To Snaffle or Not To Snaffle
That is the question!
Quick facts on Red:
-He is NOT a trail bred horse. He is a show bred horse. He's about as sure footed as someone with two left feet. His toes are also starting looking suspiciously long, but farriers coming out in about a week so no problems there. He's not 'OMG :shock:' long he's more 'Trim t-minus two weeks!' long. Getting close :D
-He has had 60 days at the trainers, and we've had 3 falls in the last 2 months or so.
First fall occurred when my saddle broke. We had some minor bucking while mounting afterwards, but thats long gone now.
Second fall occurred when he spooked going under some tree branches and (lord forbid) they touched him. I decided that to dismount was the best option. He finished his spook, stopped, and waited for me.
Third fall occurred today, he stepped into a invisible hole (literally, invisible until your tripping over it) and stumbled hard. My left rein came off the clip attaching it to the bit when he just about face planted. He then did a small rear but did fling his head back. I got whacked in the face by one large horse head and did the graceful Flying Dismount. He shied away from me, stopped, and waited. We where riding close to a rather thorny tree, and I think he got poked in the face (hence the rear).
I did get back on the second and third time, and he is always 100%, like nothing ever happened. He does neck rein and work off those legs beautifully.
-He rides in a medium-port, medium curved shank curb bit with a flat chain. He neck reins and works off leg cues. Very, very, rarely do I have to actually engage the bit.
-I ride with single reins, and soft rowel spurs. I do not go off and poke him with them unless he does one of his patented 'Stop!' moments. He will stop dead in the water if he has to poop, or thinks he has to poop. This requires a slightly firmer 'Go Please' then normal.
-At the moment, we are riding in an English saddle. I love it to pieces.
-He is small mouthed. I do NOT want to ride him in a hackamore.
-He does not take well to excessive tongue pressure. I put him in a VERY gentle mullen and he put his tongue over it, around it, did gymnastics, etc. The bit he's riding in now better fits the shape of the upper tongue, with a gently sloping port.
So! To snaffle or not to snaffle? The snaffle would give me the 'feel' that the curb does not, I'm just not sure how this small-mouthed boy would respond. I only have a single-jointed eggbutt (copper) at the moment. No nice lozenge or anything :-(
Like I said, I do *not* want to ride him in a hackamore. He would like a hackamore about as much as me swinging by his tail.
Since he dislikes a lot of tongue pressure, the single jointed bit may be just the thing for him. The double jointed ones do apply more pressure to the tongue. Since you've got it, you might as well give it a shot. If he doesn't like it, then you can start looking for other things to try.
He is doing quite well in his curb bit, buuuut....you won't know if somethings better until you try it, am I right? :D
I would feel better in a snaffle, since it doesn't have the leverage action of the curb. If I, for instance, do another flying dismount and take the reins with me, the snaffle will hurt, but it won't crank down on his jaw like the curb would.
He's bits up fine, isn't head shy in any aspect, and carries himself naturally.
Snaffles are the one complaint I had about my trainer. He claimed they make them hard mouthed, which is true (if your dangling off the reins or sitting in the mouth), but the same is VERY true for curbs ;D Besides, people jump horses in snaffles...
I'm encouraging him to really pick up his gait more and more now. He'll pick up a running walk, but hasn't moved out in a Foxtrot alone yet. Snaffle would allow me to feel him without accidentally restricting or cuing him. I ride him on a relatively short rein because of his green status when at a walk, he gets quite a bit more when going quicker (especially with that head shake) BUT....it could happen e-e
I know I shouldn't fix it if it ain't broken, but still, concerns.
How is changing the bit going to stop your horse from spooking and you from falling off? You need to change the clips on your reins so that they don't fall off and then expose your horse to more outside stimuli. I don't see that a bit is the solution to your problem or even much of a help. You've fallen off a few times and got your horse in a couple of situations that he wasn't ready for but you didn't loose control or anything else that would benefit from a bit change. Go slow and stay in the saddle and quit falling off.
Totally agree with Kevin.
A different bit will not 'Velcro' you to the saddle. Maybe for trail riding you should try a western saddle. It seems he was trained that way and it does have a handy handle on it.
I don't want any one to tell me that saddle horns are not there to hang on to. My stock saddle even has a leather dog collar buckled around the swell next to the horn (and it ain't for collaring up dogs).
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