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Will your horse respond to your bit?

This is a discussion on Will your horse respond to your bit? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        04-13-2012, 09:01 PM
      #541
    Foal
    Key is understanding the different bits and how they work along with an understanding of your horse,your own hands and body.And the tasks you will be asking of your horse.
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        04-16-2012, 11:33 AM
      #542
    Foal
    Is a Tom Thumb Bit A cruel bit?

    I just read that a Tom Thumb bit is cruel. I have been using that bit for my 19 yr old Morgan/Mustang since he was 5. That is the bit the previous ownwer had been using. I do not want to use anything that will hurt him. I only trail ride. I was told that this was a mild bit and am horrified that I have been using something considered harsh on such a wonderful horse. I had not ridden him for 4 or 5 years until this year because my other horse was too old to be ridden and I didn't want to upset the older horse. He passed away in the fall so I have just started to ride again. This is a major concern for me as he is a horse you can take out after not being ridden for years and he is perfect, calm and sane. I just got another horse, a 9 year old that hasn't been ridden much, she is green, but is also calm and quiet. I saw the bit she had been ridden in. I thought it was the same as the Tom Thumb, but now wonder if it was a different kind if snaffle. HELP! Does anyone have any advice on the type of bit I should be using? I do not consider myself a good rider. I try to have gentle, soft hands. I do not want to hurt my horses. Also, have wondered if a bitless briddle would be too hard to learn to use and to train my horses to. ANY HELP IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.
         
        04-16-2012, 02:39 PM
      #543
    Foal
    I liked your sticky. Thanks for posting. My QH is in a dee with a slow twist now, because he needs a few months of it so we can communicate after him not being ridden for a year +. I have an extremely soft hand and seat until action is warranted. I think the most amazing thing ever is to be riding and jumping correctly in a halter, which took me years of practice and riding. The feel of a horse knowing your seat so well and using 90% seat/legs/balance and 10% hand cues is awsome. I use rubber eggbutts whenever possible. This is not a sensitive as I would desire when I want to give a subtle cue halfway over a jump to head to the left or right, and this cue is as small as squeezing my ring finger on a horse I have ridden long enough. Soft, experienced hands are the best method to control your horses mouth in my opinion, although there are exceptions. I think that many horses can be worked enough to need a dull, comfortable bit and have a good riding experience. Sharp bits shouldnt be a crutch, and only a short time tool! This is my two cents :)
         
        04-16-2012, 04:36 PM
      #544
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Farmergirl    
    I just read that a Tom Thumb bit is cruel. I have been using that bit for my 19 yr old Morgan/Mustang since he was 5. That is the bit the previous ownwer had been using. I do not want to use anything that will hurt him. I only trail ride. I was told that this was a mild bit and am horrified that I have been using something considered harsh on such a wonderful horse. I had not ridden him for 4 or 5 years until this year because my other horse was too old to be ridden and I didn't want to upset the older horse. He passed away in the fall so I have just started to ride again. This is a major concern for me as he is a horse you can take out after not being ridden for years and he is perfect, calm and sane. I just got another horse, a 9 year old that hasn't been ridden much, she is green, but is also calm and quiet. I saw the bit she had been ridden in. I thought it was the same as the Tom Thumb, but now wonder if it was a different kind if snaffle. HELP! Does anyone have any advice on the type of bit I should be using? I do not consider myself a good rider. I try to have gentle, soft hands. I do not want to hurt my horses. Also, have wondered if a bitless briddle would be too hard to learn to use and to train my horses to. ANY HELP IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.
    The bit is not harsh until the hands get harsh. If you have been using it for years and he is happily carrying it, just continue on and don't listen to naysayers.
         
        04-17-2012, 11:46 PM
      #545
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Farmergirl    
    I just read that a Tom Thumb bit is cruel. I have been using that bit for my 19 yr old Morgan/Mustang since he was 5. That is the bit the previous ownwer had been using. I do not want to use anything that will hurt him. I only trail ride. I was told that this was a mild bit and am horrified that I have been using something considered harsh on such a wonderful horse. I had not ridden him for 4 or 5 years until this year because my other horse was too old to be ridden and I didn't want to upset the older horse. He passed away in the fall so I have just started to ride again. This is a major concern for me as he is a horse you can take out after not being ridden for years and he is perfect, calm and sane. I just got another horse, a 9 year old that hasn't been ridden much, she is green, but is also calm and quiet. I saw the bit she had been ridden in. I thought it was the same as the Tom Thumb, but now wonder if it was a different kind if snaffle. HELP! Does anyone have any advice on the type of bit I should be using? I do not consider myself a good rider. I try to have gentle, soft hands. I do not want to hurt my horses. Also, have wondered if a bitless briddle would be too hard to learn to use and to train my horses to. ANY HELP IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.
    It's not that the TT bit is cruel in itself, only harsh hands can make it that way, but it is just a very poorly designed bit and is often mislabeled as either a "snaffle" or a "starter bit" by the people selling it.

