the wonder bit
Can anyone give me their opinion on "the wonder bit" I was just given one and suggested to try it with my mare, but i'm skeptical based on reviews.
It's a modified gag. It works on leverage and poll pressure.
Why have you been recommended to try that on your horse? It depends on what you are trying to achieve and what you have attempted before to fix the issue.
IMO gags do have value for stronger horses but only after other things have been tried. Before bitting up I would check her teeth, Check the fit of her gear, check her for any pain and re mouth/re train etc.
Basically, she's just for pleasure (trails and some arena work for fun). I don't compete. I'll try to make this as close to in-a-nutshell as a can. I unfortunately bought her from a seller that was dishonest about her and I know nothing about her history, so we are trying to guess. She was advertised as a "nice kid's horse" ranch broke, used for 4-h and lessons for youth. Good health, never taken a lame step. I am a first time horse owner and have learned that there is a HUGE difference between an experience rider and an owner. I didn't do my homework on her before buying her because i was being a baby about the snow on the ground and didn't take my time :oops:. I've had her vet checked and have a great farrier. Turned out to have a bowed tendon, spine out of alignment, and 2 teeth damaged in the front which they both said seem to be from either smashing into something metal-like or someone banging an object into her mouth, and she hadn't been trimmed in several months (her shoes were literally worn to only 1/2 a shoe on both of her back feet). They thought maybe she came off the track, but no tattoo under her lip. My vet said that had he done the vet check on her first he would have voted against buying her and said that she's had a rough life. So basically i can't take this guy's word for anything and have not been able to get him to respond to any of my concerns. I've had her about 6 months, the bowed tendon isn't an issue, but I keep an eye on it, we got her back taken care of, and he teeth are in much better condition. She is gentle as a lamb on the ground which is why I loved her, perfect to shoe and tack, no issues accepting a bit, her ground work (which she didn't know a lot of) has come along nicely. She EVERYONE'S favorite horse at the stables. The seller said he only rode her in a D-ring snaffle so that is what I purchased, but she just runs right through it. In an arena there is a little more control, she can get a little hot if other horses are around, but I just don't like that it takes so much pressure to get her to respond. I've always been taught to have soft hands and I can't with her, mostly when were on the trail. I always start by asking lightly, but I might as well not be doing anything because she won't listed to it. SHE LOVES TO RUN RUN RUN, and only stops willingly once she tires out. She is very anxious on the trail and will try ti run if she has any slack, especially going downhill. We go through constant battle of pressure that is released once she answers, but once you release she does it again and again and again and then we turn circles. When you don't let her go she will prance, crow hop, try to turn and step sideways, has reared several times and has bucked on 2 occasions. We turn a lot of circles on the trail so I can disengage her hind quarters and get her to stop. I've had friend who competes ride her, and she did the same thing, as well as a few fellow boarders that also train. People I've talked to suggested a tie down, but I don't see how that will fix anything. I talked to a trainer who uses the clinton anderson method and he said he's surprised she is still riding in a D-ring, and suggested I use a different bit. After he rode her, and went out with me while I rode her, he said she knows what to do, she knows what you're asking, she just doesn't want it to be that way. He said he could put some time on her if I'd like, but he doesn't think she needs it. This was also after we checked the fit of all of my tack, checking her teeth and her mouth (he said other than the 2 in front that were damaged everything looks good), and he checked her out throughly to make sure she wasn't tender anywhere that could be aggrivating her. He said everything looks great. As far as bits are concerned, I've tried a tom thumb, an o-ring snaffle, an English D-ring that my friend shows in (she said it has knotches in it where you hook the reins and they don't hang freely so it acts like a mild shank), but it is the same behavior. I don't like using so much pressure because I don't want to damage her mouth, and even w/ mild bit I know it can be damaging just by how you use your hands. The owner where I board suggested i try his "wonder bit" because he had the same problem with his gelding. He went to an Amish community on a vacation and the man gave him that bit and said if this won't stop your horse then he's not a horse worth having. And he said he's had no issues with him since. He said he still gets excited and will run, but only if you let him, and he will stop and not try to continue once you ask him to stop. I just want what will work best for my mare and keep her happy, but will also make it safe for both of us to ride. As she is, she is NOT what I would call a kids horse, obviously in this condition I can't put less experienced riders on her yet, and may never be able to. She is such a sweetheart. I don't intend to quit on her, but not enjoying my rides is getting very old. I would hate to end up off the side of a ledge or onto a barbed wire fence because she's acting out and not aware of her surroundings. **Side note, she's around 13 we decided. The seller told me she was 12, my farrier thinks she's younger, my vet thinks she's older, so we met in the middle on 13 for her records. Sorry that was a VERY long in a nutshell.
