Not so good with a bit...

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Not so good with a bit...

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  • horse collected on hackamore
  • Is it bad if a horse is not bit trained

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    06-23-2008, 07:12 AM
Not so good with a bit...

Hi, I was wondering if anyone can help me...

I ride a fairly young horse (not sure of her age) at the stable I work at. She's a lovely girl, but can really only be ridden in a hackamore...


Up until recently, this was ok with me, but now i'd like to take her training further and get her working properly in a bit. She's quite happy to have the bit put in her mouth and to be ridden with it in (she's been ridden in it before, but not much), but as sonn as it comes do doing any work with her, she's not so happy...

I'd like to have her working 'on the bit' and to be happy working in it, but I need some help! I have done things like this before, but not for a while, and not totally on my own! So any help can be appreciated!

This horse has previously been abused, and so she's still a bit nervy with having her head touched, but we've done a lot of work together, and I think she's actually starting to enjoy having her nose 'massaged'!!! :P I've got a good relationship with this horse - we've both taught each other a lot and have a fair bit of trust in each other.

She's a really responsive ride, stops very nicely from a walk and a trot just using your seat, and I ride her with very little rein, mainly leg and seat.

I know, I babbled!!

But help would be very much appreciated!

Thankyou =]
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    06-23-2008, 07:25 AM
What exactly do you mean by 'not so happy'? What specifically does she do? We'll probably be able to help you more if we know this info.

Is it possible to put on a bridel and a hackamore at the same time? I've never tried so let me know it its impossible lol. Then you could alternate between them both and perhaps she'll be happier not having you use the bit for long periods of time. Also, what bit are you using? Are you sure its not too harsh for her? Or if she has a small mouth, too big and thick for her?
    06-23-2008, 09:17 AM
What kind of bit are you using? I would just start with a smooth snaffle and see what she does. Also it could be possible that she make have some teeth issues that as soon as you pull her up to do something it hurts. I just mention this because I once bought a horse, when I went to test ride her I never pulled her up or got after her...After I bought her I went out for the first ride and had just a snaffle in her. I pulled her up to collect her and she got very aggravated and started chomping on the bit and swung her head....She slightly turned her head when she ate but didnt drop food or anything. Anyhow I brought her to the vet and had her teeth floated. She literally had spikes in the back or her mouth (the vet had me put my hand in her mouth and feel them)... I felt really bad for her. The problem pretty much totally stoped (vet said that it wouldnt totally stop because it was a habit now, in response to pain)
    06-23-2008, 08:19 PM
In addition to other's comments about types of bit, I think the style of riding can make a type of bit more or less of a problem. Eg. If you pull on both reins with equal pressure, a normal single jointed snaffle has a nutcracker effect on the tongue and the joint also can gouge into the roof of the mouth. If you use 2 hands independantly, a straight bar or leverage bit can be less clear to the horse, so therefore get more resistance.

I'm also interested to know why you feel the need for a bit? You should be able to teach her to collect and 'go on the bit' in a hackamore just as easily, but you will likely find a real hack or rope halter much clearer for her to understand than that mechanical sort.
    06-23-2008, 08:23 PM
Green Broke
Yeah, what kind of bit are you using? I would recomend starting with a french-link type snaffle
    06-24-2008, 03:47 AM
I'm going to try and answer all your questions... hopefully i'll remember them all!

Trig doesn't act like she's in pain when I use the bit - it's more that she doesn't understand what I'm asking of her. I can't really describe what she does. If I ask her to stop (using my seat and all my other aids AND a little pressure on the reins, I don't just heave on the reins and hope she stops!!....) She sorta drops her head and leans on the bit - so yer, I guess we have resistance!! Turning and stuff she's pretty good with, but that's probably coz I don't use the reins all that much!

I don't think I could get a bit AND a hackamore on at the same time - it probably wouldn't work and all the extra leather it'd take to have both on there would probably get on her nerves. I could put a rope halter underneath her bridle with reins - actually, I don't know why I haven't done that already!

