Tell me HOW this bit works? - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 52 Old 04-13-2019, 08:11 PM
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I also am really interested by this thread. It is timely, too, as my sister is bridle-shopping for her fussy fussy mare. Every horse I've ridden seems to go so differently than the one before. Two of my horses - including my current one - seem to positively hate a cavesson no matter how many fingers of slackness they have. Others don't seem to care at all. Two horses went very well in double-jointed snaffles, another was like butter in a Mylar combination, and my current guy prefers a single-jointed snaffle.

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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I admit, though, to tensing up when someone tells me THEY would never touch a harsh "leverage" bit. I sometimes wish I could change the terminology so that they would be called "signal" bits instead of curb bits.
I totally get your point on this bsms, and I agree, and yet, there is a small but stubborn part of me that loves the traditional yet bad-ass sound of "Spade Bit." It has a refreshing non-politically-correct ring that I find appealing...
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post #32 of 52 Old 04-13-2019, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Evil View Post

I totally get your point on this bsms, and I agree, and yet, there is a small but stubborn part of me that loves the traditional yet bad-ass sound of "Spade Bit." It has a refreshing non-politically-correct ring that I find appealing...
And you know if you and your horse make it up to spade-bit level, you've really accomplished something!

There's a lot of stupid out there!
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post #33 of 52 Old 04-13-2019, 10:20 PM
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I belong to a group that uses science and physics to see how the bits work in reality vs advertising, science and physics really can prove problem bits vs non-problem bits. While the gag is almost universally hated in the group, the reality is, sometimes a slight bit of poll pressure can get through some adrenaline moments but should not be considered an everyday training bit.
I would hardly call a self-proclaimed expert making YouTube videos with a worn out horse skull in her backyard "science".
She, however, can demonstrate how some bits work as opposed to the marketing gimmicks and uneducated catalog descriptions touting miracle results for all that ails getting those who don't know better-buying bits.

Some of the long term group members have a tendency to jump on the evil-no-matter-what bandwagon and as a whole, there is not much consideration for rider and horse differences. All barrel racers starfish and harpoon the guts out of their horses and all reiners and cow horse people run their horses into fences to get them to stop and use tack collars, so on and so forth. The diatribe gets a little old.

I DON'T LEAD 'EM AND FEED 'EM, I RIDE 'EM AND SLIDE 'EM.

Last edited by COWCHICK77; 04-13-2019 at 10:36 PM.
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post #34 of 52 Old 04-14-2019, 06:58 AM
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To study a bit's mechanics, one needs X-rays of what actually happens in the mouth, measurements or rein pressures, behavior studies, etc. Those things are hard to find. This is one of my favorite bit photos:


That is a single-joint snaffle in action when the poll is not flexed. It is gentler (presses into the tongue less) if the poll is flexed. A double-joint snaffle, based on X-rays, puts MORE pressure on the tongue!

One often hears that a single joint snaffle will "nutcracker", poking the roof of the mouth. But this is what was found when someone looked at it with X-rays:
Quote:
"When tension was applied to the reins, the mouthpiece pressed more deeply into the tongue, thereby causing the joint to move away from the palate. Single-jointed bits are usually described as having a nutcracker-like action, the implication being that when tension is applied to the reins, the angle between the arms of the mouthpiece closes and the joint is pushed toward the palate. In our study, any nutcracker effect that tended to push the joint toward the palate was more than offset by indentation of the tongue."

- Bitting: The Inside Story by Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PHD, MRCVS

http://horseproblems.com.au/Bits/USDF_Dec05.pdf
Also, no one uses a nutcracker to "poke". They use it to crush, and the first use of the word I can find meant that a bit used like in the X-ray above can crush the horse's CHEEK between the folding bit and the molars. The author said he had frequently seen lacerations on the inside of the cheek of polo ponies caused by this and recommended many polo ponies be ridden in a curb instead.

Of course, in western riding, bits are meant to be used with minimal contact. You train a horse, not to accept bit pressure more, but less - with the goal of eventually not needing pressure at all. Bandit and I won't get there because we both just goof around far more than we train, but I can't forget when I was told this self photo of Mia & I represented "dangerous" riding:


I've looked a lot but haven't seen any genuine studies on the western approach to using bits. 90% of what I've found involved dressage, which has both a different philosophy and a different geometry. Is it because there isn't an interest? Because fewer problems are seen? Or just less money to spend? Regardless, one cannot call a bit harsh or bad without first looking at how the rider plans to use it!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #35 of 52 Old 04-14-2019, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Of course, in western riding, bits are meant to be used with minimal contact. You train a horse, not to accept bit pressure more, but less - with the goal of eventually not needing pressure at all.

