Switching from a mechanical hackamore to a snaffle bit!

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Switching from a mechanical hackamore to a snaffle bit!

This is a discussion on Switching from a mechanical hackamore to a snaffle bit! within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    03-11-2013, 11:16 PM
Exclamation Switching from a mechanical hackamore to a snaffle bit!

I just bought this wonderful APHA/AQHA palomino mare...really sweet.but I am using her for shows(western) and you can't use a hackamore...Im using a short shank snaffle(real easy simple bit)she never used a bit before only a hack.... No particular reason just that's all they ride with...I have put the pit in her mouth and lunged her around with saddle...just not sure what to do next!!!haha thanks!!!!!!!
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    03-11-2013, 11:25 PM
Sounds like you have the right idea in mind. But I think you were misinformed somewhere, this is a common, annoying mistake...
Snaffles can not have shanks, if the bit is jointed and shanked it's simply a jointed curb. Snaffles must have rings of some variety and NO leverage.

Personally I avoid any jointed leverage bit, I just find them too be too much. If you're looking to start your horse with the mildest mouth piece you should look into double jointed snaffles (with rings). Bits like a French link or lozenge style bits like a KK ultra.
The reason I prefer the double jointed bits is because they are designed to be comfortably carried by a horse and when pressure is applied it won't hit the roof of the horse's mouth, like a single jointed bit.
I prefer full cheek or big D ring snaffles for horses still learning or moving over from a bitless bridle as it adds pressure on their cheeks/lips to help push the head, not just pull - it also hold the bit in the correct position in their mouth without much movement. But loose rings are nice for horses who carry the bit comfortably or tend to lean on the bit.

If you feel you need a leverage bit for some reason look into curbs with solid mouth pieces, either mullened out away from the tongue or with a small-medium port, depending on the horse's tongue relief preferences. The shorter the shanks in relation to the purchase of the bit, the milder it is - and vice versa (long shanks with short purchase make harsher bits). I like Sweetwater Butterfly bits best - but that's my preference.

ETA: About getting the horse used to the bit. Make sure when you lunge the line is attached to a halter, not the bit, that puts unnecessary pressure/pain on the bit and can teach a horse to ignore or avoid pressure/contact on the bit.
If you want the horse to neck rein, just try neck reining them from the ground in the new bit, if they respond well, hop on. If not I'd switch them into a true snaffle (no leverage), practice giving to direct pressure from the ground. When giving well to that I'd hop on, practice direct reining with a neck-rein pre-cue. But a western trainer may have better guidance for you than that.
    03-11-2013, 11:28 PM
Thanks!!!although not sure about the bit because that's how they broke horses at a very good horse friends!I will ask around!thanks again:):)
    03-11-2013, 11:34 PM
Originally Posted by morganandme    
Thanks!!!although not sure about the bit because that's how they broke horses at a very good horse friends!I will ask around!thanks again:):)
I believe the bit you're referring to is a Tom Thumb, I could be wrong though, does it look similar to this?

The reason this bit isn't ideal for training is because the communication isn't clear when neck reining, I'm sure someone better than I could explain it, I can see it in my mind but not put words to it. I honestly see no reason for any horse to need this bit. I would suggest starting in a basic snaffle or a double jointed snaffle (preferably). I always start with the piece of equipment that my horse is most comfortable in and train with that. If I have issues, typically the issue is the training, not the tool - if they were once good in it ;)
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    03-11-2013, 11:38 PM

This is the one that looked like mine most:)
    03-11-2013, 11:39 PM
Whoops didnt post!!!
Coronet Training Short Shank w/Copper Snaffle Bit - 5"
Go to that website it's pretty close to what mine looks like:)
    03-11-2013, 11:47 PM
Let me take a crack at explaining the action of a Tom Thumb bit.

When you neck rein with a leverage (shanked) bit with a solid mouth piece (mullen or ported) - You neck rein left, the right rein touches the right side of the horse's neck, gently pushing his neck over. At the same time the right rein shortens - when it does so it picks the bit up off the right side bars of the mouth and pushes the pressure onto the left side bars. All these cues encourage the horse to turn left.
If you neck rein with a leverage (shanked) bit with a broken mouth piece - you neck rein left, the right rein touches the right side of the horse's neck telling them to move their neck away from the pressure. The right rein shortens slightly, but because the bit is broken in the middle, the pressure goes on the right bar. The pressure on the neck tells the horse to turn left, the pressure on the bar tells him to turn right - this can be confusing to a new horse.
The pressure of the bit is made more or less intense by the hands holding it and the amount of leverage the bit has. Again, the shorter the shanks in relation to the purchase the milder the bit - and vice versa.
Once a horse is well trained your reins can be long enough to touch the horse's neck without really effecting the bit at all - at which point the horse could be effectively ridden in any or no bit at all.

Many people mistakenly believe that a tom thumb is a good bit because 'you can direct rein in them' - many people mistakenly(IMO) like to train with these bits because they can neck rein and if the horse doesn't respond to the pressure they can direct rein to correct the horse. But that would be a very strong correction and not a very clear one.

Don't feel bad - jointed leverage bits are way too common and very many people fall for them under the idea that 'snaffles are soft' and 'anything with a joint is a snaffle'. It comes from people who do the base level of research, but don't actually think it through to the end.
    03-11-2013, 11:49 PM
I just saw the bit you posted. The only difference between the bit you posted and a Tom Thumb is you have the option to put an extra set of reins on the snaffle ring. The ring directly connected to the mouth piece (right on the side) is the 'snaffle' ring. A rein there would work just fine for direct reining.
But reins on the bottom ring, at the bottom of the shank, where western reins typically go would cause the same miscommunication as Tom Thumbs.
    03-11-2013, 11:53 PM
I put reins on the bottom is that right!?also I'm a asking in my original question... How do you make the transaction between the hack to bit!thanks:)Reread ur most recent post!! Whoops!! Right now I'm not looking to neck rein just to make the switch:)
    03-11-2013, 11:56 PM
You cannot ride that bit to show AQHA/APHA shows.

Under 6 years old, the horse may be ridden in a simple snaffle, bosal hackamore, or ported curb bit. Over 6 years old, all horses must be ridden in a ported curb bit. Ported curb bits cannot have a broken mouthpiece.
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