Good all-around bit for trails?

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Good all-around bit for trails?

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    12-16-2012, 09:02 PM
Good all-around bit for trails?

Hi all!

I had my new gelding out on the trails today and while he's wonderful, we were riding with a friend and I found out that he *hates* to have distance put between him and a trail buddy! If we were cantering out front, I had complete control of him and could collect him up into a comfy canter, but if we were behind (especially when I was asking him to trot while friend cantered ahead so he wouldn't overexert himself-- he's a little out of shape) I had to one-rein stop him several times and he didn't learn no matter how many times we'd go through the exercise. (eg. He picks up canter, I ask him to trot, he ignores, I pull his head around, he slows/stops, I give him his head back, he goes to a canter about half of the time)

I have him in a french link snaffle. I don't like the fact that I can't even phase him with rein contact when he has his mind made up. I've also noticed in the arena too, he gives me a tough time paying attention to the bit whereas when I tried him before buying, he was in a curb and due to the leverage, he was super attentive and sensitive to contact.

I don't want to go to a curb, but can someone recommend a good bit that (1) I can use for schooling and trails that might make him pay a little more attention, but (2) won't make him hard-mouthed?

PS-- we spent all yesterday working on downward gait transitions, so the fact that he ignored my down cues today was a big problemo.
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    12-16-2012, 09:31 PM
I'm not so sure I'd change bits yet. You've only had him a couple of days, right? Some of this is excessive energy, some of it is his Arabian coming out with the "go go go" attitude.

I'd probably begin to approach this in a different way such as when he does this, he gets to work. Pick a couple of trees to figure 8 around until he pulls himself down into a walk/easy trot. If a hill is close, work him up and down that. Hopefully your friend will be patient and understand your boy must do as you ask always no matter what her horse is doing.

Of course this is just IMO and how I'd approach it first before changing equipment :)
PunksTank likes this.
    12-17-2012, 12:19 AM
Originally Posted by BBBCrone    
I'm not so sure I'd change bits yet. You've only had him a couple of days, right? Some of this is excessive energy, some of it is his Arabian coming out with the "go go go" attitude.

I'd probably begin to approach this in a different way such as when he does this, he gets to work. Pick a couple of trees to figure 8 around until he pulls himself down into a walk/easy trot. If a hill is close, work him up and down that. Hopefully your friend will be patient and understand your boy must do as you ask always no matter what her horse is doing.

Of course this is just IMO and how I'd approach it first before changing equipment :)
Thanks BBB! :) I know you've been keeping track of my new journey on here... hehe. I should say, the french link snaffle is entirely new to him (tried it at the owner's barn the day before I bought him) and in the arena, we've been working exactly as you mentioned-- not listening = more work! The only issue is that on the trails, we are either surrounded by cacti/brush or in the river washes, there isn't a lot of room to work him around. In a few stretches that were wide enough, I would circle him and it would work... until we started moving forward again. And like I said, this is only a problem when someone else is out front-- he is okay when we're alone or in front. In general, though, we have had issues with listening to downward transition cues which is why I was working on them in the arena.

I do think that as our communication improves, this will get better. However I feel like he pays more attention to munching on the bit link (he does this CONSTANTLY-- he will literally take the bit out of my hands just to chew on it, the dork! Haha) than he does to me.
    12-17-2012, 12:51 AM
Yes ma'am I definitely have been keeping track .. I think he's gorgeous!

Okay I see what you are saying, I misunderstood your first post I think. I'll bow out of it here then because I'm no expert on bits at all.
    12-17-2012, 02:26 AM
Thanks BBB! Your input is always helpful either way. :)

Any thoughts on just switching to a plain single-joint snaffle? Anyone? :3
    12-17-2012, 03:09 AM
Super Moderator
This may not apply at all (and the first thing I would do is to really work with him in a contained environment, getting him truly listening to you, etc) but when my mare started the "LOLz, I'm going to bolt unexpectedly with you [or refuse to stop, or dance around, you know the drill] and since you have a gentle bit in my mouth=HAH."-thing, after I worked with her a bunch in an arena and saw improvement - until the next time something set her off, I put her in a pelham.

I got one with a gentle mouthpiece, one that I knew she already enjoyed, and worked with her in it.

It turned out that after I displayed my new "magical" power a few times, the bolting disappeared completely. I would ride, as normal, on the snaffle rein but have the curb rein in my hands, ready to use, if the opportunity presented itself. As soon as she'd try to take off, I would just crank on that curb rein and shut her down immediately. Since I was not relying on the curb rein for more than just a few shut-downs, she came to the conclusion that I just now have this "power" indefinitely. Now, there's no question of her bolting because, even though I've switched her back to a snaffle, she still thinks I have curb power. I do sometimes put her in the pelham again, just for a little reminder ride, but it's extremely rare that I actually have to use the curb rein. I think I initially used it all of twice before she figured out that I was on to her game.

