western bits for showing

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western bits for showing

This is a discussion on western bits for showing within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Bits for showing
  • Low port loose cheek western shank bit

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    05-26-2011, 11:02 AM
Super Moderator
western bits for showing

I have tried several different things with Riley. This past month I've been using a snaffle with a german martingale to help Riley and I figure out how to get him into the proper frame and to learn to carry his head w/out me lugging on him. He's coming along nicely, moving correctly and I'm not holding him.

I am ready to switch to the port but not completely. He has had a ton of different bits in his mouth and responds to just about anything and he has used a port. I don't think he "likes" a solid port, he seems to respond better to the one that is broken, with the port in the middle and then the sides can move...I can't find a picture of it but...

Here is what I have for show:

He doesn't hate it but I do get nervous and while at home my hands are very soft, at show I am nearly positive that I turn into the incredible hulk and get pretty rough. I am working really hard to get past it, I am certain it is a nerves thing that I must conquer.

I was thinking something more like this:

See how it is not solid? Is that milder than the above bit? I want a bit that has enough port to get what I need w/ little rein contact but that is mild enough to overcome my incredible hulk tendencys. Does that make sense?


Also, can someone - in elementary school terms - help me to UNDERSTAND how a port bit and the shanks work so that I can use it better?

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    05-26-2011, 12:36 PM
Have you considered maybe something with shorter shanks so that even if you do have a Hulk moment, it's not quite so powerful in his mouth? Or maybe something with a lower port so that the pressure is spread evenly over his tongue and his bars instead of all of it being on one particular part of his mouth.

I really don't think either one of those is milder than the other, they just work differently. The second one will put more pressure on the outside of his bars whereas the first one will put it more evenly on the front of his bars.

Personally, though, I am not a big fan of correction bits (the second you posted). My older horses like to carry the bit themselves and with something like that, they can't carry it on their tongue like they prefer.

I don't know if there are any rules about what length the shanks have to be or what the mouth has to be like but I have just recently begun using this bit and I really like it. It's mild, it feels nice in my hands, and it still gives the individual side control without collapsing on their mouth.
AT Low Port Loose Cheek Low Port Western Bit 5in - Horse.com

Anyway, for the basics of how a curb works...

The pressure in the horse's mouth is amplified according to how long the shanks and purchase are. If the purchase is 1 inch (from the mouth to the bridle ring) and the shank is 4 inches (from the mouth to the rein ring), then the pressure that the horse feels is 4 times more powerful than the pressure that you exert on the reins. Like the way a snaffle is a 1:1 ratio (for each one pound exerted, they feel one pound), this bit would be a 1:4 ratio (for each pound you pull, they feel 4).

For a long shanked bit, just picking up some of the slack out of the reins is about the same as taking light contact in a snaffle.

The pressure is spread out to different parts of the head as well. The pressure on the curb chain helps to encourage the horse to break at the poll and the poll pressure encourages the horse to lower his head.

Ideally, on a well trained horse in a long shanked bit, raising your hand a couple of inches should cue them to both drop their head and tuck their nose.

Hmm, I think that's about it.
    05-26-2011, 01:26 PM
Super Moderator
Ok. Now that is exactly what I was asking. I thought the longer shank would be more harsh just by the way the bit appeared to work. So yes, I am definitely willing to try a shorter shank. I'll have to look to see what the rules are on that but I would assume shorter is ok. I know the longer can only be like 8 inches. Ok, so try a shorter port. I'm willing to do that too. Solid? Broken?
    05-26-2011, 02:24 PM
Super Moderator
What about this? Is this the same one I just posted...?

AL Engraved Loose Cheek Correction Show Bit 5In - Horse.com
    05-26-2011, 02:38 PM
Super Moderator
Never mind. I just read how big the shank was...
    05-26-2011, 02:44 PM
Super Moderator
I'm sorry. I know I'm being a pain. Why is a "correction bit" a correction bit? And this one says it's a soft transition. Good? If I get the 6 inch to try?
You say from the mouth to the ring on the shank, so don't measure the part that attaches to the headstall? I'm sorry. I know I am probably asking dumb questions but I'm to the point that I really need to understand the mechanics of a bit I think....
    05-26-2011, 03:30 PM
Not being a pain at all . Whether to go with a solid or broken mouth really depends on what your horse is used to and what he prefers.

I am not entirely sure why they call them a correction bit. I like the looks of that last one that you posted. How they measure the shanks, I have found, depends on where you order from. Some of them measure the entire cheek piece and call that the 'shank' length, whereas others just measure from the mouth down and call that the shank.

That last one that you posted says the cheek measures 6 inches, so my guess would be that the actual shank would measure probably 4 1/2 to 5 inches and would be very nice and mild. Another good thing about that last one that you posted is the amount of sweep in the shanks. Because the rein ring is fairly far behind the mouth, there will be more warning to the horse before the action of the bit is engaged. He'll feel you picking up the reins long before you actually move the bit so he has time to respond to the lighter movement before the real pressure starts.
    05-26-2011, 05:14 PM
Green Broke
Is that picture in the sticky bit thread smrobs?
    05-26-2011, 09:18 PM
Just wanted to say that this has been a very informative topic to read! I do like curb bits with swivel (not sure if this is the correct term) shanks. It's very helpful if you have to switch to two hands on the reins and work on suppling the horse without confusing them as you might with fixed shanks.
    05-26-2011, 11:05 PM
Originally Posted by VelvetsAB    
Is that picture in the sticky bit thread smrobs?
Yes, ma'am.

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