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View Full Version : haflinger is too strong, how to bit her?



suz
Nov. 12, 2009, 06:51 PM
i know the first thing to do is get help. while i wait for the trainer to fit me into her schedule, what can i do with my haflinger to get her listening again? i trail ride exclusively, and we canter, trot, jump some small logs, etc. she is very strong and i have a hard time steering and stopping her lately. i ride in a western stiff rope hackamore, after riding her in an engish hack. she does not go well in a bit, she gets very fussy and tosses her head constantly. i think she may have the low palate i've heard haffies can have, and know i need someone to work with us to figure out what is going on.
meanwhile, what can i do to help her learn to soften and listen?
i have fairly soft hands, but lately with this horse i find myself hauling on her face for compliance.
help!

dreamswept
Nov. 12, 2009, 11:45 PM
Oh good, something I can answer :)

I share your experience dealing with a strong-necked pony like a Haflinger. They've got pretty big heads, and mine has this neck that's just unbelievable. No wonder it's well nigh impossible to get his head up once he makes a dive for grass or hay.

I can ride him in an english hackamore, and still do occasionally, although I've since found a bit we're both really happy with. For the last year or so, I've been trying to persist with a snaffle. He was ridden with a Tom Thumb curb when I first got him, and I rode him the first year in a full cheek french-link snaffle. Second year, things seemed to just really fall apart, and I tried a couple of other bits on him, a waterford snaffle, a kimberwick with a low port that he hated, and the Rockin S snaffle. He was all right with the snaffles, but never really comfortable. I think he's got a low palate himself, and a thick tongue.

Ultimately, the bit I found that fit us best was a grazing curb with a medium port made by Weaver. I didn't think a curb would be what he needed, but he was western trained originally, and likes the tongue relief from the solid mouth of the port.

I know you said you don't think your mare likes the bit, but maybe you might want to give this bit a try. It's only about $30. The problem I was finding was that like you, I have soft hands, but in a snaffle, I was on my horse's mouth constantly, which wasn't fair to him. Sometimes, it's just something about the leverage and control that makes Haffies stop and listen. Since I switched Mitch to the curb, he's been really good, and I can ride with a much looser contact knowing that I have something there in case I need it. I just stopped fighting with him, and let him tell me what he needed.

suz
Nov. 13, 2009, 06:01 PM
great answer!! thankyou, i'll try the bit you suggested. she's such a great pony, if we can get this sorted out we'll be so happy.

GallopingGrape
Nov. 13, 2009, 06:40 PM
If she has a low palet, why not try a nice, soft three piece snaffle, or even a three piece curb (Weaver makes a beautiful one with sweet iron, only 3" grazing shank...) Something that won't pop her in the roof of her mouth, or nutcracker her jaws....

dreamswept
Nov. 13, 2009, 09:19 PM
The biggest problem I had with finding a bit was finding one that fit him. Snaffles were no problem, but he needs a 5 1/2" bit, and I could only really find 5" curbs.

So I was pretty glad i found the grazing curb in a 5 1/2" mouth. He's doing very nice in it. I don't have to fight with him anymore, and if he is being bratty, I can check him once, and then he'll behave, I don't have to yank and tug, and he seems much happier.

http://www.myhoovesandpaws.com/servlet/the-1821/Weaver-BIT-Western-Horse/Detail

Hope it works out. I figured for the price it was, it was worth trying.

wylde sage
Nov. 13, 2009, 09:37 PM
Hooray for this question! I get so tired of being told to manage my mustang in a snaffle, when I clearly have to lug and tug on him. Thats not fun and certainly teaches him nothing. Some of our horses outside of the arena are not "snaffle" horses.

I found that a wonder bit has worked far better on the trail, as he still likes a snaffle mouth(no curbs, he clearly didn't like that) and
I have more response.

Capilet
Nov. 14, 2009, 02:29 AM
I am usually a 'snaffle' person, but my aged dressage mare is VERY strong on the trails--low port kimberwicke is barely enough to keep her from snapping my arms off. I'm contemplating a beval gag for my OTTB mare for trails, just a teeny bit of lift--similar to the wonder bit, but sans curb strap.

ponygrl25
Nov. 14, 2009, 09:50 AM
I recently started using a western chain bit with a 6''-7'' shank. It really is not a severe bit at all if you have good hands. It will give you some more control however.

