After reading and earing so much against severe bits, long shank bits and curbs I just wanted to share a nice story where a severe bit was used in training wthout ruining the horses mouth. :)
I'm not for upgrading to more severe bits because the horse don't listen.. that's not what bits are for anyway. But I guess what I want to say is that severe bits are not always only good for well educated horses, but can also be used to guide a green horse right. Chose the bit for the task instead of for the horse, as long as the mouth part fits of course. Maybe I just want to share some good news :P
Until today, my horse has never had a snaffle or any bit without shanks. He's rather greenbroke, and was started with a riding cavesson. Fairly soon we added a spanish curb. Later on we changed it to a mechanical hackamore with a sidepull (double reins), and I've used both the curb and the hackamore equally, but the curb is the only bit he has had in his mouth. Or well.. I suppose he had some bit when he was trained for racing (standardbred) but I don't think it can have been very good experiences if my feeling from his previous owners were right - they didn't seem to know what they were doing. And I did try to long rein him in a snaffle when I first got him, which ended in disaster.. because I didn't know what I was doing :P
Now, after several months with this harsh curb (and riding cavesson), I decided to try a snaffle on him, and got a straight bar snaffle. Very simple. I just wanted to see, because I was worried that the only reason the curb worked was because it was harsh. I've never had any trouble with him being strong like that, we used it to guide his nose down instead of up, he learnt to do that on the cavesson too of corse, but the curb made life easier for all of us, it showed him more clearly what we wanted. (no we're not riding with hands only, collection still comes from behind, but there is a reason to why you want the head to be in a certain place). Anyway I got the snaffle on him and rode off into the woods.
He was a ream to ride! Calm, listened very well to the slightest touch of the reins, an of course to my seat. Flexed well, held the frame I asked and was generally very good. We jumped some too in the woods, but he was easy to stop, turn and well... everything. The only differense to me was that I had only one pair of reins instead of two :P
I have the bad habit of holding the reins a bit too carefully, so at one time I actually dropped them when I was asking him to lower his head a bit and he tripped/slipped in the mud.. heeh.. but he didn't do anyting of course, just looked at me like ''arn't you supposed to hold onto those?''
I'll keep using the curb at times, as well as the hackamore. :) It's good to change bits I've heard, and I like the change of looks ..:P But at least now I know that our training with the severe bit has far from damaged his mouth! :)