The horse I am getting has had a chain bit used. I don't want to use a harsh bit. I only have the snaffles, can I just change to those or should I step him down to them slowly?
Change, he'll probably thank you.
That kind of depends on the horse. He may be using the chain bit because they cut corners and cheated on his training which would necessitate the use of a harsh bit on their part.
If that was the case then you'll have to kind of start over from the beginning as if this horse has little training and do a ton of circle work, serpentines, directional changes, halts and backs etc. But you should be able to retrain the animal.
The other possibility is that the horse is very trained which would mean a switch would be fairly simple, but usually that type of bit means cheats and shortcuts.
I geuss try it and see what happens. His mouth is probably very, very tough right now......
Poor thing :( The guy and his wife rode him alot out on trails/roadside and roundpen. Hopefully he is very trained. I guess we'll see how it goes.lol
There's just so much I could say here from personal experience that it very possibly would take me an hour or so to type all of it out.
I have a mare now that I got last November, she had been ridden in a bicycle chain bit. She's also a barrel horse, so when you put those two things together you have one hard-mouthed horse. I didn't put Lark on barrels for months because I wanted to soften her mouth and bring her back from it. She had just been cowboy'd to death and her mouth was ruined. I tried many different bits before deciding on a chain hack combo. There are different types of chains, soft chains and then chains like the bicycle chain.. The chain hack is a soft chain and she works well in it. If I were to try to tell you the events of the past year with her it'd take me forever to get it all out.
You can retrain a horse that has been ridden in a chain mouth piece. It just takes time and a LOT of patience. Consistency and building that trust back up in your best bet, just try different bits and things until you both find something your comfortable with, don't hesitate to try a soft chain bit.
Lark is now a really great horse at home, she's a baby sitter and I can ride her bareback through anything, even barrels at home.. But she won't ever be a barrel horse again. We've had a few recent events that have made me take her completely off of any type of competition work. Not saying she isn't a great horse, she's just not a horse that should be in the arena anymore.
Good luck and I hope things work out for you.
There is a huge difference between a bicycle chain or mule bit and a chain bit.
A plain chain bit is not as harsh as you might be imagining unless you are constantly hanging on his face. Try it before you change him.
Is it a chain bit like this:
What type of rings does it have? If it is like that I'd personally classify it as milder than a twisted wire bit. It would just sort of collapse inside their mouth and not do anything. It may be a bit pinchy but other than that, to me it looks fairly useless. If you're referring to a bicycle chain or mule bit Please get that out of their mouth.
I'm a huge advocate for using the gentlest bit possible, a smooth mouth is better than anything else. But use what works. You could work him in a snaffle but I'd look into a french link - I don't think a transition from a loose chain bit to something with only a single joint would really be a great improvement.
We HAD to step him down slowly because his mouth was so hard that just sticking the snaffle in his mouth did nothing...he completely ignored it. Over the last year he's gotten more supple and doesn't need you to exert so much pressure to get him to respond. He's even started running faster gaming times :-)
My advice is it's probably safer to step them down slowly...just incase the chain bit is covering some holes in their training like my guy
Chain bits (NOT mule mouths or bike chains, chains like the one above, with links) I find are often love or hate. I have had horses LOVE, I mean LOVELOVE, chain bits. Never worked good in anything else. Then I've also had horses who absolutely hate the full mouth feel. We had a colt in training once that flat out would not go in a single jointed, twisted, dogbone, french link, lifesaver or mullen mouth snaffle. Desperately tried every bit we owned. Cowhorses, sweet sixes, etc. He would fight, throw his head, gape his mouth in anything, but he didn't respond to a hack either. My trainer took him out one day and just slapped a chain mouth snaffle on him and holy cow, it was a whole different horse. He salivated, he softened, he relaxed, and he worked. Of course that is an extreme case with someone who know how to use her hands. Obviously if someone is yanking and pulling and jerking the horse's face, it will sore the horse and make their mouth hard.
The moral of the story, chains are not a harsh bit. They do bite more than some mouthpieces but just sitting in the horses mouth it is not painful and it really conforms to the horses mouth. Horses with shallow palates love this. Just because a horse is in a stronger bit doesn't mean they aren't soft. These bits were made for refinement, not control.
I agree with sorrel there is a girl we ride with occasionally who has her younger guy in a short shank chain mouth bit( a barrel horse) and he loves that thing or seems to. No gapping runs a gorgeous pattern and doesnt fight her.
It does depend on the horse and the rider though definitely.
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