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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone, newbie here and I love the Forum.

I have a bit of a situation and I am really looking for some unbiased advice about bits. Apologies for the length of the post but I am at a real crossroads.

Here's a bit of background. I grew up in a town outside of London, England, and horses were something you saw on the tv. I didn't ride horses until I moved to Spain and met my wife 7 years ago. I am 45. My horse, (Nube) is about 9 years old, only having been ridden regularly for the last four years, mostly by me. We get on very well. She was broken as a foal by a Spanish 'expert' which means he knows how to use sticks and stones better than most people. Therefore she is a very sensitive horse, doesn't like loud voices, quick movements...you get the picture.

Up until about 6 months ago she was riding beautifully in a combination snaffle, which apparently turned out to belong to a friend of ours. She replaced it with a very harsh snaffle which Nube took an instant dislike to. At one point, while trying to fit the bridle, she reared and then lunged forward and if it hadn't been for the fact that she hit the tack room wall, she would have landed on my wife.

The same friend who took away our combination snaffle and gave us the harsh snaffle then advised us to try her in a rubber bit. Worked very well to start with but I soon had difficulty turning her head. Then the same friend suggested a Hackamore. Have had one good ride and two bad rides so far.

Another complication is that my wife's friend (another 'expert') came to ride Nube and brought with her a Pelham bit with a D-ring connection to a single rein. I had a go a few days later and really enjoyed the ride. Nube seemed to enjoy herself as well. First friend (comfort snaffle-harsh snaffle-rubber) later took one look at the Pelham and declared "You should never ride a Pelham bit with a single rein" and set about removing the D-ring connector and fitting a second rein. Suddenly I am learning to ride with double reins. The worst part is that the two 'expert' friends don't like each other and I am concerned that I may be in the middle of a "who knows the most about horses" war between the two.

I would really like to return to a comfort snaffle as we were both really happy with it, but they are very difficult to get hold of here, or in the UK. Has anyone got any advice they could offer, or suggest an alternative to the comfort snaffle that is easily available?

I would really appreciate any advice on this.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
 

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could you post a picture of the combination snaffle as I've not heard of it before.
Also what "harsh" snaffle were you told to use.

Its all relevant information as all snaffles have distinct actions so we need to know so that we can figure out what she is reacting to.

I personaly would suggest that a rubber snaffle was probably too much in her mouth as they can tend to be quite bulky.

I hate hackamores perticularly in inexperianced hands so I would say get rid of that immediatly.
I also dont like pelhams with roundings and a single rein. This muddies the action of the bit and every time you use the rein brings the curb chain into action. If you cant ride with double reins or dont want to then a pelham is not the bit for you, use a kimblewick instead.
 

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Howdy and welcome to the forum, David. It's unfortunate that you seem to be in the middle of a "****ing contest" between your two friends, that is a very awkward position.

I agree with Faye, can you find pictures of the snaffles that you've used on her; the one she liked and the one she didn't?

Unfortunately, I don't know what all bits might be readily available to you over there and I don't really know a ton about common English bits (I'm a western rider), but I agree that instead of a Pelham where you have to use 2 reins, you might prefer a kimberwick. Same basic action as the Pelham, though slightly milder and without the trouble of 2 reins.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks everyone, very useful information, never heard of a Kimblewick so will definitly check it out

The bit she used to have is very similar to the picture here




I will post a picture of the old rusty snaffle we were given as a replacement but just as a guide for now, you could tie an anchor to it.
 

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Aha! That's one of those expensive Myler combination bits. If she rode well in that, then I'm sure she'd get along just fine with a ported kimblewick.
 

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There is a pretty wide range of Mylar bits here:

Horse Bits & Hackamore Bits By MikMar, Tom Thumb, Sweet Iron & More!

I have yet to convince myself to pay over $100 for a bit, but a lot of them look well designed.

One like this may share a lot of the features for a fraction of the price ($24):

Reining Snaffle Brookside (Supplies Tack - Bits - Working)



This one might also have a similar effect ($18):



Western SS Low Port Futurity Bit - Statelinetack.com

Don't know if any of those would be OK. I might be totally out to lunch. They are not snaffles, though.
 

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BSMS, those are great suggestions, but since the OP appears to be riding english, I'm not sure how well those would fit in :wink:.

Also, I don't know if any of those companies ship to Europe or not.

OP, you might browse around on Ebay. You might have some luck finding something there that will ship to you (and perhaps be cheaper than buying direct from a company).
 

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The bit the OP showed is a shanked curb bit, although of a style more congenial to English riding than a standard western curb. Mia often treats my variation of that bit more like an English bit - I try to keep slack in the reins, but sometimes she insists on "slack out'.





I've heard some people refer to bits like Mylar's and the one above as 'comfort snaffles', which is why I asked. While they aren't designed for two handed riding, they seem pretty forgiving of it for those of us who feel weird with one hand on the reins.

Mia gets stuck with some pretty odd tack combinations. She's a forgiving horse, though.




