I ride strictly English. Well... I guess I ride Western-ish a bit, when I'm trail riding (on the buckle and neck reining!!), but I'm always in English tack.
My horse is *nearly* always in a snaffle. Why? Because I don't NEED more than that to control him. I can be as light as light, or I can be darn harsh. Though he doesn't always respond to the light aids, and sometimes I need to GET harsh with him, the snaffle is ALWAYS enough (I am the problem in situations where we use a bigger bit).
That being said, for a few months, I rode in a kimblewick. Why? Because I couldn't control him while jumping. Not in a snaffle. No amount of re-training in the snaffle was working, because the problem wasn't the horse... it was MY confidence and MY trust that I was in control. I froze up and didn't actually USE my reins. I put him in the kimblewick because I knew it was a stronger bit, so I knew I had more stopping power and would 100% be able to stop him no matter what. I still rode on the flat in a snaffle (I have two bridles so it was simple enough to do), and gradually began popping over small crosses at the end of a flatwork session. As time went on, the small crosses turned into low verticals, which gradually got higher. Meanwhile, I would still do a jumping session once a week in the kimblewick, at the height we were training.
As time went on, I got more confident, and I switched out the kimblewick for a snaffle, but put it back on my jumping bridle at shows because I was still scared of him while out. Gradually, my trust in my horse grew, and he's now showing in a snaffle.
HOWEVER, next time I go out eventing (I mainly showjump), he will be in the kimblewick again. I have very little confidence cross-country even in the kimblewick, and would rather have that extra control just in case. He can get a bit strong out on the cross country course, and with my lack of confidence, that would terrify me and I would end up with a totally out of control horse. He feeds off me too much.
I have NOTHING against stronger bits and have in fact advised friends to go with them in the past, but I strongly dislike anything twisted (even slow twists!)... it's plain mouthpiece in one of any of the various styles, or you're not my friend any more. I quite like my kimblewick and find it to be a lovely mild curb, just enough power to be effective and not so much that it scares me.
I did use a VERY harsh hackamore on a previous horse, but never jumped in it, and only ever rode on a very loose rein... I used it as part of re-training him to a snaffle bit because I couldn't control him in one when I first got him... I was (am) tiny, and at the time I wasn't a very effective rider.
Last edited by blue eyed pony; 09-19-2012 at 03:33 PM.