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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay so first off I have scoured the forums and I know equipment is only as harsh as the person, etc. etc. I will be working this mare in a snaffle before anything else, and going back to some basics of whoa, etc. in an arena before anything else. I'm really just curious.

The mare I just bought who is a partially finished head horse is currently being ridden in a Tommy Blessing S-Style Chain Port Bit. I have never used this type of bit. She also currently is in a tie down. She's more go than whoa, and I'd like to soften her a bit. She is coming five years old and has had two owners. She was bought by the guy I got her from as a 2 year old and I met her breeders/first owners. She has not been handled roughly or hit, but she knows the arena more than anything else.

I just wondered what anyone's experience with this bit is. I'm slightly worried that she may push through a lesser bit. But I'm definitely going to fill those training gaps rather than try to "fix" it with equipment.

Thanks in advance for the info on this bit.
 

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Can you narrow down more the bit...
I googled and came up with many, some I would not be happy advocating for use and some that are really nice, appearing gentle and well-designed...
There is a big difference between these and how they work...

The last one don't think is a Tommy Blessing but clearly you can see the difference in message sent by your hand and how it shall be received by your horse if used.
People must understand that the shank-curb bit is used with a loop in the rein, never desired "contact" such as a direct rein snaffle bit is designed.

Even the bits that are the chain mouth exclusive have quite a bit of difference in how fast the message is given, received based on the shank design, the angle of the upper ring for headstall attachment, and so forth and so on...
The ported chain mouth are no different. Swept back, swept forward or stand-up port...big difference in message sent.
The top loop, the angle of port engagement, size of port and materials made from are different when you look closely...all are your push-button cues and finessed cues given...the design of the shank, how long, where the engagement point is, the power of the fulcrum...all are different.

They're "fancy" in appearance and probably look nice in the show pen...
You want to go gentler, there are options in this line of bits, but sometimes what you think is harsh is not when the cue is so minuscule given...
I'm guessing the "must have shank" is do to the horses age and where the training level should be??

So you are looking for the show-pen bit but will work the holes in her training with a soft snaffle bit at home...
More go than whoa is often steadied when the shank is applied so no more is hauling the face a necessity when you allow the bit to send the signal...
Her understanding the signals is your mission to repair, replace and reinforce...

Myself, I've never used these bits...
But I can understand what and how it works, see the difference in cue given, received and responded to ...
Now to find what the mare best works in and most importantly....likes and respects so you work together as a team.
More leg and seat than hand.... :wink:
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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Don't panic. Probably half of the head horses out there have worn or currently wear a chain bit in the arena, and the tiedown is 'standard equipment.'

A chain bit is one of those things that looks barbaric, but that a lot of horses really like and go well in; a great many head horses wear a chain bit when roping. A head horse 'goes off your hand' out of the box, and the release of your hand comes very quickly with a chain bit-- the horse has no confusion into when he's asked to go or when he should score instead.

Ask the trainer why he's using that bit. I'd guess because it gives him a lot of control of her head and neck, keeps her from dropping a shoulder when she faces, and she isn't throwing her head as much as she was in a regular snaffle or mullen mouth bit. The chain lies across the tongue comfortably and a lot of horses prefer it to a regular mouthpiece, plus a lot of horses go straighter in it -- I'd ride a chain mounthpiece in my old head horse a lot-- he liked the bit, stayed in contact but didn't lug on it, and the tie-down is pretty much standard equipment on a rope horse, and for him, it gave him something to run against and he'd come out of the box much flatter wearing one than without. I would not be too worried about a chain bit with a rider with good hands. It's a way to get a horse's attention without deadening the mouth. If the mare likes the chain mouth and you don't like the shanks, look into a Jr. Cowhorse bit with a similar mouthpiece -- it has a soft gag action, and less leverage. Then you can ride two-handed for schooling if needed, and transfer that to neck reining as she learns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/...R5SMt-qpEJF2AT5x-fHD1cE80DGeDnOMpljA&usqp=CAc

It's this one. She tosses her head quite a bit and hops up a bit as well. She has not had a lot of training outside of the arena tbh. Like I said I rode her on a trail and she was antsy, prancy, and kept trying to break into the next gear. In the arena she backs into the box easy as can be and will lope circles all day. It was interesting as most of my previous horses were the opposite. I'm thinking part of it is just exposure. He said they were practicing roping like 5 days a week at one point prior to him being hurt. She seems to like roping okay, but she definitely does not love it the way some horses seem to.

About the mare: coming five year old. The guy I bought her from got her as a 2 year old and started everything with her. He said when he put her in a simple snaffle she has no whoa. She wouldn't rate well, so he went back to that. I honestly do not know if she's ever ridden in anything else. I tend to have light hands, so I wouldn't think these bits would be an issue. I'm just not familiar with them.
I definitely appreciate the opinions. I don't want to put her in something she just just has zero respect for, but I'd like to let her relax a bit before we start on the barrel pattern.
 

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Don't take the tie-down off yet.
Ask @Knave about that.

