Which bit do I use? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 04:56 PM
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First, gotta love those tack catalogs, and even some professionals that use incorrect terminology, thus confuse many people.
Shanked snaffle is one of my pet peeves, and second is calling any curb bit with a jointed mouth, a TT
A true TT, and that deserves all the bad press, has fixed shanks that run straight up and down, thus giving very little if any signal, between the time that the curb strap engages, and bit pressure
There is nothing wrong , using a jointed mouth curb, if the horse rides mainly on a loose rein, is happy and responsive in that bit, and is solid in a plain snaffle, far as leg aids, ect
I would evaluate the horse, using a snaffle, to just see what she knows, and then if she is happy in a jointed mouth curb , no reason to change

I always ride a horse for at least a year in a snaffle, and then move on to a short shanked , loose jawed jointed curb. That bit still allows some direct reining, as needed, and also introduces a horse to slight curb pressure
From there i might go on to a jointed mouth curb with longer shanks or to a curb with a port
Curbs with a port and fixed shanks are for a pretty broke horse
I also collect bits, and have quite a variety of curbs

The function of curbs, is too big a subject to go into, because beside the fact of various degrees of bar, tongue, poll and even pallet pressure, between jointed mouth curbs and those with ports, many other nuisances apply, meant to give slightly better signal, depending on event and level of training of the horse, and the type of bit has to be matched not just with the feel and hands of the rider, but also the education of that horse.
Far as snaffles, full cheek snaffles give a little more signal , as besides rein pressure, those cheek pieces will apply pressure on the opposite side of the face, from rein used
D rings are preferred to be used on horses ridden with some degree of constant contact, and also distribute signal over a wider area than an O ring. Some people will start a horse in a D ring, then switch to an o ring, if showing western

Yes, ideally, even with a snaffle, western horses are never ridden with constant contact, and are shown on a totally loose rein with a snaffle also
Difference being, one rides with two hands on a snaffle and one handed on a curb-western-again-ideally.
Yes, one can ride with one hand on a loose rein using a snaffle,and one can pick up that second rein on a curb, if needed. Again-talking ideally.
I always ride with a loose rein, trail riding, regardless of bit, unless I need to take hold of my horse, and in which case, I also us legs
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post #12 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Most western riding is done without constant contact. Used that way, about the only things a rider needs to remember to get good results with a curb is to never snatch on the reins, and give release the moment you get the desired outcome.

It is also easy to ride with that approach using a snaffle - much easier than trying to ride with constant contact. That is why Littauer suggested riding with contact should be reserved for intermediate riders. For trail riding, I'd say riding with constant contact is worthless - unless that is what you and your horse are used to doing. As a beginning rider, I created far more problems than I solved by trying for constant contact.
Good points, bsms. I agree that riding with constant contact is not particularly easy for a beginner. However, I have seen many riders who think they are doing a horse a favor by riding with slack reins "snatch on the reins" as you put it.

If a rider were to snatch on the reins, he should have a better idea of how much pressure he was applying if he was using a snaffle than if he was using a curb bit. However, I don't think most of the people who snatch on the reins pay any attention to the amount of pressure they feel or apply to the horse.

I agree that riding with slack reins can help beginning riders learn how the reins may affect their riding and the response of the horse. I also agree that there is usually no need for constant contact when trail riding in relaxed situations.

Trying to ride with light contact can help a rider gauge the quality of his balanced, relaxed, and following seat. Riding without contact may help a rider learn to direct his horse with less dependence on the reins.

Learning to ride a horse in a snaffle with constant light contact should help a rider learn to train a horse in a calmer manner. By keeping the line of communication open, the rider can communicate when necessary with a whisper without the need for a jarring "ring" first in order to establish the line of communication. As horse and rider learn to communicate better with each other in other ways, rein communication takes on a lesser roll.
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post #13 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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You guys are amazing!! Thank you sooo much for not only making a suggestion but also for taking the time to explain why and when you use different bits on your horses.

Unfortunately I know nothing about the training that Chelsey had before she came to the rescue I am adopting her from. The rescue owner has backed her a few times and was very pleased with how calm she was. Chelsey and I are going to be learning together with lessons :)

As a beginner, I also (as someone stated) have no idea yet how to tell if she is responding correctly to the tom thumb bit she is currently using. Because my only goal with her is to trail ride, I agree with the not needing constant contact and that is when I read that a curb bit can be confusing for a horse if the rider is not experienced in how they work and how to apply them correctly.

From the reading I have done so far, I feel like a french link snaffle will probably be where I am going to start. Going to look more into the D-ring vs O-ring vs cheek posts.