I'm using a snaffle bit that has cheek pieces... but it's a bit weird in that the cheek pieces aren't full length, they're really only half the length! It's a bit hard to describe. I'll try her in another bit next time, like the suggestion of a french link snaffle, I'll give that a go, if I can track one down in the mess that is the tackshed!!! The joys of busy stables! The bit fits her, I definitely checked that!

I'd like to get her working in a bit coz it's a new challenge for us, and she doesn't find the hack real clear, so it's a lot more work for us! And i'm pretty sure there's a rule about riding horses on public property without a bit in their mouth... but I may be wrong! AND the hack covers up her pretty face!

What I really need to know is how I can help her understand the bit more.

Hope that's helped!

You've all given me some good ideas.

Thanks =]
    06-24-2008, 04:17 AM
Originally Posted by mlkarel2010
yeah, what kind of bit are you using? I would recomend starting with a french-link type snaffle
good advice. I have my wb in a french link loose ring snaffle. He's much happier with that than the original eggbutt I had on him. Eventually though he will be "weaned" onto a normal snaffle

It might just take some time and patience. Its likely that she has had a bad experience in the past maybe so taking things slow might be a good idea.
    06-24-2008, 05:19 AM
It sounds like she hasn't learned to give into pressure from the bit. What you need to do, is whenever she does the right thing, immediately reward her by releasing the pressure.

An example:
You want to stop so you sit deep and put pressure on the reins. Horse resists and pushes agains bit but you keep the pressure constant. The very second she does the right thing (i.e. Slows down or stops), release the pressure and just relax. Even drop the contact altogether to make sure this is fully embedded in her mind that she has done the right thing. Do this everytime you want to slow down and stop being sure you ALWAYS immediately give her release when she does the correct thing.

Later on, you won't need to drop the contact altogether but just give her a relase from the pressure. Some people don't agree with letting go of the contact and giving the horse a loose rein when they do the right thing. But its what I did with my horse when I had similar problems to you and she is amazing now. She has a very soft and responsive mouth.

Hope this helps
    06-24-2008, 07:02 AM
Thanks guys, that makes me feel a heap better about what i'm doing.

She's got a gorgeous soft mouth, and I didn't want to ruin that by putting too much pressure on it. I have been releasing if I even get a step in the right direction. I felt pretty pansy-ish just walking round the arena getting her to accept and listen to the bit, but it felt good everytime i'd felt we'd made even a small amount of progress!!

I'd say she has had a bad experience in the past - it's taken me 6 months to even get her to start enjoying having her head rubbed, and she's still pretty touchy with her nose and mouth, but we're getting there.

It's strange... i'm not usually a patient person, but I feel like I could spend HOURS just getting one little thing right with my girl =]
    06-26-2008, 12:41 AM
Originally Posted by HelenBoBellen
I don't think I could get a bit AND a hackamore on at the same time .....
I'd like to get her working in a bit coz it's a new challenge for us, and she doesn't find the hack real clear, ....i'm pretty sure there's a rule about riding horses on public property without a bit in their mouth... but I may be wrong! AND the hack covers up her pretty face!

What I really need to know is how I can help her understand the bit more.
I think for starters, you need to ditch that mechanical thing and use ea real hackamore or rope halter. Aside from being bulky and ugly, as you have pointed out, she's not understanding it very well. This is the fault of the equipment, not necessarily you, especially if you're trying to use your reins independently, as in English style. It sounds like she needs to learn how to yield to pressure better first, before I'd want to put a bit in her mouth.

And once you decide to try one... I'd start in an arena or enclosed area so it's safe to ask her to do things without having to use force. As it sounds that she has already been taught to yield to your body language (that's great), you can just do what you've been doing to ask for something, then *if she doesn't yield* back it up with light pressure on the reins, and just keep holding it until she slows/turns whatever.

I also tend to teach a horse the steady contact thing separately. Eg. I will take and hold light contact but won't ask them to yield with the reins until they are used to going along with the contact first.

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