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Help! Retraining In A Snaffle

2361 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  tinyliny
I have a 17-year old mare with navicular* and she "runs through" an O-ring snaffle.

I've been under the impression that she simply doesn't like that bit. She'll ride fine in a tom thumb, a D ring, a million dollar MJ bit, etc. We've been riding in the million dollar because my idiot ex-trainer told us to. Obviously she responds to it, but my sister who also rides my horse has a heavy hand and she rides with the million dollar (she still rides with that trainer. I'm ****ed about it still and working really hard to get rid of her. She's essentially taught myself and my parents that "the horse sits in a stall and does what he wants for 23 hours a day. They can suck it up and do what we want for 1." So. Getting rid of her.) I hate that bit, I know it's not fixing anything, which is exactly why I've come to this forum to find a new one.

Anyways she rides wonderfully in a halter, which is why I think it's just the bit, and she responds well to nose band and curb pressure. I'm going to switch her to an S-hack, but when I posted trying to decide what I'd be switching to a lot of people told me I should go back and work with her in an O ring. I'll be getting a horse trainer to work alongside but I need to know what to expect as far as what she should be doing. I attract bad trainers, obviously. I need to make sure I get a good one this time.

The problems we're having are:

  • She plays with any bit I use, but in a snaffle she will take it in her teeth and hold it there so essentially I have no control over her mouth.
  • She won't collect (meaning use her hind-end more, rather than just drop her head) in a snaffle or a halter. She will in a tom thumb or D ring or anything with nose+curb pressure (we're going to start using an S-hack because of this specifically).

She will turn left and right with either neck reigning or the snaffle, and will bend, flex, etc in a snaffle just fine. She will slow down, speed up, stop, and I can lunge with a surcingle with an O-ring snaffle. The only problem we have with the snaffle is collection, which is something we're trying to really focus on so we can build more muscle on her hind end and her topline. I was told that it's a training hole because she won't collect** in an O-ring so I'm coming here.

Honestly that's pretty much it. I'm only breaking her down because I was told it's a good idea to do so but I really don't necessarily think this is a issue that needs to be addressed in my horse who will ride in a rope halter/a hack. I'll see where I can go with it.


*She does child's w/t gymkhana and when riding with me she w/t/c in an arena with a suitable ground for navicular. Understand that we've been cleared by her vet to do so. I know much more about navicular than I do about bits. I am undereducated on bits, bit usage, and training in and for the bit, obviously, which is why I've come here but I am not at a loss for knowledge and sources of information about her navicular specifically. We are treating appropriately and do not need help managing her navicular.

**I posted with the words: "In an O-ring she'll run right through you," thinking, stupidly, that people would then read the rest of the post and read what else I had to say. It was a horrible use of my words! I should have said: She is a dream when she has nose and curb pressure but without it she will not collect, which is something we need to work on. She simply doesn't like a bit!
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If she rides well in a D ring snaffle, keep her in that, as to collection, forget it.....Sorry but have realized over the last few years it is a much over used and little understood word, and anyone who is asking on a forum about 'getting' it, will not be getting it, and I include myself in that description...

My old Arab, hated a loose ring snaffle but ride beautifully in an Eggbutt, so that is what we used, if the mare likes and goes nicely in something, use it. Unless she is a first/second level dressage horse, forget about collection and be happy with the softeness and bend that you say you have.
 
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you might have her giving her face and poll, more in a curb, but that has nothing to do with collection.
Collection comes from behind, riding with more legs then hands. Riding with feel, knowing when to drive with legs, while holding (not pulling) with the reins, until the horse feels soft in your hands, then reward
If you think the curb is giving you collection< I hazard to guess that you have ahead set confused with collection. The head set is just the final picture, where the horse gives in the face and poll, containing that energy and drive from behind
You can have ahead set, yet have a horse dumped on his front end, and on his forehand, thus a false frame of 'collection'
 

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If a horse truly knows how to move collected, he can do so with any bit, or none, for that matter, as a horse that has learned to move collected on a totally loose rein, or even bridleless, for that matter, having reached the point he respects that bit barrier,even when it is no longer there physically.
I have a hard time telling you to drive her up as hard as it takes, for her to round, achieve lift, giving softly to the bit, when I know the horse has , what you described in another post, as 'severe navicular
Had to google as to what that million dollar bit is. If you are riding this horse, in that bit, even in walk trot, and with someone not having very very good hands, I doubt you have much of a mouth left on that horse!
THat bit might be okay for someone on a NBHA circuit , though I do not approve of the anything goes, far as bits , when it comes to barrel hroses, bits that are not legal elsewhere, they certainly do not belong in the hands of a child or anyone showing barrels on a lower level, like all breed open shows.
My kids ran games, and at speed, as did I , and would never put something like that bit combo on any of my horses!

https://www.jefferspet.com/products/martha-josey-million-dollar-bit
 

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Yikes, so that's what that bit is called. I second the "not on my horse" especially with a child. I just bought a sweet little mare for my kids whose previous owner had used that bit. She goes just fine in a little broken-mouth curb "training bit." (not tom thumb) I don't get it. Why use that bit if a gentle one works? If your mare likes the D-ring, use it. If you want to try a little S, try it. However, a harsh bit and harsh hands should never mix.

