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How do you know when to "bit-up" versus the problem being a training issue?

For example:
If you have a hot-head on the trail or while jumping. Some say those are "okay" situations to bit-up while others say "no" because that it is a training issue.
 

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Bitting up can be necessary if you are not able to deal with the training issue (it's usually a training issue), or unwilling to, or don't want to. It's usually a shortcut. It can also be used temporarily, to build in a response, then go back to a softer bit.



Some who compete WANT a really hot horse , they don't want to train that hotness down. they use a stronger bit, but use it judiciously.
 

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9 times outta 10 it's a training issue. I don't disagree with people bitting up when needed. Some horses don't like certain bits. It depends.

People assume stronger bits are the answer to make their horse listen. Now, there's nothing wrong with stronger bits, if used correctly of course.

Me personally? I use a super gentle bit, & I am not very handsy with my mare. I know quite a few people who have put some stronger bits in their horses' mouths & it made them worse. Really just depends on the person too, are they super handsy/rough? Or are they gentle?

My old trainer tried to put my mare in a harsher bit, & she HATED it. Made her so much worse, but she said that my mare was listening better....LOL, I totally disagreed & went right back to our normal bit. My old trainer kept saying 'you're riding her in such a smooth bit, she needs some pressure, that bit doesn't really do anything for her'...ha, no, she doesn't. My mare was fussing, & was more frustrated than ever in the harsher bit. I can get such a great connection with her in this bit & she's not very heavy in the mouth. I wouldn't want her to be heavy in the mouth in the first place though! I don't solely depend on my hands to ride.
 

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How do you know when to "bit-up" versus the problem being a training issue?

For example:
If you have a hot-head on the trail or while jumping. Some say those are "okay" situations to bit-up while others say "no" because that it is a training issue.

Depends on the horse.

Depends on the person.



Ultimately, it probably does come down to experience and "feel". Most of the time, it's a training issue. But, sometimes, it can be acceptable to go to a stronger bit for the time being (during more training) and eventually go to something lighter.



It does also depend on the situation. Sometimes, I do allow my horses to get hot as we're heading into the arena for a barrel run. I'm okay that they want to get excited to do their job. I might even allow them to toss their nose a bit, only in that situation, so long as it stays controllable. And what I personally allow my horse to do might be different than what another person allows their horse to do. But when mine are on the trail? They are expected to behave at all times - none of that allowed because we are NOT running barrels!



But there's not really going to be a steadfast rule of when to do what.
 

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Like beau said, as with all things Horse, it is very... circumstantial and possibly a fluid dynamic/reason why.



I had to learn real fast that bigger bit=/=bigger brakes. Joining the Bigger Bit Brigade about got me very very hurt and in Trigger's case, sold to the first person who would have him. They are, indeed, a band aid, or a crutch, in many cases. In many cases, people assume the bit=brakes.



In fact, bit=/=brakes at ALL and a bigger bit is not the difference between the standard stock brakes on a Ford Mustang or the Brembo brake package.



As for most of my friends that actually do performance activities with their horses... ropers, barrel racers, etc, they rarely bit up except for temporarily and in conjunction with working on a training issue. Their goal, and my own now, is to be able to bit DOWN, not up. They may swap bits around until they find the bit the horse is most happy with, but it's a lateral shift, not an upward shift into a harsher/bigger bit. They just seek out what sort of communication the horse responds to best... in most cases.
 

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Depends.



I'm cool with people bitting up for the show ring or cross country, ect, provided they are able to hack around and accomplish reasonable goals in a simpler bit. The base knowledge must be there first. Sometimes you need a little more to get through the adrenaline of an event, though.


There's also bitting up to resolve a training goal. This can get people into trouble because they don't ever achieve their goal and end up using a bigger bit, ect. The idea is to use the different function of the bit (or whatever equipment) to get a point across to the horse, teach them something new, then return to the regular bit and continue to build on that. I've put horses in Waterford snaffles who like to tank off after fences. 2 weeks in schooling in the waterford and they realized they can't drag the rider down anymore, they've learned a new approach to the jumps, and they can return to the loose ring fl. Sure, it could be considered a short cut, but the horse is no worse off and learned the lesson. Compare that to the girl I knew who rode her horse in a waterford gag as an everyday bit because her horse was too strong around the 2'6" courses and she couldn't ride well enough to stop otherwise.
 

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It depends. Is he a hot-head because he loves his job and is eager to go? If so, bit up and let him keep his enthusiasm rather than working him into the ground.



If he's unsure and anxious or overwhelmed, that's a training issue. If you can't canter a circle in the arena and have brakes without resorting to a big bit and tight noseband, that's a training issue.
 

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I have many times when teaching children, resorted to using a stronger bit on a pony to give the young rider confidence in their ability to have control. Many ponies can take advantage of a young rider.


I well recall, when out with Hounds at a Pony Club Meet, a young girl around 10 ish, on a very pretty bay pony, in floods of tears because she had no brakes. The pony was wearing a Pelham with rein couples and a very loose curb.

I dismounted, tightened up the curb and put the rein on the bottom ring. This gave her way more control and once she realised it, they were happy Hunters.

That pony never took a hold on the bit when ridden at home or on trails. Hunting was another matter.
 
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