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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sure that this has been discussed on another thread but this is what I'm wondering:
I have recently been looking at bits for my young Arabian filly, Pepper. I've also been looking for something to restart my TWH gelding, Magic.

I've looked at a number of bits, a french link is what I was told at the tack shop:French Link Full Cheek Snaffle Bit | Dover Saddlery (it's a french link full cheek snaffle)
but recently I've come upon leather bits
Leather Snaffle Bits for Sale (leather loose ring snaffle)

What I've been using on Magic is a Tom Thumb, atleast that's what I've heard it called Tom Thumb Snaffle Bit with 5 Mouth(Plated) [25-3120] : Farm City, Equestrian, Livestock & Pet Supplies
My father suggests that I use the same thing on her. He also suggested that I start to use a Dutch gag bit (believe this is what it is) Dutch Gag Four Ring Bit (heard a pelhm is the same as well) because there is two sets of reins. --From what I have read one is attached to a chin strap through the bit and the other set of reins directly do the bit. I'm just unsure how to use it and I would HATE to hurt Magic in anyway.

But what I have noticed is that Magic isn't responsive, he pulls on the bit and he opens his mouth gaping wide when I attempt to pull him down. He has also started to rear up, which he rears up like a prissy girl so I'm not worried; it's just a really annoying habit.

My dad is of the opinion that you need a chin strap to stop, I've ridden in a plain snaffle bit but I've never trained a horse to use one. How does that work?

I'm not sure if this is enough to go by... I hope you guys can help me out!
Thanks for your help! And sorry for the tons of questions!
 

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Typically I'm very against changing a bit to fix a behavioral problem, but this really does sound like a bit change is needed.
I'll ask first though, have you had the one who rears' teeth done? What has changed to cause him to rebel against the bit he previously went well in - or has he never gone well in a tom thumb?
That Being Said! I really advise not using a tom thumb, or even the other bit you showed - those are both bits that are best left to gentle hands and a well trained horse. Clearly those bits are too much for the rearing horse. To be clear - are you neck reining or direct reining?

I personally prefer to start my horses in a french link or when I can afford it bits like this are my ideal: Herm Sprenger KK Ultra 2 Type Bit | Dover Saddlery
I like to start with bits like that because they are pretty darn mild - if a horse is comfortable carrying one of those bits those are ideal (IMO).
I typically pop the bridle on an let them hold the bit in their mouth for a while until they stop fussing or messing with it. Then I take it off, I'll do that a few times then start practicing with it. When they no longer fuss once it's put on I start by teaching them to give to the pressure at the gentlest amount. Standing on the ground next to the horse I'll hold the rein with my hand rested on his withers, with just enough pressure to feel the horse's mouth. If the horse doesn't respond at all I'll gradually (slowly) increase the pressure - the moment they start fussing I hold the pressure where it is. The split second they tilt their head toward the pressure I release and tell them how wonderful they are. I repeat this on both sides until the horse will willingly turn his head toward the pressure of the bit with only the tiniest ounce of pressure. I may then practice teaching them to back up off the bit too with gentlest pressure as this helps practice brakes too :p
Then I'll take the same practice to mounted work.

Sorry if you know all this, but I just wanted to make sure. :)
http://www.doversaddlery.com/hs-dynamic-rs-eggbutt/p/X1-01722/?ids=4i4jvb45jsitd155eitpco45
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I don't have a million dollars to spend on bits. So I need to find some that they like. A bit can last a life time.

I bought Magic in August, the girl I bought him from had allowed him to rear for almost 5yrs. Well I fixed that with in the first week and I fixed it quick. He tried to throw me, that's a no no. SO he started rearing again about two weeks ago. The Christmas Parade. He is the calmest horse I've ever owned! But he just decided to snap. Ever since then he has been rearing up, popping up a little bit at a time.

I've heard that tom thumbs can be very severe. I don't like that at all. I don't tug or pull at their mouths, gradual pressure and quick release was a skill I learned at an early age.

Magic can neck rein and contact rein, it really does depend on how he is acting. If he is being sweet he can go off my leg and just a slight neck touch of the rein but when he is being cranky he tightens his neck muscles up to where I've got to contact rein him. I'm really not sure as to why he gets so cranky; it's mostly on the way home from trails that he decides to be a butt head.
He was really bad when I first got him, rearing bucking, running off, he got so much better, but after the parade he has reverted back into being a brat from Hell.