I am looking forward to learning so much more from this forum!!
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post #14 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mkmurphy81 View Post
Use what works for you and the horse. If she likes her current bit, you don't have to change it. BTW, on the tom thumb, are the shanks bent or straight? If there's a slight bend, it's a little more gentle, and might be just fine for a beginning rider.
You said you're riding western. A mild curb might be fine if you generally ride with a loose rein anyway. Sometimes it's good for a beginner to have a little more stopping power (curb chain) because some horses learn that they can take advantage of beginners.
All that to say there's no perfect bit. Use what works best for you and the horse. I like the idea of borrowing different bits if you can to find what you both like.

My coach did mention that Chelsey might take advantage of me because she would sense that I was a beginner - LOL
The tom thumb I have has pretty straight shanks.
I absolutely will be riding with a loose rein so am going to keep the tom thumb on hand incase she reacts poorly to a snaffle.
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post #15 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Hackamore View Post
If this horse responds well to the tom thumb and itís what she was trained with then I would not change. In most all cases some level of retraining is required along with changing bits, so unless you have the knowledge to re-train the horse to respond to a the signal of a different bit I keep using what you have. I am not a fan of the tom thumb but if itís the only tool I had I could make it work for me. The bit is only a tool and it does not communicate or inflict any pain without the hands of a rider. You the rider makes the decision if the bit is used humanly or if itís used as a weapon.

Best of luck
Unfortunately, we have no idea what kind of bit Chelsey was trained with. It just happens that a tom thumb is the bit that was on the bridle I bought for her. I do not have the knowledge to re-train but I was hoping to see how she would respond to a gentler bit and my coach always rides her for at least a few minutes before I do. She should know if Chelsey is having a strange reaction to a snaffle. I obviously do not want to cause my horse any confusion, discomfort or pain and that is why I am stating to steer away from the tom thumb in the first place. Was just looking to see if there was a bit I could be sure that I would do no damage with.
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post #16 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXhorseman View Post
...Learning to ride a horse in a snaffle with constant light contact should help a rider learn to train a horse in a calmer manner. By keeping the line of communication open, the rider can communicate when necessary with a whisper without the need for a jarring "ring" first in order to establish the line of communication. As horse and rider learn to communicate better with each other in other ways, rein communication takes on a lesser roll.
This is the pressure applied by a trained rider, measured on each rein. She thought she was using light contact and giving a gentle half-halt:



Over 16 lbs total for a half-halt by a trained rider.

It is easy to teach a rider not to snatch on the reins - much easier than to teach a rider light contact. It is also much easier to see if someone has slack in their reins than to see how much pressure they are applying.

There is no jarring ring when a rider takes slack out of the reins. And a horse does not need contact to feel calm and confident. Snaffle or curb, riding with slack and giving cues with a pinkie is easier than keeping constant and gentle contact:



As for a first bit to try for gentleness: A double link snaffle is a good starting point. Most do fine in single joint snaffles as well. My new guy is currently using this no-joint snaffle, which is heavy but seems easy for him to understand:

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post #17 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Here is a good description of various bits and how they work:

http://www.ivis.org/proceedings/aaep...6/bennett1.pdf

I'm fascinated by bits and buy too many of them just to see how they work and how my horses respond. But if a bit is working for you and your horse...smile and be happy.

BTW - I tried to replicate what Mark Rashid claims are the problems of Tom Thumbs and ANY shanked bit with swiveling shanks ("These shanks swivel and are attached to the bit's mouthpiece. It is that one flaw in the bit's design that renders it almost totally useless when it comes to any kind of training which involves direct reining.")

Trouble with Tom Thumb

I could not do it. I stood next to my horse, moved the bit & reins and watched what happened - and I could not duplicate what he said. For example:

"However, because the rein is attached to the bottom of a swiveling shank, pulling on the rein results in the shank turning and tipping into the left side of the horse's face."

I can sort of do that with a floppy bit such as this...a little:



But with a Tom Thumb or with various bits where the mouthpiece is held by sleeves, such as this:



That does not happen. And a Tom Thumb bit doesn't allow the shank to pivot around.

Even with the floppier bits, I have never had a problem with my horses figuring it out. I've direct reined with the above floppy bit bit many times. It never seemed to confuse my horses.
I feel like you read my mind when you wrote this - you pointed out one of the articles I read for sure. I really, really appreciate that you took the time to explain, add your own experiences and provided the link to the bit guide!!!
The encouragement was much needed as I was getting very anxious that I was doing my horse harm.
Please continue to share your knowledge!!
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post #18 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TXhorseman View Post
How well any bit works depends on a combination of the bit itself, the horse, and the rider.

While even a snaffle bit may prove harsh in the wrong hands -- especially if a horse has become bit resistant -- the snaffle bit has several advantages.

The biggest advantage of the snaffle bit is that if provides the rider a better idea of the pressure he is applying to the horse. Riders using leverage bits may not take into account the increased pressure a leverage bit can apply.

A leverage bit provides an advantage in the fact that the rider's hand or hands must move further to apply the same amount of pressure as a "direct action" snaffle bit. However, for this same reason, some riders move their hands too far too quickly when employing the bit and end up applying more pressure than they realize.

