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post #11 of 37 Old 04-23-2011, 10:08 PM
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If she works well in a curb, why not use a curb?

That said, about 3 months ago I started riding Mia with a bit sometimes. Sometimes she seemed to accept it fine, and sometimes she did not. The trend over time was downhill. I tried several different snaffles and a french link snaffle, and she worried more and more. The last ride, she spun herself out of control in the riding arena she's been in countless times. Diarrhea, rolling eyes, one leap & bolt for 3 laps of the arena...and having a bit in her mouth did NOTHING for control. I eventually got her to slow to a walk and I jumped off - after 2 hours of escalating fear. She bolted about 50' without me, then turned to see where I had gone. I walked over and removed the bit. She sighed and followed me with no sign of fear.

My point? Bits don't control a horse. Bits make our cues more subtle, but a scared horse won't calm down because of pain in the mouth. I tend to agree with those who say no one ever stopped a bolting horse...they just were on a horse that stopped bolting.

With Mia, things were bad enough that I stopped riding her and started her training over at square one. Round pen. Outside turns, inside turns, change to trot & canter and back down on verbal cues, coming in, coming in a little and stopping, backing...right now we're at trotting and cantering over poles. I was going to try riding her bitless in the round pen today but ran out of time, so tomorrow hopefully. We've done mounting and dismounts without problem on the left side, and are starting mounting from the right - that is scary for her right now. The poles are a baby step towards sacking out, which isn't so much about desensitizing as it is about teaching her to trust me in her fear.

She has holes in her training, and tack can't cure those holes. Training will. We did the same thing with Trooper last fall, and he's finally turning into a very willing and fun horse to ride.

Your horse doesn't have the severity of problems that Mia has shown, but you might consider starting her in a course of training while still riding her. I'm working with a trainer with Mia, but this book provides an outline of the training we will work thru:

Mia is back to riding bitless. She has gotten progressively worse with various bits, and I figure when things are going downhill, it is time to go back to the last successful stage. But until Mia learns to look to me in times of fear, she really isn't safe to ride even if I've been riding her for 2+ years. Happily, your horse is doing much better!

All of which is a long winded way of suggesting you 1) step back to what last worked well, and 2) that you run your horse thru a systematic training program to find & plug any holes. With Trooper, the process took 5 weeks. With Mia, we're still doing basic ground work after 4 weeks, and her stubbornness may end up taking 5 months instead of 5 weeks. Whatever. I've got a room full of tack, but my horse needs training, not tack.

And I apologize if my problems with Mia have made me look at all horse problems thru a single lens...I'm learning some stuff the hard way, and it tends to bias my thinking. Good luck & best wishes!
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post #12 of 37 Old 04-23-2011, 11:47 PM
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Many horses ride much better and train better in a mild leverage bit than they do in a snaffle. Most western trainers graduate from a snaffle quite early in their horse's training. Some go back and forth, particularly when the horses are going to be shown in one of the 2 or 3 year old snaffle futurities.

Western horses are asked to carry themselves on a loose or very light contact. They are frequently asked for quick moves and advanced maneuvers and these can often be better taught and performed with a mild leverage bit.

I prefer a short shank (6 inches or less total length) with a dog bone or other 3 piece mouth piece. I absolutely will only use a shank bit that has 'loose' or 'swivel' shanks. I never ride a rigid, one-piece bit on anything but a finished show horse and then go back to the above bit when I ride.

A loose or swivel shank bit can be used with a running martingale and can be ridden two-handed where a rigid one piece curb bit cannot.
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post #13 of 37 Old 04-24-2011, 01:14 AM
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Please don't mistake me. This is in no way a bit bash in my posts. I have no problem with curbs. I am just saying that upgrading the bit isn't going to fix a problem that is a TRAINING issue. It will only mask it. It doesn't matter what bit you use, the problem is still there, you are just covering it up.