I use a chain bit on my good horse when roping in the arena. He loves it and he is the type of horse who hides behind the bridle if it is too much or I get heavy handed. He leaves the box hard and flat. Like @SilverMaple rope horses are typically held in your hand.
I have had chain bits explained both ways, one- they give something the horse to lean on but not scare them or two- they won't lean on it but it won't scare them if they try. Either way.. It's not as scary as it looks.

I would quit roping off of her a bit, take her in the arena, walk, trot, like if you can, work on softening her. When she is nice take her to the box get off and loosen her cinches, let her take a deep breath, lead her out.

It will take her some to get her used to going outside. Go slow maybe do something easy like bring the steers in. Even older horses act like colts when they haven't been out, they kinda want to peel out or hang close to another horse for confidence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I definitely won't be taking the tie down off yet. I have already had my head smashed by one that way. Honestly I think she will always need one at least when performing. She's a big powerful horse and she likely needs it to lean against.

I definitely appreciate all of the advice. I figure it will also just be a bit of the two of us getting used to one another and what is expected since she's basically had one owner/rider.

I was thinking of this since someone suggested the Jr Cowhorse, and this one is chain like she is used to. I don't want to change everything all of a sudden and have her thinking "what the heck is this one doing?"
https://www.statelinetack.com/item/reinsman-jr-cowhorse-sweet-iron-small-chain-mouth/E018198/

This is what I get for taking a long break from owning my own horses. When I was just riding other peoples' horses they made all the decisions like this for me!
 

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I missed the part where you said she lopes around and is good in the box. I just saw the part where they practiced on her 5 days a week and kinda assumed she was a basket case!

I get irritated when people freak out about tie-downs and tell people to take them off. As you know, and many of us done it at some point, it usually ends in a disaster on horses who have been ridden in them for their whole life. LOL

The Jr. Cowhorse might be a good option to try but as you probably know, buy bit guards.
 

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Do any of you use a chain bit for trail riding? Or have an opinion on trying that?


I don't even own a chain bit but I do like trying new bits and tack and more than one person (not just on this forum but in "real life" as well) tell me that horses like and do well in chain bits. I know ropers like them. But what about just as a general using bit? Is that totally off the wall? For instance, I would never trail ride in anything with a twisted or harsh mouthpiece. But my horses do normally ride in a short shanked curb with a solid mouth and a port. I guess I am just wondering how a short shanked curb with a chain mouth would be as a regular riding bit?

I admit I dislike tie downs, mainly because I think they look awful. BUT, I don't do western performance so I honestly don't have any need for one. I did buy one horse that came ridden regularly with a tie down. And a weird, cable cavasson that was worn with it. So I rode him in that for about a month and I couldn't figure out why he needed it. I took it off and never used it again. I still don't know why they felt he needed it. But he certainly didn't have any problems when I took it off. But again, NOT a western performance horse, so I don't fault anyone for using one who has a good reason to. I just have never understood why anyone would need one for general riding, such as on trails.
 

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Do any of you use a chain bit for trail riding? Or have an opinion on trying that?


I don't even own a chain bit but I do like trying new bits and tack and more than one person (not just on this forum but in "real life" as well) tell me that horses like and do well in chain bits. I know ropers like them. But what about just as a general using bit? Is that totally off the wall? For instance, I would never trail ride in anything with a twisted or harsh mouthpiece. But my horses do normally ride in a short shanked curb with a solid mouth and a port. I guess I am just wondering how a short shanked curb with a chain mouth would be as a regular riding bit?

I admit I dislike tie downs, mainly because I think they look awful. BUT, I don't do western performance so I honestly don't have any need for one. I did buy one horse that came ridden regularly with a tie down. And a weird, cable cavasson that was worn with it. So I rode him in that for about a month and I couldn't figure out why he needed it. I took it off and never used it again. I still don't know why they felt he needed it. But he certainly didn't have any problems when I took it off. But again, NOT a western performance horse, so I don't fault anyone for using one who has a good reason to. I just have never understood why anyone would need one for general riding, such as on trails.

Some people think it will slow down a go-y horse, keeps them from throwing their head, and/or rearing.

MOST people think tie downs and trail riding es no bueno - a horse needs to be able to use it's head to help balance or recover from a stumble, if you end up having a complete disaster and your horse ends up in deep water, they'll drown with a tie down on, and they can and do rear and can and do go over backwards in one.

For roping, barrel racing, etc, I don't fault anyone who uses one. People who use one in ignorance and think it fixes behavioral problems or makes the horse safer, or use one and don't understand the problems that it can cause on the trail, are the ones that bug me. I still don't say anything to other people - unless I know them well and then I politely inquire why they're using one... but I put the judo chop on my kids putting them on their horses to trail ride and God forbid, try to go swimming in.


Here's an informative article on why Team Ropers use them btw.
 

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Some people think it will slow down a go-y horse, keeps them from throwing their head, and/or rearing.

MOST people think tie downs and trail riding es no bueno - a horse needs to be able to use it's head to help balance or recover from a stumble, if you end up having a complete disaster and your horse ends up in deep water, they'll drown with a tie down on, and they can and do rear and can and do go over backwards in one.