However, in her case she fully knew that what she was doing was wrong...she just knew I had no power to stop her.

In your case, I would focus on just walking out on the trails and get him fully under control at all gaits in the arena (if you can't reliably bring him down a gait in the arena, imho, he's out of control) THEN, and only then, try doing more on the trails.

I thiiink what I found with my girl (she had very similar issues initially) was that vocal cues have a lot more power with her than physical ones. When she's out there running and I've just let her go for it, I could pull on the reins all day and she would not care. However, if I say "LACEY! Ahh-ahh-ah! Easy!" (plus, sometimes, a mild slap on the neck to get her listening to me if she's really into it), she'll slow up, even with zero rein cues. It's something to try. :)

I would try to stick with the bit you're using and just school him more more more. I don't think trying a single jointed snaffle would hurt but don't fall down the "little harsher, little harsher, little harsher" pit.
Good luck! It's hard! These competitive horses! Haha
bsms likes this.
    12-17-2012, 03:38 AM
Thank you so much-- your reply helps a lot. I, too, am very vocal when it comes to riding and will definitely try to be more definitive with my whoa!

You know, this horse has showed for years and years in western pleasure, hunt flat, etc... I know that he knows his training, but we just don't seem to have a full repertoire yet. I don't even think it's him taking advantage and then going "oh, okay" because there's never an "oh, okay" realization when I stop him from getting away with things. All of this makes me think that switching him into this super gentle bit + new owner = no respect. Does that sound right to you? Or just me making excuses? Haha!

I didn't think of a pelham and keeping the curb rein as a "backup." It's an interesting idea.

I guess I'm a little frustrated that a horse who is clearly well trained and intelligent just isn't listening to my cues. Since switching bits, he has the laziest stops, the kind of "whoa!" followed by step...step...... step.... okay, stopped. Even when I'm giving pre-signals and literally drop my weight into the saddle and "stop riding," paired with breathing out and a verbal "ho." Or my personal favorite-- if he makes me ask "ho" twice, I one-rein stop to show him I mean business. Then after I release the one-rein stop, he moves forward again even though I haven't given a command and we enter a loop of stop-and-go until he finally stands still. Only yesterday after tons of repetition were we having nice downward transitions and stops.

To be fair, I've been riding this horse for about a week, and I know that these things take time. But I feel like a good stop is the most important thing on a horse, and for whatever reason he just won't give it to me in this bit.
    12-17-2012, 04:05 AM
Your arab sounds exactly like my arab. But at least you know the history of your boy - my girl is a rescue . . . And I am only commenting because we seem to have like horses.

But anyway, in my opinion, anyone feel free to disagree, you should probably work in the arena again at the walk asking him to do things you know he can do and build his confidence. To me it sounds like there are some gaps in his training/understanding -- if he showed WP (no offense to anyone) his previous owners probably rushed too strong of a bit in his mouth to "fix" his behavioral issues and/or his head set -- that "rounded" neck that is actually not true collection at all...

He sounds confused to me. Honestly. And good for you for avoiding a bit with more leverage -- he doesn't need it. Why do you need a leverage bit when he doesn't seem to understand why he is being asked to collect.

I also disagree with whoever wrote that if the horse is not listening then you need to work him more. This may only reinforce behavior you don't want. Hypothetically, if he is confused, forcing him to do that which confuses him will only frustrate him more and adding a bit that forces him to round his neck/"collect" will also teach him to carry himself with his back hollowed. You try jogging in a circle with your back hollowed and see how long until your own back hurts.

If you disagree with me, then test your horse. Can he walk on a lose rein with his neck stretched down (or with his head at least parallel to his ears)? Does he speed up when you give him a slight leg cue? Does he hold a steady rhythm at the trot (also on a lose rein with no contact)? If he can do all the above then disregard everything I wrote. But if no, your horse is nervous (not because he is an arab) but because is education was probably rushed and he needs to relearn a few things.

I highly reccomend you dial it back a few notches, that includes no more cantering down the trail, and WALK your horse until YOU know he is listening and TRUSTING you.

Trust with a horse goes a long way.

Best regards, Sara
    12-17-2012, 04:15 AM
I just want to add, if you are dead set on a swapping bits you should look at the "baucher bit". It has very slight leverage but not nearly has forceful as many other curb bits.

I don't know how you ride -- but I am assuming you ride with soft hands.

Just please be patient with your horse.
    12-17-2012, 09:48 AM
If he worked great in a curb, that seems like a logical bit to use. It is what he seems to be trained with.

The curb bit is only harsh if you make it be harsh. You have to be careful to not handle his mouth roughly. I use a mild, low port, short shanked curb on my horse. Most of the time, I ride with a totally loose rein. When I need the bit, then it is there and she respects it. Even when spooked, she stops dead still when asked with gentle pressure.

Some horses don't like a broken bit.

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