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PunksTank 08-13-2013 12:19 PM

Severe Mullen Mouths?
So I was at a tack store looking for a loose ring (or D or Eggbutt) mullen mouth bit, metal not rubber, which they didn't have. We went to look through the books to see if any of the companies they carried sold them.
I was then told that mullen mouths aren't typically used because they're severe. This was a shocker to me, I always saw them as pretty darn nice compared to single jointed snaffles.

Can anyone explain to me what makes a mullen mouth bit so severe? Or a bit with a low port (not the higher ports that hit the pallet). Right now I'm using a low wide port kimberwick with the reins on the snaffle ring with no curb strap for my Belgian, he goes very well in it - which is why I was looking to simplify it with just a mullen mouth snaffle. But if it's harsh maybe I want to look for something gentler if he'll be as comfortable. But I just can't picture what would be harsh about it.
I could see maybe a french link being softer, maybe? Or one of the mylers mullened out double jointed snaffles that have the bar to prevent the nut cracker affect. But a straight single jointed one I just can't picture. She recommended a Waterford - but I think my guy is simple and all that movement in his mouth would drive him nuts.
He used to go in a single jointed liverpool with the reins on the third loop down, that was for driving in the city - but single joints drive him nuts, if given the opportunity he gapes his mouth and leans into it - so it must be hitting his pallet. With the wide low port bit I'm using now he packs it comfortably and doesn't fuss or gape his mouth (we don't even use a nose band - couldn't find one to fit his big mug!)

If anyone can provide some science I'd love to hear it! Maybe I've been wrong all along.

Muppetgirl 08-13-2013 12:27 PM

Are you looking for the simple Mullen? With no drop?

The thing is, the Mullen mouth is solid, so it doesn't 'give' at all. I use a square ported correction bit with joints at all points, so it will collapse in my hand, and my horse loves it. It's a wormy bit and its been compared to a Waterford in terms of 'worminess'. When I put my regular round port correction on my horse he doesn't work as nice as the bit is more rigid. Some horses appreciate the give in a multi-jointed bit. Some don't. Borrow a Waterford if you can and try it, you might be surprised.

trailhorserider 08-13-2013 12:34 PM

I ride western and I'm assuming you ride english, but I too have also considered mullens to be very mild. It also depends on the thickness of the mouthpiece. The one I use is very thick and I have seen some thin ones that I wouldn't use.

I don't think it's the mouthpiece, but rather that it is rigid and has no give. But some horses are more comfortable with that. I know my Fox Trotter really worries with any loose feeling bit with moving parts. She likes something more solid feeling. I think it depends on the horse.

This is a favorite bit of mine..... probably not agreeable to your riding discipline if you are an english rider, but it is great for western. :-)

PunksTank 08-13-2013 12:42 PM

Trail, that's one of my favorite bits too! I've always thought they were great but maybe I'm crazy :P
I do use direct reining with him, though working on neck reining now, either way I don't think he'll need anything with shanks. He's really very easy - I use just a halter at home, but on the trail the bit helps keep him out of the grass :P That's why I wanted the simplest, quietest bit possible.

Ya Muppet, I'm talking about just a plain mullen mouth... let me get a pic.

PunksTank 08-13-2013 12:46 PM

Muppetgirl 08-13-2013 01:00 PM

There are two things that would make that bit harsh -
1. The riders hands (so rider dependant as with any bit)
2. The rigidity of the bit, some horses hate it and fight it, also dependant on the way the horses mouth is physically conformed.

smrobs 08-13-2013 01:00 PM

Whether a mullen is the right bit for you greatly depends on the horse's preferences. Some horses with thick tongues don't like mullens because there is no room for them and they don't give to the shape of the horse's mouth like a broken bit will. However, a horse with a thinner tongue might really like a mullen because it gives equal pressure to tongue and bars without overloading either.

A mullen is no more mild or severe than any other smooth snaffle, it's simply a difference in action and what the horse prefers.

verona1016 08-13-2013 01:19 PM

I wouldn't consider a mullen mouth to be severe. They can be uncomfortable if they're poorly designed- they need to have some curve in them to follow the anatomy of the horse's mouth and perhaps some tongue relief (in the form of a low to medium port). A lot of it is the horse's preference. As some people have noted, some horses really like a mullen mouth while some prefer the give of a broken mouthpiece. Like any other mouthpiece, the thickness of the bit can also affect whether or not a horse will like it.

It sounds like your horse likes the mullen with a low port, so I would either continue to use the kimberwicke the way you are, or do as you were thinking and getting a bit with the same mouthpiece and different cheeks.

PunksTank 08-14-2013 10:15 AM

Thanks, I can see how if the horse had a large tongue it could be intrusive, but I think most mullen mouth bits are mullened out enough to provide tongue relief for most horses.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've heard most horses prefer to have the bit close enough to their tongue that they can use their tongue to lift it up off their bars and to put the bit more where they want it. I've also heard of all the places a bit can put pressure (the bars, the cheeks, the pallet, the chin and the tongue) that many prefer to use their tongue (so long as there's no pinching parts) because their tongue is stronger and has more 'shock absorbing' ability. I've learned most of my stuff from really one source, so I don't know how much of it is 'fact' versus opinion. So I'm curious to hear others opinions.

As I look around I can't seem to find any low port mullen mouth bits that aren't leverage bits - this makes me wonder why doesn't a bit like this exist or is common at least?

smrobs 08-14-2013 11:44 AM

There are some horses that do like to be able to "carry" the bit themselves. I think it was Cowchick that posted a picture of a horse a while back that was holding a spade bit in their mouth that didn't even have a bridle on it.

In some circles, that is what people want horses to do because carrying the bit allows them to feel even the most subtle changes in the bit's balance and respond.

However, having a horse that will do that greatly depends on the individual horse and the training. I don't really know how other folks train a horse to carry the bit, but I generally leave my bits a bit lower in the mouth than most people...even snaffles. That has seemed to do the trick with the horses that I ride and encourage them to pick the bit up and carry it where it's most comfortable for them.

Also, good hands are really important in getting a horse to carry the bit. If you abuse a horse's mouth, they won't carry the bit because they start trying to avoid all contact with it. So, they just let it hang there by the bridle and try to ignore it until it "bites" them. Hence, the creation of hard mouthed horses.

A good sign that your horse might be carrying the bit is that they hold onto it when you go to unbridle them. Verona posted a thread about this

Once I move a horse up to a curb bit, I'll often play with the bridle, taking it up and down holes until I find that sweet spot where the horse seems to be happiest. Dobe, I have to leave his bridle hanging down a little over 1/4 inch from the corner of his mouth or he gets huffy about it LOL

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