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We recently acquired a very smart and sensitive little mare for my daughter. My daughter is 10 and a beginner. She has a very heavy hand that I am working with her on and I think I need to change the bit the mare has. The mare is a very smart little thing and having watched her with a snaffle (def not the right bit for her knowledge) she is very uncomfortable and I need to find something that would do well with her sensitive mouth and my daughter's beginning hands. Any recommendations?
 

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Put a neck strap on the mare so the rider can balance off of that when needed and not the bit. A milder bit though would be a rubber mouthed mullen. Horse may not respond well to it though. Just depends on the horse. They each have their favorites that they work best in.
 

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Agree with giving your daughter a neckstrap, or 'monkey strap' on the saddle or some such, so she can hang onto that when necessary & not hang off the horse's mouth. I have no probs with using a bit, but one stipulation is that the horse AND the rider are educated well enough for one to be used without being abusive/painful.

So I would NOT be using a bit at all until your daughter learns to be better with her hands. I'd suggest you have the reins on a flat halter or 'soft' bitless bridle, and keep your daughter on a lead line until she learns to a)have an independent seat & not have to use the reins for balance and b) she understands and is able to ride the horse on a loose rein and to take & remove rein pressure when necessary & with good timing. Once she is good at that, then it's time for her to learn to ride off lead. Once she's good at riding off lead in a halter & she no longer has 'heavy hands', then you might reintroduce a bit.
 

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When I let my friends 4yo daughter ride my mare (hilarious on a huge draught) I just led her (obviously) but taught her all the basics with the reins attached to a headcollar. She had so much slack that she never even made any contact. I agree 100% on forgetting reins and steering and try focus on balance. The quicker you get that the sooner she can learn the other stuff. I am a lover of "reinless" learning (on the lunge or led) for beginners. Even on my own mare I sometimes just tie a knot and practice with just mah legs. You sound amazing!
 

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English or Western? Western tends to use slack unless giving a specific cue. And once the cue is acknowledged, you go back to slack. It also usually has a horn, and it is far easier to regain one's balance with a horn than with reins - thus automatically giving the rider reason to NOT balance with the reins. If the horse knows neck reining - and if not it is easy to teach - then one hand on the reins also discourages trying to balance with them. You can also then ride two point with one hand on the reins and one on the horn (making a temporary third point), learning how to adjust your balance to the horse's while also secure - and without being tempted to use the reins. If there are people willing to trail ride with her AT A WALK, then trails can teach balance fast - AND teach giving your horse a vote. And the importance of staying away of what your horse is thinking. All this from a backyard rider of backyard horses, who doesn't teach anyone and who would not be asked to teach, let alone PAID to teach.
 

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Neck strap so your daughter has something to hold, and use a sidepull or have your daughter ride in a halter until her hands improve and she has an independent seat. Nothing ruins sensitive horses faster than heavy-handed riders. I'd also put your daughter on the longe line with no reins until her seat and balance are solid, which will go a long way toward improving her hands.
 

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All this from a backyard rider of backyard horses, who doesn't teach anyone and who would not be asked to teach, let alone PAID to teach.
Sign me up as a member of this group! : )

Very good advice given. Creating a well working team between horse and rider is so important. There are a lot of adult riders who have never grasped that concept. Keep us posted as to how the team is doing.
 
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