So I'm sorry if this is in the wrong place but today I kinda got wondering. I have had my horse for almost 2 weeks now. He knows his basics. W/t/c on command and knows to move off of leg pressure. He just needs some finishing. Anywho. When I first saw him ridden he was very sensitive to the bit didn't really like it much but i also figured it was because he's in a new place with new people and so on and so fourth so I didnt really think alot about it. I think they were riding him in a Tom thumb with a copper roller because he was more "responsive" in it.
I have ridden him twice in a regular bridle with just a Tom thumb and he absolutely hates it. He throws his head and is super sensitive with the bit and you can tell he doesn't really like the bit. So today I just rode him in a halter with a lead rope tied to each side and he was super responsive and was more willing to work and didn't look unhappy at all. I asked him to back and he did it like a dream where as with the bit it was the biggest pain trying to fight with him to just back up. So my question to you guys is that do you think I should try a bit less bridle on him? He seems alot more responsive with just the halter and lead and responds great with just the pressure of that rather then the bit and bridle. any suggestions/comments would greatly help!
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Some people like bitless bridles, others don't. Contrary to what some seem to think, the tom thumb can be pretty harsh (my gelding was started in one and hated it). I would maybe try him in french link snaffle (very mild bit) first to see how he does. Aires hates a regular snaffle, but is incredibly responsive in an eggbutt french link.
I ride in a bitless with my mare. She never got used to a bit, and I see no problem with her remaining in a bitless. She does fine in it. I even started using the bitless with my older gelding for the same reason. I figure that if they don't need the bit, then why use it? Just make sure they stop really well without it, that's the important thing, right?
If you want more precise movements or you are going to show and need to use a bit, I agree that a snaffle is a lot better for a sensitive horse. The only bit I have ever used is a snaffle, and it is what all the pros say is the easiest on the horse.
I agree the tom thumb is a pretty harsh bit. I didnt know any better when I first started my gelding - I though well hey, its a snaffle so it must be pretty easy on them. I also learned recently that a TRUE snaffle doesnt have any shanks. ANYWAYS, my mare was sold to me riding in a bitless bridle and she did great. I now have her in an O-ring training snaffle for show purposes, but sometimes I'll throw on the bitless if we're just going for a pleasure ride.
I will probably get shot for saying this, but I disagree that snaffles are always the way to go. They can be just as harsh when your hauling on your horse's mouth to get them to listen. I had a very sensitive, responsive arabx and I rode him in a snaffle for years. He would pull and run through that bit as much as he could. I switched barns and coaches, and my coach suggested a kimberwick. Changed everything. He had respect for my aides, I was not in his mouth at all, which to me is the most important thing. And, he was happier.
My farrier said once, if you taught kids to ride in a shank bit on a good old horse, they would never learn to pull on a horse's mouth. I agree with this. I rode lesson horses as a kid with hard mouths in a snaffle, and thats what I learned, was how to pull on a horse's mouth.
As for the bitless bridle, I've tried them, and they are not my preference.
I think you should try different bits before crossing them off your list.
I ride Patchy bitless, he, also before i got him wasn't ridden much and definetally never got used to the bit. He, also, just responds better to a bitless bridle! Yay bitless bridle club. :)
Have your horse's teeth been floated?
I agree with bubba: Have the teeth checked first. If that's been taken care of, just look at his mouth yourself for any other type of sores and the general shape of his mouth. Some horses have low palates or just a small mouth in general that makes a bit uncomfortable for them.
My mare is ridden bitless. When I test rode her last September, she hadn't been ridden since May so her previous owner put a random Tom Thumb in her mouth. She clearly didn't like it and was being a brat about it. She told me later that she usually rode her in a rope halter. When I bought her, I tried a variety of different snaffles and even a curb to see if it yielded a different result. Nope. I got the same grumpy horse that completely ignored me and would throw her head and pin her ears if I so much as moved the bit in her mouth.
So I went back to the rope halter (I was given it when I bought her because the lady only used it on her). So much better. However, it was older and stretched out, so I bought a bitless attachment that was essentially the noseband of a rope halter. She's been ridden in that all year. I could probably try a bit in her again, but it ain't broke, there's no need for fixing.
My horse, a 5 year old was trained in a Tom Thumb, and he hated it! I switched him to a side-pull, and he is about 10 times as responsive. I personally love bit-less bridles, way more than bits. I find my horse happier to work if I ride bit-less. But as the sayings go, "different strokes for different folk's". I actually recommend a bit-less bridle, but do whatever you feel best, and safest (: I'm a jumper, and still use a sidepull :D
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