    Truthfully, if you are getting along well with the TT and are having zero problems at all....and your horses seem happy....then I see no real reason to change it.

    HOWEVER, I am a big advocate of playing around and using all different types of bits. If you only ever just stick with one bit just because that's all you've ever used, then you may miss out on one that you (or your horse) would like a heck of a lot more.

    So long as you're getting along okay with it, then you'll be fine to continue to use it, but if you are interested in trying out some other styles, here are some mild options that are similar or identical to what I use and found that my horses and I really like them.
    Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Reiner WIde Port Swivel Shank Bit
    254330- Partrade Black Satin Bit
    Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Francois Gauthier Antique Hinged Futurity Bit
    796- Reinsman 7" Steel Reiner Billy Allen Mouth
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        04-20-2012, 09:28 PM
      #546
    Weanling
    Yeah since then I have done a lot of reading up on bits it seems people thing bits will fix the whole horse... its usually us that need the fixing or the horse that needs the training. =)
         
        04-21-2012, 11:11 PM
      #547
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by smrobs    
    If not, have you considered why?

    Recently, I have seen an influx of threads asking advice about "what bit to put my horse in because I don't have control of him/her?" As opposed to retyping my opinion several times, I just decided to have a bit of a 'rant' thread.

    First off, if your horse simply refuses to listen to the bit, then the problem isn't with the bit. The problem lies with what training (or lack thereof) and handling the horse is getting. The fact is that 99% of the time that a horse is ignoring the bit, slinging his head, nosing out, or any other action that most people associate as a "bit problem", it isn't the bit at all. It is a terrible thing to see that so many people are not being taught how to properly cue a horse with the bit. They almost always have solid contact and in order to stop or turn, they just pull harder. Those people have hard hands. HARD HANDS MAKE HARD HORSES.

    If the horse isn't as responsive as you like in the bit that you have, then work on him in the bit that you have. It is better to go back to a simple snaffle for schooling or corrective work though because it is one of the mildest bits that you can find. If a horse is responsive in a simple snaffle, then you can ride him in anything; however, if you ride him in a twisted wire gag for him to be responsive, then you would have no control in anything less. All the time we see it: a horse gets hard in the snaffle so they move him up to a twisted snaffle, then he gets hard in that so they move him up to a Tom Thumb bit (one of the most worthless bits ever made in my opinion), then he gets hard in that so they move him up to a solid mouth curb with longer shanks, then he gets hard in that so they move him up to a gag bit or a combination bit like those you see with a hard rope noseband and gag bit. Before you know it, the horse is being ridden in a 1/8 inch double twisted wire gag bit. Then 'what a miracle' the horse ends up hard to that too and at this point, they say "Well he is a stupid horse" or "He's stubborn" or "He gets excited". They never for one instant consider that every problem that horse has is rider error and by that point, the poor horse is usually beyond the point of no return.

    Not many people are concerned with learning how to be soft with their hands and those that aren't will always blame the horse or the bit for every problem they have. You teach softness by being soft. You maintain softness by being soft. There are certain times, especially when handling a green horse, that being hard for an instant is required but it takes someone who understands horses and knows softness to know how much 'hard' is required and when it will be beneficial to the horse. Many riders should spend their lifetime riding with nothing more than a snaffle because they don't understand when, how, or why to use the bite that a curb bit has. Even fewer people have any business using a twisted wire bit for any reason. Those bits should be reserved for only the most experienced and talented horsemen to use on only the most outlaw horses and only for a few days to re-gain respect for the bit. They should never be used for everyday riding by your typical 'fun' rider, or even a competition rider.

    Many horses that end up hard due to improper riding can be re-trained to be soft-ish, however, they will never be as soft as a horse that was taught from the beginning to be responsive to the slightest cues. If you are having trouble at the lope or gallop, then it isn't a sudden problem just because of the change of gait. The issues are there at the walk and trot, they are just more subtle. Any gaps in training at the slower gaits will reveal themselves at speed.

    No horse that got the proper training or riding needs to be moved up from a snaffle. We, as riders, choose to move to a different bit because of our preferances or training goals. I choose to ride in a ported curb because I ride one handed on a loose rein and a ported curb is designed for that, a snaffle is not. However, I can still stick any of my horses in a snaffle bit and they respond the same way. If I rode all my horses on light contact and direct reined, would I still use the curb? Absolutely not because it isn't designed for that and it is too much bit for that type of riding. The more advanced bits are designed for finesse, not power.

    Anyone who says their horse needs to be in this special bit is just kidding themselves. The horse needs that bit because his training and handling dictates that the rider needs that bit to communicate because their hands only know how to scream. They cannot understand the sublety of a whisper and as a result, their horse has learned to tune out all but the loudest of screams.