I prefer to stay away from curb bits if possible, at least the ones with solid shanks that don't swivel. My older pony has always had a slightly hard mouth, and this bit seems to be what she (and I) like best. She goes really well without any pulling.

The chain is sweet iron and it lays flat in their mouth. They can be a little pricey some places, but I found them in National Bridle Shop for $15-$25.

belleellis
Nov. 14, 2009, 07:57 PM
Mullen mouth.
I have a haffie/morgan who was started poorly. Exbolter. Tried every snaffle and myler combo on him. Rode so so in a mullen pehlam. I ride him western on a greg darnell mullen mouth copper inlay 6 inch shank. He loves that bit. The mouth piece is thinner than the pelham and has cooper. i can ride on a lose rein but have enough bit to hunter pace on him at a gallop in a field of horses.
On top of a low palate mine has a fat tongue.

Haf N Haf
Nov. 23, 2009, 04:41 PM
My low palate-d (is that a word? haha, it is now!) goes best in a Myler. He likes the movement and the narrow-ness of the mouthpiece fits him well.

However, in the past when he was pulling a lot and trying to run away I had good luck with an elevator. I tried a kimberwicke and a pelham, but he was very backed off of those...I assume because of the curb/chin strap. He was overly respectful of those bits. My instructor and I joked that we could probably put a chin/curb strap on his Myler and he'd behave like an angel. :lol:

marta
Nov. 24, 2009, 06:01 AM
first - those of you who refer to a "myler" what do you have in mind? myler is a brand that makes numerous bits, can you be more specific?

second - my mare has gotten v. strong on trails since her lay up as well. i normally use a myler comfort snaffle on her but she just took it in her mouth and ignored me until i turned her in a circle.

a friend happened to have the same mouthpiece myler (comfort snaffle with copper inlay) but with short shanks and a curb chain. i tried it on her and it was like riding a different horse. the curb chain was wrapped in vet wrap so i initially thought that maybe i could just use a leather curb strap instead (feeling guilty about using the curb chain). well it turned out the leather curb strap had no persuasive value so back to the curb chain wrapped with vet wrap we went.

i think until now i limited myself in my choice of bits b/c of some inner guilt triggered just by the mere thought of getting a stronger bit. but as others have said, pulling on my mare's mouth all the time just to keep her in a snaffle is certainly not fair or humane.

RackOn
Nov. 29, 2009, 10:05 AM
If she has a low palet, why not try a nice, soft three piece snaffle, or even a three piece curb (Weaver makes a beautiful one with sweet iron, only 3" grazing shank...) Something that won't pop her in the roof of her mouth, or nutcracker her jaws....

I have been looking for a bit like this but can only find the 7" shanks. Do you know where I can buy this curb bit? Thank you.

wendy
Nov. 29, 2009, 10:20 AM
my low-palated super-strong arab we did dressage in a french link snaffle (3 pieces), but trails, jumps, we used a Happy mouth bubble bit with the flexible bumpy mouthpiece and the three rings
http://www.smartpakequine.com/productclass.aspx?productClassid=4992
.
Put the reins on the lower rings you get leverage without any nutcracker effect or harshness.

Lot of people rode VERY strong horses x-c with one of these:

http://www.mylerbitsusa.com/bit_combo2.shtml

x
Nov. 29, 2009, 11:00 AM
I like to ride Haffies in a Pelham--that way I can use the snaffle rein if they are listening, and if I need more I've got the curb rein. Which type of Pelham I use depends on the Haffie...if I had one with a low palate I would try a mullen mouth. But I have found that horses either like the Pelham with a mullen mouth or the Pelham with a jointed mouth--but not both. If the horse does poorly in one, I'll try the other.

howardh
Nov. 29, 2009, 11:14 AM
Many stores that carry Myler offer a rental program, which is awesome. It is helpful to talk to the store and they can send you home with a bit that may work. This way you do not have to buy a bit unless it works! However, all a bit can do is make a horse comfortable and not fight your hands, it is never a substitute for training.

Many horses don't like the pinch of a snaffle on their tongue and not all bits are created equal. Cheaply made bits tend to have ragged edges and will pinch more than nicer bits, so even though they look very similar to you they can feel very different to the horse..

