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lauralynnee 12-22-2011 01:07 AM

Help With Giving to Bit Pressure
Hi All- I wanted to get your opinions/advice on something. The 10 Year Old mare that I have has some issues with not responding to her bit, currently a twisted snaffle (it's what her old trainer had recommended). I know that she has gaps in her training, which is why she's doing what she's doing and while friends tell me to get a "better" bit (i.e. Tom Thumb) I know that I need to work with her on giving to pressure and such but honestly I don't know how to teach her this. The main issue that I'm having is that she charges through the bit, doesn't want to whoa when I want her to or slow down when I ask. She just leans into it and keeps going. I don't want to be hanging on her mouth...

I've watched some of the Clinton Anderson DVDs and have her giving nicely side to side in a smooth snaffle but I am not sure what to exercises to do to get her to give vertically. I'm also assuming that if I teach her to do this that it will fix the issues that I am having. Will it?

Anyhow, do you have any recommendations? I've read the "sticky" on bit usage/selection and that had some good info in it but I'd appreciate some exercises I can do with her. Thanks!

bubba13 12-22-2011 01:13 AM

Stick with the smooth snaffle. No twist. No Tom Thumb. Stop relying so much on the bit to stop her and start using the rest of your body. Put a good "whoa" on her using the three-part cue: 1. Sit deep. 2. Say "whoa." 3. Pull back if necessary. As soon as she stops, she gets slack in her reins. You MUST reward the correct action immediately, even if you have to take the reins right back up as she's walking off. Every try on her part must result in a release on your part. Not necessarily a full release, but a small reward (incentive) all the same. For lateral work, use your legs. Get her to bend by flexing her head around your leg and doing circles at the walk. Gradually build up speed. Vertical flexion comes the same way as lateral flexion, from starting on the ground, pulling, and rewarding small efforts until she grasps the concept. This alone will not fix her stopping problems, though.

lauralynnee 12-22-2011 11:12 AM

Thanks for the advice Bubba! Anyone else have any ideas they can add?

xxGallopxx 12-22-2011 01:08 PM

I think you should teach your horse the one rein stop. This was discussed on this forum in the past. Here is a link to the page: I hope it helps (: I agree with Bubba, stick to a smooth snaffle for now. If you're having lots of trouble with her though, I'd find a trainer to help you.

Hoofprints in the Sand 12-22-2011 01:19 PM

What bubba said...but also, my mare used to do this A LOT because she just had balance issues and wanted to lean on ME for balance rather than carrying herself. The advice of my trainer - lounge her in side reins. So I did, I lounged her in side reins but I connected them through her girth in between her legs rather than on the outsides of her legs attached to the girth near the buckles. It really encouraged her to stretch down, built her topline, which allowed her to start carrying herself.

With about a month of that (15 mins of lounging, then I would ride her and just be REALLY light in my hands), 3-4 times a week, she went from this...

to this...

lauralynnee 12-22-2011 01:33 PM

Thanks everyone for the advice, I appreciate it! I'm willing to put the time in to do this right and the different suggestions/tips/articles are very helpful.

@Hoofprints, your horse is very pretty and what a big difference between the photos!

Hoofprints in the Sand 12-22-2011 01:36 PM

Thanks laura, and good for you that you're willing to approach this with an open mind and learn from others! Do you have a good trainer available that could help you along the way? I've found that I can research all I want, but a good trainer has the best "tricks" to get me there faster! ;-)

Hoofprints in the Sand 12-22-2011 01:39 PM

Oh something else we did in between those 2 photos - We switched her to a regular old single jointed snaffle bit, no twist or anything like that. In the first photo I believe it was an eggbutt snaffle and after trying a full cheek, loose ring, and d ring, I found her to be the lightest in the d ring snaffle.

The bar inside her mouth may be the same in all cases, but the way the cheek pieces sit and how they act on the corners of the mouth does make a difference, and something that works well for one horse won't necessarily work for another. You have to try them all out on your horse and see which she will respond best to.

And even her preference now may change from time to time as you go.

Corporal 12-22-2011 02:03 PM


Originally Posted by lauralynnee (Post 1275490)
Hi All- I wanted to get your opinions/advice on something. The 10 Year Old mare that I have has some issues with not responding to her bit, currently a twisted snaffle (it's what her old trainer had recommended). I know that she has gaps in her training,

You need to start her (reining) over. Ground train with a halter and lead. You don't need anything special, just use the one she wears everyday. First, teach her to "halt", "walk on" with just the lead, and a dressage length whip--farm supply stores sell them for about $12. Teach "Left" and "right" by making a set of reins out of the one lead, but teach it on the ground. After she learns left and right, revisit halt with the lead-reins. Give LOTS AND LOTS of PRAISE, so she knows that's she pleasing you, and will continue to try to learn from you.
CA has great ideas BUT he can convince you that you HAVE to buy his stuff or else your horse won't train in. Do you have RFDtv? You might want to watch Dennis Reis. I really like his gentle methods.
Keep the snaffle. The ONLY nice thing about a full-cheek snaffle is that it won't run through the horse's mouth if they don't give to the bit. I own 4, (2 for reenactments) The US Cavalry had a "watering bit", which was a full-cheek snaffle, with sewn reins, and each side had a chain and t-bar attachment the hooked on to loops on the bottom and each side of the halter.

mls 12-22-2011 02:45 PM


Originally Posted by xxGallopxx (Post 1275935)
I think you should teach your horse the one rein stop.

I really - really - really - dislike how often the one rein stop is thrown out there as a fix all.

If the horse is not responding to a bit to stop, they are not going to one rein stop. If they are not giving to pressure from both reins, they are not going to yield to one rein.

Lope the horse and ask for whoa. If you don't get the whoa, lope some more. It may take several sessions but the horse will learn that whoa is rest.

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