A whole lot of dumb bit questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-12-2020, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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A whole lot of dumb bit questions

As the title says, I have a whole lot of very dumb questions about bits and bitting. I need to have a complete understanding of the tack I use, why I use it, what action it causes, how it should affect me and my training aporoach, ect. I'm far too stubborn to accept something without solid reasoning behind it.

Without further ado...

Currently I use a single jointed full cheek snaffle with loops. I use that bit because the full cheek combined with the single joint lessens the chance of confusion with rein aids for my green horse compared to say, a French link loose ring. Plus, the bit loops keep the mouthpiece very stable. Is my logic flawed? Do my reasons for using that bit make sense?

Is it considered less than ideal to ride without rein contact with a loose ring snaffle? Would the rings on the bit clank around and create unnecessary "noise" when not ridden on contact, kind of like what would happen if you use metal snaps on your reins?

What is the action of a single and double jointed curb bit? I've heard that you should never ever have a jointed curb bit because of the crushing action on the lower jaw, but there are many very popular single and double jointed curbs, especially pelhams out there. I've also heard that the action is largely the same as it is for a snaffle, just with leverage.

Could you efficiently direct/plow rein with a curb bit that has a solid, unjointed mouthpiece, and not confuse the horse? Would the individual rein action be distinct enough on their mouth if you did choose to direct rein?

If you can't efficiently direct rein with a mullen mouth curb, is that the situation where you'd use a jointed curb?

Does sweet iron vs copper vs stainless really make a difference for the average rider? What about mouthpiece curvature?

Do those stubben golden wings bits provide stability to a loose ring, or are they just very expensive, already added but guards? It looks like the cross between a loose ring and an eggbutt, but I haven't personally tried one. Does it combine the actions of those two bits? Is it the best, or worst of both worlds?

What is the action of a Dr Bristol bit? I know that it provides tongue pressure, but is it superior to a solid, straight bar in any way? Is the tongue pressure only engaged when you touch the reins?

Thanks to anyone who wants to try answering all of my questions, any and all points of view are welcome.
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 12:34 AM
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wow! what a great list of questions!

I could not answer all of them. What I can say is to not worry too much about fiding THE right bit, and knowing why it is THE right bit. If you are finding your horse goes well in that full cheek snaffle, well enjoy that and save your dollars!


I was told that a loose ring is better if you are dealing with a hrose that tends to 'lean on' a bit, since no matter where they hold their head, the direct line of elbow to hand to bit can be maintained without much interference from where the rein joins the bit (as in the case of a D ring, or any other where the the rein's freedom is due to it sliding on the ring piece, as opposed the whole ring itself ALSO being able to slide.




I think direct reining in a solid mouth piece curb would be confusing to a horse.


The broken mouth (single or double jointed) curbs are very popular. I only rode in one once, and I found that the horse 'looked' nice, in terms of him curling up and rounding his neck . But, in reality, he was coming behind the bit, and utlitizing that to be less than honest in his responses to rein cues.
perhaps it was me, and the way I rode, but I stayed with a regular snaffle with him and we did fine.


There is not need to ride on contact at all, in general. I mean, it's fins for bit to be just hanging in the horse's mouth. In my opinion, contact on the bit should always mean something, something more than just 'lean on this bit and go forward'. At least initially, every use of contact should be a signal for some kind of change, and the following reward. So, if you are not asking for something via the reins, I would think that a state of low/no contact is perfectly fine.


That said, some horses like the feeling of you being constantly there, contantly dialogueing with them. So, it may look to some that your contact is steady, but in actually, there are moments where you increase it, ease it, stiffen it, soften it, etc. you are NOT in stasis, even if a viewer thinks you are.


