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post #131 of 146 Old 01-05-2020, 02:14 AM
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The three to the right are the bits I use 90% of the time, with the addition of one loose-ring copper snaffle that isn't in the shot. The jointed-mouth curb, and the low-port curb will work on nearly any horse. The medium-port curb with the romal is for a broke horse who is 100% solid on a neck rein and knows how to carry himself properly.

For a horse I don't know, I'll nearly always use the low-port curb. It is a very mild bit, but has enough leverage to get a horse's attention if he tries to run through it. You can add another rein and ride with two reins if needed, or run a draw-rein through the top ring if needed. I reschooled a lot of 'blown out' arena horses in that setup, and it works very well. I've never had a horse that didn't relax and go well in that bit after a few rides. If the horse might need a little more riding two-handed, the jointed-mouth bit allows that more easily than the solid mouth and helps keep a horse's shoulders up and doesn't let him brace his neck against it, but also is very forgiving and soft on a horse who is ready for one-handed riding and neck-reining, too. Both bits are comfortable for the horse, well-balanced, and versatile. If I could only have three bits in my barn, it would be these two and the o-ring snaffle.
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Last edited by SilverMaple; 01-05-2020 at 02:22 AM.
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post #132 of 146 Old 01-05-2020, 02:45 PM
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Very nice Silver Maple!

It's probably been done before, maybe even by me, but it would be cool to have a "favorite bits" thread.

I used to ride any horse I had (non-gaited) in that broken mouth curb/Argentine snaffle in your photo. I have one nearly identical to it (just the silver decorations are different).

Then, when I got my first gaited horse, I went to a low port curb, because my neighbor with Fox Trotters said that's what they went best in. And you know what, they do, and that is now my favorite bit! Shorter shanks and ports of varying sizes but they all seem to work fabulous on the various Fox Trotters I've ridden.

I went through a "Myler" phase, because my last two horses did awesome in the little HBT shank with the #33 mouthpiece. But my current Fox Trotter mare actually seems to do better with less moving parts. So I ride with either a grazer or a grazer with loose cheeks. I discovered she even does awesome in a kimberwick. Which makes sense but it certainly gives a different "look" for someone who rides western!

The only bits everyone seems to love that I have never had good luck in is snaffles. I've tried to like them, I really have. But they just seem to encourage a raised head and/or rooting. But I mainly just trail ride on broke horses, so curb bits with short shanks just work perfect for me.


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post #133 of 146 Old 01-06-2020, 02:17 AM
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I rode my friend's OTTB in the Wonder gag bit again yesterday. I thought I would include a couple of photos to show how he goes in it.
The bit is similar to this:


It is a little difficult to see in the close up, but I wanted to point out that the horse is not wearing a noseband, and his mouth is closed even though we are going down a steep hill and I do have a little pressure on the bit in the pictures.
It obviously is not making his raise his head or poke his nose out.
Some of the videos on Youtube make it look like the horse will have the bit raise up far in the mouth when the reins are pulled, but it does not sit with the shank parallel to the horse's mouth even when the reins are loose on this horse (probably due to where he carries his head), and it also does not pull hard on the horse until after there is a significant rotation.
So even though the shanks are rotated a bit here, you can see my reins are not taut, and the horse is not getting pulled on in the mouth significantly.




Throughout the ride in this bit, the horse tended to keep his head and neck in this posture. For most of the ride he was on a loose rein, and I never asked him to carry his head any certain way, but only asked him to respond to cues and gave him release whenever he complied.
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post #134 of 146 Old 01-16-2020, 01:36 PM
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Do you normally just do arena work? And little to no trail rding?


Sounds like it had less to do with the bit in her mouth and more with that she needs more miles on the trail. For me, this is the type of situation I will "bit up" if needed. The horse needs to have miles to get better at trail riding, but I also need to know I have control. I don't have to engage or use the "bigger bit" but it's good to have just in case.