For this reason, most riders -- especially new riders -- are better off maintaining a direct line of communication with the horse so any "speaking" may be done smoothly and quietly. Best use of this technique is applied when the rider has a relaxed, balanced, and following seat and his hands can follow the motion of his horse's mouth so the contact remains constant -- and, hopefully, light. Then, any change will be perceived by the horse as a cue.

The rider should understand how whatever bit he is using is designed to work and use it accordingly.
Thank you for this!! You hit the nail on the head with my concerns about applying too much pressure with a leverage type bit. I am going to try the snaffle and discuss proper use with my coach if Chelsey responds well to it.
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post #19 of 33 Old 05-29-2015, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
First, gotta love those tack catalogs, and even some professionals that use incorrect terminology, thus confuse many people.
Shanked snaffle is one of my pet peeves, and second is calling any curb bit with a jointed mouth, a TT
A true TT, and that deserves all the bad press, has fixed shanks that run straight up and down, thus giving very little if any signal, between the time that the curb strap engages, and bit pressure
There is nothing wrong , using a jointed mouth curb, if the horse rides mainly on a loose rein, is happy and responsive in that bit, and is solid in a plain snaffle, far as leg aids, ect
I would evaluate the horse, using a snaffle, to just see what she knows, and then if she is happy in a jointed mouth curb , no reason to change

I always ride a horse for at least a year in a snaffle, and then move on to a short shanked , loose jawed jointed curb. That bit still allows some direct reining, as needed, and also introduces a horse to slight curb pressure
From there i might go on to a jointed mouth curb with longer shanks or to a curb with a port
Curbs with a port and fixed shanks are for a pretty broke horse
I also collect bits, and have quite a variety of curbs

The function of curbs, is too big a subject to go into, because beside the fact of various degrees of bar, tongue, poll and even pallet pressure, between jointed mouth curbs and those with ports, many other nuisances apply, meant to give slightly better signal, depending on event and level of training of the horse, and the type of bit has to be matched not just with the feel and hands of the rider, but also the education of that horse.
Far as snaffles, full cheek snaffles give a little more signal , as besides rein pressure, those cheek pieces will apply pressure on the opposite side of the face, from rein used
D rings are preferred to be used on horses ridden with some degree of constant contact, and also distribute signal over a wider area than an O ring. Some people will start a horse in a D ring, then switch to an o ring, if showing western

Yes, ideally, even with a snaffle, western horses are never ridden with constant contact, and are shown on a totally loose rein with a snaffle also
Difference being, one rides with two hands on a snaffle and one handed on a curb-western-again-ideally.
Yes, one can ride with one hand on a loose rein using a snaffle,and one can pick up that second rein on a curb, if needed. Again-talking ideally.
I always ride with a loose rein, trail riding, regardless of bit, unless I need to take hold of my horse, and in which case, I also us legs
Thank you for this advice and the explanations. I truly cannot believe how helpful the users of this forum have been already :)
What you wrote made perfect sense even for this beginner rider and that is worth more than it's weight in gold for me.
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post #20 of 33 Old 05-30-2015, 01:25 AM
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Far as jerking, on reins, I always think back to what a very good westen trainer told me, far as Holding ahorse while driving with your legs, until that horse softens:

"You can hold a horse for as much as it takes, WHILE driving with your legs, UNTIL he softens in the poll and face, and then reward with slack, just never jerk on a horse, or you will soon have a jerk for a horse'

BSM, that jointed mouth curb with sleeves, is not a TT, regardless of how it is labelled !!!!

This is a true Tom Thumb


Let me begin by explaining what a tom thumb is.

A true, old style (and rather harsh) tom thumb bit has rings that attach to the bridle (red circle) with the curb chain attaching at the same spot. This ring, or set of rins, as in the picture shown here, results in a large bulky area. When the bit is engaged laterally (i.e. pull out to the side) the rings pivot and stick into the horse's face. No one wants to be jabbed in teh side of the cheek, including your horse, and this is considered uncomfortable.

Secondly, the bit attaches to the mouthpiece with a pivot (green circle). Especially important here is the shape and style of the connection. When the side of the bit is pivoted, but the mouth piece isn't, a lip or other facial skin can very easily get caught and pinched. Again, pain is not a good training device.

Third, the shank is straight, not curved like most curbs (blue lines). This means that each pound of pressure exerted gives that much more pressure on the face, without long shanks. You have to have a bit of physics knowledge here to figure out the true numbers, but I'll make some up to use as an example. If you push on the lever shown at the left, on the empty side, with one poind of pressure, you will move the side with the orange triangle with 5 pounds of pressure. If the lever was longer, it would exert more pressure. Twice as long might give 10 pounds of pressure for every 1 pound the person pushes.
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