While a hrose is still green, the signals need to be bigger, and the releases more dramatic, in order to build that level of sensitivity where you can ride very close to solid contact (which, as I said, really ISNT solid)


Does that make sense?
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 07:45 AM
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I don't know the answers to all of your questions but some I do {in my opinion} and will share what I've been taught and my reasonings..
Guaranteed you will get multiple answers and not all of the same thought pattern, so do pick and choose.
There are 2 informative threads here "stickied" easily found at the top of this section as a basic tutorial many make comment of being a good base foundation of knowledge and function.
Today, there are so many "gimmick" bits with promises of doing something spectacular, but the bottom line is our horses have not changed their tooth pattern nor for the most part the palette/tongue ratio to comfortably fit a bit in the oral crevice and bits used eons ago still work admirably well...it is called training.
To me questions are a good thing, a thinking brain wanting to understand why this is better than that, how to use something as it was designed properly not how it is being used incorrectly and the end result of using any tack and equipment is to have quiet communication between horse and rider done as silently and in harmony as is possible.
Shall we begin...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
Currently I use a single jointed full cheek snaffle with loops. I use that bit because the full cheek combined with the single joint lessens the chance of confusion with rein aids for my green horse compared to say, a French link loose ring. Plus, the bit loops keep the mouthpiece very stable. Is my logic flawed? Do my reasons for using that bit make sense?
The reasons for you using this bit are spot-on accurate.
Not only do the bit loops help to hold the bit correctly placed in the mouth they do indeed offer support of the bit keeping it stable delivering your message.
Add the length of the wing aids in delivering guidance to your horse to feel with a larger surface area that you want to turn as the bit wing touches gently a much larger area than that loose-ring does.

Is it considered less than ideal to ride without rein contact with a loose ring snaffle? Would the rings on the bit clank around and create unnecessary "noise" when not ridden on contact, kind of like what would happen if you use metal snaps on your reins?
I think much of "the noise" may be attributed to the size of the rings of the bit.
To me you would have far less movement on a smaller ringed bit than the larger rings which do tend to jounce around a bit with no steadying contact of persistent soft contact.
Adding a metal snap to a rein to me just took out the balance of a softly draped rein to the bit/rein clip now has wobble ability unless either a weighted rein or consistent tension is applied.
I also must attribute some "rein chatter" to the actual thickness of the bit rings as many loose-ring bits have thinner actual round cylinders of metal formed to a circle to make that ring than when you look at any other style of bit ring.

What is the action of a single and double jointed curb bit? I've heard that you should never ever have a jointed curb bit because of the crushing action on the lower jaw, but there are many very popular single and double jointed curbs, especially pelhams out there. I've also heard that the action is largely the same as it is for a snaffle, just with leverage.
Are you asking to cross disciplines of bits characteristics in construction?
Western bits are designed to ride with a draped rein in "curb bit", a true curb bit in no direct pressure also is no direct reining.
English Pelham bits are designed to be ridden with contact lightly held.
I have never seen a bit being used properly apply crushing action to a lower jaw.
I have seen bits being misused, become abusive in rough hands that can result in a horse throwing their head up trying to evade the harsh pressures exerted to the mouth, gape their mouth wide when a hand is strong holding against the force of the horse.
\I single joint bit breaks in a different location than a multi joint bit, that in turn then applies and lays pressure in differing areas of the mouth more...the tongue, the mouth roof, the bars and mouth corners all are effected differently as does the thickness of the barrel diameter {the part actually in the mouth} and whether the bit is made with a straight, curved, arch or any combination of those things in the mouthpiece itself.

Could you efficiently direct/plow rein with a curb bit that has a solid, unjointed mouthpiece, and not confuse the horse? Would the individual rein action be distinct enough on their mouth if you did choose to direct rein?
Absolutely...you have described what riding in a Pelham bit is. And yes is the answer to both the questions.
With a Pelham though you have the ability if you ride with 2-reins to only ride with a snaffle influence or to pick up the added curb rein for minuscule cues it is only meant to do for more silent communication between partners.
Western is no different...
Curb bits are a more finesse needed bit when used correctly...smaller, gentler, quieter guidance given that should be invisible to the person watching when done properly on a trained animal.

If you can't efficiently direct rein with a mullen mouth curb, is that the situation where you'd use a jointed curb?Who says you can't do this?
This is the intent of the English Pelham bit...as little as is necessary to carry your message regardless of the mouthpiece used.
But a curb bit in western is not supposed to be used in direct reining.
A curb bit in western is for the horse who has graduated to less felt in the mouth but a drape of the rein change moves the bit a finite amount with the cue of what to do...a truly well-trained western horse carrying a curb bit you should not see the riders hands move at all so quiet the communication should be to the animal ridden.
Again, a solid bar is going to use different parts of the mouth to send the message through than a jointed bit..
Some horses do not like messages sent on their tongue but not object to the bars being used...it is the horse who tells a equestrian what bit that is comfortable for the line of communication to be established.
You must read your animals body language and feel tension or not, response or not, like or dislike in everything they present to you in communication is why trying new bits is hard work...establishing communication using as little as is needed to relay the message can get tricky.

