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Hey everyone! I'm soon approaching that point with my 4 y/o mare where I would like to start getting her used to a shanked bit. She works really nicely in a snaffle and bosal, and is neck reining like a champ. But as most of you know, for western show classes once a horse is over 5 they are required to use a curb. She is my first young project I've taken on, so I haven't decided what I'm going to use next. A few people have recommended a shanked dog bone since the mouthpiece will be familiar. I'm not a huge fan of broken bits with shanks due to the nutcracker effect they can have, so I am just curious what other people might use.
What's your favorite "step up" bit from a snaffle?
 

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I will usually ride in a ring snaffle for the majority of a horse's life, as I feel that you can never get a horse as soft with a shanked bit of any kind as you can with a snaffle.

But for horses that I will show, or will be shown by someone else, my progression is as follows -
Ring snaffle
Teardrop shank snaffle
Short shank snaffle / Teardrop shank low port correction
Short shank curb
Longer shank curb

Any of the snaffle mouthpieces can be exchanged for things like dog bones and 3 piece roller snaffles, but I try to keep my mouthpieces as simple as possible, with as few moving parts as possible. I throw in an extra step or two but I like to introduce a bit to a horse gradually, making sure that the horse is comfortable packing it.

-- Kai
 

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It sounds like your horse is pretty broke, so if you want to stay away from a broken mouthpiece shanked bit, you might try going straight to something like this:

https://www.statelinetack.com/item/western-ss-low-port-futurity-bit/SLT735563/

Or this:

https://www.statelinetack.com/item/reinsman-sharon-camarillo-lil-mighty-low-port-bit/E015528/

Or this:

https://www.statelinetack.com/item/reinsman-mullen-training-bit/E003464/

Basically if you don't want a jointed mouthpiece, you'll be looking for something with very small shanks and a mouthpiece with a pow port, to accustom the horse to tongue relief. Personally my favorite type is the third one, as the loose shanks can still be ridden with two hands if necessary to improve communication, and the shanks are small enough to make it an easy bit for the horse to work with.

-- Kai
 

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Hey everyone! I'm soon approaching that point with my 4 y/o mare where I would like to start getting her used to a shanked bit. She works really nicely in a snaffle and bosal, and is neck reining like a champ. But as most of you know, for western show classes once a horse is over 5 they are required to use a curb. She is my first young project I've taken on, so I haven't decided what I'm going to use next. A few people have recommended a shanked dog bone since the mouthpiece will be familiar. I'm not a huge fan of broken bits with shanks due to the nutcracker effect they can have, so I am just curious what other people might use.
What's your favorite "step up" bit from a snaffle?
And what do you think your broken mouthpiece snaffle does? (I assume you have a snaffle with a dogbone center since you said it was similar to the curb you were looking at.)

As with anything, there are shanked bits that have better designs out there than others. For example, a Tom Thumb is a very poorly designed and poorly balanced bit. Whereas a Jr. Cowhorse is nicely balanced (although has a slight amount of gag and not appropriate for showing because of it).

Personally, I like double-jointed mouthpieces better than single-joints. I feel I can get more softness from my horses in them.

So I would suggest finding a bit with a similar mouthpiece to what your snaffle has, with short shanks that swivel independently of each other. That way if you do need to pick up a direct rein from time to time, you can.

I'm currently using a bit that looks almost like this on my 6-yr-old as his step-up bit. Super short shanks but gives him the idea.

With a totally solid curb bit, you can't direct rein in that. Strictly only direct reining, which is really only feasible when the horse is 100% solid and you aren't doing any schooling.
 

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One of mine went from the bosal to the snaffle and then to this Mylar Triple barrel.



He really seems to like it and so do I.
 
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