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View Full Version : Riding as a favor on horse with too much bit - wwyd?



evans36
Sep. 30, 2009, 03:13 PM
OK so a girl at our barn is having a TON of family stuff going on - FIL is dying, DH transferred 3 states away, selling 2 homes and finding new places for family and horse in VA. She asked if I would ride her horse a couple times per week, whatever I had time for, this week. Of course I said yes.

This horse is a really fun little OTTB that she rides at BN. She is naturally more timid than I am, and was regaling me with stories about how he likes to get crazy over jumps, etc. So I rode him yesterday. Someone has obviously trained him correctly - he knows lateral movements, is very responsive, stays in rhythm when put there, moves off the leg well. He does enjoy jumping and gets a tiny bit fresh, but with all the crossrails we did, he was chipping in instead of going long if the distance wasn't perfect because I know she's been working with her trainer on getting him to "wait" for her cue... I wasn't giving a cue, thinking the jump in front of him was enough :)

She rides in a baucher snaffle. Especially at the beginning of the ride, he wanted to ignore it a bit after the jump and would put his head down and get behind the bit and canter off. I really want to change to something without leverage because he tends to ball up... I would be more comfortable riding him that way. Do I need to just let it be, stay at crossrails and flatting, or can I put a plain old snaffle on him and have some fun (this is great for me because he's way more trained than my horse!!)?? (No soundness issues, or anything like that as a reason not to - she just doesn't because she's intimidated and has mentioned that if I want to take him out in the field, she would love for me to.)

Thanks!

shawneeAcres
Sep. 30, 2009, 03:17 PM
I honestly doubt that a baucher is enough "leverage" to ball a hrose up, and suspect the horse is just one that goes that way. However, I would discuss with the owner what she wants done with the horse and in what bit. You can make SUGGESTIONS but if you are doing it as a "favor" then I wouldn't go changing either the bit or the workputs without the owners input

purplnurpl
Sep. 30, 2009, 03:18 PM
I'd just put a snaffle on him.
If you were wanting more bit then I would worry about it a little more.
next time you talk to her just ask if she would mind if you rode in a simple snaffle.

though a baucher really has no leverage. It's usually a thin bit though. Maybe he would do better in 'your' hand with a fatter softer bit?
Bits are often rider feel. I almost always ride horses in snaffles no matter what the owner rides in.
I like the snaffle feel.

RugBug
Sep. 30, 2009, 03:23 PM
I'd ask the owner if it was okay if you tried him in a snaffle and follow her wishes.

My first thought was to just do it. and then I thought about how I'd feel if someone decided that they wanted to ride my horse in a snaffle, and just did it...I'd be quite upset. I've spent years finding the right bits for him and do know what works and it's not a snaffle. (HMMM and KK Ultra if he needs a school or is going to be in an exciting situation).

Gry2Yng
Sep. 30, 2009, 03:33 PM
If I asked you to ride my horse and you changed the bit without talking to me I would pull the ride right out from under you. Talk to the owner. Even in a trainer/client/student relationship, you should have a conversation. Bits are personal and so is changing them.

Horsegal984
Sep. 30, 2009, 03:35 PM
I would ask her first. There may be a reason he goes in what he does, and it may be because he hates anything else. For example I know a horse that only goes well in a level 2 Myler with the correctonal port mouthpiece. Not because he needs 'brakes', but because he has a low palate with a very fat tongue. It was the only bit that wasn't either pinching his tongue or hitting him in the roof of the mouth. Change the bit and you're in for one h3ll of a ride. ;)

NeverTime
Sep. 30, 2009, 04:25 PM
Are you really sure you know better than the owner and the owner's trainer?
Because it seems like a pretty big leap to think a (relatively gentle) baucher is "too much bit" and must be to blame for the way he's going. (From the title of this thread, I was expecting to hear about a double-twisted-wire gag...)

I would be far more inclined to think the problem is with you -- the person riding this horse for the *first time* -- than the bit selected by people who know the horse far better than you.

I would hold off on making snap judgments after one ride. See if you can fix whatever you might be doing to make him curl. It's easy to blame a bit; much harder to fix yourself, but you said you are excited for the opportunity to learn from this horse, so there you go, here's your starting point. Figure out how to ride better.

Speedy
Sep. 30, 2009, 04:41 PM
Never in a million years would I change a horse's tack without discussing it with the owner first.