Does sweet iron vs copper vs stainless really make a difference for the average rider? What about mouthpiece curvature?
For some horses yes, saliva enhancing bits can make communication more subtly felt and heard.
Can if make a difference to the rider...that depends on how tuned-in the rider is to the horse and how quiet the communication is. Saliva, a moist mouth would permit easier bit movement anytime you wiggle your pinky that having a dry mouth the bit grates around inside the mouth on.
For my personal horse, he wears a mullen mouth bit with a bit of curve to it as it fits his palate better, gives him a bit more space to not squish his tongue and he prefers it.
I tried a ton of bits and he responded quietly, quickly and effectively set-up communication with me in his particular bit over any other mouth configuration I could find to try.
His bit is a metal alloy combination, not shiny stainless and I don't own any shiny stainless bits whether English or western in design.
I have a few bits with some sort of copper roller, 2 sweet-iron and a variety of snaffle {direct rein} and curb/Pelham style bits...like probably 50 different bits most of various sizes throughout their construction.

Do those stubben golden wings bits provide stability to a loose ring, or are they just very expensive, already added but guards? It looks like the cross between a loose ring and an eggbutt, but I haven't personally tried one. Does it combine the actions of those two bits? Is it the best, or worst of both worlds?
I do not know the answer to these as I have never used the bit[s] myself.
Personally, some bits are just marketed and hyped so much, have endorsements of acclaimed riders and then are presented at a significantly higher cost...
Is that bit any different than some others not highly marketed, advertised or endorsed...I don't know.

What is the action of a Dr Bristol bit? I know that it provides tongue pressure, but is it superior to a solid, straight bar in any way? Is the tongue pressure only engaged when you touch the reins?
The Dr. Bristol bit to me is a step up in communication intent with the center bar having a biting edge on it if engaged in a firmer hand. It engages no matter any hand, but the firmer the hand to the rein, the more bite is felt.
Difference to me is the bite of the center plate to the tongue and how it engages that soft fleshy part of the anatomy.
It is often thought by the not observant to be the same bit as the other that has the rounded dog-bone shaped center link..the French Link.
The action is similar to other 3-piece bits touching with more collapsing to the tongue, lips, bars and in the case of a low palette on a horse indeed it can touch the roof palette with the center plate tipping in engagement.

Thanks to anyone who wants to try answering all of my questions, any and all points of view are welcome.

That is my contribution of understanding of bits, how they work, what the different compounds used in metal construction is.
I learned a lot by watching professionals of by-gone eras who truly knew tack and how to utilize it to the horses best advantage setting up quiet communication.
I also laid many a bit across my knee, across hand palm and ties strings to them to replicate actions done in a horses mouth to understand how something worked and why it did what it did and when.
I admit it may be wrong, it may be correct...but that knowledge has yet to steer me wrong finding a bit to work with any horse I've ridden to make them responsive and happy a riding partner.
The biggest thing all must remember is the bit is important...what is more important is the hand holding the rein and the soft communication needing established.
Use as soft as you can to establish good communication and your hands are a integral part of that communication...soft, soft and more soft.

The journey of horses is never-ending if you are a conscientious equestrian.
I look forward to others contributing their knowledge here so I can also learn more or different and why.

...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 10:19 AM
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Currently I use a single jointed full cheek snaffle with loops. I use that bit because the full cheek combined with the single joint lessens the chance of confusion with rein aids for my green horse compared to say, a French link loose ring. Plus, the bit loops keep the mouthpiece very stable. Is my logic flawed? Do my reasons for using that bit make sense?

Can't speak to English riding. For western...rein aids don't become confused by changing to a double jointed mouthpiece versus single, or an O-ring versus a full-cheek. Some horses like a very stable bit. Others don't seem to care in the least. The rein aids don't create a dramatically different feel for a horse based on mouthpiece or D-ring versus O-ring.

Is it considered less than ideal to ride without rein contact with a loose ring snaffle? Would the rings on the bit clank around and create unnecessary "noise" when not ridden on contact, kind of like what would happen if you use metal snaps on your reins?