I tried a Kimberwick with her once...her Highness was not amused. It was this style. I don't have the chain, but I could mail the mouthpiece to Spain if the OP wants to try it. 5" mouthpiece.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi everyone, thanks again for your help and advice.

bsms - I don't ride English, I have a western saddle (not a Spanish Vaquero) so now I'm really getting confused. Have I been using completely the wrong bit then? I often only have one hand on the reins, and I am working with her trying to teach her to neck rein. Up until now I have basically gone with whatever suggestion expert no.1 has been giving (assuming she knew what she was talking about, because I don't) but I've now decided that my horse is not a pawn in other people's game of chess, so am taking the responsibility for her bit myself.

She is happy to take the bit when I put the bridle on, she actually stands with her mouth open (as I said, we get on very well) so I just need something that is going to give control but is not severe, as I don't want to damage the trust that she has in me. Remember, she was badly treated when she was young so is very sensitive to 'strong arm' tactics. I'm going to research the Kimblewick, and thanks for the offer of sending one over by post bsms but I've seen similar bits in the suppliers shops in Spain.
 

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Ah, I'm sorry for my misunderstanding, David. That clears a whole lot of things up :D.

In that case, something like what bsms posted would be perfect.

You might browse around on Amazon.com. They ship to Europe and have a very wide selection of nice, affordable bits. Here are a few of my favorites I've found on there and I think just about any of them would fit your needs. They are all mild with short shanks.

I've got one of these and both me and my horses really like it


I've never used one of these so I can't speak of quality, but I like the looks of it


I've never used one of these either, but I really like the looks of it too


This is the same basic style as one of my favorite bits in the world. I've yet to come across a horse that didn't go well in one like these




And don't let the price of this one fool you. I've used one of these for years and wouldn't trade it for anything.


And if you think your horse might like more of a mullen mouth instead of a port, there is always something like this


Also, Amazon does sell most of the Myler bits (the one that you were using before), but, like bsms, I just can't seem to bring myself to spend $100+ on a bit that isn't custom made.
 

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One hand on the reins is 'correct' western riding with a shanked bit. I started off English and used two hands for the first 5 years. I'm now trying to get used to using one hand, but it feels strange to me. My balance is used to having the weight of my second arm in front of me, not by my side.

Our geldings both neck rein, but my favorite horse is Mia...and she is a slow learner. The good news is that when she finally DOES learn something, it sticks in her mind like glue. I didn't know how to ride when I bought her, so her slow progress is also due to my inability. As she slowly picks up neck reining, I think we'll do OK with one hand at some point in the future. I'm trying, but I'm pretty sure no one is as slow to learn riding as I am. Starting at 50 doesn't seem to have helped, either...

 

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Discussion Starter #13
Here's the picture of the bit that she really didn't like. My concern is that it looks similar to some of the bits very kindly suggested, except that it has a link in the middle (is it a western snaffle?). The bit shown here is 5 inches wide.

 

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That bit bends in the middle, and can poke the horse's mouth. Most of the others shown do not bend in the middle. They can rotate in the middle, but will never poke the horse's mouth.

BTW - regardless of what a catalog says, a snaffle doesn't have shanks. Lots of western riders use snaffles that are identical to English bits. I do with both of my geldings. After trying lots of different snaffles, I switched my mare to a curb bit because she relaxes more and acts better balanced in one. I don't know why other than horses get a vote in what they like or dislike.

I tend to avoid terms like harsh, because the analysis used is often simplistic, and doesn't take into account the complexity of a horse's mouth & a rider's hands and style of riding. A horse with a thick tongue will respond differently to a bit than one with a thin tongue. Riding with slack in the reins can make a difference, but what about a horse who sometimes insists on some contact? With training and the right rider, a spade bit is arguably the gentlest bit around, but it would be a holy terror in the hands of a so-so rider, or in the mouth of a horse that wasn't specifically trained to use one.

A lot of horse owners end up with a lot more bits than horses. That fits me - I've got a box of bits I will probably never use again. Trooper, meanwhile, behaves fine with any bit you stick in his mouth. Mia, OTOH, has been known to look at me as if to say, "What in the HELL did you just stick in my mouth?!" Good luck, and congrats on deciding YOU are responsible for your horse. Well intentioned advice is endless, and often useless as well...:wink:
 

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I don't know why that particular style of bit is so common and so popular. I've never liked curb bits that have a broken mouth. They are overly harsh and can be incredibly confusing. To me, they just don't have a good feel. And, while I did have horses that would go well in them, they always went better in something else.

That bit is nothing like the ones that I linked for you (I hate bits like the one you posted that your mare hated too). The ones that I linked are solid and will not collapse on the horse's face. They have an action that is almost identical to the combo bit you were using on her before, just without the gag action and the noseband.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you both so much for your helpful advice over these past few days. I am definitely coming away from the Hackamore, and for starters I am going to put her back in the combination to try to 'unconfuse' her mind, hopefully with a lot of groundwork over the next few weeks. I have a vacation for a week (we call it a 'holiday') then when I come back from that I will decide which bit to put her in but I think it will be something along the lines of those suggested by yourselves.

Thanks again. :)
 
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