    Are there horses out there that seem to be immune to the softness of the snaffle from day one? Of course, but those are very rare and that immunity is generally paired with an outlaw nature that is dangerous to handle anyway. If a horse can be trained to accept a rider, then they can be trained to be soft to a snaffle bit.

    Some horses misbehave in the bit due to a physical issue, whether it is a tooth problem or a nerve problem in their mouth or some other reason that carrying a bit would be painful. Some riders simply choose to ride bitless. Does that make them less knowledgeable or have a lower worth as a horseman than someone who rides in a bit? No. However, the bitless options out there are no different than the bit options. There are very mild choices like a simple halter or sidepull, there are more advanced options like the bosal, and then there are ridiculous options like those chain nosed mechanical hackamores. The same rules apply to those as they do to bits; stick with the mildest choice unless you need more finesse as the training level progresses.

    To make a long story short, a bigger bit is designed to create finesse later in training, they are not meant to simply give a rider more power. A power struggle with a horse will always end up with the horse ruined and the rider frustrated and hateful.

    Results come from what you put in their head,
    not what you put on it.
    AMEN! My thoughts exactly.
         
        04-22-2012, 12:45 PM
      #548
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ktrolson    
    AMEN! My thoughts exactly.
    Thank you! I keep repeating the same thing
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        04-24-2012, 06:14 AM
      #549
    Foal
    Thank you for posting this! My friends are the "old school" horsemen and think one of their horses "needs" the twisted wire gag bit with the rope nose. The girl leasing him HATES this bit and recently tried a plain, full-cheek snaffle on him and he worked PERFECTLY. The owners don't understand that this is too much bit for their poor horse who is very well trained. The girl shows him once in a while and he does neck-rein well so I told her just to get a very mild curb bit and practice riding him on a loose rein.
    I don't show so I only ride my gelding in either his rope halter (If I just want to be lazy and putz around) or a copper full-cheek if I want to do a little training. He's very light on the bit and I intend to keep him this way. I have been thinking about showing him this summer and have been trying various curb bits but he doesn't seem to like any of them and I'm starting to think it's the curb chain itself that he doesn't like. (I've had his mouth checked out by a vet and a dentist already and it's not related) Any suggestions? He tends to rear if I try to put any pressure (even just a touch to ask him to stop or back up) on the curb type bits. (I've even tried hackmores both mechanical and not and he has done the same. The only related thing I can think of is the curb chain)
         
        04-25-2012, 07:43 AM
      #550
    Foal


    I hate that phrase. 'On the bit'. To get a correct picture of where you want your horse to be, it is better to use the term 'in frame'. In frame can be 'up' into a good elastic contact in a competition frame, long and low with the nose just on or infront of the vertical, or deep and round. People get so fixated about the horse being 'on the bit' that it creates a fixation with where the horses head is, not how the horse is working. It also encourages people to fiddle with the bit, to get the horse 'on the bit'.
    The horses engine is his hindquarters. You don't put your foot on the accelerator of your car and keep the handbrake on. You have to get your horse to move forwards. Your horse needs to want to move forwards. And you need to allow your horse to move forwards. You should put your leg on and get a reaction. If a horse is moving forwards, it will find it very difficult to keep its head up. By moving forwards I don't mean chugging along like a Sunday stroll, I mean tracking up and swinging. You don't see racehorses going along like giraffe do you?
    Once you have your horse moving forward, and responsive to your leg, you can then start to look to ask for flexion. You want your horse to flex at the poll, softly, and be soft in its jaw. Your hands need to be up, thumbs on top, with a soft elastic elbow - particularly in the walk. In walk and canter your horses head will move a lot move compared to the trot. Your hands need to allow the horse to move forward in the pace freely - so your hands need to follow the horses head. This comes from a soft elbow. Imagine you have a pint of Pimms in each hand, and you don't want to spill it all over you, your horse, or your tack! Your elbows need to be tucked in to your sides as well - no chicken wings!
    Start of asking your horse to come soft, it is easier on a circle to start with. Keeping your outside rein contact constant, gently ask with your inside rein. It is almost like you are asking your horse to flex with your inside rein, but not allowing the neck to bend with the outside rein. As soon as your horse softens, reward by releasing the pressure. Make sure you keep your leg on at all times - remember it is leg to hand. Keep your leg on once your horse has softened, and walk with your hands (as I said above). In walk try not to nag with your leg (as in nudge every stride or every other stride). Get it so that you put your leg on, and say 'go' and your horse goes. If you feel them starting to slow, then send them forwards again. A horse will very quickly ignore a nagging leg. If your horse drops too low, do not worry, they are just finding their feet so as to speak. If they drop behind the vertical (a common evasion technique) put a bit more leg on to send them up into the contact. At no point do you wiggle the bit, pull alternatively on each rein, or drop your hands down and out.

    Sorry for the essay. This is just the basic starting point of getting your horse to learn to come down, gently, without nagging, and teaching them that it's a pleasant place to be.
         

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