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Discussion Starter #1
Yup, I will be showing western this season, and I really want some critique so I know what to work on. But be nice please, Bear and I are both english trained, so we arent the best at western. As far as I know, this was Bears first ever western ride, and I thought he did pretty good. =]

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Discussion Starter #2
By the way, we will be switching him into the short shank tom-thumb once he gets used to the whole western thing. As I said, he is english trained, so western is a bit different for him.

I do have a western trainer that will be helping us out too. =]
 

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He seems a bit heavy on his forehand but it could just be that one pic. You might try letting the reins go a little bit. Most western horses (especially in shows) are ridden on loose or even droopy reins.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just wondering, which picture are you talking about? Yeah, I agree that I need to work on that. We did do a bit of loose rein work at mainly the walk, and he needs work on neck reining, but we will get there! I am going to take him into a green horse class, just two gait, until I feel ready that he is ready to move up to 3 gate green horse. Once he is in the tom=thumb my reins will be looser, as I hate seeing shank bits with tight reins, hehe.

Anyone else? =]
 

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I would recommend relaxing your leg a bit. Your horse is supposed to look like a "pleasure" to ride. The less a judge can see you asking for things, the better.

I know that he's just transitioning but I would try to give him as much rein as possible. Also - no need to switch to a shanked bit just yet. Work him on a loose rein with a snaffle bit. Once he's got the neck reining and light cues down pat, try a shanked bit with even less cueing.

I would really postpone switching bits for as long as possible. I ride my guy in a snaffle on a very loose western-rein and he does just fine. I do, of course, show him in a shanked bit.
 

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Here are two examples of loose rein with a snaffle bit. He's in a D-ring snaffle. That way, I can direct rein him if need be. In a tom thumb you can't direct rein.

So, with a snaffle you can still teach light contact and neck reining, but you also have the ability to collect your horse back up, shift his weight or direct rein. :)

Pink shirt is me riding, green shirt is my BFF who is VERY novice riding. Notice how he drops his head with a bit more rein (green rider) and picks up a bit more as I collect (pink shirt)?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
To Sixx:
Oh trust me, I am putting it off as long as possible! He really does perfer his snaffles, hehe. I am going to do the same thing that you do with your horses, after doing what you advised (I hope that made sense). I perfer snaffles myself, so he will school in that at home after he gets used to the tom-thumb when I move him onto that.

Just wanted to add two things... One, yeah, he is on the forehand pretty bad normally, that is one of the mane things we will be working on once im riding him again. Two, I am so, so in love. =,]
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So I should really just drop my reins and work on getting him to drop his head and be lighter. He is pretty lazy, so I normally wear spurs, but I dont want to use western spurs. I am trying to wean him off of spurs, and he is doing a little better, that way if I need them at shows and stuff, it will give him a little extra energy. Does that sound okay?
 

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He's really contracting his neck muscles in a few photos, probably bracing. Thats probably the thing you want to work on the most. No judge wants to see a tense horse.

Question: why cant you direct rein with a tom thumb? ive boarded with people who used them for english, of course they do use two reins though.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah, I think they he was so tense was because he hasnt used those muscles in a year or more!
By the way, the tom-thumb he is in a short shank and is just a normal snaffle (with shanks of course). I would never put him in a curb, as he has a soft mouth and rides best in a soft bit.
 

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The short shank snaffle IS A CURB BIT. Many times the curb bits with a snaffle mouthpiece (like the one you are referring to) are more harsh than a curb bit that has a port.

When you transition to a curb bit, look for these kind of curb bits: correction, spoon, or reiner. Look for something with swivel shanks and a mouthpiece that has action (not a solid mouthpiece with no movement).

A curb bit is not harsh if you select the right one & learn how to use it properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The short shank snaffle IS A CURB BIT. Many times the curb bits with a snaffle mouthpiece (like the one you are referring to) are more harsh than a curb bit that has a port.

When you transition to a curb bit, look for these kind of curb bits: correction, spoon, or reiner. Look for something with swivel shanks and a mouthpiece that has action (not a solid mouthpiece with no movement).

A curb bit is not harsh if you select the right one & learn how to use it properly.
Yeah, someone insisted on putting a bit like that in Bear's mouth, he HATED it. He did best in the normal snaffle (w/ no shanks), then he did second best in the tom-thumb.
I have always been told that tom-thumbs are one of the kindest western bits (with shanks), when in the right hands, like any bit. Have I been told wrong? :-|
 

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Since you are electing to go with the broken mouth, might I suggest you look for one with a myler/billy allen mouth, just to avoid the nutcracker effect compounded by the shanks. Really, a TT isn't that soft of a bit, especially since he doesn't go on loose reins yet. Does he neck rein? If not, I certainly wouldn't put him in a TT. But then again, that is just MHO. If you have tried it and he does well, then don't change him up.

Not getting on your butt here, just trying to help figure out what would work best for Bear. Also, the shorter the shanks are, the milder it will be.

Billy Allen Bits

I really like the one with the gold chevrons about 1/3 the way down, if only the shanks were shorter.
 

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In the right hands, a tom thumb can be direct reined, but I don't usually recommend it to people and wouldn't use one myself.

The problem is, when some people direct rein with a tom thumb they're also pulling on the poll of the horse and pinching the tongue of the horse with the bit. Never a good combination.

Like GottaRide, I would recommend going to a reining bit instead of a tom thumb. I personally like the looks of this bit: ETA: With a bit shorter of a shank for you.

Pro-Craft Reining Bit with Roller - Horse.com


Personally, I ride in a bit something like this (with a slightly lower port):

Silver Aluminum Precision Spring Show Bit 8 3/4in Cheeks - Horse.com
 

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Billy Allen Bits

I really like the one with the gold chevrons about 1/3 the way down, if only the shanks were shorter.
I hate you for posting that link, now I think I've found ANOTHER Christmas present for Java... The Calvary Shank at the bottom looks like it might work well with my heavy reins for finesse work. But that California Shank wouldn't be bad for a new daily bit... hmmm.
 

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Haha! I just took a good look at that California shank after I had already posted and by the time I decided to mention it, my edit time had passed. I really like that one too but the only problem I notice is that it looks like it would pinch their lips :?. They basic idea is virtually identical to the Myler bit line but Billy Allen is an old friend of mine so I would buy his long before I would buy myler. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #18
As of right now, Bear does NOT know how to neck rein, and I wont be switching him into a bit with shanks until he can neck rein. Well, I wouldnt say that he cant as of right now, he just doesnt totally get it, so I normally use leg when I neck rein him (I normally use leg to help my horse turn anyways), which seems to help. I have been practicing it while warming up and cooling down english too.

Any tips on how to help him learn to neck rein?

To mods:
(( Sorry for letting this thread wonder a bit))

To smrobs:
Nutcracker effect? You lost me a bit, hehe. I am not sure how short of a shank is legal in shows, but I am going for the shortest shank I can get away with. Are the bits you showed me legal at shows? Do you think a bit with rollers would be a good idea?
 

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Sorry off topic but I'm sure in beginner classes and green horse classes you can ride in a snaffle or a curb regardless of the horse's age. That's what its like at my shows, but I don't know if its the same over there.
 
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