A baucher isn't a bit that every horse will go well in, but it isn't what I would consider a "strong" bit either. What is that saying? something along the lines of the bit being only as strong as the person who is using it...

saje
Sep. 30, 2009, 05:36 PM
A bit, ANY bit, is only as harsh as the hands that work it. A Baucher does not have real leverage, and it's no harsher than an ordinary snaffle. The bit just hangs differently in the mouth, and tends to be a little steadier in the mouth.

If someone changed the bit on my horse without checking with me 1st I'd be fairly upset. And it would be the last time I asked that person to ride him. If the owner is unavailable, I'd at least ask the trainer about it.

I don't know what her expectations were for you riding him either. Was this just to keep him moving and in shape, or did she ask you to school him too?

If it I were in your shoes I'd MMOB and ride the horse in the tack specified, and tailor my riding to gain the horse's trust and confidence before attempting anything much other than keeping him exercised.

sch1star
Sep. 30, 2009, 06:22 PM
If someone took my snaffle-unfriendly-over-fences horse out without my knowledge in a snaffle to "really have some fun" I think I'd laugh myself out of my chair and tell her she deserved what she got!

Clearly, that would be the wrong thing to do. I know. Sort of like throwing eggs at the cars buzzing by forty mph over the speed limit while you're hacking on the road.

But seriously, the owner obviously trusts you or wouldn't have asked you to ride the horse. So just ask her. "Curious, what's he like in a plain snaffle? I'm just so used to using one. Mind if I play around with that on the flat and over some little crossrails?" Then respect her wishes. Uncomplicated, honest, no drama! Whee!

Gry2Yng
Sep. 30, 2009, 06:30 PM
If someone took my snaffle-unfriendly-over-fences horse out without my knowledge in a snaffle to "really have some fun" I think I'd laugh myself out of my chair and tell her she deserved what she got!

Clearly, that would be the wrong thing to do. I know. Sort of like throwing eggs at the cars buzzing by forty mph over the speed limit while you're hacking on the road.

But seriously, the owner obviously trusts you or wouldn't have asked you to ride the horse. So just ask her. "Curious, what's he like in a plain snaffle? I'm just so used to using one. Mind if I play around with that on the flat and over some little crossrails?" Then respect her wishes. Uncomplicated, honest, no drama! Whee!

Lovely post. Pat yourself on the back for being a horseman and a diplomat. Whee!

whbar158
Sep. 30, 2009, 06:53 PM
While I have ridden a lot of different horses and often change the bit because like people say there is always a bit that YOU feel better with on most horses. Also I am often riding horses that are "problems" and the owner really has no clue or tried any other bits. Since this is a bit that most people have chosen for a reason, I would just ask her why she chose it, and if she has tried anything else because he is going behind the bit with you. While it really doesn't matter what you ride my horse in, and I feel he goes best in his KK ultra, and doesn't go that well in a regular snaffle, I would like you to talk to me if you are having a problem ie ignoring you/behind/above the bit and see if there isn't something that will work for both of you. It may be she has that problem as well and just hasn't found a solution. So just ask her and see what she says. When I have changed a bit without asking it is usually to my KK ultra or mullen happy mouth neither of which most people have a problem with! A few times I have had to upgrade to harsher bits but those are usually the crazy horses I have been asked to ride, and the owner doesn't usually care.

HiJumpGrrl
Sep. 30, 2009, 07:07 PM
This is likely a snotty, picky, obnoxious point to make, but:

A baucher snaffle does not have leverage. Of any kind. While the top of the bit is fixed to the cheek piece, there is no length of fulcrum below the mouth as in a true "leverage bit." It is the same thing as a full-cheek snaffle with keepers, speaking from a physics perspective.

Horse may not love the bit for other reasons, but the "leverage" is not the problem. Were it me, as others have said, I'd not make any changes to the horse's tack, at least not without first discussing with owner.

evans36
Oct. 1, 2009, 11:30 AM
Thanks guys. Clearly I don't really understand the baucher - I thought it created pressure on the poll because of the top being fixed to the cheekpiece. Is that not the case?

Basically the horse just seems a bit sour. Normally I would call her, but with her dealing with all that mess I mentioned in the OP, I didn't want to make her have a long bitting discussion with me. I don't know that it's the bit, but he balls up after jumps... even just little crossrails. And honestly, I have gotten up off his back and stayed there, and basically thrown my hands away to make sure he was completely unencumbered. After we rode that way for a little while, he started to get less inclined to run right through my hands/body signals after the jump. I think he knows how to do his job and is really tired of not being left alone and allowed to do it, after riding him twice and feeling his reactions to things.