People may or may not call me out on this... But I like wonder bits. :oops: For specific purposes. I like them for gaited horses. Wonder bits tend to raise a horses head and put it in a better position for gaiting.
I had a hard time reading your second post (paragraph spacing is your friend!), but I generally disagree with putting a horse in a stronger bit for control. Despite popular opinion, bits don't control horses. If this mare of yours really wanted to run off with you, you could have a double twisted wire bit with a 12 inch shank, and she wouldn't stop. This horse needs to be sent to a professional trainer to correct these dangerous habits, and afterwards that trainer needs to work with you and your horse as a team. More bit will at best mask your problem, and it will at worse piss this horse off and get you hurt.
Training, not tools. This horse has a brain problem, not a mouth problem.
I'm one of the few people on the forum who think a bit change CAN be helpful. In theory, every horse could be trained to go right in a snaffle, and every horse could be trained to go right bitless or even bridleless - but most of us do not have the time and facilities to train for that.
Some horses figure out how to ignore a snaffle. There is a reason the term 'bit in the teeth' meant an out of control person. No bit can FORCE a horse to stop during a full-up bolt, but that doesn't mean all bits can be as easily ignored. If your horse stretches her head out level when running, then the snaffle will just slide back against her clenched molars and do...nothing. The design of a snaffle means it is about as effective as a Q-Tip in the horse's mouth.
Some horses never figure that out. Some do. My mare has. I rode her in the arena in a snaffle a couple of days ago, and her excellent stops became sloppy. She considers a snaffle to be advice, and a sign I'm not serious. If she is in the mood, she'll behave perfectly in one, and she'll also behave perfectly in a halter. IF she feels like it.
A wonder bit is basically a western version of this bit:
The bottom two rings are shaped differently, but are essentially in the same location.
A leverage bit applies pressure to the poll as well as the mouth. The horse can clench its teeth, but that only stops the pain in the mouth. The pressure on the poll remains.
As with any pain we use for a cue, it becomes up to the horse to decide when she obeys, or if at all. Crops exist because some horses will ignore any amount of human kicking. When we say we don't use pain to communicate with a horse, we are only partially right. My cue to go faster goes from a click sound, to a light squeeze of the calves, to a harder squeeze, to a tap of the heels, and on up to a swat with a leather strap. About 90% of the time, my horse responds at the click with my mouth. Another 9% of the time she'll respond to a firm squeeze. But she also knows I can do more, if needed.
And if she is actually AFRAID of something in front of us? Nothing will make her go forward. She won't rear, thank goodness, but she can darn near trot in reverse no matter what I do - if it is important enough to her!
Same with a bit. She can slow from my seat cue before I move the reins an eight of an inch. Or she can go up the scale of intensity. In a snaffle, the most force I can apply is with a pulley stop, darn near ripping her face off. With a leveraged bit, I can apply pressure to the poll. With a curb, teh curb strap can add pressure on the jaw as well. She can run thru it as well, if she really wants, but she cannot make the pressure go away independently of my removing it.
A bit like an elevator bit or Wonder bit or a full up western curb bit of some style can be used to teach stopping to a horse who knows she can ignore a snaffle. It still requires some training for the horse. It is not just something you toss on a horse and have an instant solution.
I'm currently using this bit on my mare:
She responds better - faster, more willingly, and with a more relaxed back while just riding around - than in either the elevator bit or a snaffle. I've been experimenting with a 3-piece mouthpiece curb with a roller in the center. Sometimes she plays with the roller and relaxes, and sometimes she does not. The jury is still out on that bit.
I get frustrated when people say, "It is a training problem". Yeah, and reins indicate a training problem, since a perfect horse will ride just fine without them. I have two geldings who use snaffles - any snaffle. But my mare gets excited about going fast. If there is another horse there, she'll consider it a race. And she does NOT want to lose! I've also ridden a lesson horse who would not trot unless you had a crop. You didn't need to USE the crop. He just needed to know it was an option. As a 180 lb guy, I couldn't kick him hard enough to get even a little jog out of him. With a crop in one hand, he would trot with just a light squeeze of the calves.
Since there is a trainer there, ask if you can get some help teaching the horse about a wonder bit, or elevator bit, or a Billy Allen curb similar to mine. It took my mare about 3 rides to figure things out. We have also practiced our stops since last winter, using the advice in this video by Larry Trocha. The combination of a different style of bit AND training has made a huge difference in how she responds:
Good luck to you & your horse, whatever you decide!
Ah yes, I looked at that giant screen-sized paragraph when I was finished and thought to myself what were you thinking?!?!?! :oops:
Thanks guys for your feedback. I'm glad I have found a place I can turn to for advice. :D
and welcome to the forum!
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