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Shank Bit Advice?

This is a discussion on Shank Bit Advice? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Is there any bit restrictions for reining
  • Equation for bit pressure with shanks

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    05-09-2012, 07:06 PM
  #11
Weanling
Okay, well I do have a correctionial bit(my aunts horse came with it haha), short shanks, sorta large curve in the mouthpiece, I've always just stayed away from it since it has that big curve in the mouthpice, but would this work?
     
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    05-09-2012, 07:07 PM
  #12
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by EthanQ    
Yeah...here in Kansas we are allowed to show any discipline we want and whatever classes we like...Like last year my bridle broke and the judge let me run barrels in a halter...If they will let us run fullout in a barrel pattern with only a hackamore/halter, why not let us do a reining pattern with one?
4H Reining is a beast of a class in our state... we don't have any reiners in our club right now, so I'm honestly not well up on the current situation, but last I heard, the state 4H rules were verbatim from NRHA. I talked to one girl who said one 4H reining class had half a dozen riders, and not one wasn't DQ'd for some esoteric tack rule (i.e., not a regulation reining saddle, official reining bit, etc.). I'll have to find out if we ever got our own rules for reining or not... (insert eye roll...)
     
    05-09-2012, 07:12 PM
  #13
Trained
A bridled horse is a "finished" horse. If done correctly (yes I have seen it done incorrectly and those people get the gate), there is less contact than a snaffle. I ride my horse in English & Western classes, I have way less contact in the curb, for a cue, it's a vibration on a moderately loose rein, for english, I pick up the snaffle in his mouth and let him go from there, usually opening my fingers & letting him go until I need a gait change or whatever. Cues in a western curb are extremely subtle, he feels the reins wiggle, he knows something is coming, either move up in the gait or down, he feels the reins on his neck, he moves away from them. No reins without leg or calf pressure and weight shift. When a horse is soft, you barely touch the reins, he knows what is coming when you use your other aids. A good rule of thumb, the more severe the bit, the less pressure you use. For a spade let's say, your reins could be attached with silk thread and technically you could still be able to cue your horse with it, that's how little pressure is used.
     
    05-09-2012, 07:12 PM
  #14
Weanling
Yeah...well here we mostly have a lot of middle class backayrd paint breeders(quite the ponies....not) who show up with their spoiled kids, throw on whatever saddle they seem to pickup that morning and go out and beath tyhe tar out of their horses. I've never been too serious about showing, but there are a couple in my club that kinda are. I just got tired of those pain in the butt kids placing higher than me just because I wasn't trying like I should....If that makes sense. Haha
     
    05-09-2012, 07:12 PM
  #15
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by EthanQ    
okay, well I do have a correctionial bit(my aunts horse came with it haha), short shanks, sorta large curve in the mouthpiece, I've always just stayed away from it since it has that big curve in the mouthpice, but would this work?
Correctional bits can be tricky because of all the joints, and usually the port is pretty high for a horse just starting into the world of curb bits. They aren't really considered to be a mild bit, and in my understanding are generally used as a tune-up bit for horses that are getting dull to a regular curb. I personally have never ridden with one, so I really can't bring any personal experience on them.

Could it work? Possibly. If it fits, pop it in, and try it out, and see what your horse tells you. Use common sense, though, and don't fight it out if he tells you that he is uncomfortable, intimidated, or confused by it.
     
    05-09-2012, 07:14 PM
  #16
Weanling
Awesome...thank you so much for the advice!
     
    05-09-2012, 07:26 PM
  #17
Weanling
Ok one more question...is a curved mouthpiece a little harsher than a straight mouthpiece like this? Google Image Result for http://s7d5.scene7.com/is/image/EquestrianCollections/PF00028R-a%3F%24oldimage%24
     
    05-09-2012, 07:28 PM
  #18
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by EthanQ    
Yeah...well here we mostly have a lot of middle class backayrd paint breeders(quite the ponies....not) who show up with their spoiled kids, throw on whatever saddle they seem to pickup that morning and go out and beath tyhe tar out of their horses. I've never been too serious about showing, but there are a couple in my club that kinda are. I just got tired of those pain in the butt kids placing higher than me just because I wasn't trying like I should....If that makes sense. Haha
I hear ya, mate. The competition wore thin on me after a while... just lost interest in trying to hold my own against the real die hards. A $1.50 ribbon just isn't worth it to me, and I'm far more interested in the nitty gritty of what goes into the training of a good horse than busting butt on my own to try to beat someone who has a 6 figure horse and top-tier coaching from an AQHA champ trainer. Out here, you've either got the cash to buy what it takes (horse, tack, training, coaching) to jog out with a ribbon, or you're pretty clueless and it shows. Then there was me... the "lone nut" who has no money and drools over the minutia of biomechanics and the physics of bits...
     
