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Storybook Farm 05-31-2013 02:18 PM

What bit do you use on your gaited horse? A survey.
I got my horse and she was used to a long-shank swivel curb w/chain. I got that bit, but it seems a bit harsh. I'd like to ease up on her; she's no spitfire and I think she'd remain under good control. Thinking of a Pelham, currently, since it would still be a curb bit (with chain) and thus gentler than a snaffle, but not as harsh as a long-shank curb. Thoughts? What do you use?

toosexy4myspotz 05-31-2013 02:58 PM

I use a JP Korsteel Hunter Dee Ring with an Oval Link when I am riding at home or on very difficult trails. On flat trails or roads I riding in a mullen mouth with 6" curved shanks.

Lockwood 05-31-2013 04:36 PM

I use an eggbutt french link snaffle.

Welcome to the Horse Forum :wave: and welcome back to horses.
I was away from horses for about 12 years which was just long enough for the many years of info and experience I had to become obsolete. :wink:
Bought myself a horse for the Holidays in late 2011.

Endiku 05-31-2013 05:17 PM

Curbs aren't gentler than snaffles ;) Pelhams are quite a bit more powerful than snaffles are.

I ride a gaited mare, though she has the tendancy to trot rather than rack or pace (she can do both) and I don't discourage it, since she's just a ranch and lesson horse. I'm currently riding her in a full cheek, double jointed snaffle. She was in a twisted wire Wonder Bit gag when she came to us, but I really didn't like it and she was very hard mouthed, so we reschooled her and she's just fine in the full cheek now. I've also used this bit : Myler HBT Shank MB 03 on her when working with cattle and neck reining, just because she handles better when neck reining if she's in a bit designed FOR neck reining.

Guilherme 05-31-2013 07:26 PM

I have a total of 22 bits, + or -, on my bit wall. What I use on any given horse depends on the job and the horse.

Youngsters generally start in the snaffle with either a Mullenmouth, French Link, or broken mouth. Most are part copper.

As the horse progresses we move to a Pelham with four reins. I like the Myler bits and favor the Comfort Mouthpiece. That gives a very fine combination of feel, communication, and control.

The most advanced horses work in the double bridle . I use an M1909 curb with an M1909 snaffle.

There is no "magic bit" for gaited horses. The bit chosen must reflect the needs of the job, the rider, and the horse (in that order).


Corporal 05-31-2013 07:48 PM

It depends. If she leans on your hands you may want to switch to a snaffle. All the S on the long shank does is give you more pull with less effort. The bit is never the problem, it is always the rider's hands. I prefer a long-shanked curb to a shorter shank. I also don't care for a Wonder Bit or any of the Mylar contraptions that pulls down on the poll. I keep wondering when some newbie is going to get the whole contraption stuck on the head of a panicky horse and all heXX breaks loose!
The longer shank enables my horse to break at the poll at the same time as I cue for a half-halt or a full halt, and I can use finger pressure instead of my arm.
It's the same with the chain. Only a horse that isn't listening will worry himself and hurt himself on a curb "chain." Many will do the same with a leather curb, except they will wear their skin raw, instead.
You must remember with a chain to turn it clockwise so that the links link smooth, and hook it so that you can fit 2 fingers between the back of the chin and the chain, and the adjustment is correct. ALSO, you should always unhook the chain and loosen up the leather curb before you unbridle. A green horse with a stuck bridle is an accident waiting to happen. Hope this helps. =D

Storybook Farm 05-31-2013 08:11 PM


I really agree with all you've said. My own experience was with riding Saddlebred PLEASURE horses in full bridles: long shank, curb chains (yes, I know about twisting them flat and the two-finger rule!) and a tiny snaffle, with two sets of reins.

My horse, Grace, isn't green; she's a finished horse. While some may disagree (and I am certainly in the novice class with gaited horses) I like the head carriage with the head down and a bit tucked, which is how she naturally goes now. As I'm getting to know Grace (and have finally figured out my seat and cues, thank the good Lord) I'm finding that she likes support from my hands; she likes being collected, and then having me tilt my pelvis back and put my feet further forward than I would for a hunter seat. Actually, the position is VERY like what I used to ride in a flat cutback saddle on my pleasure Saddlebred back in the day. One sets BACK. Not "chair seat" exactly; the feet are still under the knee, but the general feeling is of sitting on seat bones rather than pelvic bones. Anyways... if her curb bit isn't..."harsh" in my hands (which aren't horrible; I always had pretty good hands, I was told) then I might just stick with it.

Anyone else?

Northernstar 05-31-2013 08:39 PM

Welcome to the forum! 100% bitless here, so probably of no help - I live in a wilderness area, so have no one to judge my choice of tack (which would amuse many!) I have 2 registered mares, (granddaughters of world champions, no less!) and ride them both with English saddles, (love the light weight) with simple rope reins clipped to their halters!! They do marvelous and obey all cues/commands, and I can sense their comfort and willingness every time we ride - we three couldn't be a happier lot :)
* My Morgan is beautifully gaited.....

Idrivetrotters 05-31-2013 08:47 PM

My OTSTB trotter who has a lovely rack is on a Pee Wee Bit due to his tendency to pull (which thankfully the Pee Wee stopped that) and he does have some damage to his left lip and bar from his pulling at the track in harsh bits so the Pee Wee has been the only bit I've found that he is relaxed in and doesn't grab.

walkinthewalk 06-02-2013 08:10 AM

I am strictly a trail rider. My "training" goes back to my grandad who raised Welsh/Morgans.

While the driving bit was different, back in The Old Days, all that was available to us was a short-shanked curb bit.

Regardless of whether I was trail riding a trotting horse or a gaited horse, I have always used a low port curb with swivel shanks (once I learned about swivel shanks), because low port bits are what I am used to.

Unless the horse just was not happy with a bit in its mouth, of which I have wasted a lot of money buying a gazillion different types of "recommended" bits.

Then I use a mechanical hackamore. My 27 yr old Arab and my 19 yr old TWH have both worn mechanical hackamores their entire lives; both Sellers told me that's what they used.

I tried those "recommended" bits on both horses and they were having none of it, so I've stuck with the hackamores.

The Arab was a lesson horse for children under 12 for several years and nobody ripped his head off with the hackamore.

My TWH is full of snotty attitude but he has never, in 16-1/2 years tried to run away in the hackamore. When we were doing a lot of riding, I rarely used the reins. I ride without saddle and he was just as happy with seat/leg cues.

Make sure your horse doesn't have a thick tongue or a low palette before you start experimenting with bits. If she happens to have either, that alone, will send you in search of an altogether different bit than what many of us might recommend:-)

As far as head set? I trail ride - I let the horse set his head where it was born to be comfortable. Where they like their head when I ride them, is pretty much where that head is when they're gaiting at liberty in the pasture.

Unless I had the horse in my avatar in a parade - then I would tell the show off "git that head up Duke, people are looking at your handsome self" :)

My recommendation is whatever makes her happy and she listens:D:D

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