Horse bracing against bit - The Horse Forum
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  • 2 Post By Kateb985
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-05-2020, 09:44 AM Thread Starter
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Horse bracing against bit

Just a quick post. Would like to know what everyone has done with horses that enjoy racing against the bit and taking a bit to come down from a gallop/canter. Shes not running away with me (she has before though) but she just enjoys it so much. I do not have access to an arena, all just outside in fields, roads, trails. We do lots of transition training, and we go by ourselves alot as well as she does get more excited if were running in a group. Shes not quite dangerous about it but it is frustrating.

I've been riding her in a loose ring twisted sweet and sour with a dog bone, but honestly I think a few training days with something else might help, what does everyone else try? Just looking for ideas. I've heard Waterford bits are great for horses who lean or brace.

Thanks in advance!!!

Picture is out on one or our many field rides.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-06-2020, 09:56 AM
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Here are some things you might consider:

I saw a young woman running a horse round and round an arena. The horse was sweating profusely. I asked the woman why she was running it so much. She replied that the horse just wanted to run. I had ridden this horse without getting that impression. I asked the woman if she was squeezing with her legs. She replied that she was just using a "normal" squeeze. Though this woman had ridden for years doing a variety of things, she had never learned there was no need to hold on to the horse with her legs when riding. Once I convinced her to try letting gravity alone hold her legs to the horse's sides, the horse no longer "wanted" to constantly run.

Another horse had a habit of leaning on the bit and running with its riders who fought to control it. When I got on, I refused to hold the horse up. Every time it tried to lean on the bit I extended the reins. I told the horse that I was not going to hold him up; he would need to hold himself up. Almost immediately, the horse was more controllable. When he balanced well, I took light contact. If he tried to lean on the bit, I gave on the reins to prevent this from happening. If I did need to slow him, I would calmly and smoothly use a take and give action on the reins. The take said to slow up. The give prevented him from leaning on the bit.
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-06-2020, 05:08 PM
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In simple terms, don't give him anything to brace against. Learn to do a series of exercises that the horse will seek out contact from the bit, not brace against it.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-06-2020, 06:05 PM
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To add to others comments, it is not about the bit, except in how *you* are hanging onto it - takes 2 to tango - & a twisted bit is not a pleasant thing for a horse & no, she is not enjoying herself 'leaning' on it.
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-09-2020, 07:26 AM
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Changing to a more sever bit like a twisted wire is seldom a permanent solution. When re-training horses that brace or even horses that run through bit pressure I put them in a standard snaffle “3/8” or ¼” diameter bars”, and go back to the very beginning teaching them to come off of bit pressure & respond to a soft feel. This may also involve slowing down the training to a the walk until the horse is consistently giving me their face laterally & then vertically. I first ask for vertical flexion when backing up and once that is consistent I will ask them to give vertically for a few steps during forward movement. Just like any training remember to reward the slightest try and build on that each day. Once I have a soft feel consistently at the walk and will start asking for it at the trot and canter. This is something you will be building on over weeks or months of training.

best of luck
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-09-2020, 09:37 AM
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I've ridden many horses that enjoy running over open country.
Not to be contradictory to others' advice, but if a horse takes off galloping and yours joins in, they're probably not just running because you're pulling against them and they're pulling back. Probably they're excited about running with the other horse, or for some horses they are excited about running alone, and giving them the reins won't make them enjoy it any less or decide to stop.

To clarify: what is she doing exactly? Horses that are enjoying themselves and don't want to slow can try many things and they require different solutions.
When you say "brace," do you mean that when you pull back on the reins it feels like her neck stiffens and she pushes forward into the bit? Or do you feel that there is no response at all?
Or do you feel that there is a less than eager response and it takes a few pulls to slow her? Of course a person must take into consideration that the faster a horse is going, the longer it will take them to slow, just like a car that is going faster (but I assume you are meaning she is not responding by shortening her gait when you ask).

Are you using a "pulley" type rein when you ask her to slow? Meaning, it is much more effective with a strong horse if you are secure through your core in the saddle and from this stable position, put one hand against the horse's neck (you can even hold mane) to stabilize the bit and then use your other hand to pull strongly back toward your core, release and then pull again. This is repeated until you feel the horse respond and begin to slow.

If this is not effective, you can keep the stabilizing hand very secure while pulling the horse's nose actually slightly toward you, which at a gallop or strong canter will cause them to bend, and then switch sides and make them counter bend. This is difficult even for athletic horses, and will cause them to either switch leads or slow, which helps them listen to you and regain a more controllable speed. I have slowed even runaways with the bit in their teeth doing this, after a time.

It is important to have "enough" bit to be able to keep the horse from racing others or rushing off when the footing or timing is not right. In my experience, even if a horse is well trained and responsive in a certain bit such as a snaffle, that does not mean they will be able to go in one in more exciting circumstances. If you look at photos of horses foxhunting and doing other exciting sports with other horses, you will notice many varieties of bits being used.

A Waterford can be helpful, but only if the horse is sensitive to tongue pressure. The first bit I try with stronger horses in the open is a Kimberwicke, and many horses that won't listen when excited in a plain snaffle will respond much better in a Kimberwicke. Last summer when I got together for a beach ride with a few different friends on strong horses, we noticed most of the horses were going in Kimberwickes. For a horse that needs a little more than that, you can go to a myler type curb for added leverage. If a horse does not like a curb chain, then a gag/wonder bit may work.

My friend has been trying to sell a TB that is well trained, beautiful to ride and jump indoors in a snaffle, but can be very strong when out in open country, galloping with other horses. You "can" ride him in a snaffle on the beach, but you're not going to slow him down for quite some time. But in a snaffle an arena by himself, he knows dressage and can transition from a canter to a full stop in a single stride.
My point is that some horses need different bits for different situations.

From 3:00 to 3:20 in this video, if you play it a half speed you can see me putting my left hand down on the horse's neck and using the pulley rein with my right hand to slow this big TB. Both of these horses are off the track and love running.
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