Gag Bit Info
Hello. I'm doing a presentation on the different types of bits and how they work, mechanically.
I'm almost to the end and I'm working on gags. I've got everything covered except I was reading that if the rider finds that the use of two reins is too cumbersome then only the gag rein should be used. I've never used a gag, myself...never had the need, so I'm having a little trouble visualizing what happens when it's only ridden with the gag rein. For example, would you ride it with one hand like a curb, or would you ride it with two like a snaffle?...the presence of shanks and the absence of the curb chain is what's confusing me as to how it works (what it does).
If anyone can help clarify or has any good websites I can go to I'd appreciate it. I've already been to that "Sustainable Dressage" website and the ones that show up on Google (it's hard to search, though because of all the bits people have for sale that clutter a search).
IMO if using two reins is too cumbersome you shouldn't be using a gag at all. A gag can be fabulous on certain horses, certain instances, WITH EDUCATED hands. If you can't handle it, it's not the bit for you. Even a bit converter would be kinder then riding purely off the gag rein. That's my opinion (what? you didn't ask for my opinion? :D).
There are a myriad of types of gags out there. The one that i'm most familiar with are the ones with 1 rein that connects to the bit regularly (for example, a snaffle) and a 2nd that connects to the cheekpieces through the rings of the bit. This 2nd rein is more of a reinforcement. So you ride primarily off your snaffle and when your horse ignores that you use more of the gag rein to activate the 'gag action'. (which no, does NOT gag your horse :D) So you hold the reins in both hands just like you would a pelham, although it's fairly common for people to put more of a loop in the gag rein instead of having contact. If you were to only ride with the gag rein you would hold it just like any regular snaffle. It's just that instead of being a reinforcement your horse would feel nothing but gag pressure. That IMO is a little harsh.
Thanks! I'll just go leave that other part out. I'm glad I asked. =D
I found this Fitting a Gag Bit Correctly
Is there a difference between a western gag and an English gag bit?
I always assumed the gag action on a western bit was the ability of the mouthpiece to slide up and down.
ETA- I jsut read this on Wiki (I know not a great sourse but...) "Gag bits are also occasionally seen in western-style competition, usually in the form of a sliding mouthpiece on a shanked curb-style bit (similar to the American gag)."
That was the first thing that I thought Vida. This is the type of Gag that I am most familiar with.
Or more commonly, the "Wonder bit"
I can see how the wonder bit could be used with 2 reins but it would be almost impossible with the other one. Sadly enough, where I most often see these bits is on hot barrel horses with girls with hard hands. I would personally NEVER use a gag bit on any of my horses. I don't understand the point of them or why people think they need them. If a horse isn't responsive in a regular bit, then it is a training issue.
Are you talking about the dutch gag? (four rings)?
If so, maybe add that MANY people use it with only one rein - However this is NOT how it is supposed to be used. It doesn't allow for any aids without the gag action - Every time contact is taken up on the mouth the bit slides up in the mouth. This bit SHOULD only be used with two reins - Unfortunately many people do not.
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