I recently acquired a rescue horse, who is a total sweetheart but needs work under saddle. He was used and abused by careless novice riders in the past, he has scars from saddle galls and that tired, dead look in his eye when you get him out to work. I have been doing a lot of gentle groundwork and just getting him out to groom him and love on him so he can begin to associate coming out of the pasture with good things.
My question is about his hard mouth. Wait! I'll stop you right there before you scroll down to type up your rant. Yes, I know it's about training not bitting. I am a very experience rider and I don't need your rant about hard hands etc.
Now that that's out of the way, I would like suggestions of a good bit to use while I am re-training him under saddle. The first day I rode him I was in a simple snaffle, and he nearly took my head off when he galloped back into the barn. I need a bit that will give me enough control to be safe. I need to have control of him so I can start schooling with light hands and get him responding more to seat and leg aids.
Yes, I know that a harsher bit is not the answer for a hard mouth horse. My main focus is on re-training him to respond to any bit he's ridden in so he is not dependent on a harsh bit, but first I need to get his attention so he doesn't take my head off on the barn door.
Does anyone have experience re-training a hard mouth horse? What sort of bit or lack of bit worked for you?
I played on the polo team at university, and we had great success with gag bits for control at high speeds. I've also looked into various barrel racer bits and roper bits. I have always been a fan of sweet iron and copper bits, I ride my other gelding in a copper roller snaffle and have had good results in softening his mouth and getting him into the bridle.
I have heard of the MikMar bits, and I'm very curious, does anyone have any experience?
I'm also very curious about the gag/hackamore combination bits. Does anyone have experience with these?
Here are a few bits I have been considering:
7/16 Sweet Iron Mouth Bit
Rope Nose Ring Combo - Jeffers
Stop Turn Bit Reinsman Inc (Supplies Tack - Bits - Hackamores)
Wonder Gag Brookside (Supplies Tack - Bits - Working)
Mikmar Bit Company