Training with severe bit - a good story!

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Training with severe bit - a good story!

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  • horse collected on hackamore
  • Great story for training

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    03-16-2009, 05:50 PM
Training with severe bit - a good story!

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! :)
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    03-17-2009, 04:08 AM
Curbs aren't necessarily overly severe of themself. They are just one of many bits that can be very harsh if used strongly. If the horse is well trained & ridden, the bit shouldn't *generally* cause much discomfort.
    03-17-2009, 06:24 AM
If he's happy in the straight bar, just keep using it. You've obviously trained him well and don't need anything else. Can see no benefit in switching unless you need to under competition rules.
As Loosie suggested any bit in the wrong hands can be harsh.
Glad your doing so well:)
    03-17-2009, 02:34 PM
But I like to change, and it's good for his mouth to get a rest too sometimes :P
    03-17-2009, 06:38 PM
But why would you change when he is going perfectly well in the snaffle? How is switching to a curb when it isn't needed a 'rest'?

It's great to hear that you have him going well in a snaffle now :]
    03-17-2009, 06:56 PM
Because the spanish curb I use has a slightly different mouthpiece which will give his tounge a rest from the straight bar snaffle, it looks pretty and he works great on everything.
(I also concider hackamores as curbs, they give the same type of signals to the horse. Hackamores gives the mouth a rest, as you probably can see.)

And simply.. why not? :P
    03-17-2009, 07:16 PM
Why not? Well, this is just my view of it in relation to my horses...

I like to try and teach my horses to obey the sightest and most refined cues that I can, while in my snaffle. (Snaffle is what I have to show in for my breed, ASH, and it is what I like to use) Over time, my cues will become very refined and specific. If I were then to swap bits from a snaffle to a curb, the cues I eeded to use would be completely different! In my thinking, it could confuse my horse, and require me to go back to using not so subtle cues to differentiate what i'm asking.

That's just me though, you may be different!

And I agree with your thoughts on the hackamore.
    03-17-2009, 08:20 PM
I'm willing to bet you could achieve the same thing if you had just stuck with a snaffle.. it might take longer, but you'd probably get the same results..

I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm just stating that 99% of the time, you don't need a stronger bit, you need to patch a hole in the training.

Of course I understand that to show western horses, you need to work them in a curb, and that's all well and good... at that point though, they're being worked off the leg and seat.
    03-18-2009, 12:02 AM
Originally Posted by Zab    
Because the spanish curb I use has a slightly different mouthpiece which will give his tounge a rest from the straight bar snaffle, it looks pretty and he works great on everything.
(I also concider hackamores as curbs, they give the same type of signals to the horse. Hackamores gives the mouth a rest, as you probably can see.)
Then I would say don't use the straight bar - if you need to 'rest his tongue' it's probably the wrong bit for him. Perhaps a double jointed, or a bar bit with a port? A mechanical bitless bridle - often called an english hackamore - does use leverage like a curb, but a true hackamore(bosal) is little different to a halter.
    03-18-2009, 12:38 AM
That's great that your horse did so well! I switch my mares bits/hackamore fairly often to keep her used to different things...

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