Years ago, I retrained a horse from a walking horse bit (she wasn't a walking horse) back to a snaffle. There wasn't much mouth left on her. Her previous owner was a scared child with a big bit. That mare could run through the harshest bit. She could also feel the smallest signal on a snaffle if she wanted to. All that to say, your success may depend on the willingness of the horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We use it because it was recommended to us by a trainer who I no longer ride with, however my sister does and because she works with that trainer they use that bit.

I'm switching her to an s-hack because I truly believe she'll do better in it and will frankly appreciate it more.

She does great in a d-ring, a tom thumb, a halter, even. I'm only retraining because it was recommended but the more I ask about it the more I'm told I shouldn't bother.

I've decided to simply switch to an s-hack and see how she does, go from there, etc.

Thanks all.
 

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We bought a horse a while back that had been trained and ridden in a very severe shank bit, and that is what we were told to use with her. A while back we decided to try changing to a O-ring snaffle, It worked wonders! I know what you mean about them dropping their head more in a harsher bit but, I personally don't think that it is that important besides you shouldn't have to use a bit to get that. Oour horse now rides beautifully in a O-ring snaffle and we are even working on bit less.
 

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The problems we're having are:

  • She plays with any bit I use, but in a snaffle she will take it in her teeth and hold it there so essentially I have no control over her mouth.
  • She won't collect (meaning use her hind-end more, rather than just drop her head) in a snaffle or a halter. She will in a tom thumb or D ring or anything with nose+curb pressure (we're going to start using an S-hack because of this specifically).
Are you able to get a video? I still have doubts that she is actually collecting in a D-ring snaffle (but you say she won't in an O-ring snaffle) and a video would be one way to see. Or also seeing her go in the S-hack.
 
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I also do not see how the configuration of the bit will have her collect.
I really think you are confusing a head set with collection. Collection occurs when a horse drives up correctly from behind, and no bit is going to do taht, but rather the correct us of legs to drive the horse up
In fact, the more you 'over bridle a horse, use what ever pressure in the face, be it nose, leverage affect of either bit or mechanical hack, versus first getting that correct movement, the more you are going to create false frame of collection
Leave the head alone and get that correct movement first
 

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I agree that a video is best for us to get an idea of what is going on.

It sounds like she likes or reacts best to the nose pressure, and curb pressure generated by the bits you listed. That's why that million dollar bit works so well, AND the Tom Thumb.

When you go to a true snaffle, there being no curb pressure, she is less responsive.

Also, the mouthpiece of this so-called 'million dollar' bit is a double jointed mouthpiece. When you try a straight snaffle, are you using a single or double jointed break?

You see, there are at least two varibles to consider; the type of mouthpiece, and the type of pressure (curb generates pressure on underside of jaw, and hack generates that AND on nose bones). If you are doing experiments to see what kind of change you can accomplish best, then don't change too many variables at one time.


Please, also explain what kind of riding you are doing, and what your goals are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Are you able to get a video? I still have doubts that she is actually collecting in a D-ring snaffle (but you say she won't in an O-ring snaffle) and a video would be one way to see. Or also seeing her go in the S-hack.
I agree that a video is best for us to get an idea of what is going on.

It sounds like she likes or reacts best to the nose pressure, and curb pressure generated by the bits you listed. That's why that million dollar bit works so well, AND the Tom Thumb.

When you go to a true snaffle, there being no curb pressure, she is less responsive.

Also, the mouthpiece of this so-called 'million dollar' bit is a double jointed mouthpiece. When you try a straight snaffle, are you using a single or double jointed break?

You see, there are at least two varibles to consider; the type of mouthpiece, and the type of pressure (curb generates pressure on underside of jaw, and hack generates that AND on nose bones). If you are doing experiments to see what kind of change you can accomplish best, then don't change too many variables at one time.


Please, also explain what kind of riding you are doing, and what your goals are.
I'll see what I can do about a video but don't count on it.

O-ring is single jointed and straight.

I ride western primarily. My sister is doing children's gymkhanas on her until the end of the year and after that we'll be doing light rides around the ranch or possibly very short trails. At this point I've ordered her S-hack and it should arrive tomorrow and honestly I think that's just what I'll be using.
 

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That million dollar bit, has a twisted wire mouth, a lot of leverage, a very harsh nose band, and gag action.
DO NOT let your sister use it. She is doing walk trot, has heavy hands and is not going for NBRA time!!!!!
I think that is one of the really bad things, far as bits and horses-anyone can go in a tack store and buy abit they have no business using, and that purchase is usually driven by the fact that pros, knowing how to use those bits, are winning using them, thus that entry level horse person thinks they can achieve the same results, just using that bit
Shame on that instructor, having your sister use a bit she darn well knows she has no business using!
On top of all this, the horse has navicular. Sorry, but I have to speak up for the horse.
 

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Ok. so, the first thing you do is got back to a double jointed mouthpiece, to mimic the one that the horse is used to.

Secondly, I'd try using a D ring, or an eggbutt for the cheek piece. Also, make sure the diameter of the mouthpiece isn't too fat. Contrary to what used to be promulgated, a thicker mouthpiece isn't necessarily better. For some horses, it makes them feel like they are gagging. try for a diameter size that is similar to what she is used to.
 
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