    05-09-2012, 07:30 PM
  #19
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by EthanQ    
ok one more question...is a curved mouthpiece a little harsher than a straight mouthpiece like this? Google Image Result for http://s7d5.scene7.com/is/image/EquestrianCollections/PF00028R-a%3F%24oldimage%24
Yes, a curved mouthpiece is going to be harsher than a straight-bar mouth. With a ported bit, when you pull the reins, the port presses against the roof of the horse's mouth as the mouthpiece twists. A straight mouth takes that roof-pressure out of the equation. All pressure inside the mouth is going to go across the tongue as well as the bars, instead of the roof and the bars with the tongue getting relief.

Again, it kind of depends on the horse. My sister's QH would HATE the straight-bar, even though it's theoretically a milder bit.
     
    05-09-2012, 09:21 PM
  #20
Super Moderator
I feel I must speak to what I consider to be less than factual information about bits. Ported bits are not necessarily more severe than straight bar bits. Most straight bar bits put a lot of pressure on most horses' tongues. This makes them very uncomfortable if not downright severe. They cause most horses to open their mouths and many actually fight the bit.

Low to medium port bits never reach the roof of a horse's mouth. Only Very high ports like big spades, half-breeds and cathedral ports reach that high in a horse's mouth and they even don't if the purchase of the shank is long (distance from bit to top ring) and the curb strap is tight.

Snaffle bits are not less harsh than curb bits, especially if a curb bit is used correctly, but they allow a trainer to pull as hard as is necessary to get control. Snaffles should be used on green and unruly horses because a trainer can take more hold and 'muscle' a horse around if it is necessary. Spoiled horses come to mind first here. Any time I have gotten on a horse and it acted badly, the first thing I did was get a shank bit off of it and put a snaffle on it so I could do what was necessary to get control. You should never be in a position to have to pull hard on a curb bit. The horse is supposed to be trained well enough that he responds with a 'signal' of it rather than a pull.

Curb bits give a horse a lot more 'pre-signal' than a snaffle. Any well trained horse should be listening for the pre-signal and not requiring a contact (or at most a very light contact.) Snaffles give very little pre-signal, so most good trainers put any horse the is being finished into some kind of a curb bit so that the horse can be asked for more with less contact.

Correction bits are not harsh. Most professional reining trainers go into one when they move on from a snaffle. Not all horses work well in them, but most do.

Billy Allen mouthpieces were a big improvement over the jointed mouth curbs that collapse on a horse's lower jaw. I do not know any good western trainers that still use them. They are pretty dated -- seen little use in the last 20 to 25 years. I cannot think of one reining trainer I know that even has one, now.

If you want to do any training and two handed riding in a curb bit, (which about everyone now does if they are not in the show-ring in front of a judge), you need to have a bit with completely loose shanks that swivel. This allows the rider to catch one corner of a horse's mouth, lets a rider 'lift' a shoulder, legs a rider develop as much 'bend' 'give' as they have the knowledge to teach.

Most professional trainers do not use shank bits with a single jointed mouthpiece. Those with short shanks do not pinch the lower jaw as much as a longer shanked one does, but they are not nearly as useable as a three piece mouthpiece. These can be ported (like a correction but) or a dog-bone, but they are much more comfortable to a horse and do not encourage a horse to open his mouth.

There is no such thing as an 'regulation reining saddle'. No such thing exists.

There is no such thing as an 'official reining bit'. There are only restrictions on shank length (8 inches) and diameter of mouthpiece and state that the mouthpiece must be smooth, not rough, sharp or wrapped with copper wire, etc. Curb straps and chains must be at least 1/2 inch wide and lay flat.

Horses can be shown in rigid curb bits, like a grazing bit and some of these now come 'spring loaded' with bushings in them that let one shank come back at a time when ridden two handed but the shanks do not swivel around like a true loose shanked bit. There is very little training that can be done in a completely rigid bit.

In our own program, we go from a single or double jointed snaffle bit to a very short shanked 3 piece 'dog-bone' curb. We leave the curb chain very loose when we first switch them over and then gradually tighten it as the horse learns to 'give' to this bit and learns to flex and yield nicely vertically.

When a horse is riding nicely in the little three piece and riding one handed, we either go to a longer shanked correction bit or a medium ported curb with loose shanks and expect the horse to ride on a much lighter contact. When I am riding a 'finished' or a very broke horse, I usually ride in a medium to high port 'Dutton' bit with 8 inch loose shanks. If a horse is going to be shown in 'reined cowhorse' competition, it must go into romal style weighted reins and cannot be shown with any fingers between the reins. Then you have a truly 'finished' horse.

Of all the trainers and programs that I greatly admire, Les Vogt is at the very top of my short-list. Right under him would be Bob Avila, Doug Williamson and Teddy Robinson.
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