____
So prior to me owning her she had been on trails 2-3 times in her life. I took her on trails the day I tried her out, and she was just really hot and wanting to go go go. I've gotten her to mellow out quite a bit, but where the barn is there is only one wash to ride in and you have to go about half a mile down a pretty busy road to get to it. I've taken her out there once, but I am just a little too nervous to ride alone out there and go alongside the road with her inexperience.

I've ridden her twice on eq. trails in national parks. Once we ended up being cut short because of rain and seeing a mountain lion. Then this ride with these ladies. So yes she definitely needs miles on the trail. I agree about bitting up on the trail just because if I do need it then I'd like to have the whoa power.

I've been videoing practice runs to make sure I'm not causing her to rate too soon with my hands. I honestly think she's such an anticipatory horse that I need to focus a lot on my body position and me not anticipating. She is smart and wants to figure out what i'm asking then she does it before I ask.

Rhonda
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post #135 of 146 Old 01-20-2020, 12:35 AM
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Tried a ride with an AQHA gelding with a tendency to overpower his rider (she is one handed and he can be quite strong) in a gag bit. This one had quite a lot of slide to it. After being put out that he could no longer pull the reins out of her hands or her up onto the neck, we went lovely for her and we played with some dressage concepts and introduced leg yield and using spiral in and spiral out on a circle with a canter transition. He seemed happy with the bit and gaped his mouth a lot less than he usually does and he quit his habit of flicking his head up and down in the canter.

After she rode I hopped on. Please enjoy this rendition of "my equitation goes to death when it's cold"....oh those shoulders hunched against the winter air... and take a minute to notice that the aqha was able to come into the contact with confidence and begin the steps to working over the back. He is still a bit green to this kind of work and tends to be unbalanced to the forehand, but I think these images show that the gag isn't a "proper mechanics destructive agent" in this case it was a good bit for this horse and rider combo.


Note. In case it was not clear- not sharing pictures of my friend riding with the bit- That's I'm fairly certain against HF rules.
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post #136 of 146 Old 01-20-2020, 11:23 AM
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I've only skimmed parts of this thread, so I apologize If I may be missing information. I'll come back after I've read more :) Generally, I've found that 'strong horses' are in fact horses resistant to the bit or with holes in their training, as long as they have a bit they are comfortable with. I say generally because I am not accounting for situations in which a horse becomes excited or has some sort of physical issue, such as body misalignment or improper saddle fit. However, these are usually temporary to an extent where fixing cause will fix most of the issue. There are also those that are hot and can be a strong ride, despite training, but for this, I will stick to talking about non-hot horses.

My experience with this is that It will take time, perhaps a lot of time to go back and address the root cause of the issue. That time will depend on your own learning curve and consistency. That may not be what you want to hear, but It is true. I was once in the same situation, with a horse that instead would go too 'soft' or gape as an evasion. Luckily my horse was still very responsive to seat, but there was virtually nothing I could do to have him take contact again until he wanted to. I tried several different quick fixes in which many provided a temporary solution, but only going back to basics without time constraints permanently fixed the issue. Since that lesson, I've been able to apply the same concept to help other horses with reluctance to correct contact such as running through the bit, becoming heavy, and ignoring the bit etc. A different approach was used with each horse depending on what needed to be worked on, but I used the same concept of going back to basics and teaching them what it means to truly connect with the bit. The horses that did not keep to the changes were the ones who had constraints put on them, and the owners for one reason or another wanted to speed up the process and expected a certain level of performance without building the blocks to it. These horses eventually went back to their evasions as a means to escape that pressure.

