Soft Bits vs Harsh bits? - Page 2

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Soft Bits vs Harsh bits?

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    09-12-2008, 06:13 PM
The only thing I can add, for everyone else did such a great job on the question is you have to remember a bit is as soft or as hard as the person holding the reins!! The softest bit can do damage and become harsh if used poorly as well as a harsh bit can be soft if it is not used on their mouth....just a thought.

I usually start my young horses, and love the Myler Combo bits. They have the nose piece for nose pressure before the bit pressure hits, I use the comfort snaffle mouthpiece with the shortest shank. I like it for you get nose then mouth and the Myler does not pinch and is a high quality bit.
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    09-12-2008, 06:57 PM
As for the Tom Thumb being a no direct reining bit, this is why its stressed to only use for advanced riders bc by that time that ur going to use a Tom Thump ur horse should be responding to ur seat and leg aides any way and hardly ever having to use ur hands.
    09-12-2008, 07:06 PM
Useful things to remember that people often get confused:

A snaffle is a bit with no leverage. It's nothing to do with it being jointed or not. The following are all snaffles:

There are lots of bits incorrectly advertised as snaffles. Google Image turns up a ton. For example, Tom Thumbs are advertised as snaffles but they're not, because they apply leverage to the poll.

The 'harshness' of a set of shanks on a curb bit are dependent not necessarily on the length of the shanks but on the ratio between purchase and shank, as well as the curve. It's all to do with angles and moments, but as a general rule, the higher the ratio between purchase and shank, the harsher the bit is.

If it's 1" above the mouthpiece and 3" below, that's 3N of force on the poll for every 1N of force you exert on the reins. The curb bit acts as a lever. If it's 2" above the mouthpiece and 4" below, that bit is actually milder because for every 1N of force you exert on the reins, 2N is exerted on the poll.
    09-12-2008, 07:11 PM
That's interesting about the tom thumb, b/c in Australia this is called a tom thumb

    09-12-2008, 07:42 PM
All bits are capable of causing discomfort/pain. I don't think any bit can be called 'soft', but some are milder than others. All bits will be uncomfortable to the horse until they're desensitised to wearing one - just like first learning to wear a tie or glasses is to us. Some horses can find any bit a problem, despite being well desensitised & educated.

Some bits, such as thin or twisted wire ones, or ones that are unsuitable to that horse or the wrong size may be uncomfortable to the horse even with little or no pressure on the reins. Some bits, such as leverage bits(the longer the shank, the stronger the leverage power), mechanical 'hackamores', ones with curb chains, certain styles of mouth 'ports'(the hump in the middle of some unjointed bits), single jointed bars with shanks, such as 'Tom Thumbs' can create strong pain with very little pressure from the rider. Even jaw/nose breaking pressure if used strongly, roughly or in case of accident(bit gets caught, etc) curb chains & leverage are combined, such as Pelhams, mechanical hacks, etc. Some bits can give unclear signals to the horse, such as mechancal hacks who's shanks operate independantly, bits with shanks and joints, etc.

The bits I consider the safest/mildest are double jointed snaffles, unjointed, port mouthed(so long as the port is comfortable for that horse, not big or angular) bits, with or without *short* shanks, depending on riding style.

To a degree it depends a bit on what you're doing & what the horse likes & how his mouth is built - a fat bar in the mouth of an arab or pony might be very uncomfortable. Eg. Using a western shanked bit for western style, loose rein & neckreining is one thing, but using it to ride english and use short direct reining will cause problems.

It also depends largely on the horse's education and the rider's skill. If you're going to 'ride short' and end up putting a fair amount of pressure on the reins either becuase of your insecurity & lack of skill, or because of the horse's lack of education, any bit can be terrible. A single jointed snaffle for eg. Will have a 'nutcracker' effect on the horse's tongue and the joint can gouge the roof of the mouth.

I believe that horses are best started without a bit, for a number of reasons(look up Dr Cook's site for more info) in a halter, (non mechanical)hackamore or bitless bridle. The horse needs to learn to yield to pressure in all ways(not just rein pressure), get used to being ridden & following instruction and comfortable & happy about it.

Then, once the horse can be ridden in such a way that the bit will only be used for communication rather than control, a 'mild' one can be chosen if the rider wants - say for showing or clubs where it's required. The horse will first need to get used to wearing it without pressure, before it's taught to be directed by it. Only very skilled & educated rider/horse pairs should then go on to a 'stronger' bit if they desire it for competition or the likes.