Don't discount ported bits, as contrary to some beliefs, bits do not go to the roof of the mouth, they rotate down onto the tongue and depending on the port, off the sides of the tongues and onto the bars in varying degrees. I have had good results with some horses resisting a snaffle and moving to a port of some kind (of course there are a million ported bits too..)...

To add to the misery, all horses are individuals and certain shapes feel better to them, some hate tongue pressure, some don't and not all riders hands are the same...so a bit that worked for someone with their horse may not work for you. ARRGH!!! It can make you crazy!

I would try bits from friends (just boil in hot water to kill germs) or rent a bit from a store that carries Myler to cut down on the cost of trying bits. Kind of my rule of thumb is that if you are using one shape, and the horse is fighting it, go for a different shaped mouthpiece for a hopefully better response.

I have had horses that are pushing and strong get really light if I hit a bit that makes them relaxed and comfortable.

Good luck. Bitting can be very frustrating but so crucial to a fun ride. NEVER toss a bit, you never know if you will have a horse that likes that mouthpiece sometime in the future.

pnalley
Nov. 29, 2009, 07:10 PM
WOW! It does my heart good to see bit responses that don't foster the belief that ALL horses should go in a snaffle.

I have several that just flat do not like a snaffle. I have one horse that I never really thought about having a low palete, I always thought his tongue was fat:lol:. But he rides very well in the bit shown earlier. The curb, only mine has a sweet iron mouth (instead of copper) and 5" shanks.

I have one that rides in a halter, english hack, columbian bosal, or a mullen mouth pehlem equally well. He just goes with the flow. He despises all the snaffles I have tried him in.

howardh
Dec. 1, 2009, 07:08 AM
Not all horses think they should go in snaffles either! If they did crank nosebands, flash nosebands, tiedowns and other devices may never have been created!

I am not sure why the snaffle is considered a gentle bit. Have you ever tried one on your arm to see what it feels like? You can put a blister on your flesh with little effort, it is no wonder horses resist them! (once again all snaffles not created equal, but try a cheapie and see how it feels-----OUCH).

goeslikestink
Dec. 1, 2009, 08:29 AM
read my helpful links pages and all links on page one as its all relevent
as this is a training issue not a bit issue
and as your riding english then even more reason to read the helpful links pages

http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=178116

and read this link by thomas 1 mouthing and bitting
http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=223453

goeslikestink
Dec. 1, 2009, 08:40 AM
i know the first thing to do is get help. while i wait for the trainer to fit me into her schedule, what can i do with my haflinger to get her listening again? i trail ride exclusively, and we canter, trot, jump some small logs, etc. she is very strong and i have a hard time steering and stopping her lately. i ride in a western stiff rope hackamore, after riding her in an engish hack. she does not go well in a bit, she gets very fussy and tosses her head constantly. i think she may have the low palate i've heard haffies can have, and know i need someone to work with us to figure out what is going on.
meanwhile, what can i do to help her learn to soften and listen?
i have fairly soft hands, but lately with this horse i find myself hauling on her face for compliance.
help!

read my above links- this is a combination of you of how you riding her and also her lack of education
as shes sounds like tossing her head thats an advasion of your hands
so read link 2 on page 1
read thomas links so you can re- mouth the mare
and then learn how to ride english and learn to use an indepedant seat
and ride the horse between leg an hands
english riding is different to western and unfiar of one to balme the horse if one is givng the horse mixed signals of forwards and stop at the same time
this will only confuse the horse and confusion is a fear factor to ahorse in its mind 1st is to flee the 2nd is to advade you

more than likely it how your riding your horse and how you have trianed that horse as they only do what your telling them to do


dont haul on her face as that putting all your bodyweight into her bridle and her mouth - thats a vice like grip and what will happen is the horse will hollow up rear or pull agaisnt you to run away as its hurting the horse and there no way your stronger than a horse- so its a lost situation

your actually teaching her to rear and pull did you knwo that

howardh
Dec. 2, 2009, 07:09 AM
While I agree that training riding and bitting are very much dependent on one another, I remain convinced that a bit is still just a piece of gear (like tennis shoes) that either is comfortable or not. I have had issues such as head tossing, sticking the tongue out etc that have been completely fixed simply by changing to a different bit.