From the strong horses I've encountered, I've found that it takes more time to establish 'seat' and contact, because they are more likely to ignore in favor for speed. Desensitization was also more of a focus with those who were sensitive. I've found there are two types of speedy horses: (1) the horse that runs through contact and goes behind the bit and (2) the horse that goes heavy and pulls the bit. Contact needs to be made a place that they want to go to and their idea. To do that, it may take several short (+/- 15 min) rides/ in hand work, which stops when the horse goes properly into contact, and each extends very slightly in duration of holding contact so a horse sees contact as a positive thing. Then, once that is established at a walk and the horse comes back with seat without rein, then lateral work begins. Lateral work is a riders friend when it comes to strong horses. Being able to perform easy laterals is what helps bring a horse back to focusing and engaging the hind end= slower and more control. You should be able to do responsive laterals on a loose rein with your weight and leg aids before you add speed on these types of horses in my opinion because they are a tool to help harness that energy.

With each horse, I started on the ground to instill concepts before teaching them undersaddle. Then at the walk until I was confident the concept was firmly established, then I'd add speed (first a few strides and slowly added). My horse took mabye 3 months, others took longer, but I also was not working with them as frequently. Generally, the strong horses took longer, but not much longer, as long as they were under a good diet and work schedule. I'm sure that there are other ways to deal with the issue and horses that do not fit into these categories, but this is what I've experienced and It seems to work.

Last edited by Jolly101; 01-20-2020 at 11:37 AM.
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post #137 of 146 Old 01-21-2020, 01:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly101 View Post
Lateral work is a riders friend when it comes to strong horses. Being able to perform easy laterals is what helps bring a horse back to focusing and engaging the hind end= slower and more control. You should be able to do responsive laterals on a loose rein with your weight and leg aids before you add speed on these types of horses in my opinion because they are a tool to help harness that energy.
Laterals are useful for horses to "harness" energy until a very athletic horse gets very fit and balanced. At that point laterals become a useful way for the rider to help the horse burn through some excesss energy at times, but at other times they become a fun way for the horse to make things more exciting for the rider.

With very athletic horses the progression is as you said: responsive laterals on weight and leg aids, then when they are solid, add speed, then the horse gets extremely fit by being ridden for many miles and doing laterals along with hill work and galloping. An example might be an event horse.

After that, the horse may show you that for example, if you ask him to bend and engage while slowing to a trot, he can instead do canter half pass. Sometimes he may progress forward more slowly, but put his energy into making the canter very high, or offer flying changes.

While it is difficult not to laugh when horses are talented enough to be this type of naughty, sometimes a stronger bit may be useful to curtail these activities.
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post #138 of 146 Old 01-21-2020, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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I'll be coming back eventually - we've been battling the bitter Montana winter for the past few weeks and then just as it started to clear up and go through a warm spot I came down with a nasty cold. Now all my horses are fresh, snotty, and a little bratty. I've been out a few times doing groundwork and some desensitization, but have been unable to find proper time to ride + catch the horses with work and the cold. :) The gelding I'd like to mess with next with a gag is currently out on winter pasture(He's a trail horse known for being heavy and leaning on the bit, but a very sweet boy.) with 30 other geldings.... so catching the little dude is rather difficult sometimes. Hopefully, this Friday I'll have some time to grab him and try things out(he's also a bit quieter than my mare, so I can actually attempt to get a few pictures or a video on the mechanics to look at instead of dealing with Ms. Head-Tosser.).

Moving on from that - I came across this article about bits and bitting, and while I think some of the talk about bit seats is rather barbaric(If your bit is bumping up against the teeth so consistently that you need bit seats, you've got a much larger problem than the horse's teeth.), it has radiographs of a snaffle, curb, broken curb, and two gag bits action in the mouth. The gag is the only bit that ever touches the molars when under pressure, other than the full bridle(which, given it has two bits - isn't any better, but at least it makes sense. There's not a whole lot of room for two bits in the horse's mouth.)

https://damascusequine.com/wp-conten...AndBitting.pdf

Also, a quote: "It might be thought that the gag functions to lower the head because tension on the reins
places pressure on the poll. But, because the horse's mouth is much more sensitive to
pressure than is its poll, the net effect of the gag bit, used with no auxiliary aids, is to
accentuate the basic head-raising action of a snaffle bit.2"


