Bit recommendations for trail riding
Hello. I'm using a Myler low-port D snaffle with my new horse who does really well in it within fenced areas. We ride English but my horse is currently being trained to ride Western too. My instructor says it will be dangerous to take my horse trail riding without using a Tom Thumb bit which all of their trail horses go in. My horse does really well in the snaffle and I'm tempted to try it when we take our first trail ride, but I'm a novice so do respect the recommendations and advice of my instructor/trainer who has 40 years of experience. Is there something else comparable, but not severe, as the Tom Thumb?
So here is a few things. A tom tomb is not super harsh its the curb that is. Depending on how long the curb is will depend on how much pressure it gives. However you should not need a curb if you trail ride. Also I would try to stay away from Mylar bits that have curbs. I have had nothing but problems with them over the years with many horses. They all ways pinch the horses mouth. I would try going out on a easy trail ride in her normal bit and see how she does. You should not have to change till you are ready. Remember its not the bit that hurt the horses mouth but the riders hands that hurt the horses mouth. Just keep it easy and slow and see how she does.
First, tom thumb bits are awful. They are confusing to the horse, harsh, and who ever constructed them in the first place did not properly think through the mechanics of them. I used one once, on a spoiled arab I was retraining, before I knew better. It did nothing but confuse him.
There are very few horses that need anything more than a snaffle on the trail. On the farm there are appies, thoroughbreds, draft crosses, qh's and a pure draft, and not one needs anything more than a snaffle, and we do some pretty high speed trails on a regular basis.
we also retrain off the track thoroughbreds as trail and pleasure horses, and they are typically green, reactive, and just want to go full speed at the beginning. We always use snaffles.
I suggest getting familiar with a one rein stop, just in case, but other wise if your horse is broke, resonsive to your bit and well behaved in the arena, I dont see why you couldn't head out on the trail.
You should always trail ride in the bit that will stop your horse in an emergency. I will school in a snaffle but trail ride in a curb. If your horse has ANY trouble stopping in the arena, he is dangerous to trail ride. School him until he always listens.
Since you're having trouble I recommend a trail riding friend with a seasoned veteran horse to give your horse confidence. I have always had one in my herds and therefore, "herd sour" has it's advantages. I know that my other horses won't run far from their friends, if at all.
I have trail ridden on trips, etc., since 1985.
Since you are a novice, I would also recommend that you school your horse hard for the first hour in the arena, and then take him on a trail ride after he is tired. Use lots of cantering, changing gaits, tranisitioning between gaits and backing in the arena.
Your comments lend me to believe that your horse is nervous and flighty. Riding her on a trial ride like this is like driving your car without doors. You should really look into Clinton Anderson's "Lunging for Respect."
A green/spoiled horse is quick to react and spook, and slow to listen to cues.
A safe, well broken horse is quick to react to cues, and slow to respond to outside stimuli and spooking. Your horse sounds like she spooks to stuff going on and spooks to cues. That's a little too light for me, and more like a show horse. I prefer my trail riding horse is a sightly more dull. I believe that she needs a summer of hard schooling. THEN, take her out with a seasoned horse on a very short trail ride.
There are WAY too many horses sold to novices that aren't trail ride ready. I'm glad that you love your horse, and happy that you are asking for advice. PLEASE take it slow and be careful. One bad fall or getting thrown and your riding season is over until you heal, and perhaps riding, period, will end for you.
ALso, the Tom Thumb is a hacked up bit. There are many low port curbs on the market. Ask for some help in a tack shop. Most of them have horse owners are clerks, and they can find you a kind, but good working curb. I have retired from CW Reenacting, but we used an S-shaped, long shanked curb with a curb CHAIN, like the Cavalry did, and even on my Arab, "Corporal", I could always stop him. I schooled him at home on a snaffle.
Well, Mia was a real spook monster when we first went out on the trails. Of course, she was still a bit spooky in the arena back then. We used a D-ring snaffle. It was fine for controlling her spooks. She always is more graceful turning left, and I found a sharp 180 to the left worked well if she was about to jump forward. And it worked well with a D-ring snaffle.
Fast forward a year or more. I'm slowly introducing her to a curb bit, but one with no break in the middle (not a Tom Thumb). I've only made one short trip off property with it, because she & I both need to get used to a leveraged bit. I want her to get used to it because she will try to race another horse out in the open.
Maybe it is just me, but I would never try a new bit on a trail ride. I want the horse & I to BOTH know what to expect before we go out into the horrible wilds of Arizona, where flowers sometimes fall, branches sway, and sometimes a rabbit runs underfoot.
If you go out with a snaffle, here is a video with a good technique to have available:
I am having issues with Cody on the trial with a D ring Snaffle with Roller I am also looking for alternatives. I was just about to ask a question just like this.
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