In my experience, this is a non-issue. I've used O-rings, D-rings and Eggbutt snaffles and never seen a sign my horses is getting "noise" from the bit. 95% of my riding has been with metal clips to either curb bits or an O-ring snaffle. I don't use a draped rein so I don't know what would happen then. But ridden with some slack? It isn't an issue. The weight of the rein is enough to keep things from clanking loosely.

For reference, this is as slack as I ever get:


In an arena or if my horse is worrying, more like this (and yes, Bandit eats in his bit all the time, sometimes with a piece of grass hanging out the side for 10 minutes). The bit is an O-ring single joint snaffle:


Remember, there is ALWAYS weight on the bit caused by the weight of the rein. The bit itself always has weight because it is metal. Also, it is common with western horses for them to carry their bit - adjust it to where they like it in their mouth and keep it there with their tongue.

What is the action of a single and double jointed curb bit? I've heard that you should never ever have a jointed curb bit because of the crushing action on the lower jaw...

I think you are referring to the nutcracker action. People think "nutcracker" means the joint pokes up into the roof of the horse's mouth, but nutcrackers CRUSH. They do not poke.

Curb bit or snaffle, it is possible to trap the horse's cheek between the bit and their molars, crushing the skin and either bruising it or even cutting it against the points of the teeth. I haven't experienced it, but Tom Roberts said it happened too often with polo ponies he rode in India - and was more common with snaffles than with curb bits.

IMHO, if you are doing that, you are using too much pressure on the reins and bit. If you ride with some slack, and sometimes have the slack gone as you give a cue, I don't think it happens.

FWIW, I like Billy Allen bits without a joint, but I've used Tom Thumb bits and various single and double jointed snaffles and curbs. If you don't abuse the bit, the bit won't abuse the horse. It really does come down to rider error.

Could you efficiently direct/plow rein with a curb bit that has a solid, unjointed mouthpiece, and not confuse the horse? Would the individual rein action be distinct enough on their mouth if you did choose to direct rein?


Absolutely. Do it all the time in a Billy Allen. In fact, I've often done it with a completely solid curb bit like this one:


Horses do not analyze bits. They don't break things down into components and then try to reconcile the individual actions. They simply memorize the total feel that gives them relief, and eventually that gives them harmony with the rider. Lots of stuff written says you cannot direct rein a horse in the above bit, but I've done it many times.

Also...have a friend in his 80s. He sold his last horse a few years back, but he started and sold horses for 50 years. The solid curb bit above is what he used to START his horses. He wanted trail horses, sold them as trail horses, and said after the first couple of years he threw away his snaffles and just started all of them on the solid curb - without issues.

Again, I prefer a Billy Allen or a curb bit with sides that swivel. But horses adapt quickly provided one doesn't abuse their mouth by snatching on the reins or heaving on the reins like you're hauling an anchor up!

The Billy Allen bit Bandit & I have been using most of this year is hanging from the saddle. I think it is a very nice design. Sweet iron with a copper roller. Sides move independently:



Better view here - Bob Avila bit:


"Does sweet iron vs copper vs stainless really make a difference for the average rider? What about mouthpiece curvature?"

Mouthpiece curvature does. Depends on the horse. Some like it. Some dislike it. And some don't care. I think my horses prefer sweet iron or copper, but the evidence is weak. They also do OK in stainless steel.

I don't have any relevant experience on your other questions.

PS: If you want to ride in shows and emphasize the most subtle cues possible....I don't know. Never do that. When I want the horse to do something, I ask him with a "cue". Once done, I stop asking. The times I pull hardest on the reins? When I need Bandit to stop grazing, bring his head up and get moving again. About 90% of my riding is with one hand. Just want you to know where I'm coming from. Different people have different goals and might get different results. Pretty common poses for Bandit & I:




Knowing where people are coming from helps a lot in deciding how much value to give their advice.
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Last edited by bsms; 08-13-2020 at 10:28 AM.
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 04:58 PM
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Since the Pelham has been mentioned, I'll throw in my recent experience with it...after reading as much as I could find about it. I wanted to try it on a horse with "issues" because I (a) rely heavily on snaffle type action for lateral signals, and (b) this horse, a half draft, can pull like a freight train and has the occasional tendency to bolt, so I wanted to try a curb - not to "stop" him but to teach him how to be lighter - we had stalled out on snaffle action long ago. I did not want a bit that combined curb and snaffle, I wanted distinct signals from each. So I read everything I could find on using a Pelham, since it offered some promise to fulfill my needs.