Regardless, one cannot call a bit harsh or bad without first looking at how the rider plans to use it!

You should rephrase that comment above...
When you ride correctly, you ride with leg and seat most, hands less.
Even in English disciplines...including dressage which I admit to not knowing much about.

Minimal contact is whisper soft speaking to each other regardless of what you think it looks like.
Just as in western riding, same is true in English.
If you watch a true team of skilled equestrians work together the rein is never "tight" but consistent in appearance...
We strive for not having loops nor vise-grip appearances but soft, gentle, whisper of communication be present.
Where the horses head goes so shall follow our hand,...not a smack in the mouth.
Of course you can find the pictures that show different, but look at the head, the mouth, the hands speaking to the animal...they are what tell the story.
Look at the picture...but don't forget to read the words.


Your hands are intended to tell the story...they present the picture, the illustration.
But you must read the words, the content to get the full picture...
The cues given are through a seat bone, a leg pressure applied, a slight shift of calf-muscle...
A true team tuned into each other should not see a hand movement, should not see a uneven rein, or rein-drape...
Harmony in motion...silent, effortless un-seen communication.
That is true in western riding as is true in any type of the English disciplines too.

As for your comment about harsh bits...
I can only hope that no rider purposely chooses a bit because it can cause pain, discomfort...
It has been told many times...
Every horse is a individual and as such they get to pick, to choose what is comfortable to wear and speak to their rider with.
It is our job to listen to what they tell us...
When communication breaks-down is when the horrors can appear with any bit, any style any mouthpiece.
There are no limits of this is good, this is bad....there are only perceptions made by us.

We must listen to what our horses tell us and that may also change depending upon the rider who is listening or not paying any mind to the conversation.
That is what makes any bit good or bad...
...
jmo...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #36 of 52 Old 04-14-2019, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy View Post
...Minimal contact is whisper soft speaking to each other regardless of what you think it looks like.
Just as in western riding, same is true in English...

We strive for not having loops nor vise-grip appearances but soft, gentle, whisper of communication be present...
I believe my statement is correct. "You train a horse, not to accept bit pressure more, but less..." Notice I did NOT say, "You train a horse to accept MORE BIT PRESSURE". My reference was not to how much pressure is applied, but to how long and often. It is indisputable that English riding values much greater durations of contact than Western.

That said...the science of rein pressure shows something different from your description. Hilary Clayton, after measuring rein pressures, concluded what Harry Chamberlin had without measurements decades before - that it isn't how much pressure one applies, but how consistent the pressure is that matters to the horse. "...It is difficult for a rider to correctly assess the amount of tension in the reins when the contact is dynamic and tension is constantly changing. Our goal as riders should be to offer our horses a consistent and predictable contact that allows them to seek the bit confidently and, in so doing, to use their entire bodies correctly..." And yes, that "use their entire bodies correctly" upsets me. Oh well. Life goes on.

Most riders - including me - like to believe they apply light pressure. Ounces. One poster on HF had her instructor describe it in a way I am certain both instructor and student believe happens: "Take a feather / Add a feather". That is a wonderful description of what we BELIEVE we do.

The reality, when measured, is that the feathers weigh more than a bird. More than a grown chicken. In many cases, more like a small turkey! This is what Clayton measured when a skilled dressage rider was trotting a young horse - and thus admittedly not what a highly trained horse might be able to achieve under the same rider:


The release of reins runs around 1-1.5 lbs. That is consistent with a study done by an English bit maker (which unfortunately I can't find any more). They concluded bit pressures below 2.5 lbs were so rarely seen as to be irrelevant, since one gets to 2.5-3 lbs of rein pressure just by taking the slack out of the reins!

While the pressure is kept wonderfully consistent between left & right hand, the pressure in the horse's mouth is not. It varies constantly between 3-6 lbs. With 3-6 lbs of pressure creating the background noise, like the buzzing of conversation in a bar, actual communication with the horse - actually asking for a half-halt - hits 9 lbs of pressure.