-For starting the young horse about pressure I didn't know all of that, I has assumed that though, thanks though! It reassured me.
Pepper will take the bit, saddle, and she will let you mount her and be lead around. But I've never really done anything other than that.
 

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If you are starting a horse from scratch a good rule of thumb is to start with the softest and simplest bit available, for me this has always meant a simple eggbut snaffle (that is after hackamore training them I two rein them into a snaffle bit for them to be passed off to whoever is going to ride or buy the horse, so they are fairly advanced by the time I put a bit in their mouth anyway; but starting them in the bit, I always start with the simplest), though I am toying with the idea of trying a Mullen mouth eggbut instead of the single joint (would appreciate anyone ideas about this as I have never used one before).
The reason being if you start off simple you can go gradually, which is what youngsters need, and you can always expand from there as the horse progresses if you need to or want to.
Think of it in stages:
  1. build a basic foundation;
  2. refine that;
  3. once thats done start polishing it all to get the horse really going well.

If you are restarting a horse it might be a bit more complicated depending on the horse's history and if you have to iron out problems that there may be from the way the horse was ridden in the past you might have to start off new. However, even in these cases the same progression should be followed, foundation, refine the foundation then start the polishing of the refinement.
 

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Great description Andrew- I'm very much the same, except I typically use double jointed snaffles as I find them to be more widely accepted by most horses. I personally LOVE mullen mouth D-rings (Without joints). I find them to be just about the softest things you could put in a horse's mouth.
Which is why I'm so curious about those leather bits - has anyone tried them?
 

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leather bits? o_O sorry, nothing else to add but...what would the benifit of that be? I've never heard of it before and would assume that it would mold or just be like sticking a lead rope in your horses mouth (which I've done once....heh...)
 

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leather bits? o_O sorry, nothing else to add but...what would the benifit of that be? I've never heard of it before and would assume that it would mold or just be like sticking a lead rope in your horses mouth (which I've done once....heh...)
from what I've read the massive benefits of it is that it's completely soft and molds to the shape of the horse's mouth. I believe it's treated in a way that's completely horse safe but also mold resistant (though I'm sure if improperly cared for it could happen) - it's also supposed to be harder to chew through and damage than rubber type bits. It's supposed to be a very mild bit.
But I'm very curious to hear from someone who's actually used one and their experiences. Whether those claims are accurate or not.
 

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I think that leather bits are more of a fad than anything. Yes, some horses might like them, but they aren't any different, mechanically, from a chain snaffle. When you apply pressure, they wrap around the horse's entire lower jaw putting pressure on everything and because they are so flexible, they don't allow the horse to pick the bit up and carry it instead of just packing it around. Maybe not everyone agrees with me, but I prefer my horses to carry the bits themselves instead of depending on the bridle to keep it in their mouth. When they are carrying the bit, they can feel more of the cues that I send them. Leather bits aren't so different than those old war bridles that the Native Americans used to use, where they just tied a length of sinew or leather around the lower jaw and tied reins to it. It's not nearly as mild as most people would like to believe.


Anyway, for initial training, and even re-training, I prefer to stick with a simple snaffle of some sort, whether it's single jointed, French link, mullen, or even Myler/Billy Allen styles. I try to stay away from shanks of any sort because they just add more working parts and pressure points and increase the probability of confusion/frustration on the horse's part.

As for the Tom Thumb bit that you posted, that is quite probably the worst possible bit, especially if the horse you are using it on is having issues with rearing. The Dutch gag isn't much better because in addition to all the issues that the TT causes, then you add in a gag action. That bit has no place on a young horse just getting used to being ridden.

I would go with the French link full cheek that the one person suggested and use it on both of them until they are trained enough to be ready for something more advanced.

Then, when (and IF) they are ready for something more advanced, like some sort of curb bit, then I would suggest something like this. It has very short shanks, so it's very mild, and the myler type mouth give you more feel without being harsh.
Amazon.com: Francois Gauthier Antique Hinged Futurity Bit: Sports & Outdoors
 

