Bit for strong draft cross?
So several months ago, we purchased Bella, an 8 y/o Shire/QH mare. We were told she was a beginner-safe trail horse and was a slow easy ride, but she's quickly proven she was not quite as advertised, and would be MUCH more suited for eventing or fox hunting. I've been doing some work with her and am planning on training her to event and maybe take her to a few easy horse trials this fall, then sell her as we unfortunately don't have a use for her....
She's a really sweet girl and learns extremely quickly, but she is STRONG. Her breaks are quite good (she's very responsive to seat and voice) but she pulls a lot, especially out of the ring. Normally, I am not a fan of using stronger bits to control a horse as I understand it's more of a behavioral issue, but because of her size, I'd like to get something with a little more "bite" so she understands she needs to stop fighting with me. She's currently in a slow twist snaffle. Any advice on what I should try? Ideally, I'd like something (legal) that she can eventually use in dressage, but obviously have no problem using something stronger XC. (And I am aware that she can't use a twisted bit for dressage as well.) All of our horses go in snaffles or Dr. Bristols, so I'm not sure what would be appropriate for Bella.
We're going to start some major pole work this week, as well as lots and lots of circles and transitions to make sure she's listening to me. It'd just be nice if we could do that without getting my arms ripped out :wink:
And just because she's adorable, here's a picture. Please excuse her extreme fatness; she's a work in progress.
A 3-Ring is great for cross-country and show jumping, I had a pony that pulled and was fairly heavy and it worked great for him.
For dressage, a boucher is legal, but has more leverage than a normal snaffle.
It's actually a common misconception that a baucher bit creates leverage. To have leverage the reins would need to be fixed, or it would have to have a shank, neither of which the baucher has.
That said, I have a fussy TB mare who LOVES her baucher bit. The hanging cheek holds the bit very still in her mouth, which she prefers. I don't find it gives me anything "extra" though, she goes great in it for dressage, but if I use it going cross country she pulls like hell once she gets galloping and the brakes and steering pretty much go out the window:P
I use this variation of a 3 ring for cross country: http://img.smartpak.com/product/300x300/18111.jpg and most of the time my reins are on the big ring, but the lower ring is there if I feel like I need a bit extra control. Something like this or a 3 ring could be used with 2 sets of reins so you could only activate the leverage effect if you needed it. A waterford might be something to try as well, the mouthpiece is broken into several pieces and very moveable so it doesn't really give the horse anything to lean on.
As far as dressage legal bits go, a baucher is legal, but you're not really going to find anything with much bite that's still legal. You could go with something with a thinner mouthpiece and see if that helps. You might end up having to switch back and forth between bits, use something like a waterford or a gag for a couple rides, and then switch back to the snaffle. When she gets pulling again, switch back to the stronger bit for a tune up, then back into the snaffle.
What she said :) All of it.
To do well in dressage the horse needs to be properly trained to score well which is why you won't find a bit that's legal for dressage that has any real bite to it.
Jumping...I get it, it's important to have control.
I jump in a 3 ring (elevator) as well, or I did when I was competing for that 'just in case' situation.
I was thinking I'd try to get an elevator and waterford for her sometime this week and see how she goes with both of those. She's been a bit softer the past few rides, but I've mostly done walk/trot transitions and circles so I'm sure as soon as we start cantering etc. she'll get strong again. Thanks everyone! I may start a thread on her progress, as I could definitely see her being the type I could use some tips for.
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