If bits are used for communication, then think of rein pressure as decibels instead of lbs. If you want to talk to your loved one in a bar, you will have to talk louder than if you are strolling along a quiet country path. In like manner, if one maintains long duration "soft contact" with a horse's mouth, then any cue (request) given to the mouth MUST be louder than what the horse is already hearing.

A European magazine compared the pressure used to cue a horse to stop from a canter, using identical bits, between a dressage rider & horse and a reiner. The dressage pair used between 18 & 26 lbs of pressure applied repeatedly. The reiner used less than 6 applied once. That isn't entirely fair since reining puts a lot of emphasis on stopping. But...it took a turkey to stop the dressage horse, not a feather! Of course, it took a small chicken to stop the reiner...

Another study measured peak pressures while ridden at various gaits. They found over 9 lbs at a walk, 11.5 lbs at a trot and the canter maxed at 23 lbs.

None of this makes English riding cruel, although it raises serious questions about anyone teaching a new rider to use continuous contact. I believe both Chamberlin and Clayton are right - a horse can learn to accept considerable pressure in the mouth and tune it out, if the pressure is consistent. Here is a thought: How long does it take to teach a horse to "reach for contact"? I don't know. Never tried it. Now, how long does it take to teach a horse to reach for a sugar cube? The answer to those questions may tell us how a horse feels about bit pressure.

FWIW, I'd love to see studies done of bit pressure on a western horses mouth. I strongly suspect such a study would reveal things that might make me unhappy. This as not a moral issue. Not "good" or "bad". It is a difference, and we ought to think about our choice. Not criticize. Just think. In my case, primarily a trail rider, it came down to this: Is there anything I want to do with a horse that requires frequent or longer duration contact? And for me, that answer was obviously "No".

"As for your comment about harsh bits...
I can only hope that no rider purposely chooses a bit because it can cause pain, discomfort...
"

I think it is indisputable that many riders, English and Western, deliberately choose a bit to increase pain. You can buy bits in both styles with very narrow twisted wire mouthpieces. George Morris recommends using a double twisted wire snaffle on a known bolter! As a training tool, that might be acceptable. Maybe. But he certainly is recommending it because it causes more pain. While I like Larry Trocha, I find it very disturbing that he claims a competition horse always tends to a harder mouth, and sometimes needs a very thin wire bit to 'sharpen him up'. I would be deeply bothered by anything I did with my horses that regularly hardened their mouths! If that always happened in my sport, I'd find another sport...

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #37 of 52 Old 04-14-2019, 12:55 PM
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PS: Hilary Clayton, in the same article, wrote, "Within this type of elastic contact, the rider can have a subtle conversation with the horse’s mouth that would not be possible if the reins were loose."

I have no idea why she believes a subtle conversation with a horse's mouth requires tension in the reins. I suspect her background has led to to dismiss any other approach as possible. I will never have the skill to ride with a spade bit. I certainly have enough, though, to regularly use a standard curb bit with emphasis on signals. I find I can have a conversation with my horse, including using the reins, without taking slack out of the reins. That is the beauty of a bit that can rotate (a very obvious signal) before applying pressure.

That isn't the same as saying he will OBEY me all the time with slack in the reins. Heck, he doesn't OBEY me all the time regardless of rein tension! That is OK by me. I'm happier riding a horse who sometimes gets to tell me "No way!" He's happier too! Most of our conversation takes place with small slack in the reins. Until we have an argument. Then both of us raise our voices. Shout sometimes! He's a half-Arabian, half-Mustang gelding. I'm a retired military officer. We both understand shouting as communication...

I also find Bandit will notice when I reduce the slack in the reins while using a snaffle. Bitless too. During the brief time I took riding lessons, the instructor kept emphasizing how incredibly aware horses are and that she would never be so subtle that a horse couldn't notice it. With snaffles.

When we accept bit pressure as part of doing business, we stop exploring how far a horse can go without it. For many sports, that probably makes sense. For trail riding, like the instructor I used to have, I will never be too subtle for my horse. My errors are all on the other side.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #38 of 52 Old 04-14-2019, 02:11 PM
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Why oh why, are we discussing dressage yet again, when the question is about a Western bit, in Western Riding.


