, not a combo - that's why there are double bridles which have 2 bits, because they're best used in different ways. Eg. Curbs are best used with equal pressure on either side, for vertical flexion, while snaffles are best used with direct reining.
     
    11-02-2012, 03:21 AM
  #3
Super Moderator
Lets get some facts straight!
Firstly this is not a gag bit. A true gag has the cheek pieces running through the bit rings. This just gives you the choice of how much poll pressure you can have by the placement of the reins on the rings.
Secondly it is also nothing like a curb bit. A curb has a chain going around the horses lower jaw.

My answer is that if it works and you are getting the results then keep using it. Some horses go better in a certain type of bit, and the fact that you do not have the single joint in the mouthpiece could be the answer rather than the poll pressure.
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    11-02-2012, 08:46 AM
  #4
Foal
Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxhunter    
Secondly it is also nothing like a curb bit. A curb has a chain going around the horses lower jaw..
So curbs main action point is that chain under the jaw? OOoooh I never knew that, I thought it was poll/tongue pressure. Good to know!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxhunter    
Some horses go better in a certain type of bit, and the fact that you do not have the single joint in the mouthpiece could be the answer rather than the poll pressure.
That is definitely possible! And because I can switch to having my reins on the mouthpiece-loop, I can use it as just a french link snaffle. Once I get his woah off only my seat/legs, I will switch it up.

Thanks for the info!! I know some also call this an "elevator" bit, but the online shopping sites & the tag it had on it said gag, I did not know there was a difference ahaha. D'oh! Trust no one, eh? I mean how many tom thumbs have I see labeled snaffle...
     
    11-02-2012, 11:28 AM
  #5
Yearling
I ride western, but that IS a Gag Bit. There is more then one type of gag....

And with this gag it is a curb as well and would have the chain to add pressure under the chin but would also have poll pressure when pulled.

Any bit is only as harsh as the hands make it...some horses do great in snaffles and don't get hard or try and figure out the bit. While some horses DO need something a little different every now and again when they are basically flipping you the hoof which it sounds like your horse was doing. To evade the bit he would just tuck his chin and go on.
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    11-02-2012, 11:41 AM
  #6
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by KeroKero    
He improved for direct reining but never got good brakes, he would just plunge his chin to his chest and keep and walking.
Your problem is that he doesn't respect when you ask him to halt. Teach him to halt EVERY SINGLE BLESSED TIME on the ground. Demand it. I've taught my 6yo's the English for it and I use ounces of pressure NOW to get a halt, both with a lead and with the reins. I also back them up EVERY TIME I lead them to do ANYTHING. This winter I intend to start backing around the training ring, around my horse trailer, and back them into their stalls. It is a VERY valuable skill to teach your horse.
I suggest you don't rely on a gag to help you. Your horse isn't listening to any bit right now, and the gag pulling on his head will create the same reaction as a horse pulling back on a lead when tied with the intention of breaking free, in panic mode. Your next problem will be rearing bc of the gag.
Gags are really useful for eventers, whose horses are finished for riding, but get very strong when jumping. Horses will sometimes learn a job and then want to take over. The gag gives the eventing rider, and the jumper-rider a little more control so that their horses don't jump too flat. It is NOT intended to help break a horse in.
loosie likes this.
     
    11-02-2012, 02:05 PM
  #7
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarrelRacingLvr    
I ride western, but that IS a Gag Bit. There is more then one type of gag....

And with this gag it is a curb as well and would have the chain to add pressure under the chin but would also have poll pressure when pulled.

Any bit is only as harsh as the hands make it...some horses do great in snaffles and don't get hard or try and figure out the bit. While some horses DO need something a little different every now and again when they are basically flipping you the hoof which it sounds like your horse was doing. To evade the bit he would just tuck his chin and go on.


Regardless of what name this bit is given it is NOT a gag!
It is nothing more than a multi ringed snaffle. The rings giving the option on placing more poll pressure depending on where the reins are placed.



A conventional gag has has rounded cheekpieces running through them to which the rein is attached.
Rein pressure on a gag raises the bit in the horse' mouth telling it to raise its head. It will exert some pressure against the mouth telling the horse to bring its nose inwards.
It is a fairly severe bit but often necessary on a strong pulling horse that goes into a fence with its head on the ground. It can also help to get a horse (in conjunction with the riders leg) to get a horse off its forehand.
There are many types of gag but they all have the cheeks running through the bit rings.

If a curb was added to the multi ringed snaffle then it would be a curb bit - but a bit is only a curb if it has the chain fixed under the chin.
     
    11-02-2012, 02:29 PM
  #8
Green Broke
Thanks for the correction, but, regardless, I think that we agree that the BIT isn't the problem, and that bit won't be the OP's solution.
     
    11-02-2012, 02:35 PM
  #9
Foal
Unless I am jumping my horses, I always use a light snaffle. It's a training preference, but I don't believe in cycling through a bunch of different bits to fix each little problem - find a light to mild bit you can work with, and stick with that. If after consistent work you are still having problems, I'd seek the advice of a trainer that can watch you ride and offer advice, and also have them ride your horse to get a feel for him and determine a solution.

The bit above (I've always used the term elevator?) can easily turn into a harsh bit, even if you're not intending it that way. Be very mindful of your placement of the reins on the rings, and even more mindful of your hands as you ride.

I'd also just like to add that although I like to school in a light snaffle, I'm not opposed to using other training methods for short periods of time to aid in the horse's development. For example, I've dealt with jumpers that get very heavy and strong, especially at the canter. To aid in our training of making the horse lighter and softer, I'll use draw reins on the flat. While you cannot jump in draw reins, you can work with the horse and apply these aids on course.
     
    11-02-2012, 02:37 PM
  #10
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corporal    
Thanks for the correction, but, regardless, I think that we agree that the BIT isn't the problem, and that bit won't be the OP's solution.
As I said originally it could well be the broken mouthpiece that has made the difference not the poll pressure.

Although there is nothing to beat good schooling some horses will not go in a simple snaffle. I have had it happen on more than one occasion. One mare that had been trained as a Police Horse, was like this. She went beautifully in any curb bit even without the curb, put he in any type of snaffle and she was head shaking, evading the bit, throwing herself around and hot as hell. I tried all I could to get her in a snaffle but never succeeded.
     

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