My original thought was to throw a KK ultra on him, lowest of the low, just to see if bitting down would cause him to loosen up a little. I kept going back and forth on whether I need to bother her with it - that's why I came here for advice. I really appreciate what you all have told me! And I'm glad to learn the baucher isn't as severe as I thought. I'll just keep going the way we are and let things work themselves out if they will. Hopefully he'll get used to using his brain and moving forward again after a couple rides. Thanks for the advice :)

bornfreenowexpensive
Oct. 1, 2009, 11:45 AM
how about taking a jumping lesson with her trainer (with his current bit).....and then discuss the bitting or your riding with them?

I think if I was an owner, and someone was riding my horse in the situation that you described as a favor for me...and my trainer suggested a bit change for that rider with my horse...I'd have not issue whatso ever.

That would be gravy of my horse's training being continued with two people who I trust....since every ride, every time, you are training a horse.

Speedy
Oct. 1, 2009, 11:45 AM
It sounds like he is not forward. Put your leg on him instead of worrying about the front end...and then use a proper half halt when you need it. A lot of people think that a horse that feels rushy, or that gets behind the bit, has a bitting / front end problem...but what they really need is some motivation to engage from behind. Just a guess.

subk
Oct. 1, 2009, 07:29 PM
I don't know that it's the bit, but he balls up after jumps... even just little crossrails. And honestly, I have gotten up off his back and stayed there, and basically thrown my hands away to make sure he was completely unencumbered. After we rode that way for a little while, he started to get less inclined to run right through my hands/body signals after the jump. I think he knows how to do his job and is really tired of not being left alone and allowed to do it, after riding him twice and feeling his reactions to things.
Sounds like as a timid rider she may grab at him. The horse is program to the reaction and it's not going to change just because you make a bit change from one mild bit to another mild bit. Nor is it going to go away in one school of being ridden correctly. He sounds like he made progress the first day. Be patient and give him a chance to learn to trust you're not going to get in his face.

lizathenag
Oct. 1, 2009, 11:46 PM
A bit, ANY bit, is only as harsh as the hands that work it.

This bears repeating.

There might be a reason you don't know about. For example, my horse has a bone spur on one of his bars. I have to use a very thin snaffle, single joint, raised quite high, to keep the bit off the spur. A more "normal" adjustment will drive him crazy. A double joined one hurts him.

Janet
Oct. 2, 2009, 12:45 AM
Thanks guys. Clearly I don't really understand the baucher - I thought it created pressure on the poll because of the top being fixed to the cheekpiece. Is that not the case?


Nope. No leverage on a Baucher.

It's operation is very similar to a full cheek with keepers - it prevents the horse from "rotating" the bit in the mouth. But there is NO leverage.

I fact, if you watch while someine else pulls gently on the reins, you will see that there is SLACK in the cheekpieces.

A Baucher IS a snaffle.

If the horse is sucking back you need to look at either (both) your hands (are you following suffuciently, and not "holding"?) and you legs and seat (is the horse forward enough).

Lucky_Break
Oct. 2, 2009, 12:47 AM
From your OP it sounds like she trusts you as rider, and may even look up to you somewhat. It is very kind of you to help her out while she is going through so much!

You mention that you don't want to bother her because of everything going on. I think she may be too busy to ride but, would love a chance to talk about her horse (who doesn't even when we are super busy). Call her, ask her what she hopes to gain by your riding her horse and then inquire about the bit. You might find out that she just used because it's all she had or you could learn something about the horse that will help you in your rides.

One thing I would recommend is be clear about jumping, etc. (make sure you have her explicit approval). I have asked people in the past to ride my horse (when I was pregnant and very sick). I trusted these people and was very happy for the help. If they had changed anything about my tack or jumped w/out talking to me, I'd have been upset and pulled them off my horse. Since my other horse is a made eventer who I've owned for 9 years,and did all the training on (with the guidance of an exceptional coach) I know him inside out! That's just my .02.

HAVE FUN! Nothing like having a nice, well trained horse to ride!

Hilary
Oct. 2, 2009, 09:06 AM
One thing about the baucher before you go changing it - some horses really like it because since it hangs and is more fixed, it doesn't put so much pressure on the bars of the mouth. I had a TB who LOVED the Baucher. So he may ball up, but maybe he used to do it worse in a bit that acts on the bars. (like a regular snaffle...).

I'd wait and ride him a few more times before making any tack changes. AND please ask the owner.

