What bit to use??
I have a Quarter Horse mare that I am hoping to show in gaming events, trail and walk/jog pleasure classes. She needs to have her teeth floated soon, and I can't ride her because she chewed my last bit and I can't use it anymore. I need to buy her a new bit soon so I can start riding her after the dentist takes care of her teeth. But I'm not sure what bit to use...I had a Tom Thumb with a long shank, and my horse never slowed down when I asked her to, so I think that's because she needs to have her teeth floated and that's why she wasn't listening to me very well. I heard that snaffle bits are very comfortable for the horse (I tend to pull back quite a bit on the reins when I ask her to slow down because she simply won't listen!) So I don't really know what she is truly like because her teeth were probably hurting her the whole time I was riding her. Should I just buy a snaffle bit for walk/jog western pleasure and trail classes and then use another stronger bit (long shank or curb bit) for gaming events so she will listen to me better?? I am really confused of what bit or bits I should buy...
OP, it sounds like you need to go back to basics with this horse. Get her listening and paying attention to you. Getting her teeth looked at is a good idea, as their teeth can cause a lot of bitting problems if not cared for.
What bit you use really depends on the horse. A snaffle is a good choice for training and getting her working like she should. But if she is over 5 y/o you can't show her western in one. For western classes a horse 6 or older must be shown in a shanked bit. For gaming you can use anything but you might want to step away from the tom thumb, those usually cause more problems than they fix.
Okay thanks! So should I get a broken bit or just a straight one? Also should I get a shorter shank or longer shank? Also when I'm training her, should I buy her a cheap snaffle bit because I have the tendency to yank on her mouth alot when she doesn't listen to me and slow down and isn't a snaffle easier on their mouth? I could just buy a cheap snaffle for training and then buy a nice shank bit for shows. What do you think?
When I said you need to go back to basics I mean that you need to work with the horse so you don't have to "yank on her mouth alot". Is there a trainer or someone you know that is experienced with training that can help you with this horse?
As far as bits go, I'm not sure what you mean by a 'cheap snaffle". Maybe you should look into a french link snaffle. They are about as mild as bits get. But no matter what bit you use, if you are yanking and pulling on her mouth it is going to hurt. I wouldn't put a shanked bit on her until you have sorted through her issues.
I use my horse for similar purposes and it took quite a bit of work to make sure he was responsive so that I wouldn't have to "yank on his mouth" for a stop. Practice ground respect (stopping on the ground and backing with a verbal command, etc-- Clinton Anderson-type stuff!), and in the saddle spend a lot of time doing walk-halt-back, trot-halt-back, etc so that when you ask for a halt, your horse shifts his weight onto his haunches in anticipation of backing, thereby giving you a good solid stop.
Depending on what I'm doing, I rotate between a sidepull, a french link snaffle and a low-port, short shanked curb. Don't rely on your bit for your power! :)
ETA... when you use a solid (curb) bit with shanks, keep in mind that the pressure you apply is translated to a whole lot more on the horse's mouth due to the shank/leverage. Pulling on a leverage bit can result in pain, injury or even breaking a horse's jaw if you aren't careful! When you have a solid shanked bit in your horse's mouth, constantly think about "staying out of his mouth." You shouldn't use a curb for more power-- you should use it so that you can "talk" to your horse with more subtle movements! I'd stick to a snaffle until you sort out your issues with your horse. :)
Also, instead of yanking on her mouth-- look up one-rein stops and lateral flexion. Yanking won't accomplish moot, but if you get in the practice of taking away your horse's head when he is non-compliant, it is much more effective.
On the other hand, a snaffle will provide relief to the horse since when you "pull back quite a bit" there will be less pressure involved. Get a decent trainer and follow their advice. I would guess they will suggest a snaffle while you and the horse are in training. Once you both make some progress, it might be appropriate to move to a different bit.
Training is what makes the horse slow down and stop. Not the bit. A determined horse would still run away if you put barbed wire in his mouth (just an example, don't ever do that). A well trained horse and rider can change speeds and stop without any reins or bit.
A horse without brakes is a wreck waiting to happen. Get a good trainer for yourself and your horse. Work with the trainer to understand what they are doing and why. If you are able to properly reinforce what the trainer is doing, you could probably correct this issue in a very short time. That same trainer would also be in a much better position to recommend the best bit for your particular horse.
I worked with her on the ground yesterday and she listens very well on the ground! She whoas whenever I stop and I think she is learning my voice commands. The dentist is coming out in a couple of days and I REALLY hope that is the reason why she doesn't slow down easily. So everyday that I can't ride, I'll just work on ground manners with her. She did sooo amazing yesterday!!
But whenever I was riding her and I took her from a trot to a halt, she started to back up right away. And then I squeezed her so she would stop backing up and then she jumped forward and got really antsy. How do I let her know to stop backing up without making her jumpy?
Well if you yank her in the mouth (and probably make her back up since those seem to go hand in hand) when she "messes up" then you have taught her to do that.
You need to go to a trainer and learn to ride your horse properly.
You've created bad habits in your horse that are probably going to take WEEKS to fix, if not MONTHS.
Can you imagine this for me for a moment? You are holding the bit in your hand, and I am holding the reins and bridle attached to it. I tell you to start walking in front of me. I tell you when I want you to stop, I am going to pull on the reins. But instead, I pull the bit HARD, so that you almost fall over backward. I tell you to walk ahead of me again. What do you think you'd do this time? You are going to BRACE for my hard pull, and you are going to PULL BACK on me in order to keep your own balance. You've just created a situation where I need to pull, pull, pull to get you to stop. But you are going to brace against me to keep yourself from falling over backwards. Hence the vicious cycle.
Does that make sense? This is how your horse is reacting. Yes, she may have a dental issue, but 90% of the time, it is the rider's fault for the horse's behavior. You have been over-pulling on her mouth, causing her to brace against you, or even ignore you, becuase you probably don't stop pulling when you should.
Taz Devil and FaceTheMusic gave you great advice.
You do not need a change of bit (minus that fact that a Tom Thumb is a piece of garbage and should never be put into a horse's mouth), but you need a change in the way you ride.
How are you going to get your horse to slow down in a western pleasure class? You certainly won't score well if the judge sees you pulling and pulling on your horse's mouth.
We can incorporate this training into your ground work. Start with a bit that does not have shanks (a snaffle bit). Stand at your horses left side. We are going to ask her to bend her nose to the left. Using the "inside" left rein as a direct rein, put a small amount of pressure on the rein. Wait for your horse to respond correctly. Since she already has bad habits, she may pull against you. Or she may try to walk away. You hold your position steady. Do NOT pull harder. But do not release her. If she walks, you move exactly with her to maintain your position. The very instant that she creates slack in that rein, you need to release the rein pressure NOW. Immediately. Pet and praise. I don't care if she only moved her head 2 inches. If she created slack in the rein to find her "release" then you need to release her. Repeat on both sides until she moves her head a small amount either way.
Slowly and gradually ask her to move a little farther in her bending. Eventually, she should bring her nose all the way to the saddle.
Incorporate this same idea into backing up and/or stopping. The very instant she responds correctly, release those reins. She needs to get a reward for doing something correctly. That reward is pressure release (that you have not been doing correctly up until now).
I strongly recommend you work with a trainer to show you how to do this in person. It's very hard to read something from the internet and put it into real life.
Either way, you need to re-train your horse to listen to the bit.
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