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View Full Version : why are there no illegal bits??



Alterrain
Apr. 22, 2009, 11:58 PM
After watching richard spooner jump the world cup finals this past week in a bit he made in his garage, I got to thinking:

why are there no rules regarding bits, like in dressage you can't just use whatever you want, it has to be "legal". i don't know about other disciplines, but it seems like in h/j you can just use whatever you want. crazy long curbs, bicycle chain D's, "custom" jay shuttleworths, etc...

note: I was just using Mr. Spooner as an example, I don't know anything about that particular bit, it could be very mild.

Wanderluster
Apr. 23, 2009, 12:17 AM
There are legal and illegal bits . In the jumper division the bit or lack thereof is not legislated. No big deal
Oh BTW I didn't mean to be cavalier about the use of bicylce chain bits, I asked Linda Andrasini why she punished the users of certain bits that can have poll pressure and allow snaffle looking bits with huge ports and her reply was if I don't see it I don't judge it. No revealing what a hunter actually is wearing. It must look traditional without hooks for cheek pieces and reins.
Didn't mean to sidetrack, does that answer your question ?

Jumper221
Apr. 23, 2009, 07:29 AM
There are legal and illegal bits

No, in hunters there are NO illegal bits, but judges may penalize for unconventional tack/bits at their discretion. The rule actually reads:

"Regulation snaffles, pelhams, and full bridles, all with cavesson nose bands, are recommended. A judge may penalize for non-conventional types of bits or nosebands."

Not sure why that is, maybe they thought it would be easier to leave it up to the judges than try to put together a complete list of what is illegal.

Janet
Apr. 23, 2009, 08:09 AM
Why?

The cynic in me says that, when they first developed the Hunter rules, they couldn't get agreement on a list of legal/illegal bits, so left it up to the judge.

At the time, the double bridle was the expected bit for a show hunter.

mrsbradbury
Apr. 23, 2009, 08:43 AM
I would find it fascinating to have the tools, ambition and desire to make bits in my garage! I knew nothing of this...

Are we concerned of Richard Spooner's craftmsanship?

Anyway, I don't really mind that there's not a spelled out list of illegal or legal bits. I am a milder bit person, and others have their preferences. I don't feel that certain bits are "cheating"

A bit is only as severe as the riders hands are educated. (Now mind you I am NOT talking about the archaic war horse bits.)

I have a MIKMAR with a pretty heinous port (in my opinion), the horse I showed in it in the jumpers was hauling my butt around, out of the tack because I just had to ride it in a nice snaffle. The trainer that was helping me sent me to get that bit; and umm it made a big difference. (for the better).

I know that's jumpers/ not hunters... What specifically would you suggest OP?

Equitate.
Apr. 23, 2009, 08:50 AM
Legal/ illegal would be terribly difficult to enforce. You could have something wicked hidden in D ring form, and how would the judge know? would everyone have to un-bridle at the end of a hack to prove that they are riding legal?
Shows would never end, crazy pony moms would be at each other's throats with illegal bit accusations (no offense to the general pony mom population, but I have seen a few nasty fights)....
It just wouldn't work. Better to leave the rules vague and let common sense work it out.

Plus, what may be a scary looking bit may do wonders in the right pair of hands.

mvp
Apr. 23, 2009, 09:22 AM
Any westcoasters remember this guy? He'd use whatever worked for a horse, including a loop of rope around the lower jaw.

There's nothing wrong with an unorthodox, even homemade bit in the right hands. I think the guy who built the bit should also be the guy to educate the horse on the flat, however. It's not about the bit, after all, but about what happens from the hind end to the shoulders.

Why hunter judges don't fundamentally object when they see some horse packing a twisted wire full cheek, building to a wild pace around a course while his rider maintains a constant unfeeling contact beats the crap out of me.

Jealoushe
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:02 AM
Legal/ illegal would be terribly difficult to enforce. You could have something wicked hidden in D ring form, and how would the judge know? would everyone have to un-bridle at the end of a hack to prove that they are riding legal?
Shows would never end, crazy pony moms would be at each other's throats with illegal bit accusations (no offense to the general pony mom population, but I have seen a few nasty fights)....
It just wouldn't work. Better to leave the rules vague and let common sense work it out.

