Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Truthfully, I'm going to go ahead and say it is a training issue. If your horse won't respect the bit while in either a full out run or canter, there's obviously signs in the slower gaits, such as te trot and even possibly the walk.
You don't need a new bit, you need to focus on getting her light on her cues. This does take time, it all depends on the horse. If her mouth was hard before you started working with her, it may take longer than if she were a younger horse that just started getting a hard mouth.
And as for barrel racing, I think that it's unecessary to use the reins at more than just picking them up. Your horse should be running the barrels by listening to leg cues and your seat, not from you yanking on their face with a harsh bit. I'm working on leg and seat cues with the game horse I'm training, yes-I have a curb in (or apparently a "grazing bit"...) but he understands the concept of neck reining. If he didn't already know how to neck rein effectively, I'd have him in a simple snaffle.
Most bits that I see barrel racers using when I go to shows are these things with huge shanks being yanked about their horse's face when they go around a barrel or try try to get them to dead stop right in front of the gate. Barrel racing is about speed with finess, not running a neurotic horse with no brakes just because you're enclosed in a ring so they can't really run away if you can't manage to stop them.
If your horse can't listen to leg/seat aids and neck rein, hey should not have a curb in their mouth-period, in my opinion. Using curbs while direct reining can, and most likely will, rip your horses face apart. I've done it before, and it's not pretty. I had no choice other than to be flipped over on, but if I had another choice I wouldn't have. I felt horrible, and I'm sure you don't want your mares face sore or even more hardened by a harsher bit.
I suggest you just keep the bit and work on stopping at the walk (then moving up) until she has a solid stop from your seat, and barely doing more than just picking up the reins a bit. I really don't think a new bit would help.
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