I selected a French link mouthpiece, primarily because I believe his mouth issues began when he was driven in a single joint leverage bit with his mouth tied shut with a shoestring. I wanted to try the flexible mouthpiece as I felt it would lay kindly across his tongue without poking his palate. I did not want a solid bar mouthpiece, because I worried I would lose some snaffle type communication. The French link is similar to, but different than the Dr. Bristol, but is said to be less severe. And yet it is said that a horse finds it difficult to lean on this mouthpiece. My hunch about the French link mouthpiece was absolutely spot on. The horse 100% accepts it.


The next thing I researched was how to hold the double reins (I had some education decades ago), and I found that there are (at least) three different hand holds. Two of them are for finesse. One of them, the Fillis grip, seems more for schooling. I selected this grip.


I have found that when my horse begins to bog down or resist the snaffle, I can regain his calm by letting him stop and experiment. I can just hold light tension on the curb rein while he experiments with what to do, and quite quickly he discovered that when he "gives", so do I. He is truly starting to master the concept of "light" far beyond what I was able to teach him with the snaffle alone. He is no longer bogging his head to shift pressure away from his abused mouth structures to just his thick, fleshy lips and has really burst through the glass ceiling that we were unable to penetrate with the snaffle alone.


I am so glad I have been able to move past the confusion about bits and try to see the possibilities in untried (by me) designs that seemed to fill great voids in my communication with this pretty special horse. There are just no black and white answers to how a given bit will affect the horse's psyche. I had always believed that broken mouthpieces and shanks were a major no-no. Now I find it's the greatest help in moving ahead with my big friend that I have ever found.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 06:21 PM
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I just wanted to day that I sometimes direct rein in a solid curb bit (western) just as BSMS does. As a matter of fact, I do it so much I can't even tell you how much I do that vs. neck reining. Well, maybe I can. If I am riding along at a walk on a loose rein, I am usually neck reining. If I go any faster than a walk, I usually ride two handed. How did I develop this technique? I had a friend early on in my riding who had Missouri Fox Trotters and that's how she rode hers. So I basically went from neck reining trotting horses to direct reining gaited horses when I went from riding non-gaited to gaited.

I never rode english or went through a "direct rein with a snaffle" phase in my riding. As a matter of fact, when I see english riders riding with constant contact and the horse's mouth clamped shut with a cavesson and foam flying everywhere, I cringe. I always felt like the bit isn't as soft as you think if you have to use a cavesson, so what's the point? I would rather use a stronger bit with LESS contact, the horse will respect it and learn to ride softer and not pull on your hands. (I realize a lot of people will disagree with that, but that's my opinion). Maybe the whole point of the snaffle is that you CAN ride constantly in the horse's mouth? But it seems like horses, as a general rule, dislike constant contact, especially in a snaffle. They seem to have a quieter mouth if you use contact in a solid mouthpiece, at least the ones I have ridden. Which is admittedly a small sample size, and only trail horses. But you know, we are out there riding for hours, in all types of terrain, past all sorts of "scary" stimulus, so I don't think it's a poor test for any horse/bit/rider combination.

So in summary, I really don't find the horses care if I am direct reining in a curb bit. I don't even pay attention to when I switch over. Nobody told THEM it's against the rules to direct rein in a curb.
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-14-2020, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post

Currently I use a single jointed full cheek snaffle with loops. I use that bit because the full cheek combined with the single joint lessens the chance of confusion with rein aids for my green horse compared to say, a French link loose ring. Plus, the bit loops keep the mouthpiece very stable. Is my logic flawed? Do my reasons for using that bit make sense?

In my opinion, if a horse goes decent in a full cheek snaffle and understands it, they will also understand a loose french link snaffle. Why? Because it's a snaffle. Yes, attention is good to recognize which one the horse seems to prefer or like better, but I don't think you need to be overly concerned about confusing your horse in a basic snaffle. The horse needs to learn to tolerate some "noise".



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
Is it considered less than ideal to ride without rein contact with a loose ring snaffle? Would the rings on the bit clank around and create unnecessary "noise" when not ridden on contact, kind of like what would happen if you use metal snaps on your reins?

