Riding to Driving Protocol for switching bits - The Horse Forum
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  • 2 Post By walkinthewalk
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-25-2020, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Riding to Driving Protocol for switching bits

This may be a dumb question...

When I ride, I've been using a full cheek snaffle. Pony goes great in it, and loves it. However, spring is on the way and I've been doing a bunch of refresher groundwork to get back into driving. I personally don't like the idea of using a full cheek while a horse is harnessed, since the long cheeks look like they'd very easily catch on something if pony were to scratch an itch.

Last summer when I originally broke him to drive, I used the full cheek because it's what he liked and I wasn't going anywhere but the large enclosed outdoor arena. But this year, he knows the basics and I'd like to get more serious about driving. I've found a myler Liverpool bit on ebay (25$ for it, plus sweet iron and copper inlays!) and I was just wondering where I should start with getting him used to this bit.

Should I switch bits and continue as normal, or I take a few steps back and see how good his lateral flexion is first? He's never had a curb in his mouth before, so is it likely he'll go nuclear from the different action? I don't plan on using the curb slots, but I'd like him to at least be responsive to the feeling should I ever need them.

I just wanted to get an outside opinion before potentially causing confusion for the poor horse. It seems like a single joint full cheek and a barrel ported myler Liverpool would have very different actions on the mouth.

Last edited by jaydee; 02-26-2020 at 11:20 AM. Reason: title clarification
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-25-2020, 06:39 PM
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I can’t speak for how things are done today but, “back in the day” when we broke granddad’s horses they were driven first (long lined), then ridden a few weeks later:

They had THIS bit on the riding bridle and THAT bit on the driving bridle.

“Back then” was in the sixties, in a rural farming county where there wasn’t anything fancy or any extras to be had.

The bridle bit was a low port curb bit and the horses were broke to neck rein.

The driving bit was a two piece snaffle type bit without cheek pieces and is what was used to long line the horses during initial training, before the riding bridle was put on them.

Everyone of the horses knew which bridle was going on their head and it’s purpose, nobody was ever confused. These were all young horses - under three years:)
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-25-2020, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
Everyone of the horses knew which bridle was going on their head and it’s purpose, nobody was ever confused. These were all young horses - under three years:)
Oh good, that makes me feel better! I was worried I would confuse the heck out of the poor guy, but your post tells me he may be smarter than I'm giving him credit for.

I could always use a half cheek for driving if I wanted to keep it consistent, but I love the look of the Liverpool cheeks!
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post #4 of 9 Old 02-25-2020, 08:25 PM
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I don't know anything about driving horses. My experience is just long reining a youngster before riding so it most likely doesn't apply.

I don't find switching bits a big ordeal. I test them on the ground before riding but that is about it. Only time I've had a big adverse reaction is if the horse had a big training hole I had missed. But the small holes sometimes I could fill in or it would make sense for a maneuver I had a hard time putting a way the horse could understand in a different bit, not neccessarly bigger or putting more pressure. Then go back to the snaffle and the hole or maneuver makes sense to the horse.

Don't get hung up on the bit, sometimes it's about communicating in a different way.
People get so hung up on "bitting up". That is not always the case especially if you can bit down and things are just as good if not better.

ETA: we used to do the same as @walkinthewalk with multi event horses. Different bits meant different jobs. The horse has to have been taught and understand the difference.
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Last edited by COWCHICK77; 02-25-2020 at 08:33 PM.
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-25-2020, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
Oh good, that makes me feel better! I was worried I would confuse the heck out of the poor guy, but your post tells me he may be smarter than I'm giving him credit for.

I could always use a half cheek for driving if I wanted to keep it consistent, but I love the look of the Liverpool cheeks!
What might be confusing would be switching the bits back and forth on the same head stall.

When you break to the long lines, use a legitimate driving head stall, blinders and all. Your horse will know which job he is supposed to do:’

Further to knowing the difference in the bridles, granddad’s stallion also knew which halter was the “business halter” as granddad called the breeding halter around us kids:)
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A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-25-2020, 08:43 PM
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A lot of horses are driven in half cheek snaffles. It wouldn't feel much different than a full cheek, I wouldn't think.
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post #7 of 9 Old 02-26-2020, 07:20 AM
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We rode and drove in different bits. No issues. Still do. Have a dedicated bridle and ground work first then ground drive and he should be fine.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-26-2020, 07:22 AM
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i was always under the thought that full cheek snaffles were primarily used for young horses (or any horses) that are still unsure of the bit. Full cheeks keeping the bit from moving around as much in the mouth and to keep the bit from being pulled through the horses mouth when they are not quite sure what it means to be pulled on.

I would think that if Pony is now sure what it means to bend laterally, he would be fine without a full cheek. How about the same mouth piece that he is used to but with different side pieces.

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post #9 of 9 Old 02-26-2020, 11:01 AM
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A driving bit is made different than a riding bit but mouthpiece choices are so many today you should have choices to choose your driving partner will enjoy carrying quietly.
These are a few images for Liverpool "driving" bits...different variations. So many to choose from, each different..


And one with showing the option of rein attachments that will greatly influence the strength of any mouthpiece you choose.


The same principle applies as with a riding bit...the further away you go from the actual mouthpiece the more oomph is transported to the animal in request made.
Also the headstall attachment adds more oomph as it is above the mouthpiece, not even with the mouthpiece..

Where you will find a difference is with many of the shank driving bits, is the ability to choose the rein position for added "leverage" if needed/desired or you can opt for connecting rein to the ring and remove the leverage effect.

I use to drive a team of Percheron in fun and competition settings...
We used bits of the Liverpool design of heavy shank hanging with a cross-bar for stability and so not to hook anything with that shank but the mouthpiece was more of a straight bar or slight arched mullen mouth...all our driving bits had curb chains we adjusted carefully and correctly to each horse.
I would be more concerned of a curb chain introduction be done slow so Pony understand the engagement of that bit for signals sent.

The bottom line is to me if Pony listened well to a simple single joint snaffle mouthpiece than that is what I would still keep in the mouth till needed to change.
If you had communication, listening and response to a direct rein bit of a full-cheek snaffle then the least amount of drop from the headstall and smallest shank possible may be all you need. Maybe a half-cheek driving bit is more than enough..

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