Help me choose a snaffle, please
So, I'm in the process of choosing the right bit for my gelding. He's mostly been ridden bitless and has had some nasty bitting experience with his previous owners a year and a half ago, which made him extremely resistant to bits as such. Since then, I've taught him to tolerate the bit and to accept it when we ride on a loose rein with a simple, single-jointed loose ring snaffle, but I am looking towards to starting riding a bit more with the bit this year and was thinking of getting him a double jointed snaffle, as his palate seems to be on the low side.
I am myself very inexperienced with bitted riding and my main goal is to continue riding bittless, but I believe that every horse should be comfortable with a bit and I will have a good trainer helping me with the training, so no worries about that. My boy is very mouthy and with a tendency to lean on my hands, if given the opportunity.
So, regarding the bits, I got a little confused about the double-jointed mouthpieces. What are (if there are any) the differences between this type of the mouthpeice:
And this? -
Which could be considered "softer" (I do realize that the true softness lies in the riders' hands) and more suitable for a mouthy and slightly stubborn horse? Should I be looking more into copper bits to encourage salivation? Also, would a heavier bit be better for a newly bitted horse, or, on the contrary - a lighter one?
I'm sure that someone will tell you that there is a huge difference in those two bits but I see them working almost exactly the same way. I personally love a double jointed snaffle and I have 2. Both of mine have copper rollers and your guy might benefit from a bit with a copper roller like one of these.
Korsteel Copper Roller Eggbutt Snaffle Bit 5 Inch - Horse.com
Korsteel Copper Ball Lnk Full Chk Snaffle - Horse.com
The roller is nice for a nervous horse or a horse that doesn't really like bits. The type of mouthpiece too, is important. Copper or sweet iron will make the bit more palatable where as stainless steal will not.
It varies so much from horse to horse that it is impossible to say over the Internet. You might be able to get someone with experience to look at your horse's mouth and see how a bit would fit.
My geldings don't seem to care what is in their mouth. My mare is more fussy. I've tried about a dozen bits. Her preference seems to run to 2-piece snaffles, although she seems happy with a Waterford. She doesn't seem to like the 3-piece snaffles. She'll be OK for a ride, but by the third ride she'll try to avoid having the bit put in her mouth.
She also seems to prefer a thinner mouthpiece. Most people say a thinner mouthpiece is harsher, but a thinner mouthpiece fits some horses' mouths better. The Waterford is supposed to be a harsher bit, but she prefers it to a 3-piece french link snaffle. I'm currently using an elevator bit, which she seems pretty relaxed in so far...more so than a loose-ring french link, which is supposed to be more gentle.
Mia with an elevator bit...I'm now connecting the reins to the ring below the big one:
Remember, part of the difference in bits is where they apply pressure. An elevator bit applies pressure to the poll as well as the mouth, so the horse may respond to a lower pressure than one operating on the mouth alone. And a D-ring or full cheek snaffle applies pressure to the side of the face as well as the mouth. It isn't all about the mouthpiece...
Also the 3 ring gag is NOT to be used with just one rein. It is meant to be a double rein bit. One on the snaffle and another on the curb action :wink:
Thanks for the ideas! I think that the smarter move for me as a green rider (regarding riding with a bit), and a green horse would be to stick with the simple choices at first and think about more complicated bits (elevator bits, waterfords, etc.) a bit later. I wouldn't want to start playing around with gadgets before I know whether my horse likes a double jointed snaffle or not. NBEventer, what you tell sounds good, and I suspect I will borrow a bit like this from a barnmate to try it out. My first training included some brainwashing how horrible every bit is, so I am still a bit vary and would like to overcome this feeling with the softest option - of course, being open to having to find what is the most suitable for my boy. I also think I'll go for copper or other sweet metal, that sounds like a good idea for a horse that used to associate bits with heavy hands and see-sawing to "teach contact".
^^^ 2-rein or 1-rein...depends on who you ask. And how much pressure is applied depends on the rider. And how the horse responds depends on the horse and its training.
That is kind of my point - the horse gets a vote. When I realized what the action of the elevator bit was, I stopped using it - except Mia seemed to be responding better than she did in a simple snaffle. She gives more at the poll and her body stays more relaxed. My opinion of the bit is less important than the horse's opinion. Why does she accept a Waterford bit & relax in it more than she does a french-link? I don't know. All I can do is observe, and respect how the horse responds.
Meanwhile, my geldings are all ridden in 2-piece full-cheek snaffles, which they seem to like better than 3-piece snaffles. It doesn't matter what someone says is the best bit for a horse. It depends on what the HORSE thinks is best. They get a vote.
It sounds like that is the best way to go Saranda. I don't think you will have a problem with it. German Silver is a nice metal for a sensitive horse. It helps keeping the horse soft.
I don't like using heavy bits. I have been playing with ideas on what to try on Princess for cross country as she can get a bit strong. Thanks to the awesomness of Allison Finch I found the Kineton noseband which works as a hackamore with the bit. I am really excited to order it. I refuse to bit her up. Gags and heavy action will make her panic as she had a straight bar pelhem with a heavy handed rider and only a converter instead of two sets of reins. So now she thinks that anything more then the simple snaffle means its time to panic.
I have had great luck with the above mentioned bit and sensitive horses. I think it will be a great transition for you both :-)
Regarding double reins with a 3 ring gag. Think about the action that bit has. By only having one rein on the leverage rings on the bit you are constantly applying leverage action with no break for the horse. Having a snaffle rein with the leverage rein you are offering the horse a break from the heavy action the leverage causes. If you have a horse that has had a bad experience with a heavier bit and hard hands you are going make the horse panic before it even has a chance to accept the bit. When you are taking a horse back to learning to accept a new bit you do not want to apply heavy pressure on them. You want something light, soft and gentle. Give the horse a chance to soften up and realize that the bit is not the be all and end all.
My mare will go over backwards on you if you touch her mouth with more then a soft "yes I am here". Last summer when I was doing jumpers with her she was getting strong. I put a 3 ring gag(dutch) and before I even got on her she was in a panic. So I put a french link full cheek and she was good to go and happy as can be.
There has never been at any one point that anyone has said one type of bit works for every horse. However there is one style of bit that works best for soft sensitive horses. Not one bit. One style of bit. BIG difference.
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