New horse, milder bit. What to expect? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-18-2016, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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New horse, milder bit. What to expect?

Hi all.. So, my husband got his first horse last weekend, a beautiful 11yo paint mare. We did her test ride in a shank bit (I don't know what kind beyond that) and she handled well, esp with stopping. I'm planning on switching her to a d-ring snaffle because my husband is a beginner rider, and because I like the idea of snaffles better overall.

My question is, is there anything I should look out for with this transition? I expect her to handle a little worse than before, but will she adapt to it on her own or do I need to do something specific to work with her and get her to respond well to a milder bit? (Or is it possible she'll handle fine in it and I'm worrying over nothing?)

Some background info if needed: We're looking to do pleasure trail rides with her. She seems to be well broke but not dull (should be just enough of a challenge for him to keep things interesting, but not so much that she's dangerous or frustrating). I've got a fair bit more experience with horses than he does, so I can step in when needed or guide him if not.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-18-2016, 10:42 AM
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It is the hands holding the reins that make a bit softer or not...
Snaffle bits are not always kinder to the horse just as a curb bit is not always harsher...

Teach your husband to be kind to the horse with his hands, to be forgiving and release not hang and hold her face...
Teach your husband how to gain the horses respect by setting that example and words of encouragement from you.

Remember that some horses dislike certain mouthpieces regardless of the hands guiding them...

And yes, the new mare may be just perfect in the snaffle.....time will tell.

Enjoy the new horse and your ride time together...

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post #3 of 13 Old 03-18-2016, 01:00 PM
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I agree with horselovinguy. Mostly matters what kind of hands are holding the reins of the horse. If the horse liked the shank I would keep that but be gentle. Most trail riders don't seem to keep constant contact on the mouth so she wouldn't be getting yanked and pulled all the time. Try whatever works for you and your husband and have fun!
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-18-2016, 01:16 PM
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Personally, I would ride with the bit she goes well with.
You can always change later if need be.
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-18-2016, 01:59 PM
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Unless your ok with just round pen rides for awhile I'd still with what she's used to. Also if you are going to switch her don't be in a hurry about it. Give them a few rides where the only things new are going to be the each other and the area they are in =) Then if you want to just switch and and spend some easy rides with it in the field or round pen. See how it goes. You've said the horses isn't "crazy" so I'd expect her to either ride well in it or just not. If she doesn't like it though I'd not make a big deal over a small problem such as you don't like the bit she does, with a good horse
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-18-2016, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm, well, we've already purchased the snaffle bit (and I don't know what she was in previously, but I can ask if needed). I guess I'll try her with the snaffle but if she's unmanageable in it then I'll reconsider using the one she had. My husband doesn't hang on her mouth and seems to have good timing, but he's still very new to riding and I'd hate for her to get hurt if she moves unexpectedly and he uses the reins to hold on. She also has a lot of Go--my head snapped back the first couple times she trotted, lol--so I wouldn't want either of us to accidentally give cues we don't intend (or if we do, at least they're not magnified by the bit). I do feel better about the prospect of going to the "harsher" bit if needed because she didn't seem to hate it, but I always want to try a gentler one if possible.

Also, on a side note, one of the big advantages to this horse in particular is that she was already boarded at our barn, so she is bonded with my horse and well settled into that area already. (Even better, no transportation/quarantine/etc!) So the area is not new to her at all, just my husband and I are.

Thanks everyone!
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Last edited by Surrealle; 03-18-2016 at 02:21 PM.
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-21-2016, 07:57 AM
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Snaffle also refers to that portion in the horses mouth and not the side pieces. The shanked bit may have a snaffle for the mouth piece.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-21-2016, 09:56 AM
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FWI: An old thread on shanked bits (2010):

These are long videos, but outstanding:

He's a forum member, and those are the best sources of information on bits I've seen or read.
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-21-2016, 10:56 AM
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I think your idea is the best OP, you ride her in the snaffle and see how she goes, sounds like a far better choice for hubby for a start. If she is to 'heavy' in it, then hubby is going to have to learn to ride soft in a curb a bit quick!
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-21-2016, 11:01 AM
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There is no reason that she should not go well in a snaffle, if she was trained correctly, as horses trained western, are first ridden in snaffles, before they progress to a curb
I often ride the horses that I have moved onto a curb, for showing purposes, back in a snaffle, just riding them out, or teaching them something new
Unless this horse was put into a curb, for control, as she learned by incorrect riding, to run through a snaffle, there is absolutely no reason she can't be ridden in a snaffle, and that would be my choice, for a beginner rider, who will wish to ride with two hands, and has to also learn how to be light with his hands
In fact, whenever someone visited us, and wanted to ride a horse, and i was not sure of their hands, I would put that horse in a snaffle
Since you are more experienced, try that snaffle on her, and she how responsive she is
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