Which Bit for an MFT
Im thinking about changing the bit I'm using for my MFT, she does OK but I get the feeling she doesn't really like the one I'm using because she shakes her head a lot, it's not just the nodding action. I'm using a shank bit and I think it may be to severe for her. I've read the Book on gaited horses and I am still confused. :?
I'd just like to get your opinions on what works for you.
Thanks a lot:-)
First, when was the last time her teeth were done.
It also could be that the bit is too loose and she is trying to get rid of it. Just a couple thoughts.
It is less the length of the shank and more the lightness or heaviness of the riders hands.
I have a 3 year old RMH in an 8" shank Robarts walker bit. I am very light with my hands and have had no problems.
The bit choice for any horse is driven more by the use of the horse than any "bitting philosophy."
What are you doing with the horse? If you're going to be doing precision things (dressage, equitation, obsticle courses, etc.) then you want a high level of "communication" with the mouth. If you're going to be riding endurance you would likely focus on long term "comfort." For speed events you're going to want quick authority. So, what are you doing? :-)
Remember, too, that the bit is only part of your "communication suite" with the horse. The leg, seat, and balance are also in the mix. The most effective riders, on the trail or in the arena or riding to the hounds or any where else, can use the hand, leg, and seat independantly and in coordination.
When I got my first Walker I had a long shanked curb bit 'cause that was what all the "experts" told me I needed. Fortunately I learned fairly quickly that the "experts" were full of beans. While the power of any bit is in the hands of the rider you can do a lot more damage to the mouth with a lever than without one. I strongly discourage the long shanked bit; I've yet seen a horse that can't work on Pelham with a 1.5" curb. If you're going to ride in contact (and some disciplines require it) keep to a "minimalist" bit. Your horse will thank you for it. :-)
thanks, that makes me feel a little better, I'd like to think I'm light with my hands, I only pleasure/trail ride on my own property. I might get her teeth checked though because that had crossed my mind. Thanks again
I would check the teeth first, I have a mare right now that is crazy if you use anything in her mouth. Her teeth are a train wreck. She is not used right now until I can get an equine dentist lined up which is like (excuse the pun) pulling teeth. This hurts me a great deal as she is a blast to ride.
Are you brave enough to try a bitless bridle. I have two gaited horses and all the talk about gaited bits etc. is really just talk. I have ridden for years bitless with my horses, they love it.
I ride, and train, all of my horses in a simple Eggbutt Snaffle. I've ridden TWH, MFT, and a QH all in my one, simple, copper mouthpiece snaffle.
Shank bits work on the principle of leverage. In my opinion, 99% of horses worked in a shanked mouthpiece are working in a bit that is far too much for the horse. I recently rode a green MFT in a shanked, ported bit. At the slightest touch of the reins (asking to whoa, very light handed) he reared. Why? The supposed 'patient owner/trainer' had spent the last two hours with his hands in his mouth, cranking on that shanked bit until the horse was gaping. I didn't have the nerve to do such a thing to the poor horse, so when I lightly asked him to whoa, he whoa'd, with only two feet on the ground.
I prefer the Snaffle bit because it's lightweight and sits nicely in the mouth. It's perfect for working green, or trained-but-not-finished horses. Great for trail horses, if you need to put a little pressure on your mount you can without it going up-up-and backwards because holy **** what is that horrendous thing in my mouth.
If I need to whoa with a little more force, or do an emergency one-reined stop, I'm not jamming a buttload of pressure into my horses mouth due to shanks + a port. You simply cannot direct rein in a leverage bit without causing the horse extreme discomfort. A snaffle is meant for direct reining.
In my opinion, the shanked bit should be left to the professionals in the advanced show ring. It looks pretty on a horse and conveys subtle rein cues better than a snaffle bit.
This site has a great article on bits:
Bits and their Proper Use
The 'gaited horse bit' is a bunch of BS. It's for people who are scared of their horses, henceforth get a nasty shank-n'-crank bit, and want a 'uberpurdyheadset'. If your horse doesn't arch and collect in a gait naturally, you have a lot more training to do. Gaited Horse Bits are like the Rollkur of the gaited world. Unnecessary and improperly used.
You got some good advice already... I just wanted to add something...
What kind of mouthpiece are you using?
MFTs are known for having low palates, thick tongues, and overall small mouths. Many MFTs (including mine) can't stand single-jointed bits because of this. A lot of MFTs dislike ports, as well... although mine is fine with them.
I pretty much have to use either a double-jointed bit or a straight-bar mouthpiece with my MFT or she'll be very unhappy.
Again I am going to say it, try a bitless bridle. If you are too insecure on your horse then no bit will work. I have never seen a horse that is not happier in a bitless bridle and if you use your cues properly you DO NOT NEED A BIT. I think if you could just try one you would find your horse to be much, much happier, relaxed and very willing. You do not need a bit to get the correct headset, or for collection or to do reigning.
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