Hey everyone! I'm soon approaching that point with my 4 y/o mare where I would like to start getting her used to a shanked bit. She works really nicely in a snaffle and bosal, and is neck reining like a champ. But as most of you know, for western show classes once a horse is over 5 they are required to use a curb. She is my first young project I've taken on, so I haven't decided what I'm going to use next. A few people have recommended a shanked dog bone since the mouthpiece will be familiar. I'm not a huge fan of broken bits with shanks due to the nutcracker effect they can have, so I am just curious what other people might use.
What's your favorite "step up" bit from a snaffle?
And what do you think your broken mouthpiece snaffle does? (I assume you have a snaffle with a dogbone center since you said it was similar to the curb you were looking at.)
As with anything, there are shanked bits that have better
designs out there than others. For example, a Tom Thumb
is a very poorly designed and poorly balanced bit. Whereas a Jr. Cowhorse
is nicely balanced (although has a slight amount of gag and not appropriate for showing because of it).
Personally, I like double-jointed mouthpieces better than single-joints. I feel I can get more softness from my horses in them.
So I would suggest finding a bit with a similar mouthpiece to what your snaffle has, with short shanks that swivel independently of each other. That way if you do need to pick up a direct rein from time to time, you can.
I'm currently using a bit that looks almost like this
on my 6-yr-old as his step-up bit. Super short shanks but gives him the idea.
With a totally solid curb bit, you can't direct rein in that. Strictly only direct reining, which is really only feasible when the horse is 100% solid and you aren't doing any schooling.