Do I Need A Different Bit?
All righty. My horse, Jay, is by no means a Western horse. He can walk, jog, and lope (English/Ranch [in-between] style) with a Western saddle and bridle. But we mostly jump and do English anyway. However, when I do ride or show Western, like in AQHA or 4H, Jay is a little hard to steer, like I can't "control" him, even two handed. I think it is because for English, he is used to a D-Ring slow twist, yet in Western, I use a very basic "full cheek" broken bit (proper terminology? I'll post a picture tomorrow as I can't remember the name...). When we first bought him, I used a plain full cheek snaffle for English (yet I could not steer him, like he is in Western now). I can ride him one-handed, loose-reined all day and not have an issue with him listening to my hand and neck rein with his D-Ring snaffle. I'm asking:
Should I try a different bit? If so, which one? (and if so, what about one legal in AQHA and 4H?)
Would there be a legal 6 y/o + bit with the same effect as the D-ring twisted snaffle?
Would there be anything I could do to increase responsiveness if not?
I'm not familiar with the rules of what bits are 'legal' or not in showing, but honestly if he goes great in the D ring I'd just use that for riding western too. I ride only western, as do most people in my area, and many use D rings of various kinds.
The "full cheek broken bit" is most likely what is commonly referred to as a tom thumb. That bit can give very confusing signals to a horse not used to it. If your horse goes well in the D-ring snaffle, with both direct and indirect reining, I would stick with that.
IF you need to have a bit allowed in the show ring, I would borrow a curb bit or two and get him used to indirect reining with that.
The way I've had luck getting horses used to the curb is by applying the indirect rein (neck reining) and using the inside (direct rein) only to support the cue. Asking for the turn with the direct rein lightly and releasing as soon as the horse begins to respond. As the horse responds better I eliminate the direct rein cue.
Does that make any sense?
Yes! Thanks so much!
Here is the bit we currently use!
I like the Billy Allen design. The sides move independently, there is a roller/barrel in the middle, and the mouthpiece is firm enough to give clear cues when neck-reining:
I also suggest reading this thread for a lot of good info:
Something as simple as this:
Some people like the movement at the sides of the bar at the shank. There are a ridiculous number of variations. I always suggest borrowing before you buy, if you can.
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