Mods, grant me the serenity to see the opinions I cannot change, courage to change the ones that should change, and the wisdom to spot the trolls.
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post #14 of 37 Old 04-24-2011, 08:25 AM
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I'm going to give a little description of how I would address each problem you mentioned, Gidget. I'd personally recommend sticking with the snaffle, mainly because it won't mask anything that it's better off that you discover, but I won't get into the Great Bit Debate. Ride in whatever you and your mare feel comfortable with.

Originally Posted by Gidget View Post
So I'm all about safety(for the most part) when riding. Anyways I have come across some issues again. First one is I think I might need a new bit as I have a Dee ring great for shows but not for trails! She roots and then pulls down and it hurts my hands sooo bad. I have whipped her and kicked her trying to get her head up and it doesn't work..I have to lean forward,gather rein and pull up and back....a few minutes pass and I'm doing the same thing...can anyone recommend a bit that might be a better match for me? I know she does great in a medium shank,high port you think that mightbe something I need?

I'm not going to comment on bits, as others have already done so at some length. When she roots and pulls against you, there are a couple of tactics that I've had some success with. Firstly, horses can only pull if riders give them something to pull against - check yourself to make sure that you aren't providing something for her to resist. Second tactic, to be used after rider error and discomfort issues have been ruled out, is to stop correcting her with two hands and start correcting with one. Give one firm upward bump with one hand: not a jerk, not a yank, a bump. Do this once, get her attention, and move on with life like nothing happened.

For best effect, after you have her attention, do something with it - do some pretty circles or serpentines, leg yielding, etc. Doing some schooling on the trail is the best way to get a horse through all of these green trail horse problems. Sometimes the varied terrain works against you, but more often than not that extra challenge is what horse and rider need to move up to the "next level."

Also,Gidget saw some black and white cows while my hubby and I were trail riding. Cows didn't mind Buttercup but when they saw gidget they came running up to see her(maybe they were thinking 'our long lost sister' since she is black and white ) ...we were on the road...I had no time to do anything.We did a haunch turn and took off.I steered her over and slowed her down and got her to walk again but I don't want that happening! I got lucky that there were no cars around and that I stayed on as I wasn't prepared for what was going to happen.

Cows can be a challenge for the green trail horse, especially when they come running right at you. The best cure is exposure, as controlled as possible. If you can swing it, find a rider experienced with dealing with cows and horses to help you safely and correctly introduce them. Barring that, approach fenced animals on the trail the same as any other spooky object: I like to ignore them and put the horse's nervous energy to work doing something that she knows how to do but will be work. The key is to focus yourself - you are the mare's leader, and if you become tense at the sight of cows, it's natural to expect the horse to have a tense adverse reaction, too.

Another thing horse is soooooo competitive! My husband and I were loping back and forth in the pasture and well Buttercup was coming up and Gidget decided that wasn't going to happen so within a second we were galloping...again,this bit I have doesn't seem to help as I was trying to hold her back and slow her down....well I couldn't get her slowed down and I thought we were going to smash inside of this little hill..nope,we ran straight up it and then stopped ...I looked around to make sure no one saw as it was embarassing buuuut they saw...Obviously you can see I didn't have control over her yesterday and it was scary...I need help as I want to enjoy riding and not take off like a bolt of lightning!...any ideas and advice? Please no crude/rude comments. I haven't had this happen since when I first got her so it's disappointing.

A lot of horses struggle with this, even in the arena. First, in a controlled environment, be sure that Gidget understands that Buttercup may pass her at speed without her reacting, and that she can pass Buttercup at speed without breaking gait or speed. Start at the walk, and move up to more "energizing" gaits when the horses are ready. When both horses can lope past each other with politeness on both sides, move out to the trail and give it a try, starting at the walk again and following the same progression. Of course, it is worth having practiced some form of emergency stop before hitting the trail. Anything can happen.
This is the Cliffsnotes version, of course, and there are probably already threads that deal with these issues or variations of them in more detail. Good luck, and ride safely!!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #15 of 37 Old 04-24-2011, 08:55 AM
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No bit is any better or any worse than the hands and skill of the rider using it. Changing bits WILL sometimes help with training problems. Some horses lug or fight a snaffle because they resist tongue pressure and become totally different horses with a bit that relieves tongue pressure. In those cases, the training issue resolves itself with a change in bits.