Quote:
PS: Hilary Clayton, in the same article, wrote, "Within this type of elastic contact, the rider can have a subtle conversation with the horse’s mouth that would not be possible if the reins were loose."

I have no idea why she believes a subtle conversation with a horse's mouth requires tension in the reins. I suspect her background has led to to dismiss any other approach as possible. I will never have the skill to ride with a spade bit. I certainly have enough, though, to regularly use a standard curb bit with emphasis on signals. I find I can have a conversation with my horse, including using the reins, without taking slack out of the reins.
You have ZERO idea of what she is talking about, go ride a few dressage horses, no a lot, for a period of time, then come and talk about soft contact, elastic contact, with some sort of understanding. Get out there, feel some of these things, don’t look it up in books, and for Gods sake don’t try and recreate it on your own. I admit i’m slow on the uptake, but it has actually taken me years to REALLY understand what this is all about. But then you start from a a disadvantage because you can’t grasp the notion of a circle of energy....if you could at least understand what is meant by that, you may have a hope of understanding the rest of it.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”

Last edited by tinyliny; 04-14-2019 at 10:50 PM.
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post #39 of 52 Old 04-14-2019, 04:41 PM
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I wasn't discussing dressage as a sport or how desirable or valid it may or may not be. Not at all.

Yes, I do know what she is talking about. She is talking about exactly what she said - CONSISTENT contact, not light contact, because she had measured the amount of contact and found it was not "light". Yes, I know what elastic contact is. And what direct measurements say it is NOT.

It is physically impossible to pull a rein straight without putting additional pressure on the other end. It is also impossible to pull a clothesline straight without putting pressure on the other end. Does that pressure matter? I've said I agree with both Hilary Clayton (dressage) and Harry Chamberlin (US Cavalry) - horses can get used to even pressure, accept it and even like it.

Is it necessary for some sports? I don't pretend to know. As I said earlier on this thread, Bandit and I "both just goof around far more than we train". But I think it is a question worth thinking about, just as I think about how the rocks around here affect Bandit's feet. Doesn't stop me from riding trails. But it isn't right to make decisions for Bandit that affect him without first thinking about those effects. When I put metal in Bandit's mouth, or wrap a Dr Cook's bitless bridle around his face, I need to think about it. I need to monitor his reactions. I don't have a right to put ANY bit in his mouth, or ANY bitless bridle on him, without thinking about my goals, what is needed, what is helpful, and how he feels about the options.

That statement doesn't preclude ever selling Bandit to someone who loves dressage, or polo, or reining or cutting. "Not "good" or "bad". It is a difference, and we ought to think about our choice. Not criticize. Just think."

When Hilary Clayton says something "would not be possible" in traditional western riding, she opens herself to a response. I don't think Clayton has ever tried to explore the extent to which one can communicate with a horse while riding with slack in the reins.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #40 of 52 Old 04-14-2019, 08:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy View Post
Me too....from a plain, flat leather strap that is the true hunting appointment with sewn in bit and reins, to a fancy stitched nose and brow, to a square-raised, to half-round, braided...but they all had a common part...conventional noseband that was correctly adjusted, enhanced the face and facial bones of the horse.

If you ever truly look at the heads of many of the warmbloods, that is where you find your "dressage" horses that have a ugly head, ugly facial bone structure...they inherited the draft heavy and pronounced roman nose of a draft...not the refined of the cross...
So they made a noseband that hides as much ugly as it can...
I to be fair and honest have also seen a wide noseband with piping/edging that now makes it appear thick and unattractive.
Then add the flash attachment or some other something..

To me, why so thick is cause they try to hide a ugly head and profile.
I was brought up and trained that less is more and you use tack to define, to present and enhance a appearance...
....
jmo...



Gotta say, I disagree. I love me some Roman Nose.!!! Don't EVER call that ugly~!! It be prettty!




It is flash nosebands, cranked WAY too tight , that can cut off the air supply of a dressage horse. I dispise them, since they are almost always too tight, (causing deep stress to the horse), . . . or so loose that you wonder why even bother.




Let's ditch them!. Bit your horse with what works. But, in a snaffle, you should use a chin strap. Especially If you are going to use a gigantic D ring bit!!! the darn thing will literally turn backward (inside out), if you give it any kind of lateral pull and you don't have a chin strap to prevent this!
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