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showinhorses 01-04-2013 04:04 PM

Questions about driving bits:

I used to drive years ago (20+ :shock:)

Brief history:
I recently trained my 7 year old APHA/PtHA mare to drive. We have simple set up with an easy entry cart and now a bio-thane harness (sold my leather one for the bio one.) I trained her in an open bridle, mostly because I found the over check on the driving bridle too short for her naturally low head carriage. After getting a new harness (the bio-thane one) I am now using the driving bridle with blinder/blinkers and the over check (longest possible setting, leaving her at about level with her withers, which is more natural for her.) The lady I purchased the harness from included driving snaffle, which I didn't have before. I was using an egg butt with a leather chin strap to prevent twisting or having the bit pull through her mouth while driving.

Okay now for the questions!!

I see a majority of the drivers have mullen mouth, liverpool like bits. My mare doesn't approve of the mullen mouth (I tried a phase one myler and she hated it.) thus I use a snaffle. Here is the question (two parts): Do I need a bradoon with the snaffle for the check line? I have attached it directly to the snaffle right now. I have heard that the liverpool provides the "stop" needed that a driver doesn't have where as a rider may have undersaddle, this makes sense to me. Although she is very level headed, I did notice that she was "forward" when I was trail driving with a group a few weekends ago. I could see where having some curb action would help with control/stopping. She was by no means out of control, she was happy and forward. Is a jointed kimberwick like bit suitable for driving? Is there a reason that driving bits tend to be mullen mouths? I think that I could get suitable control without over bitting her in jointed bit with a curb. Is this proper driving equipment?

Thank you!

Clayton Taffy 01-05-2013 06:02 PM

Hey congratulations on driving again!!!

I never use an overcheck. It is even against the rules to have one in the American driving society's rulebook.
The only reason I might consider one is If the horse is an incoragable grass eater. If your mare is not a grass eater, dump it. Hopefully the bridle you bought has a noseband, you need one of those.
As for bits, I most always drive in a snaffle, I have a mullenmouth liverpool bit but hook the reins on the snaffle ring. I have the liverpool part for shows, at home I just have the mullenmouth snaffle, I drive in a fullcheek snaffle, a pelham bit on the snaffle ring., a broken kimberwick, not in any holes ie the snaffle ring. D rings, O rings, Eggbuts. Without the overcheck, most bits are okay.

Get rid of the overcheck, I know you have it loose, so just don't use it. I have a box of overchecks that I have never used.

If you feel you must use the overcheck, just hook it to the driving snaffle, that is the least harsh placement.

michaelvanessa 01-07-2013 07:39 AM

hiya i use a kimblewick my pony goes well in it indeed i also drive him in a liverpool bit thats a straight bar and he is driven what we called rough cheek on the top ring and the curb chai slightley lose.
the kimblewick has a small port and eather a ported bit or a straight bar he excepts them well i think the best way is to bridle your horse and try mouthing up and staying with the horse while you do put something a little sweet on it before you put it in the horses mouth and in shought time your horse should except the bit.
may i wish you a warm welcome and happy driveing and its good that you have not hung up you reins and have got the driveing bug again.
like my self i was going to hang them up as my welsh pony is my last but a lot of people have bent my arm up my back so now i have a 16hh cob so im back to driveing and breaking again.
all the best to you and your horse.

Endiku 01-07-2013 10:41 AM

Hopefully you have a bridle with a removable overcheck OP! I know that some of the biothane bridles tend to have them sewn in...which I hate. Thats what detered me from getting one and buying a leather bridle instead. I actually ordered mine without the overcheck just so I didn't have to mess with it.

If you have no reason to switch bits and your mare is going happily in her snaffle, I'd leave her in it. I drive my green mare in a half cheek double jointed snaffle (so theres no nutcracker effect) and she's just fine. A little strong when she's excited, but nothing I can't handle. Your mare sounds very levelheaded and I would think that if you're careful not to let her get overexcited you should be good. I was actually asking the same thing as you a few months ago, wondering if I should be transitioning my mare from her snaffle to a liverpool or something similar just to be careful, but then realized that you really just shouldn't fix what isn't broken and I left her in the snaffle.

I did buy a french link butterfly bit just for the sake of having it in parades because I think its very elegant (:oops:) but don't drive her in it much around the farm and never on anything stronger than the snaffle setting. It is nice to know though, that I have other options if she proves to be too excitable in the parades. I would only go one slot down though, as I'm REALLY not a fan of leverage bits.

showinhorses 01-08-2013 02:31 AM

Thank you for all of the replies.

The overcheck is removable on the bio thane with some very minor modification (pulling the stitches where it crosses over the face.) Where as on the leather harness, it wasn't possible to separate it. She did take the opportunity to try to grab a few mouthfuls of grass on the way back to trailer, though.... :shock: During those moments, is probably the only reason I would need an overcheck. . . . :wink:

I will continue to drive her in her snaffle. Although she was forward in the beginning of our trail drive (just stepping out a little more, happy to be out, she hadn't been off the farm in about 2 years) she was not uncontrollable or out of hand.

Yes, Endiku, she is very level headed, which I have been very blessed with. Her easy going, willing to accept what ever happen ways are what make me love her (I have had her since she was a young yearling.) She has been a breeze to to anything with (except de-worm!)

eliduc 02-26-2013 03:54 PM

My rule is to use the mildest bit that is safe and the horse goes well in. Personally, I do not understand the use of a solid bar bit for direct reining. A broken snaffle becomes a harsh mouthpiece in a curb style bit. I went to a Bob Avila correction bit with one of my horses. I was criticized for driving with a western bit but who cares. The bit is a modest curb designed for direct reining with loose cheeks and a swivel port. The horse loved it and was consistent in the bit. The bit was much less severe than a Liverpool with it's straight shanks. It also has a neutral rein slot. People look at the style of shanks on a bit and think that the bit is harsh. That's ignorant in many cases when they have no idea of what is in the horses mouth. Also the ratio between the bottom shank and the upper shank dictate the severity of the bit. The liverpool comes with a variety of mouth pieces which effect the harshness of the bit. The straight shanks apply more leverage than swept shanks. Also straight shanked bits are not as well balanced and comfortable in the horse's mouth as are bits with swept shanks. That said, drivers have been using Liverpools for hundreds of years with good results. The only bit I have found close to my Avila bit in a driving bit is the Hanoverian which is made in England and costs a fortune. I would love to have a short shanked liverpool with the swiveling port. Here is another thing to ponder. Studies have shown that copper has many dangerous effects on the human body including memory loss. What does it do to horses when we put it in their mouths every day?

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