It continues to amaze me that riders will not switch out a bit if their horses are tossing heads, fighting their hands, pulling all the other things they do to evade the bit, yet they don't hesitate to buy a new pad or even a new saddle if they think that the saddle is not comfortable for the horse!

I wish I could spent years in lessons to become the rider that my trainer is. An accomplished rider can ride a horse in any bit because they have the release, the seat etc, but sadly i have to work for a living and my riding is limited to a lesson a week and riding as much as I can on the weekends and evenings! Most of us want to ride for relaxation and fun or to mess around at a horsey hobby like endurance.

If you get the results you want by switching to a bit and most of all your horse seems happier, what does it matter what kind of bit you are using? We wouldn't continue to use a saddle if the horse humped up his back or bucked every time we put it on...

As trail riders and endurance riders we have the freedom to choose whatever bit we want to ride. There are no governing boards telling us what we have to use so thank goodness for that!

suz
Dec. 4, 2009, 05:21 PM
well we have had very good results with a low port, longer shanked western curb. she was so much better today, soft and responsive like the pony i remember. there was no bracing, no head tossing either. she is actively listening again for my cues, and no longer just being naughty and disrespectful for the heck of it.
i'm no expert rider, but i am a fairly profficient english rider and my pony has had a very good education. when in the arena she is a beautifully responsive and subtle dressage pony; it's on the trail that she gets willful and naughty.
thanks to those who suggested the low port curb, that was the answer for us, as she has demonstrated that she really hates a snaffle in any way, shape or form.

dreamswept
Dec. 5, 2009, 12:19 AM
That's great news suz! (Hee, I made a rhyme) :lol:

Glad to hear the low port western curb is working out for you, sometimes, it's the bit we don't really expect that does the job perfectly. I absolutely think its a Haflinger trait, given the conversations I've had with other Haffie owners, but Mitch is a lot like your mare. In the arena, he's well behaved, and doesn't fuss. And in fact, he goes decently in a french-link snaffle there. But out on the trail, he turns into a Mr. Hyde at times, and switching him to the mild curb bit really made him more responsive and better behaved. Sometimes, you gotta do it, because the horse is happier that way.

I totally agree with howardh.. I sort of see it as a bit and training issue. I myself was downright adamant that I needed to use a snaffle, it was just a matter of training and we'd get through this come hell or high water -- and that I had to train and work with my horse or I was a failure at riding him in a snaffle.

Well, to be honest, I learned better. I don't think it's fair to either the rider or the horse that they have to be told it's a training issue, not a bit issue, and that they have to keep working with that same bit. Some horses just don't plain like how certain bits feel, and a good horsewoman/man will know to find the bit they're happy in. It might take some trial and error, but I think all training issues do involve bit issues -- the bit has to be right for the horse in order for training to progress. Otherwise, the horse and rider just keep arguing at cross purposes, and no training gets done.

Since I went to a western curb for riding outside of the arena and on trails, my horse has actually become a lot better in a snaffle when we're in the ring.

Glad to hear everything's working out for you, suz. :)

suz
Dec. 5, 2009, 11:42 AM
thanks dreamswept, that's an awfully nice post!!
and as long as my mare is happy and i'm safe, it's all good, as the kids say!

Hip
Dec. 6, 2009, 09:44 PM
I totally agree with howardh.. I sort of see it as a bit and training issue. I myself was downright adamant that I needed to use a snaffle, it was just a matter of training and we'd get through this come hell or high water -- and that I had to train and work with my horse or I was a failure at riding him in a snaffle.:)


Agree. I've found through the years, it's both. My good steer roping horse would go with anything EXCEPT a ring snaffle, unless you were feeling suicidal that day. Also, out on the trail, if there are lots of trees and eyesight-blocking bushes, a horse can 'feel' (wonder who asked them how they really, really felt?) closed in and this is where the predators could pounce from. In an arena, a horse can feel 'safe' but, to me, it's a totally different ball of wax when out in the great wilds.

LAMS21075
Dec. 8, 2009, 11:14 AM
The only bit my Belgian/QH cross will respond to is a Low Port Uxeter Kimberwick. Snaffles don't work for him. He absolutely can't stand them, and I have no control whatsover.