For roping, barrel racing, etc, I don't fault anyone who uses one. People who use one in ignorance and think it fixes behavioral problems or makes the horse safer, or use one and don't understand the problems that it can cause on the trail, are the ones that bug me. I still don't say anything to other people - unless I know them well and then I politely inquire why they're using one... but I put the judo chop on my kids putting them on their horses to trail ride and God forbid, try to go swimming in.


Here's an informative article on why Team Ropers use them btw.

I would be sort of afraid the horse could go over backwards BECAUSE of the tie down. Hitting the end and panicking.....like a horse that doesn't tie well........that's what I would be scared of. There was a horse that drowned in a lake nearby several years ago and that's what the story was.......either a tied down or a lead rope restricted his head. :x



Thank you, I will check out the article.
 

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@trailhorserider, I wouldn't be afraid to try a chain bit. If your horse is worried about it or you are, you can wrap the chain in a layer of Sealtex bit wrap.

Going back to tie-downs, some are fine if you take them off and some are fine to ride outside without one but they get put on to rope in the arena.
I just caution when a horse is been consistently been ridden in one. It can be a wreck.
 
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@COWCHICK77 is 100% on about just taking off the tie down. It is a bad idea. Not to be said that some horses wouldn’t be fine, but many horses have learned to brace against it to run and you can have a pretty spectacular run away. Also, you can get knocked in the face. I have done both embarrassingly enough.
 

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I would be sort of afraid the horse could go over backwards BECAUSE of the tie down. Hitting the end and panicking.....like a horse that doesn't tie well........that's what I would be scared of. There was a horse that drowned in a lake nearby several years ago and that's what the story was.......either a tied down or a lead rope restricted his head. :x



Thank you, I will check out the article.

There was a very young lady in this area, a barrel racer, who was best friends with B (who rides with me and helped get me started on being brave and riding Trigger two years ago). The young lady... well. Her parents, particularly her mother, insisted she was capable of handling a 1D barrel horse. She was 14 or 15 I think?

So they invest in this high powered 1D horse. The horse was insane, IMO. Very very very hot, very unpredictable, very reactive. They strapped her in the saddle, slapped a tie down on this prancy, rear-y horse... not for collection but for 'control' of it, and in the alley it stood straight up, hit the end of the tie down, panicked, and went over backwards and killed that girl right there in the alley in front of her parents. That big long barrel racer saddle horn punched through her sternum and the weight of the horse collapsed her chest.

That was the first cautionary tale our older cowboy friends told us when the kids thought they had to have a tie down on the horses and before I had my own horse. They all looked very concerned, and said: You know that's not what a tie down is for right? To prevent rearing and head tossing?

We then got the story of a horse that ran off on one of them while he was being ridden in a pen. He bucked him off, jumped the pen gate, charged headlong right into a deep pond with that tie down still on, and drowned himself.

That was one of my first lessons in horse tack - know what tie downs are for and don't use them to try to mask a deeper problem.

(Secondary Takeaway from the first story - my grandbaby will never be strapped into the saddle of a 1100 lb pile of equine nerves and adrenaline)
 

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^ Yeah, the people who strap their kids to a fire-breathing barrel horse are insane. A close second are the ones with stick their 4 y.o. on mom's 1-D horse, lead him into the arena, and turn him loose while said child clings frantically to the saddle while the horse does the pattern. That's not riding. You can't claim your kid is riding when all they are doing is holding on and trying not to die.

Get your kids a safe, sane horse to learn on, and then when they're ready, they will know how to handle a hot horse if they need to.

I had one little paint gelding who was hot, hot, hot, and he was in my string to lead trailrides with. He'd canter sideways the whole ride. Didn't matter if it was 2 miles or 20 miles, he would NOT walk. He had a mouth like iron and liked to stick his ears in your face and bolt. I found a bit he wouldn't run through, and I did ride him in a tie-down as he wasn't my horse, and I couldn't spend months on him getting him over this habit, but I did add a bolt snap under the cavesson, so if we crossed water, I could lean over, unsnap his tiedown, then hook it back up when we got to the other side without dismounting. He was hot but he wasn't stupid, and I did like him. Mr. Dancy Prancy would stop and stand on a loose rein if someone on the ride needed help, so he was my go-to horse when taking out little kids in spite of his bad habits, and he was super fun to do Grand Entries on and take barrel racing on the weekends. That little horse could smoke a barrel pattern.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I always used a tie down on several of my barrel horses, particularly if they were double duty as roping horses in the arena at least. Most of them did without it on trails, but some of them were so used to riding in it that the lack of it just created more problems. I am definitely not just going to remove the tie down from her until we are working together well.

I did go ahead and purchase a Jr. Cowboy as suggested. Once she relaxes a bit and we are working well together, then I'll introduce her to the barrel pattern.

P.S. she comes home today! I am like an over eager kid getting her first pony today!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
She came home (well to my barn) today, and I am just so insanely giddy.
 

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When you all are saying “strap the kid in the barrel saddle”- you mean that literally?? Like, seatbelted in and not able to jump off without unbuckling?!?
 
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