Obviously, response to poll pressure varies per horse. The young barrel racers in gags have horses with high headsets and crazy eyes. The eventers and polo players are the same. A working western horse, on the other hand, is valued more if he's able to move around and listen without jacking his face up in the air, so he's likely taught a bit more response to poll pressure than your Average Joe's horse. My horse is very sensitive and has been taught to give to poll pressure if I ask, so she's more likely to tuck under and curl her neck than a horse who's been pulled fresh off the pasture. But beyond that, that's been the only slightly more "legitimate" article I can find that directly mentions gags. Most only bother to go over a snaffle and a curb and just tend to ignore the rest. Considering bitting is typically such a... well, loud topic(I'm glad no one has gotten loud here yet.. I might believe in certain things but I do try to stay civil and open-minded until I'm proven otherwise with good evidence.) as well I wouldn't doubt if people are hesitant to breach any sort of conversation on anything beyond what's universally known or despised(ex - the Tom Thumb).

Another thing I'd like to point out is that so far, we've really only talked about the gag in regards to trail rides/etc, with the exception of @lostastirrup . A horse can be comfortable in just about anything on the trail, if the amount of trail riders using TT's or gigantic gaited bits says anything(The amount of leverage on those things frankly scares me away from ever attempting to ride with one for curiosity's sake - if I fall off or get off balance I could very well damage my horse's mouth beyond repair and I'm not willing to take that risk.). Try working or training in those bits.... you'll get a different result. My horse probably would have been fine after a half an hour or so if I'd ridden her off on a loose rein in the gag for a nice trail ride, but trying to train and actually establish any sense of contact was a different story. Part of the thing that I dislike about gags the most is that it's so easy to rotate them. You apply just a little contact, and they start sliding up. If I were to apply the amount of contact it takes to guide my mare at a decent clip around a barrel pattern - the slide could be very easily all the way engaged. And so far we've shown that no one really want to fully engage the gag. (I also find it quite telling that of all the bits - gags are the ones that we see the crazy extremes in. I'm not talking your standard "Wonder Bit" or Dutch Gag that's found just about everywhere - I'm talking the 6-inch slide gag with a chain mouthpiece(chain is another dislike of mine.... mostly because yeah, it conforms to the horse's mouth - but the horse also can't ever carry it himself. That, and the pinch factor.), floating port, and no curb strap. I don't think you can introduce a bit like that in any way and not look at it and say "Looks scary. I wonder if it is?" somewhere along the line. I've seen some crazy snaffles(the hinged or ball-joint ones are... nasty, very pinchy things. I've heard of the ball-joint taking the tip of a guy's finger off. Like, no sir, not going anywhere near a mouth. ) and curbs(5 inch cathedral. Yeah... not for me. Spades I have no problem with, as long as your horse is ready. But sticking that amount of port in there without it being a real spade is just asking for a nice little hole in your horse's palate in my opinion.), but nothing like some of the gags I've seen. It's ridiculous. Worst part is - they're used more commonly that snaffles where I grew up. Every horse and rider may be different... but there comes of point in which you're just looking for a big "no brakes" band-aid to slap on your horse.)

So, enjoy picking through my late night thoughts and have a good night, everyone. :) (Cross your fingers the snow will go away - I desperately want to be able to ride my track in the fields again without having to worry about ice/snow/getting over icy, overflown ditches. It's no fun trying to get in a good ride while making sure you're not about to go ice skating at the same time on a temperamental 900lb animal.)