Plus, what may be a scary looking bit may do wonders in the right pair of hands.

They do a bit check after dressage tests and have no problems, you just get them on their way out of the ring. It's really not that hard.

merrygoround
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:10 AM
They do a bit check after dressage tests and have no problems, you just get them on their way out of the ring. It's really not that hard.

Nope! They get them before they go into the arena. And trust me, there have been some mad scrambles to change the bit ASAP done by newbies. :lol:

findeight
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:12 AM
Dressage and Hunters are judged partly on the willingness of the horse to perform and their acceptance of the aids, including the bit.

Jumpers go fast and leave the rails up. That's it.

Far as this example, when Jumping giant fences in complicated patterns in small arenas, riders need a little help with excited horses. if you are out in the morning watching the schooling rings, they are in much less hardware for their flatwork. Not a rubber snaffle mind you, but not the gear they compete in.

Some of these things are simply not as bad as they look when used properly on a horse with a proper foundation. They work because they change the pressure points around or add another i.e nose and poll pressure. Use them all the time, they don't work.

At any level, even in the Jumpers, the judge has a right to stop anything deemed abusive and I have seen that twice, once in Hunters and once in Jumpers when entries were obviously overbitted and the riders were, frankly, idjits.

luvs2ridewbs
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:13 AM
I think dressage is a different case becuase you can fake things like roundness and acceptance of the bit with a strong bit especially at the lower levels -pre double bridle. Just becuase someone can throw a three ring on a horse and ride it "round" doesn't mean the fundamentals of the training pyramid are there.
In the H/J rings, a bit is not going to drastically alter the way a horse jumps. Meaning a bit will not keep the poles in the cups or make the horse snap its knees up which is essentially what is being judged. Thus no need for illegal bits. (yes I'm aware that correct bit for a hunter can make the course much nicer but it won't change natural jumping talent.)

Janet
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:43 AM
Legal/ illegal would be terribly difficult to enforce. You could have something wicked hidden in D ring form, and how would the judge know? would everyone have to un-bridle at the end of a hack to prove that they are riding legal?

IF (and ONLY if) the rules are very clear on what is legal and what is not legal, it is actually pretty easy to enforce.

As in Dressage and Eventing, you would have a volunteer "bit checker" with a box of surgical gloves, and you check each horse either before or after the ride. And the rider has the option of "dropping the bridle" instead, if they prefer. Sure, they may miss an occaisional variant, but they are going to catch anything that is blatantly illegal.

No matter how hard the rulemakers try, we always end up with (new) bits that are neitehr clearly legal nor clearly illegal. That is what makes it hard.

But for Hunters, even for the stuff that is visible outside the mouth, there is no clear definition of what is permitted. Take, for instance, the Mylar bits with hooks. Some judges say "I don't care, I just look at how the horse goes". Other judges say "They are unconventional, I won't 'use' a horse wearing one."

From a rider's perspective, it would be a major step forward simply to say "hooks are permitted" or "hooks are not permitted".

But, from a judges perspective, the hunter judges are USED to being able to use their own point of view on what is "unconventional", and some of them would resist any new rule specifying which bits are/are not legal. Conversely, the Dressage and Eventing judges are USED to having rules about bit legality and don't expect to use their own opinions there.

magnolia73
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:49 AM
Legal/ illegal would be terribly difficult to enforce. You could have something wicked hidden in D ring form, and how would the judge know? would everyone have to un-bridle at the end of a hack to prove that they are riding legal?

Just have a bit check like eventing/dressage. It's not that hard- generally and educated volunteer inspects each bit while in the horses mouth before they go in the ring. Takes less than a minute, they use disposable gloves.

