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Give me some ideas for bits-dressage/hunter
I have tried bit after bit with my horse Jester and the one he likes the most (the only one he really likes), is the loose ring waterford. Some people say it's harsh, but I don't use it harshly since he's trained off my leg and seat. He just seems to like how it collapses and despises straight/curved bits. I've tried a double jointed roller happy mouth, Myler level 1 loose ring with the rotating center, Korsteel french mouth eggbutt snaffle, Korsteel jointed copper with steel roller Dee, and a Herm Sprenger Dynamic RS Augarian Eggbutt. I've ridden him in each for at least a week and it was always the same- nonstop head tossing (his teeth are fine), fighting, leaning, running through it, etc. Then I put the waterford back in as a last resort and he was like, "OK, I'm happy" and all the fussing stopped.
He's coming back from a tendon injury that resulted in 6 months of stall rest. We are going to do some combined training this year and then hit the rated hunter circuit next year so I need a dressage and hunter legal bit. I'm just out of ideas (although SmartPak Equine is probably loving my horse's indecisiveness since I keep ordering from them), so if anyone has a suggestion, please share!
Have you tried a plain snaffle? (Didn't see it on your list)
Or an oval-link?
I think I may have tried an oval mouth. I'll have to check my trailer to make sure- I have a small arsenal of bits in there.
I have also tried (forgot to put on there) a full cheek snaffle with him as well, that didn't work out either.
I browsed on Smartpak and it seemed those that use the waterford are mainly hunters or jumpers. But yeah not sure it's legal in dressage.. you'd have to do a check. Whatever works for your horse is the best thing to use. Are you sure he's happy with it or is it more like he's dealing with it because it's sensitive?
I have no experience with the bit so I cannot really offer much.
Part of the problem could be related to a shallow pallet and these various mouthpieces may be uncomfortably thick. I too went thro this, constant resistance, until I tried him in an inexpensive loose ring snaffle with a sweet iron mouth. This was the bit. He took to it immediately and it was like riding a different horse. He was light and responsive. The iron mouthpiece was of a narrower diameter and nicely contoured to fit the mouth. Who'd have thought a $15 bit would make such a difference. Chick's Saddlery sells it for about $12. Look for code
I agree with Saddlebag, his problem may just be a low pallet, and the other bits just don't fit into his mouth right. I would definitely use something with either the french link, or the bean link in the middle as opposed to a plain snaffle, because of the nutcracker action. Herm Sprenger makes a bit specifically for low pallets, found it in the dover catalogue.
I rode an Appy with a low pallet, and had a hard time finding a bit that he didn't act like he was gagging on. Constant mouth gaping, a bit of head tossing, tucking his head to get away from the bit ect. After the first couple of rides where it was obvious it wasn't him testing a new rider, or having a bad day, I put the bit in (regular plain single jointed snaffle) and pulled up his lip, and watched what happened when I put pressure on the reins, and sure enough there was no space even when he opened his mouth, and whenever I put pressure on the reins, the joint jabbed him in the roof of the mouth no matter how soft I was. For him personally we switched to a jointed port bit, and afterwards he was great. No more head tossing, no more gaping mouth ect. But he was a western horse, hence the ported bit.
Good luck, if it helps, you should get onto the USDF website, and look up the rules and regulations for bits, and see what bits are legal at what levels. I think you can find jumping regulations at USEF though I'm not positive.
Waterfords aren't legal in dressage, FYI. My mare has a small mouth and a low palate, she goes best in a French Link. But as it seems that you have tried that, have you given any thought to using a mullen mouth bit? That might help if your horse does have a low palate, although its action is basically the opposite of a waterford. For example
Mullen Mouth Eggbutt Snaffle Bit | Dover Saddlery
I recently had really good luck with a french link bit from Dover (they have an amazing return program too) and my horse rides completely different.
I noticed that Smartpak carries only a few select brands and it's worth trying different brands of the same kind of bit because they're all slightly different in thickness, weight, and form (thin to fat, all thin, thick, etc.)
Have you tried a happy mouth bit at all?
Thanks guys! Sky, I'm sure it's a preference and not a sensitivity, because like I mentioned before, I hardly use the reins. I keep contact, but all in all they are there pretty much for decoration since he is so well trained off my seat and legs. Also, the happy mouth bit was the first one I tried, went into the reject pile.
I'll order a mullen mouth and see if that works. That seems to be the only type of bit I haven't tried yet!
Have you tried an oval mouth with a wide center link? Like this:
JP Oval Copper Mouth with Loose Ring - Jeffers
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