I NEVER thought I would be starting one of these threads, but here goes.
My BO has a nice gelding, that we figure is Belgian x QH, 16.2hh, lots of fun to ride, very energetic and forward. The problem is, he is not naturally sensitive, and he tends to ignore the bit out in the open. By that I don't mean he runs away with you, but he becomes hard mouthed. I detest yanking on a horses mouth. His previous owner had him in some sort of shanked bit, so the barn owner wanted to transition him back into a snaffle, so she put him in a 'happy mouth' medium thickness eggbutt, which is fine in the arena, but Its just not enough bit to make an impression out in the open, at faster speeds.
If it were my horse, I would consider investing the time to really get him soft in a snaffle, but he's not mine, and it would be more convenient to find a bit he likes and responds to. He tends to be a bit chewer, and isn't particularly fond of a single joint snaffle(or any bit I've seen) his tack fits great, his bit is the right size and his teeth get an A+ from the vet. While a few different people ride him, all are intermediate-experienced, with good seats and soft hands, but he doent seem to improve in this snaffle.
So what would you recommend? He moves off your leg not too bad, does not neck rein, and is very forward. I've ridden other horses in various solid curbs, a tom thumb and of course, many snaffles. After a few weeks of riding in a tom thumb as a teenager when the horses owner insisted the horse had to wear one, I developed a huge dislike of the way this bit works, and all the info I've gathered since has solidified this opinion. I will never ride in one again, or willingly put one on a horse.
So I was looking for suggestions for a bit that was fairly mild, but a step up from a snaffle, that worked well for direct reining and came in a size 5.5". Any ideas?