Janet
Apr. 23, 2009, 10:54 AM
Nope! They get them before they go into the arena. And trust me, there have been some mad scrambles to change the bit ASAP done by newbies. :lol:
The dressage rules ACTUALLY say to check the bit after the test is completed

DR121.9. Ring stewards appointed by competition management must check saddlery and inspect
bits and spurs on both sides of the horse for at least one-third of the horses in each class. Inspection
of saddlery and bits must be done at the direction of the technical delegate. Inspection
of saddlery and bits must be done immediately as the horse leaves the arena.

But in reality, the bit check is almost always done BEFORE the test as a courtesy to the rider, so they have at least the possibility of switching bits before they ride.

LetsChat
Apr. 23, 2009, 11:09 AM
I think dressage is a different case becuase you can fake things like roundness and acceptance of the bit with a strong bit especially at the lower levels -pre double bridle. Just becuase someone can throw a three ring on a horse and ride it "round" doesn't mean the fundamentals of the training pyramid are there.
In the H/J rings, a bit is not going to drastically alter the way a horse jumps. Meaning a bit will not keep the poles in the cups or make the horse snap its knees up which is essentially what is being judged. Thus no need for illegal bits. (yes I'm aware that correct bit for a hunter can make the course much nicer but it won't change natural jumping talent.)

It won't change natural talent but have you ever jumped in a mikmar.... it can make the horse ROCK BACK. I am not disagreeing and I don't think that any bits should be illegal however I do think certain bits can help get the horse to perform better than just a plain snaffle. Again, in the wrong hangs or overused they lose effectiveness.

Vandy
Apr. 23, 2009, 11:13 AM
Logistically, it would be more difficult to enforce in the hunters than Dressage. Dressage test = 1 horse in the ring at a time. Hunter U/S - could be 30 horses all going in at the same time. Even at "less than a minute" per horse, a bit check like this would take at least 30 minutes per hack class at a bigger show. And can you imagine all the "tack changes" in the schooling area? Egad, H/J shows take long enough already!

Seriously though, I like the flexibility of the H/J rules. It's not that difficult to learn what unconventional Hunter or Eq bits are - any legitimate trainer knows without question, and surely all are aware of the current "grey area" (i.e. hooks, loose rings). IME, it's rare to see terribly heavy hardware in the hunter ring vs. say western land or gaited horses.

lonewolf
Apr. 23, 2009, 11:21 AM
Just as a sidetrack: does anyone have a picture of the bit Richard Spooner made? Or the interview where he said he made it?

(I'm not accusing him of anything; I actually think it's really cool!)

And on topic: I think there COULD be rules about the bits put on hunters, at least for the over fences. A bit check wouldn't be difficult. However, I'm not that upset about the lack of rules.

I don't think it is necessary for the jumpers, since they are judged on speed/rails down only (excepting the pre-existing rules allowing judges to disqualify anything abusive).

Equino
Apr. 23, 2009, 11:23 AM
IF (and ONLY if) the rules are very clear on what is legal and what is not legal, it is actually pretty easy to enforce.

No matter how hard the rulemakers try, we always end up with (new) bits that are neitehr clearly legal nor clearly illegal. That is what makes it hard.

When I showed AQHA, there would be bit checks and the rules stated the mouthpiece had to be between 8-20mm in diameter, and a port could not higher than 1.5". I recall the checkers using devices to measure those two things. Then there were the illegal bits such as a triangular/knife edge and mouthpieces that consisted if donuts, cathedrals, prong ports, wrapped metal bits...and that is just off the top of my head!

My point is, sure, you can plan for what may be created, but you can say no ports exceeding 1.5" or how thin/thick is acceptable for a mouthpiece. I think of all the bits that were considered illegal in QH shows, I see a quite a few knife edges/triangular bits on our circuits, but it's "hidden" since all the viewer sees is a full-cheek or dee-ring. You can tell a double-wire bit regardless if it's a full-cheek or dee-ring. If it is a big concern, I don't think it would be so hard to check bits. When there were checks, for the o/f classes or reiners, it would be in the waiting pen or a checker would have the rider dismount and drop bit after competing. Didn't take away too much time, and the next horse was in the ring. In the u/s class, it did take a few extra minutes, while we all dismounted and dropped bridles.

I'd also love to hear what kind of bit Spooner made!