What would be a good training bit? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-09-2014, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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What would be a good training bit?

I currently ride a 16 year old Thoroughbred mare that I have been riding for 4 years and showing for my 2nd year. I have done pretty much everything you can imagine with her. She is shown and places high in everything from Halter, Western Pleasure Classes, English Pleasure Classes, Trail, Gaming, Sorting Cows, Goat Tying, even been used for a cavalry demonstration which involved firing 16 cannons off (which she stood for like she was bombproof)

Well each event I have a different bit/spur combination which has worked really well for keeping everything straight. This is what my current combinations are...

Western Pleasure/Horsemanship/Trail: Weaver Curb bit with a very wide low port and copper inlay and dotted spurs

English Pleasure/Equitation: D-ring snaffle with a low port mouthpiece, I would not consider it a Kimberwick because it doesn't have the slots. No spurs

Gaming/Goat Tying: I've been told it is called a Locked Gag that has a double jointed mouthpiece with a dogbone. No spurs

Sortin/Cow work: Gaming bit plus dotted spurs

Trail riding/random days I normally use my Western Pleasure combo.

I am looking for a bit that can work good as a training bit to work on the basics more. I know I will be looking for a snaffle but what works best? One of her biggest things is loosening up for stopping. She knows all her gaits, neck reins, side passes, working on leg yielding, pivots on front and hind end, flexes left and right and vertically. She looking to get her to loosen up more.


A horse is so docile at nature that he would always rather do right than wrong, if only he could be taught to distinguish one from the other.
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post #2 of 14 Old 06-09-2014, 02:49 PM
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I have used this bit before and loved it since you can change the pressure on the mouth and uses poll pressures. I have a 16yr old mare that does all that too but to be completely honest I only use a snaffle for her. I used to use different bits but she is very responding so last year I decided just to use a snaffle since she moves just as nice as in any other bit so now I don't need to constantly change bits. Try a nice snaffle first and who knows maybe it might become your one bit for all ;) I hope this helped a bit.

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post #3 of 14 Old 06-09-2014, 03:58 PM
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I'm assuming by "loosening her up in the stop" she is getting stiff and bracing up when you ask for the stop?
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-09-2014, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Correct, she is loose pretty much everywhere else but her stop. With Western Pleasure classes we have to have a bit with shanks. Using different bits with her has worked really well with keeping things straight, she knows exactly what is going on the moment I get on.

A horse is so docile at nature that he would always rather do right than wrong, if only he could be taught to distinguish one from the other.
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post #5 of 14 Old 06-09-2014, 10:47 PM
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The simple snaffle bit is certainly the bit of choice for starting a horse, working with a problem horse, or training between shows. One big advantage is that you can feel directly what is happening at your horse's mouth including if the horse is tight on one side or the other. I prefer as loose ring, double jointed snaffle.

You state that your mare is "loose pretty much everywhere else but her stop." I generally assume that "loose" means "relaxed". But why would a relaxed horse become stiff and brace when asked to stop?

If a horse is truly moving in a relaxed frame, a rider should be able to stop that horse by simply stopping the movements of his own body. This assumes that the rider's body is moving with the movements of his horse and the horse is accustomed to their bodies moving as one. Therefore, the bit should make no difference.

If you do use reins when stopping, you want to use them in a restraining way, not by pulling. I explain this to my students by telling them to imagine an invisible wall extending outward from the side of the arena or between a pair of cones. This wall is a magical wall; the horse can pass through the wall, but the rider can't. Therefore, when the rider's hands hit this wall, their forward progress is stopped. Their body, however, continues forward with the horse. As a result, their hands and body come closer together as though they were pulling on the reins. However, there is a significant difference. If they were pulling on the reins, they would be applying the pressure. Since they are merely stopping the forward progress of their hands, it is the horse that is applying the pressure. When a rider applies pressure to the reins, the horse never knows for sure what will happen. If the horse is applying the pressure, the horse knows that the pressure will stop increasing if he stops. You still want to reward his stop by releasing any pressure that has been applied. Try this and see if your stops don't improve.

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post #6 of 14 Old 06-10-2014, 12:11 AM
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French link snaffle, my horse loves this bit very simple nice bit

But if you need more, this bit does wonders too
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post #7 of 14 Old 06-10-2014, 12:45 AM
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I don't understand why you're talking about training now, as it sounds like you're mostly established with her already. I'm assuming you use different bits for different styles, for showing &/or to differentiate rein aids, and that you need a gag because she doesn't stop very well?

I personally like to get them going well in a halter first, so the bit is not needed forcefully to make a behaviour happen, but the horse is trained to respond. I suspect this is what is missing in her training & the bit has been used forcefully to just make her stop, so she's come to fear the pain & be bracy. So I'd get her very well trained in a 'one rein stop' in a halter, then something like a double jointed snaffle or such, before putting her into exciting situations, where there is more likelihood of her getting carried away, so she can learn that she can relax & stop & it isn't going to be painful.
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-10-2014, 12:49 AM
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Eek! Just googled images for locking gag bit Clearly I'm missing something!
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-10-2014, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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When I ask her to lope a circle she will willingly do it, nice circle, but to ask her to collect or loosen up in her face she won't. Walk and trot she DOES loosen up in her face. I can walk/trot her and have her give in easy, tip her nose to the side but continue going straight. She bends a lot in her circles but she is sticky at the lope and stop.

We were at Western Pleasure practice tonight and were working on collection by loping, stopping, backing, doing a roll back and loping off and the girls helping us were very very impressed with her. She was collecting up very well and started tropping (cantering in the front, trotting in the back) so I had to ask her to go faster, but this was when we were in our Western Pleasure bit.

The barrel bit was recommended by a clinician we went to because of how she turned. The picture below is of it, BUT mine is SMOOTH, DOUBLE JOINTED, and has a Dogbone. I'm very light handed and even vet wrapped the chain to make it milder.
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A horse is so docile at nature that he would always rather do right than wrong, if only he could be taught to distinguish one from the other.
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-11-2014, 05:32 AM
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I'm not sure from what you wrote, may have it wrong, but sounds like you're focusing on 'headset'. I think you need to get the basics going well(ie stop, trot & canter on a loose rein) before thinking about collection, and you need to focus on the body, not the head for that. I also don't understand why you want her to turn her head but keep going forward, but maybe that's a western thing?

A shanked snaffle, particularly with such a thin mouthpiece & chain, is a quite severe bit & vetwrapping the chain would be a drop in the ocean IMO. I certainly wouldn't be using it, and it is likely that it will contribute to your mare's anxiety behaviour, rather than help it.
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