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I think that leather bits are more of a fad than anything. Yes, some horses might like them, but they aren't any different, mechanically, from a chain snaffle. When you apply pressure, they wrap around the horse's entire lower jaw putting pressure on everything and because they are so flexible, they don't allow the horse to pick the bit up and carry it instead of just packing it around. Maybe not everyone agrees with me, but I prefer my horses to carry the bits themselves instead of depending on the bridle to keep it in their mouth. When they are carrying the bit, they can feel more of the cues that I send them. Leather bits aren't so different than those old war bridles that the Native Americans used to use, where they just tied a length of sinew or leather around the lower jaw and tied reins to it. It's not nearly as mild as most people would like to believe.
That's some very good points! I did think of it much like a chain bit, the only difference I see there is chain bits I feel would have some amount of pinching and pressure points (depending on the size of the chain the pressure points could be more or less extreme). The leather - conceptually to me could be a little more solid in their mouth than chain, as it's fairly firm, but I think you're right as it would have much less 'feel' by them not carrying it so easily. But I wonder if it would be beneficial for a horse who leans on the bit. Food for thought... thanks for the insight!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
About the leather bit: I've heard that it is cleaned with veggie oil. I've also heard some really good things. A man, I believe in New Zealand?, made them for his show jumpers. --Atleast from what I remember.
And smobs what you said does make sense, I haven't thought about it took much.

Thanks every one for the insight! I'll keep this all in mind, and stick to riding Magic in his halter in the back pasture until I can spend some Christmas money!
 

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I would think the leather would get soggy and feel pretty slimy in their mouth. But it also seems that over time it would tend to get very rough to the touch if left to dry between rides. Think about leather reins that get wet and dry and wet and dry again...very stiff and rough to the touch unless oiled every time they get wet.

Not sure though, just my thoughts.
 

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I alway use a bit hobble w a snaffle. It helps in the "feel" of everything, in general. I agree w the poster ^, a plain single jointed snaffle is the best starting point. I ended up using a waterford w my mare. But, she still does best w a hackamore. Sometimes it takes a "few" to find "the one"....and sometimes "the one" is what you started with. It can run ya.
 

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When starting or restarting a horse we always go back to the basics....a plain O-Ring snaffle no matter what the horse has been in previously. You want your horse to respect that bit, and not have to bit up the horse to where down the road they don't have a mouth to work with.

It is all about quick release, and not just with bits but with everything you do. The quicker you release the pressure the faster they are gonna catch on to what your asking because your release of pressure is a reward for the horse. If I want a horse to flex to the side...I hold some pressure until they give. As soon as I feel them give to the pressure I drop my rein and give them their face back. Pretty soon a stiff horse is giving to you when you touch the reins with your pinky. Same when stopping, backing, side passing, ground work, ect. It all comes down to release. The bit really has nothing to do with it but more control....the harsher the bit the more control and faster reaction your going to get, when you really should get that response from the simplest bit.

When my barrel horses are NOT running they are rode in snaffles and are super light.

Make sense? Sorry if it doesn't it is getting late and I have had a long day so not sure if my explaining is making sense to others.
 

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Basically two bits that I use and have for years, an egg-butt with a thicker mouthpiece and a loose ring with a narrower mouthpiece. Both are true snaffles ie single joint. The loose ring is used on a horse with a shallow palate. I find a horse is often more willing to accept the loose ring.
 

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I tried switching my horse from a curb bit to a plain O-ring snaffle and he HATED it... started trying to duck the bit, acting out, crow-hopping. Ok, ok I said and switched him back to the curb bit after giving his mouth a few days to rest and he was back to his old soft self immediately... I really want to switch to a snaffle but have been vetoed in that regard. :(
 

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You need to train him to accept the bit....it is t going to happen in 1, 2, 5 rides jus like anything else it will take time.
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I'd have rode it out if I'd felt it was a training issue... I think it's a pain issue though. He's got a wolf tooth that I noticed for the first time when trying to force the snaffle into his mouth (which I had to do after the first ride with it) and I think he's cutting his canines. Having to wrestle with my boy - who normally obligingly opens his mouth to take the bit - to get him bitted made me feel pretty rotten. :( He responded to the snaffle fine, a little heavier then I'd like but I was prepared to ease him back to almost no pressure like I did with the curb bit. Once I have his teeth addressed I'll try it again.
 

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I start my horses with a simple ring snaffle (single jointed). After they understand simple commands like go and stop and single-reining, I go to a bosal for most of their training. Then I go to a regular curb (grazing) bit to finish things out. If the horse does well with a bosal, I sometimes just move to a softer bosal and just go with that. Just me, but I like a bosal. You can raise knots on their nose and lower jaws, though, if a bosal is over-used.

The first thing, though, is to get the horse to respond respectfully to commands with good ground training, before any work with a bit. Even an older, experienced horse can benefit from refresher course in ground training.
 
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