Now I primarily ride Western, but I have metal snaps on ALL my western reins. Makes the reins easy to change from bit to bit. Doesn't bother my horses a bit.



Of course, English riders don't ride without contact, but quite obviously you can train a horse to ride however you like -- including with a loose rein with a snaffle.



It won't bother the horse.



Think of it this way: When learning to ride, they have to learn that you moving around in the saddle isn't going to hurt them. And if you always rode perfectly still and perfectly "perfect", what would happen when you accidentally move NOT perfect? You'd confuse or terrify your horse. So YES!! Expose them to less-than-perfect things. It's okay. You are training them. It's okay if things don't go perfect. So if you absolutely never ride them without contact .... they are going to fall apart the one time one day that you ask them for it.



I like horses to learn to be responsible for themselves. Tonight was a GREAT example, for me. Just got home from a barrel race. As we came into the first barrel, my horse tripped and jerked the reins from my hands. It felt like slow motion in my brain, although I know it was a split second, but I saw them there, within my reach, on his neck when he regained his balance. I grabbed them, turned my head to the next barrel, he punched in a rollback and then we were OFF to the second barrel and smoked the rest of the run. (They haven't posted results yet but he was right up there when we left; even with that huge error.)


He knew his job well enough and had had enough experience with "noise" and things going wrong that it didn't phase him.


Okay a bit off topic....



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
What is the action of a single and double jointed curb bit? I've heard that you should never ever have a jointed curb bit because of the crushing action on the lower jaw, but there are many very popular single and double jointed curbs, especially pelhams out there. I've also heard that the action is largely the same as it is for a snaffle, just with leverage.
I myself prefect double jointed curb bits. I just get better feel from them, and I like how the horses respond better.


And there isn't anything wrong with a jointed curb. Like with any TOOL (even a snaffle), you just have to use it properly.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
Could you efficiently direct/plow rein with a curb bit that has a solid, unjointed mouthpiece, and not confuse the horse?

No. If the entire bit is solid, it is NOT intended for direct reining.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
If you can't efficiently direct rein with a mullen mouth curb, is that the situation where you'd use a jointed curb?

Yes, a jointed curb allow you to still have independent action of the side shanks, in order to direct rein.

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post #8 of 12 Old 08-15-2020, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, this thread has been very enlightening! The anecdotal experiences of people using these bits has been much more helpful than any sales pitch.

If nobody minds, I've thought of some more questions since I posted this thread!

Since loose ring snaffles are primarily designed to discourage leaning, why are they so popular amongst western trainers? Wouldn't the act of riding on a loose rein in itself stop leaning on the bit dead in its tracks? Is there another reason why western trainers love a loose ring?

With wilkie/cartwheel/beval bits, if you don't use the slots for the cheek pieces and reins, would it act just like a regular loose ring? Would the slots stop the rings from sliding enough?

One eared and split eared headstalls with snaffles. I see people use that combo a lot, but if the horse shook its head, wouldn't there be a big risk of the headstall coming off? Is that really not as big of a risk as I think it is? Would a bit hobble prevent this?

What makes a swales bit so much harsher than a Weymouth? I get the swales is designed to act like a double bridle while only using one mouthpiece, and I get that the curb rein on a swales doesn't use any poll pressure, only pressure on the curb chain. Why is a swales bit considered an "elephant stopper" even when compared to other curb bits?

And I guess this isn't really a bit question, but how come you'll see people riding in rope halters, bosals, sidepull bridles, mechanic hackamores, but never a plain old web or leather halter? Personally, I love putting reins on the side of my leather halter and doing my thing. I get that it could be a sloppy signal when compared to a proper bitless bridle, but riding with a web halter is nearly unheard of, especially with all the rope halter enthusiasts out there.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-15-2020, 11:42 AM
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"Since loose ring snaffles are primarily designed to discourage leaning, why are they so popular amongst western trainers? Wouldn't the act of riding on a loose rein in itself stop leaning on the bit dead in its tracks? Is there another reason why western trainers love a loose ring?"