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post #139 of 146 Old 01-21-2020, 04:08 AM
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Originally Posted by The Equinest View Post
Part of the thing that I dislike about gags the most is that it's so easy to rotate them. You apply just a little contact, and they start sliding up. If I were to apply the amount of contact it takes to guide my mare at a decent clip around a barrel pattern - the slide could be very easily all the way engaged. And so far we've shown that no one really want to fully engage the gag. (I also find it quite telling that of all the bits - gags are the ones that we see the crazy extremes in. I'm not talking your standard "Wonder Bit" or Dutch Gag that's found just about everywhere - I'm talking the 6-inch slide gag with a chain mouthpiece(chain is another dislike of mine.... mostly because yeah, it conforms to the horse's mouth - but the horse also can't ever carry it himself. That, and the pinch factor.), floating port, and no curb strap. I don't think you can introduce a bit like that in any way and not look at it and say "Looks scary. I wonder if it is?" somewhere along the line.
I think you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater here. Gags are not the only bits we see extremes in. There are very nice curb bits and many uses for them, but curbs have many severe variations. If you dislike gag bits because they have nasty variations, then you should dislike curb bits also.

To be technical, a spade bit is also a curb bit.

I think what you dislike about gags is also what can make them so useful. It is so easy to rotate them, but that means they are giving the horse signal before they begin applying pressure. So the horse has the opportunity to respond to the lightest pressure, and can avoid more pressure if they wish. These signal bits are only good for people who have good hands. What you're talking about..."the slide could be very easily all the way engaged..." is the very essence of having an independent seat.
Of course no one wants to fully engage a gag. That's similar to saying no one wants to haul back hard on a long shanked curb.
Yet we know curbs, used properly can be very gentle bits with lots of pre-signal. And used improperly are very uncomfortable.
The curb on this horse could be used very gently.


There are perhaps some bits that in and of themselves are not good, like some with sharp mouthpieces as you describe. However, I don't think you can throw out a whole category of bit, personally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Equinest View Post
A horse can be comfortable in just about anything on the trail, if the amount of trail riders using TT's or gigantic gaited bits says anything(The amount of leverage on those things frankly scares me away from ever attempting to ride with one for curiosity's sake - if I fall off or get off balance I could very well damage my horse's mouth beyond repair and I'm not willing to take that risk.). Try working or training in those bits.... you'll get a different result. My horse probably would have been fine after a half an hour or so if I'd ridden her off on a loose rein in the gag for a nice trail ride, but trying to train and actually establish any sense of contact was a different story.
This also is some very broad generalization. First of all, you're assuming that trail riders using big bits have comfortable horses. Most people I see on trails with big bits are either uneducated and unable to tell if their horse is doing well or not, or else they are only walking on a loose rein so it doesn't particularly matter what their horse has in their mouth even if they don't have good hands. Or, their horse is well trained and responsive, and the bit is appropriate.

However, this does not mean their horses would be comfortable if they began galloping and were hanging on to their horses' mouths. You're missing the point that bitting up would not be necessary if people were going on a loose rein for a nice trail ride...it is the galloping, jumping or faster work that can become too challenging to do with a horse in a snaffle, not the walk/jog/lope on a loose rein.

Many people have horses both "working" and "training" on the trail, and your definition of doing either seems to indicate having a horse in a snaffle in an arena. Horses also work and train in curb bits (see reining horses), on loose reins or on contact. So I believe what you are meaning to say is that if you were to attempt to ride a horse in a gag bit while pushing them forward into a significant amount of contact (such as this rider below), that the horse would be uncomfortable and not respond well.


That would not be the occasion where you would need a gag bit though. It would be for a specific horse and/or rider, such as the horse @lostastirrup was riding, that was needing to be lighter for a rider who needs to ride with one hand. The horse was doing training in the gag bit, such as you describe, but the horse I was galloping on the trail was also doing a different form of training, learning to rate and transition and listen to the rider while being strong at the gallop.
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post #140 of 146 Old 01-21-2020, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Equinest View Post
A horse can be comfortable in just about anything on the trail ... Try working or training in those bits.... you'll get a different result.
If you want to get people 'loud,' continue assuming that trail riders don't work or train their horses.

I would welcome you to ride along with me on any conditioning ride or endurance event I participate in to see just how much work or training I am or am not doing.


There is no joy equal to that found on the back of a horse.
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