Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: State College, PA
When I teach a horse to neck rein I do it in a snaffle. Start by creating a bridge with split reins but only hold it with one hand. I hold it in a way that I can first lay the reins across the neck, then I can tug slightly back and to the side that I want to go so that it gives direct AND indirect rein pressure at the same time and then if they still don't get it I can take my free hand and tug lightly on the opening rein. Then as they pick up the cues the minute you shift your hand they know to start moving away from it. I like it because it also sets them up to learn that picking up on the hand means that a cue is coming or that you want them to collect as they naturally will collect a little before turning as they learn to move off the neck rein aid. Always enforce it with seat and leg but you want them also to be able to go off the neck rein alone if needed. I have also found that doing a lot of indirect reining like asking them to move the haunches, leg yield, etc while interspersing neck reining training helps with a horse that seems to not understand what you're asking him to do.
As for a curb bit, if your horse is truly ready you can put them in a simple tom thumb, a small ported single piece, something with a roller, etc. You just have to play with bits til you find something you both like. Go for shorter shanks that don't have a whole lot of rotation to keep it simple and comfortable. Just remember that you don't want to have to direct rein with a curb ever, although contact on a curb and direct reining with a curb are two different things.