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JustWingIt 10-16-2012 08:01 PM

Bits...
 
So after being on this forum for a few weeks I have read many things about bits. I was wondering how you can tell if your horse likes or dislikes the bit. Right now my geldings in a full cheek snaffle which is what I have been using since I got him in February, but I'm not sure if hes completely happy with it. Often when I'm riding he will open his mouth a lot or grind his teeth. He is usually a very soft mouthed horse, but sometimes he braces and pulls or flips his head when I ask him to whoa.

So should I try a different bit?
How will I know when hes happy with the bit?
Do you have any bit suggestions for me?

Bear with me please, I don't know much about bits at all :)

JackOfAllTrades 10-16-2012 08:13 PM

Heyy, First off I would like to say I am NO EXPERT!!!!! But my horse has troubles with the bit to. You can tell when a horse is unhappy with the bit if he/she is consistantly tossing their head( no because of flies ), chomps on it, or is regularly opening their mouth ( like excessively ). Also if its only when you go to stop him, try to stop by using your seat more ( lean back and exhale ). Also, I would ask a trainer/ more knowable person than me! Hope this helps!

PunksTank 10-16-2012 08:28 PM

This is a tough question, as it truly depends on the horse. Fussing with a bit could be caused from being a general grouch, not wanting to do the command asked, not trained well enough in the cue being asked, potential pain, needing their teeth floated.
Bits/bridles are also meant to be a secondary cue, not designed to be completely dependent on. So, when asking for the 'woah' it shouldn't consist completely of pulling on the reins, but also a deep heavy seat and potentially a verbal cue. It also depends on how soft/strong the hands behind the reins are.

Personally I choose to put my horses in the mildest bit they are comfortable in. Some like unbroken mouth pieces, some like single joints, some like double. I generally start with a french or lozenge double jointed bit. Assuming I'm direct reining. If they don't like double jointed I'll try mullen mouth straight mouth pieces. If they don't like that then I'll try single jointed. But typically if they don't like either of those bits they're not going to much like a single jointed. I've never found a horse who likes a single jointed more than a solid or double jointed equal bit, but I've heard they exist. As for which rings, I like full cheeks with keepers for young/green horses are the lateral aids are so clear. Lateral aids meaning, when you pull left the bit slides through their mouth a little and pushes the full cheek sides onto their opposite side of their mouth, pushing the head over.
For western I'll typically start with a Bumper Sweetwater Bit.

I find that often if I feel the need to put a stronger bit on a horse it's because I or someone who's been riding the horse has been too strong handed and the horse has learned to ignore the cues. So I go back to basic bit training, giving to the bit left and right and backing up off of very mild pressure.

If your horse is fussing a lot off of the bit a tooth floating may be in order or some retraining to giving to the bit.

Also the type of metal helps too, copper and sweet iron can help keep a horse's mouth soft, but some are very picky.

Kayty 10-16-2012 08:36 PM

The thing with deciding if your horse likes the bit, is that the symptoms of not being happy in a bit are often the same symptoms as a horse not being happy with its rider or a horse with pain in other areas of its body.
Head tossing, grinding teeth, gaping mouth etc. are all displayed by a horse if the rider is thumping down on its back, gripping the upper leg, digging spurs in, blocking the shoulders, hanging onto the bit or giving unconsistent contact on the bit.
Generally I will look first for pain, then at rider issues, THEN at the bit. I feel that too many people decide to change the bit, before checking for pain and looking at their own riding.
I have ridden all of my horses in a loose ring french link snaffle, and a couple in a straight bar fixed ring. Recently I decided to try my competition gelding in a French link Baucher that is a little finer than the loose ring french link I have been riding him in, and sits a lot more stable in his mouth. The change his his work has been excellent, and I suspect that he was not so comfortable in the thicker and less stable loose ring as he is in the Baucher. In this case, he was not in pain, he was not displaying clear unhappy symptoms, but I simply thought I'd have a try with a different bit to add to my 'toolbox' and in this case I got a good result.

JustWingIt 10-16-2012 09:24 PM

Hey thanks for the responses! So first, I know that it is not a pain issue, when I bought him I did all the vet checks and he recently saw the chiropractor. Second, I work with a very experienced trainer every Saturday, so I do no think it is a training issue. I can ride him bareback in a halter and he goes mostly off of leg pressure. I suppose it is possible that hes being a bit of a grouch (hes pretty silly ;) ) but mostly I was just wondering if I should play around with it, or leave him in a full cheek snaffle as he isn't really bad at all with it that much.

PunksTank 10-16-2012 09:35 PM

There's no problem with trying new bits :D Worst that'll happen is you'll know what not to use on him :P
I'd suggest looking into a loose ring, since he likes to pull/lean on the bit the loose ring will help discourage that. I like to use bit guards with loose rings to help prevent pinching.
You could also look into using a double linked bit. If 'woah' seems to be his worst issue he may have a low pallet, so when the bit V's out when you pull both reins it may hit his pallet, a double jointed bit will prevent that. French link or lozenge is the best, don't confuse them with Dr. Bristol's. I'm just saying this in case you don't know or in case someone else who doesn't is reading this. :P

:D Can't hurt to try new ones and see what he likes best. I really like full cheeks for the clearer pulling signal, but when a horse leans on the bit Loose rings are really helpful.

bsms 10-16-2012 09:56 PM

I switched my mare today from a standard full cheek 2 link snaffle to this 3 link bit:

Korsteel Copper 1/4 Moon Mouth Eggbut Snaffle - Statelinetack.com

The other french link I tried looked like a design that would press on the tongue, while the full cheek seemed to cause her to overreact to cues when galloping. Since she is just learning to leave the other horses, and today's goal was to go a mile or so away thru the desert, we didn't do any galloping - thankfully! But at a walk and a trot, her ears were forward, I saw no head tossing, she didn't grind at the bit...so I'm encouraged. Next step will be to try it out at a canter and gallop in an open area, to see how she responds.

My gelding, OTOH, seems to be the same every day, no matter what bit goes in his mouth. So he'll stay in a full cheek 2 piece, because when it isn't broke I won't try to fix it.

Basically, you need to change just one variable and see what happens. If the horse doesn't respond well, it could be your bit...or your saddle, or your riding. Believe me, most of MINE have been RIDER problems. But if I change only one thing, the bit, and the horse acts more relaxed and stays as controlled or better, then it is probably a better bit for that horse.

JustWingIt 10-17-2012 09:28 PM

Thanks everyone! I think I might try a different bit just to see what happens :)
Anyone have a suggestion of what I should try?
Also, does changing the side piece make a difference?
I was thinking of buying a loose ring snaffle and dee ring snaffle to see if he likes one of those better at all.
Should I also try one with a different mouth piece? like a waterford?

PunksTank 10-17-2012 09:37 PM

There's no problem with trying new bits :D Worst that'll happen is you'll know what not to use on him :P


I'd suggest looking into a loose ring, since he likes to pull/lean on the bit the loose ring will help discourage that. I like to use bit guards with loose rings to help prevent pinching.
You could also look into using a double linked bit. If 'woah' seems to be his worst issue he may have a low pallet, so when the bit V's out when you pull both reins it may hit his pallet, a double jointed bit will prevent that. French link or lozenge is the best, don't confuse them with Dr. Bristol's. I'm just saying this in case you don't know or in case someone else who doesn't is reading this. :P

:D Can't hurt to try new ones and see what he likes best. I really like full cheeks for the clearer pulling signal, but when a horse leans on the bit Loose rings are really helpful.


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