Help going from a hackamore to a bit please
This forum has been so very helpful to me in the past that I am hoping you can help with this problem. I just got a new horse and he was ridden in a hackamore with 9" shanks and a tie down. Every horse at the stable was ridden in this type of equipment. I have read that hackamores can be harsh and I am worried about hurting him. I would like to change to a bit. The previous owner told me he didn't like bits so that why she used a hackamore. I am afriad of falling off and jerking the reins and hurting him. As I was untacking him yesterday he stepped on the hackamore and bent it somehow, it doesn't look quite right. I would have to wait a couple weeks for the tack store to order me another one but I think I would really like to change him to some kind of a bit. (I ride western) Today I put him in a thick mouthed snaffle that had shanks (not sure what the proper name is) and he gagged a few times and tried to spit the bit out but then seemed ok. I only rode him around the yard a little bit as we were working on getting him to stand still for mounting . Ok here are my questions should I try to put him in a bit or wait for the new hackamore to arrive? If a bit would be ok what would you suggest? and how would I know if it fit. The one I used today almost seemed too narrow for his face, the cheek pieces were right at the side of his mouth, not pinching but nothing to spare either. there were 1-2 wrinkles at the corners of his mouth but the next notch in the headstall made it too low in his mouth and he tried to spit it out. He does accept putting on the hackamore a lot better and fought me trying to put a bit in his mouth. I have light hands and he seems very responsive in both the hackamore and the bit.
First thing, if it has shanks it is not a snaffle it is a curb bit.
Can you find a picture of what bit you tired and the hack he was/is used to going in?
ok I found some pictures that look like what i have, I am not sure if this will work. not really sure how to upload pictures. The bit is called a tom Thumb trainer I guess and the hackamore is just a mechanical hackamore
Yuck to both the mechanical hackamore and the Tom Thumb. First, I suggest you read the bitting link in my signature for a reference overview of bit types and action.
Now, the course of action I suggest:
1. Get his teeth floated.
2. Ditch the tie-down unless you don't feel safe without it.
3. Switch the mechanical out for a leather-nosed Little S hackamore.
4. If you still feel the need to change to a bit, try a loose ring snaffle with a smooth broken or French link mouth first. If you want to use a curb, go with a smooth dogbone with short to medium length shanks.
I agree with Bubba. To add to that post though-
This is a Little S Hackamore: (Google Image Result for http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Q4IK0tMYvU4/Sm26JtJW_hI/AAAAAAAACAQ/vT5_4swYAI8/s400/S-Hack-leather.jpg) (Google Image Result for http://www.mcdiamond.com/images/bits/hackamore/bb757.jpg)
This is the type of bit you should try if you want to use one (a french link): (Google Image Result for http://www.bluepony.co.uk/images/French-Link-Eggbutt-Snaffle-885.jpg)
thank you for the great advice I will look into both options, but the questions remains if I do choose a bit how do I know if it fits the horse? Should the sides of the bit be against his cheeks or should you see a tiny part of the bit extending beyond his mouth before the cheek pieces?
If the horse works good and prefers a hack, the Little S would be good.
Since this horse has never been ridden in a bit before, the place you will want to start is a simple snaffle bit (no shanks). Lots of horses will play with the bit and try to spit it out for the first little while you use it. That doesn't mean that they don't like it, it just means that they aren't used to it. Continue to ride him and work him through it; give him something to focus on other than the bit. Work on getting him flexible and supple to each side as that's where much of your control in an emergency will come from.
Well, the bit shouldn't be so narrow that it's pinching the corners of lips, so if that's the case, you need to look into something else. But most Western bits are sold in a "one size is supposed to fit all" manner, so your options may be very limited if the standard size is too narrow for your horse.
As for adjusting the level in the mouth, I only like to see at most one wrinkle on a curb and at most two wrinkles on a snaffle when the reins are relaxed.
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