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December 03-17-2012 11:56 PM

Cross Country for the First Time ~Bit Help
Hey Guys,
So I am fairly new to XC and I am just starting eventing, my horse loooooooves to jump, she loves it and sometimes gets a bit rushy but I can usually bring her back and get her collected when jumping, however this spring we are going Cross Country, but my horse gets very jittery and spooky in open fields and on trails and if she loses her mind she'll never find it ahahah, I currently ride in a D ring snaffle and she does pull on her bit a lot, and she plays around with it, I was just wondering what bit would be good to take her in for XC I want something that's going to give me a good amount of control without being too harsh or complicated. Any suggestions?

alexischristina 03-17-2012 11:59 PM

Most people are going to tell you to forget the stronger bit and work on her training until she can walk calmly through an open field, or you know you'll be able to keep her head. If she really loses it, no amount of bit is going to keep her from dumping you and taking off on her own.

December 03-18-2012 12:10 AM

Hahah I agree and she can walk through a field but when she was younger her trainer took her galloping in open fields so she gets very excitable so sometimes its hard to get her to come back to me if she doesn't always respond to her bit

MyBoyPuck 03-18-2012 12:21 AM

I personally would switch to an egg butt over a D-ring. D-rings can encourage locking the jaw while egg butts let the bit slide around a little and encourage a softer connection.

That all being said, if you horse gets excitable and unmanageable because your trainer once galloped her across a field, you need to do more basics before you start schooling XC. Without any jumps in the equation, you should be able to switch at will between W/T/C in a open field without your horse running through the aids. If you cannot control your horse above a walk, how in the world are you expecting to jump her over solid fences safely?

December 03-18-2012 12:25 AM

That's the plan I'm not planning to school XC for another couple of months until I can make sure she can keep herself calm, the thread was made more for like a 'just in case' senario I have been working with her and she is starting to come around

blue eyed pony 03-18-2012 12:27 AM

How is your riding? Can you use double reins and always use the rein you want without muddying the signals by accidentally using the other rein?

IF and ONLY IF you know double reins well, a pelham is a good choice. You ride 99% off the snaffle rein and then if you need that bit extra it is there and you can use the curb rein. Similar principle as a double bridle except that in the double, the curb is for refinement rather than extra strength.

I ride xc in a slotted kimblewick, using the strong (bottom) slot, because I am not familiar with double reins and I do need that extra power to keep my experienced and excitable horse under control. I will hopefully transition him back to a snaffle for jumping soon, but I think I'll keep the kimblewick for xc... it's scary enough when you're IN control, why risk being out of control?

BUT, sometimes, a softer bit is actually the best way to go! I had a horse that was very strong and hard mouthed, and I put him in a rubber snaffle... BAM no more pulling, no more strong horse. So wish I could do that with my current horse but Monty's mouth just isn't made for a thick bit.

I know a LOT of people who ride xc in a grackle noseband and 3-ring gag which is something I've been considering trying because where I am, jointed curb bits (kimblewick, pelham etc with any number of joints) aren't competition legal, and Monty prefers a jointed mouthpiece... just takes finding a gag with the mouthpiece he responds best to (flat French link).

December 03-18-2012 12:39 AM

I have had experience riding in double reins I do own a dutch gag and used to use it but I switch back and forth between the two, and I always ride in double reins with my dutch gag, and I don't use it often, unless I feel I need it. And I was thinking maybe I should get a bit that she can play with a little like a roller bit, because when she does get a little headstrong or nervous she like to play with her bit so i figure maybe if I get a roller bit she'll keep herself occupied enough by playing with the bit that she won't lose her head.
Like this bit: Copper Center Roller Dee Snaffle Bit | Dover Saddlery
just to keep her attention

blue eyed pony 03-18-2012 07:25 AM

how is she in the gag? If she's fine in the gag then I'd keep her in that, but if you're determined to go softer (GOOD ON YOU) then that bit looks good. Only thing is, does a 5 inch bit fit her? My smallish anglo-arab takes a 5.5" and he does not have a wide mouth. I want that bit, and I'd actually order one if it was going to fit.

Lauren Woodard 03-18-2012 09:27 AM

Instead of gagging your horse, why not school on drop to a walk on a loose rein from a canter/gallop? Start with a couple of strides, drop to a walk, canter/walk. Change the number of strides so horse is wondering if and when you're going to ask and is then ready to do as you ask. If you leave horse in a fast pace for any time, they tend to think that's the way it's going and then it does in fact go that way.

maura 03-18-2012 09:44 AM

Lots of good advice given in this thread so far.

While I'm a great believer in training rather than tack to solve problems, most people do "bit up" for cross country, and there's nothing wrong with that. Horses are simply more forward out in the open, and experienced horses who like their job and anticipate a long gallop can be resistant.

Rather than going all the way up the severity scale to a pelham or a gag, why not go with a more severe mouthpiece on a snaffle? If you're riding in a plain snaffle, try a slow twist or a corkscrew snaffle, or a double mouthpiece snaffle. When you're *schooling* xc, you want enough control that you can bring the horse back down to a trot in 3 - 4 strides; and you want to be able to bring the horse down to a trot then a walk after a fence without fighting.

If this works reasonably for you while schooling, then you can consider going up one more step in severity when you're competing.

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