Problems that often lead to people thinking they 'need' a 'stronger' bit are to do with horse &/or rider education & skill - or lack of - or from pain or fear of pain. While (most?) pain while riding can be attributed to saddle issues, often it is the bit or it's use that is the cause and I've found time & again, both in 'retraining' horses myself and helping riders that simply removing the bit removes the issue, many times with little or no additional 'training'.
    09-12-2008, 08:49 PM
[quote="claireauriga"]Useful things to remember that people often get confused:

A snaffle is a bit with no leverage. It's nothing to do with it being jointed or not. The following are all snaffles:

I am not sure where you got that from, but as far as I've ever known the snaffle IS a mouthpiece type and can have a shank or not. You can have a D ring snaffle, a D ring correction bit...still no shank for leverage, a short shank snaffle, again the mouthpiece is snaffle with a short shank, etc. If you ever custom order a bit you pick out your mouthpiece....snaffle, barrel port, correction, low port, etc. and then your desired shank, D ring, short shank, lose ring, long shank, etc. A snaffle is the type of mouthpiece the bit has, regardless of even what type or style of bit it is.

A great book for all these questions is a book called A Bit Better by Myler bit makers. It goes over what are Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 bits, what each bit is used for including each mouth piece and each shank type as well as how severe it each bit is rated. I would go there if there are uncertainty or questions.
    09-12-2008, 09:38 PM
I agree with the person/people that say they don't really feel as if bits are soft or harsh. I mean yes, some bits have more 'bite' to them than others, but really, a bit is only as harsh or soft as the rider makes it to be. If you know how to correctly use the bit then it's not soft/harsh.
    09-13-2008, 12:39 PM
Rubonsky, we may have been taught differently, but everything I've seen, everything my instructor has told me, and every source I've ever read, have all said that a snaffle is nothing to do with a broken/jointed mouthpiece but is a bit that works with direct pressure and no leverage. The reins are attached directly to that ring, there is a 1:1 ratio between force exerted by hand on rein and by bit on horse, and there is no curb to apply pressure to the poll and so on.

Furthermore, a lot of those sources also went on to say that it's a very common misconception that snaffle refers to a broken or jointed mouthpiece regardless of any kind of curb.

These would be snaffle bits:

A kimberwicke would infact be a curb bit as it does have leverage, despite it looking a lot like a D-ring snaffle.

I know I haven't been riding very long, and I certainly wouldn't know how to select a bit for different purposes or problems, but I have been rabidly interested in horses since I was nine, just without the opportunity to ride, and I've seen the misconception over the definition of a snaffle mentioned a lot xD

Perhaps someone else could settle the matter for us? ^^
    09-13-2008, 08:02 PM
I think alot of people have alot of different opinions on bits - proven by this topic! Partly, "Softness" or "harshness" of a bit depends on the rider's hands - the harsher the hands, the harsher the bit, BUT, the softer the hands, the softer the bit. It all depends on the circumstances.

I still believe curbs are harsher than snaffles, but not in a bad way. I don't suggest we get all worked up about what defines a curb from a snaffle or a Tom Thumb to a snaffle or curb, or a Kimberwicke to a curb or snaffle, on and on. What works for your horse works for your horse, even if it is a bit that has more leverage or control.

If I put a curb on Sam, and rode western style, he wouldn't know how to neck rein, so that ends that!! Some horses, if not trained to neck rein, get really confused when asked to turn by neck-reining, then asked to turn direct rein, and blah blah blah, and I know I get confused!

There really isn't any way to settle this discussion, other than everyone agree that what they believe is what they believe, and that's that, and no one will get mad for that.

Still, It's great to know the differences!
    09-13-2008, 10:18 PM
Velvet, yes, that "chain" on the Pelham is an English curb chain, and no it's not "built in", it's attached with curb chain hooks...the Pelham is a double rein bit. A properly fitted and properly used Pelham is a great bit. It's as easy and forgiving as a snaffle on the mouth but allows the rider the option of "adjustable power brakes" so to speak, should they need a bit more leverage to stop a horse who gets excited and begins tanking around. It also enables the rider to position horse's head. About have short through long, fixed and loose, swept, bent or straight. The longer, straighter and fixed the shank is, the more severe...

About what is a snaffle and what isn't...the rule of thumb I learned is where the reins attach...if the reins attach directly to the mouthpiece (jointed or not) it is a snaffle. If the reins attach to a shank of any kind, it is a leverage bit. A Pelham is both depending on which set of reins is used.

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