Never had a western horse lean on the bit. Kind of hard to do if no one is pulling on the other end. I like the O-ring because my horse carries his bit, and the O-ring allows the mouthpiece to slide up or down a 1/4 inch to wherever he wants it to be - versus the 1" increments in the bridle adjustment. I've used D-rings, etc, and they work OK too but the O-ring seems to encourage Bandit to carry the bit himself.

"One eared and split eared headstalls with snaffles."

I tried that. One day it just popped off his ear and fell across his face. The horse was a little upset but slowed on voice commands and we got it straightened out. Haven't use a snaffle with a one ear bridle since.

"how come you'll see people riding in rope halters, bosals, sidepull bridles, mechanic hackamores, but never a plain old web or leather halter?"


I've ridden Bandit in a leather sidepull. It slid up his face if I pulled back on both reins and tended to slip when pulled with one rein. It was kind of sloppy. A simple rope sidepull has the same issues. Fine if the horse doesn't get excited, isn't inclined to spook, doesn't want to race anyone, etc. But that doesn't describe my horses.

Bandit and I get along well but we sometimes have a heated discussion. Those discussions are more productive, from my viewpoint, with a bit. I also found he acted calmer in a tense situation if I had a bit used with contact than he did with some slack, or when bitless. I think he WANTS me to be as clear and as directive as needed when he's worried.

Ideally, a bit is for communication. A leather band around the face with rings in it is like talking with a mask on - possible, but garbled. IMHO. But a lot depends on the horse, the rider, and their goals. I've considered trying the leather cavesson again...nothing seems to be final for me!
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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-15-2020, 01:05 PM
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To me a loose ring discourages a horse from leaning on it because it free spins in the mouth...when they hit no resistance the horse must carry himself, aka not lean.
Western horses {I'm not a trainer} are taught to hold and carry their bit partly because there is no or little rein contact, they ride with a loop, slack or draped rein and neck-rein which as you know is a different principle than how English trained and ridden horses are trained.

I found you a resource that explains many of the popular bits and ring configurations, in particular the ones you mentioned.
Please note when there is a illustration there are rein placements to give you a visual on what is being referred do {rein placement looks like a dash in picture}
https://www.horsebitbank.com/articles/bits-their-action-cheeks-mouthpieces

I am not a fan of one-ear headstalls as they just look to easy to lose a bridle to me.
I've seen a horse rub against someone's shoulder and be bridleless, rung face to leg, shake vigorously and oops the bridle is hanging or on the ground.
I prefer a browband headstall with a throatlatch adjusted on all my bridles for all of the reasons above not occurring.
I also can only imagine that having a one-ear headstall might not be so very comfortable if a sore happens, forget if the horse has a aversion to you touching and stuffing a ear through a smaller slot.
To me a bit hobble has nothing to do with nor prevent loss of the headstall...
Bit hobble to me keeps one from yanking the bit through a mouth is its purpose.

I have seen but never used a Swales bit.
My understanding is it is a close cousin to a elevator bit with the combination of a Pelham
Between those 2 combined I can see it stopping elephant charging as well as get the attention and compliance of a very enthusiastic horse who is ummm, difficult to rate, stop and get the attention mentally and physically of.
I don't know why no poll pressure when you pick-up that curb rein.

Halters, oh such a subject for what to use and why.
The smaller the diameter of the straps the more bite it applies to the sensitive face.
So a 1" wide leather/nylon strap is going to have more surface area covered, but less bite into the face than a 3/16" - 5/16" piece of rope.
Common is also 1/4" rope used. Those are the most common sizes, of course if "custom" you can ask for any size you wish used.
All of the equipment you listed are based upon principle of rounded straps not flat.
Now add in knots on rope halters and see the added pressure applied to nerve sensitive areas of the face.
So many today do all this ground work training in rope halters, or knotted rope halters...
So, understanding that less width is more pressure applied, I've tossed a leather halter at a friend and said, do those same things with that halter they could not.
My horses are super responsive in their leather halters, so when my friend put a knotted halter on my horse his eyes bugged with the tiniest of pressure cause he doesn't experience such concentrated stimulus asking for his compliance in whatever we are accomplishing.
The one thing I will say is a rope halter under a bridle when trail riding takes up a lot less space under the bridle.
Sadly I've never seen one made where it fit very well. The nose and shank attachment area a often huge...that to me is asking for the halter to get hung on brush as we sometimes go through some overgrown areas...

Think that was what you asked...
...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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