Need advice on which bit to use
There are so many bits on the market nowadays, it is hard to pick the correct one for the horse, so I need some help. This may be a little long, since I know background and use of the horse is important. The bit I have now is a tomb thumb style, with a leather curb. I ride in a loose rein whenever humanly possible, and try to use leg, not rein.
I am looking for my 14.2 hand QH/Morgan cross. He is 8 years old, has a rough past, and was spoiled ROTTEN before I got him (biting, leaning, no personal space). His ground manners have improved dramatically, and he is great on the ground now. He was trained to ride in team penning, and barrel racing (supposedly). However, I have only put a few rides on him (maybe about 25 or so, with only 3 or 4 being full w/t/c). Of those few, 3 have been in a wide open field, alone.
He rides really well in a rope halter (but only in the pasture or round pen). He is learning to respond to leg pressure, and I am teaching him neck reining. He improves daily, but really needs some help. He also rides well in his current bit, when close to the pasture, or in the pasture.
So his vices under saddle are as follows.
Baulking - he will occasionally not move at all. Thanks to advice from Lauren Woodard here on the forum, he has improved dramatically. He used to baulk nearly everytime I asked him to go away from the barn/pasture mate (he is definitely sour) but now its only about 1 in every 6 times, so it's getting better.
Crow hopping - occasional, but I usually make him circle or back or move his feet, and the habit is slowly disappearing.
Rushing home/bolting - this one can get pretty nasty, and this is the main reason I am thinking of changing my bit. I believe in circling, and one-rein stopping, as this is what he best responds to. However, the bit I have now makes it difficult to one rein stop, it seems to get stuck. I hate this habit especially because there are times when I really have to yank on him. He just dulls himself to pressure.
Standing still when mounting - he still won't stand still. I thought I had this habit broken, but it resurfaced. I am thinking I may try backing him, since circling only works sometimes.
Trot vs. Canter. - I am pretty sure someone hot dogged him. He tries to take off into a canter when we are in the open, but is WAY better now than before. I rode him 2 days ago and we were trotting nicely for quite some time, with only a few attempts to break.
"Drifting" - It's annoying. He will attempt to keep his head one way and go another! :P That one I am fixing with leg pressure, and I'm pretty sure its connected to many of the other buddy/barn sour behaviors.
Good things he does under saddle
Yields hindquarters and gives easily to both sides (from standstill or walk) in any area. Plus he dives his head and bends at the poll easily.
His stop is generally very good, and he knows the cues "easy" and "woah" verbally.
He backs fairly well, although we are still working on it.
He does collect a little bit, although that is still a work in progress, he seems to have a natural knack for learning how to collect.
His top line is building steadily, we are doing exercises to build it.
He does NOT buck, or rear, and overall I do not believe he is dangerous, just uneducated, out of practice, and squirrely. He is amazing in an arena or pasture, its just outside the fences where he gets nutso.
So basically this horse is my partner. Trail partner mostly. I attempt to ride him for pleasure (ha ha) even though its a lot of work right now. I just want a bit that I feel is light and easy on him, that I can bend him easier in, and that is less confusing for him. Right now I feel the tomb thumb is confusing him, because sometimes, even when he is trying to listen, he just gets stuck.
So I was thinking of getting him a snaffle type bit, but I would prefer one with a curb. Unless, someone can convince me of one that would be better suited for him.
Thanks and Sorry it was so long!
What bit are you using now? Have his teeth been floated recently? What did the previous owner use on him?
Most of what you are describing is a training problem, not a tack problem.
I agree with Bubba
not a bit problem
a training problem
he needs to learn his manners too
Oh I realize he needs more time under saddle, and a bit will not fix the problem.
Teeth were floated August of last year, and I recently rechecked them.
Previous bit used was a tomb thumb style, which is what he is in right now.
The reason I asked is because I do not like the bit I have now. I feel it confuses him, even when he is trying to behave. It gets stuck (the shank does) and turns in his mouth when I one-rein stop him. I do not like that, so therefore was looking for advice on what bit to use. I am thinking of switching to a snaffle style.
I know a bit is not a fix all, but I do not like the harshness, nor the action of the bit I am using now. There has got to be a lighter bit, better for bending and turning, while still maintaining the ability to train to neck rein.
The only reason I went into detail about his issues was because I felt if I didn't I would just get asked, and I've seen a lot of assumptions on this forum made if you don't thoroughly explain your situation. Plus I don't know, it may be help to determine what bit would suite him.
I agree more training.
I hate the Tom Thumb...it is the worst bit ever made.
It won't allow lateral flexion like you need...I would go to a snaffle and keep on training.
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Thank you CowChick. I am glad it is not just me. That bit just seems to lock up.
I am thinking of a kimberwick. (a D ring type snaffle with a curb chain)
What do you all think of it?
First off, I agree it's a training problem. It sounds like you may need to go back to basic basics and fill in a lot of holes. I don't normally suggest changing bits, but in this case I would definitely change out of the Tom Thumb (yes I'm another Tom Thumb hater) and go to a snaffle and just start off again from scratch. The Tom Thumb will MAGNIFY your mistakes and because you admittedly have work to do, there will be plenty of them. A nice Eggbut or even a lozenge or french link type snaffle will be a lot less harsh and make your horse a little more willing. Remember, you stop with your seat, not your bit.
I also suggest you get a trainer to help you. Let them know that you recognize that you and your horse have a lot of holes and need to go back to basics. Have patience, this may take a while as there is no quick fix for what is going on.
Your in a tough spot...In my opinion it is always hard to fix someone else's mistakes on a horse than it is to start new..like on a colt. I think that is why I like starting colts, if a hole or mistake comes up than I know its my fault because I am the only one training him! LOL...no blame game there:D
You may want a bit with less of a nut cracker effect but still a snaffle.
Maybe something like this. That way you could easily do lateral work & it can be a nice transition bit to a curb when that time comes. My horses do not like the traditional jointed snaffle but readily accept this one.
Myler Level 1 Dee - D-Rings from SmartPak Equine
I am thinking I might get one and try it.
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