How harsh is a Kimberwick Bit?!?! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 12:01 PM
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I find the kimberwicke a very useful bit for my haflinger. When we are in a controlled environment I can ride him bridleless because he will work completely off of seat and voice aids. He does fine in a snaffle as well, but he is not a fan of a single jointed mouth piece much at all and gets moody. French link is a little better but not much. I have found he just does not like the jointed type mouth pieces. Maybe this is the OPs horse's problem? If that is the case I would look for a low or medium port instead of the jointed mouth piece. Maybe try borrowing one before ordering it to make sure that it does work. In the years trying to find what make's Toby happy I have done lots of tack exchanges and bit borrowing before finally finding something we were both happy with. I'm one who went from a "have to work all horses either bitless or in snaffles to be the most humane" to "use what works best for that horse/rider combo."

Now he does excellent in his kimberwicke. We have a low port and mouth on it and he is very happy in it. The small amount of curb on it is minimal compared to a short-shanked colt bit or pelham but it is just enough for when he gets a bit strong when riding in a group or tries his occasional dive for the grass out on the trail. With good hands and the right horse - this bit can be a good choice.

I know some prefer a pelham instead of a kimberwicke, but the thing is - how many people are really proficient in using a double bridle? It takes a while to get to that point and most of your low-level riders or basic pleasure trail riders just are not to that level. A kimberwicke is an alternative that gives you a bit more than a snaffle, but not as much as an actual curb. I would rather see someone using a kimberwicke than totally messing up the cues with a pelham because they can't keep the double reins straight.

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post #12 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 12:06 PM
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Ah, OK I like your answer. When you said "quick fix," I thought you meant it was a way to avoid training or like it was cheating. I agree, it is not for beginners or anyone who leans on a horse's mouth, since then the chain would be constantly engaged. I also should say I've seen horses get hard mouthed on a Kimberwicke when it is used improperly. But it is a solution when your horse gets strong in a field of horses.
As for the OP, I suggested using the Kimberwicke without the chain since she does not currently have a snaffle that fits her horse. If she buys a nice new snaffle that fits, that would be ideal. But she could ride with the chainless Kimberwicke and it's really not much different from a snaffle. I have a friend who rides in one since she's too lazy to buy a new snaffle.
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post #13 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 12:08 PM
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I meant to say the above post as a reply to Eventer, but what Cat said was great too. Use whatever works best for your horse, and ride with good hands no matter what you use.
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post #14 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 12:12 PM
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My Husbands horse, needs the Low Port due to how his palat is shaped, and the bit that works very well with him, is the Myler Low Port.

It's still a snaffle, and it is still a 3 piece:

Dover Saddlery | Myler Low Port Dee Bit MB 04 .

Or you can get the one with the hooks, so it can work with a bit of leverage, without the "harshness"

But these are only suggestions.

Again - I think we need to know why the OP wants to venture to the Kimberwick.

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post #15 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 12:49 PM
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MIE covered a lot of the points pretty well already, but I what I personally dislike about Kimberwickes is that once you make the chain or no chain, and which slot the rein goes on decisions, the bit has no flexibility. You're always engaging the leverage action whether you want to or not, so there's no way to reward the horse for giving to the bit. It's very common to see horses ridden in a Kimberwicke to overflex and go behind the bit for exactly that reason.

Riding in a leverage bit with two reins, such as a pelham or a 3 ring, gives you the flexibility to engage the leverage effect only when you need it, and to ride entirely off of the snaffle when the horse is responding well. So my recommendation would be if you think you need a Kimberwicke, ride in a pelham or a 3 ring or any other leverage bit the can be ridden with both a snaffle and a curb rein; you have a much better chance of teaching the horse how to respond to your aids correctly. The Kimberwicke has a much better chance of teaching the horse to evade the bit entirely.

If your horse's issue is the shape of his palate or the fit of the snaffle, the recommendation for a Myler is a good one as well.

ETA: There's a good reason why they're not a legal bit in dressage, and highly discouraged for hunters. (I don't think they're absolutely prohibited, but I doubt you get pinned using one anywhere but a local show.) I believe they're only an accepted bit in AQHA shows. Someone please correct or add to that if you have more current info than mine.

Last edited by maura; 01-29-2011 at 02:48 PM.
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post #16 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 02:46 PM
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Doesn't the Kimberwick have a shallow port mullen mouth mouthpiece? One piece, right? Snaffle had two or three. Some horses HATE the broken mouth piece and need the straigt bar or mullen mouth type bit. Could that be a factor,OP?
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post #17 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 04:08 PM
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If your horse is avoiding a french link, the idea is not to go harsher. look for a bit with more tongue relief and see how he goes.
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post #18 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 05:33 PM
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my horse loves the kimberwicke. i guess he has a low pallette bc i've tried single joint snaffles and snaffles with rollers in the middle and double jointed snaffles. she slings his head in all of them. with the kimberwicke he goes right in to frame and doesnt have his head up like a giraffe.

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post #19 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 06:10 PM
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You can get Low Port Bits, without having to turn to a Kimberwick

Sorry if the pictures turn out big........If they do, I'll have to correct that...

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post #20 of 24 Old 01-29-2011, 08:11 PM
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You have to understand there are two very different types of Kimberwicke's. One has a broken mouthpiece and does not use palate pressure. It breaks in the center and only uses lip/tongue/bar pressure when the chain is not engaged. Like a regular snaffle. In this type it is possible to give cues without using leverage action. Even the leverage action only involves the chin and a very small amount of poll pressure.
The second type of Kimberwicke has a solid ported mouthpiece. This bit does not work like a snaffle and is either "off" or "on" just like a curb bit. It is basically a very short-shanked curb. It works by pressure on the roof of the mouth, under the chin, and poll. This type of Kimberwicke does not give any opportunity for subtle cues.
The first type of Kimberwicke I like, the second I dislike very much. The only way I would like the second bit is if you were doing Western type riding with a loose rein and only used the bit as a backup for cues. It is not good for English riding with contact. I suppose if a person wanted to use it as a very mild curb for English, they could put in a small snaffle bridoon and ride with two reins. It would be easier to just use a short-shanked Pelham.
I am not sure why both bits are called "Kimberwicke," since only one of them is a curb bit and the other is sort of a hybrid.
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