No knowledgeable horse trainer will make blanket statements that all horses must be ridden in a certain bit or type of bit to be ridden properly. Horses must be evaluated on a one by one basis and trained accordingly.

There are also many horses that train best when bits are switched around from ride to ride. Many of these horse that do not train well in a snaffle, will go back to a snaffle later and ride much better after being schooled in a leverage bit. I have also had horses that had learned to either lug or learned to tuck their chins nicely on their chests and go right on like they had no rider or bridle.

I have ridden some of them in a gag bit for a while and was then able to go back to a regular bit and they had 'learned' to respond properly to the bit.

Skill is what is needed, but changing bits can sure help with many horses -- even in very skilled hands.
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post #16 of 37 Old 04-24-2011, 09:04 AM
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Excellent points Scoutrider. One handed riding is much more difficult for a horse to resist.

Along these same lines, teaching a horse to stop and give you its head will diffuse about any 'bolting' situation. [This is commonly called a 'one rein stop' nowadays but it is not exactly the same thing to me.] If you want to have a horse that will stop and give you its head instantly, you have to teach it before you need to use it. It WILL work with any loose shanked bit, snaffle or curb, and it will stop a frightened horse in its tracks if it has been taught properly.
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post #17 of 37 Old 04-24-2011, 11:41 AM
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I didn't read all the replies yet, but since cows are involved, your choice is to keep exposing her to them and getting really good at the one rein stop, (which apparently you already executed well) or just never ride near cows. I've been doing option A for 4 years and still have to execute the stops. My horse will never get over them, but that's not to say yours won't.

The second thing, the racing, can be trained out. While you're out there with the other horse, pick a certain number of canter strides and only ride that many until coming back to walk or trot. In the spring, when trail riding is more like riding a missile, that exercise seems to get their attention more than most. Go 4 strides/stop, then 8/stop. Then just pick a safety word that you can shout out when you feel your horse getting strong and you need the other rider to stop so you can get her back under control. Hopefully neither horse is a kicker since yours may try to run up the other one's butt. Also taking turns being in front sometimes helps. That's all I can think of for now. Good luck.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #18 of 37 Old 04-24-2011, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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thank you all for the help.

Gidget does give me her head and flexes at the poll and gettign better but obviously I need to keep working with her on that. I didn't want to do the one rein stop with my horse at a full on galloping/bolt...I had an image in my head we'd flip or something..honestly,i got nervous so I prayed to God to take care of us and not to let anything bad happen.

Honestly at this time I cannot afford a curb bit. I just spent $700 on tack lately and my hubby isn't too happy =D*laughs* Soooo,I will have to be on a look out for a trade. I always wanted to try a broken curb bit...not sure which kind to get.

It's raining...AGAIN..I will prob. ride her for a few so we can work together..maybe just ride in the dry lot or something.

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post #19 of 37 Old 04-24-2011, 02:18 PM
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I wouldn't use the one rein stop either for an already running horse. I had to use the pulley rein yesterday. I personally hate it, but it does have it's place in the world. We were out trail riding and my horse decided he wanted to go full throttle on a narrow trail. A few rhythmic pulls later we were walking again.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #20 of 37 Old 04-25-2011, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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I rode Gidget today...I think I know one problem as today she did not do it. Gidget has been stalled most of the winter as we didn't want a muddy pasture. Sooo when she got out she wanted to eat fresh grass. For the past couple of days she has been out in the pasture with her grazing muzzle(last spring she had severe colic either from a new grain that was grain free or from the spring grass so the muzzle helps her lessen the intake and she won't balloon up). Anyways since she has been out it seems that she didn't mind not having to eat every 5 seconds..she responded to her snaffle bit well but I am still considering a swivel high port shanked bit. People have their own opinions but I know Gidget has used these MANY times and really she didn't have a problem and I think she finds them more comfortable..I plan on switching back and forth every now and then :)
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