And I'm with Shc- if anyone wanted to have a go at jumping my old mare in a snaffle - I'll meet you in the next county.

Phaxxton
Oct. 2, 2009, 12:45 PM
The owner is dealing with family crises at the moment, and asked you to ride the horse this week as a favor. I really don't think this is a time she'd appreciate a call from you asking if you can change her horse's bit because you think he's in the wrong one.

I would ride the horse in the equipment she has chosen (which I assume was chosen with input from her trainer). If you're not comfortable riding the horse, though, then tell her so.

I recently bought a horse that was going in a baucher and changed his bit -- so I think I see where you are going with this. (I don't have anything against a baucher, btw, and will avoid a long diatribe as to why we changed it.) It is a long-term adjustment for him, though, FWIW, and it fits into my long-term plan for MY horse. If the horse has been going in only the baucher for a while, I'd probably just leave him be for this week. The baucher may be part of her or her trainer's long-term plan for HER horse. I just think, with everything she's got going on, now wouldn't be the time to mention this.

Bobthehorse
Oct. 2, 2009, 11:51 PM
I cant get past the jump training - teaching the horse to wait for the jump cue, instead of teaching him to find his own spots. Ugh.

willowoodstables
Oct. 3, 2009, 12:34 AM
My concern would be that the owner has him in this bit and they seem to get along fine..maybe you have better hands and feel than her and put in a different snaffle. Then owner comes out bridles in bit he has gone in for her and horse has been recently ridden in your choice of bit and (maybe wrong but she is a little timid) and horse is expecting the bit response to your snaffle/hands, and owner gets a wrong response. I have worked many a horse bitted wrong (imho) but that is what the owner feels comfortable. She may not be as tuned a rider as you are and you may actually tune the horse up too much for her comfort level. I wouldn't even make a change on a short term basis and unless I was asked to take over schooling/training/showing long term then discussions come to play..enjoy the ride and learning experience, but yes you can change a horse to suit your skill level, but were does that leave the owner after the fact..maybe too schooled or out of her comfort level. Keep riding, have fun, but leave it as is..but good on you to figure out he may not be happy in the bridle or jump line. That means you are attuned to each horse's response..that takes intuiton that maybe the owner may not bested yet.

IMHO the ultimate goal as a rider riding/schooling for someone else....tune a horse so that the their rider gets a response with ease..cause you have schooled in auto responses..

evans36
Oct. 3, 2009, 10:47 AM
Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the education about the baucher - one more tool to add to my arsenal :) I know she uses it on him because he pulls with her - she has told me so before. This is not the first time I've ridden him for her, the last being to fit him up before a local horse trial back in April/May. He has always really loved to be let alone to do his job, but usually he "gets" that the rider is different within about 5 minutes. It really took a whole ride this time, which made me think about things to help him clue in that something was different.

I do think what's going on is just a case of timid rider/bold horse turning into frightened rider/irritated horse. I've ridden him a few more times in the baucher but just on almost no contact, and he's going better. We've been working some gymnastics too in order to help him get himself to the right spot without having to leave long, so he won't be asked to chip in (best compromise I could figure out). We've also been playing in the field :D

willowwood, THANK you for that post. It really made me think about things, and hopefully moving forward I can school him to be a little bit more leg-to-hand so that he might not feel so "forward" to his rider but can still maintain impulsion, which might get him a kinder, less frightened ride on a regular basis. You really made me think about how I could use this time to improve his life moving forward... thanks for helping me make it about the horse again and not about how much fun I can have in a limited amount of time. I really appreciate it.

evans36
Oct. 3, 2009, 10:48 AM
I cant get past the jump training - teaching the horse to wait for the jump cue, instead of teaching him to find his own spots. Ugh.

Yeah, I've had to fight being pretty disgusted with this as well. It also has made for a couple of ugly spots for us, even over tiny fences. I can't imagine where it would get a timid rider. No idea who thought this was a safe thing to do.

Bogie
Oct. 3, 2009, 03:55 PM
I was going to say just this:


This is likely a snotty, picky, obnoxious point to make, but:

A baucher snaffle does not have leverage. Of any kind. While the top of the bit is fixed to the cheek piece, there is no length of fulcrum below the mouth as in a true "leverage bit." It is the same thing as a full-cheek snaffle with keepers, speaking from a physics perspective.

Horse may not love the bit for other reasons, but the "leverage" is not the problem. Were it me, as others have said, I'd not make any changes to the horse's tack, at least not without first discussing with owner.