View Full Version : Bit Question, greenie on trial

Dec. 7, 2011, 01:00 AM
I have taken a horse on trial, 5 yr old Dutch Warmblood/Arabian Cross mare. She has been green broke, started under saddle, has had 30 days on her, plus a couple dressage clinics and one dressage show. She was started in a rubber mouth D-ring snaffle. Had her out today, and I only have a full-cheek snaffle to work with, along with a slightly snug bridle (borrowing a larger one for next ride) and she was not having anything to do with contact on her mouth. Any type of steering was gone, except with body and leg.

She was up (expected), a little dancy (expected), and just not happy at all. Would this reaction be caused by a change of bit? I realize that a full cheek is very different from a d-ring, along with the different mouth piece (rubber snaffle vs smooth snaffle).

What are your thoughts?

Dec. 7, 2011, 06:48 AM
It is more likely to be caused by a change in everything else. She sounds like she is still a baby, experience- wise, and moving to a new place can take a long time for even an older horse to get used to.

Dec. 7, 2011, 08:18 AM
I'd say if this was the first time in the new bit AND the first time she acted unhappy that there is a definite correlation. Was this your first ride for her at the new place? If so, then yes, could be the new place but horses I've known have been very sensitive to bit changes. It took me 4-5 tries before I found my guy's happiest bit. Good luck ...

Dec. 7, 2011, 09:16 AM
If she has already been to a dressage clinic and a dressage show (seems premature, but whatever) then she has already been exposed to a new environment. Do you know how she responded to the change in scenery with her original bit?

If she was calm with steering then I think you can safely make the assumption that your current bit is part of the behavior. Just a thought.

Dec. 7, 2011, 09:21 AM
I think its a combination of everything being new and different.

I wouldn't consider my Arab green broke at this point, but I know if you put a new rider on him and a different bit in his mouth he would react in a similar way. If I changed the bit, he'd be funky for a few minutes, but would settle in and at least make an attempt to work for me. However, if he had a new person, a new bit and was in a new place he'd be really confused. If *I* take him to a new place and handle/ride him, he settles in relatively quickly. If someone else does though? He's much more up and looky and it takes him considerably longer to settle down.

Dec. 7, 2011, 10:42 AM
It's definitely a combination of both IMO - however, a D ring and a Full cheek without keepers have very similar action. If the horse was happy with the rubber bit, by all means switch her back.

Dec. 7, 2011, 10:44 AM
I will say that my 13 yo OTTB lives in a rubber snaffle dee and if you put something metal in his mouth, all hell would break loose. If you pull on his mouth with metal? His head goes up to the high heavens.

I would buy a rubber snaffle asap to make sure that is the issue. they aren't overly expensive.

Dec. 7, 2011, 11:38 AM
I've put in an order for a rubber snaffle and have inquired the seller to see if I could use the one she was using until mine comes in. It was my first time riding her at the new place. She seemed fairly relaxed, but on retrospect after the 'ride' I put her on the lunge just to see what would happen (not in bridle, just with a halter) and she went into alert-mode, head up, snorting, and high-stepping trot. After a while she did settle down and listen well to cues, so I'm now of a mind that it was the change of bit, in particular rubber to metal mouth piece, and change of scene, etc. I do ride in a full cheek with keepers, so can take those off and see how she fares.

According to the seller, she did very well at the clinics and show, not an issue with the change of environment BUT that is with someone she knew and not everything else had changed.

She is a lovely girl, just after that first experience I was a bit put off, wanting to figure her out a bit more.

Thanks everyone for the replies! It's going to be an interesting time going with this young lady :)

Just for giggles, here is her sale ad:


Dec. 7, 2011, 03:55 PM
She's lovely! If you don't keep her you can send her to me :)

Some horses just DO NOT prefer metal bits, and so have to go in a rubber or happy mouth. You can usually get both on the cheap, and they're legal for all diciplines at the lower levels - so why not just keep them in a bit they are going to be happy with?

Dec. 7, 2011, 04:03 PM
Looks like a Happy Mouth egg butt in her mouth in those pix...no?

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Dec. 7, 2011, 08:23 PM
While you're waiting for new bit to come in, you can wrap latex around the metal bit if you have any around the tack room. Sealtek is the brand I know, and I don't honestly know why I had it in the tack room before I started wrapping bits in it - maybe the tack room fairy left it for me???

Dec. 7, 2011, 09:04 PM
If she has already been to a dressage clinic and a dressage show (seems premature, but whatever) then she has already been exposed to a new environment. Do you know how she responded to the change in scenery with her original bit?

If she was calm with steering then I think you can safely make the assumption that your current bit is part of the behavior. Just a thought.
Vernon, 7 years old, a horse show veteran, always relaxed and happy at events, 100% reliable in any situation, traveler of the eastern seaboard, was a bit of a goof his first ride or two while on trial at his eventual new home. Just because a horse has been in a show or clinic environment (calm or not) does not mean they will settle readily in a completely new environment with totally new people, horses, stalls, rings, etc, etc, etc.

I would stick this baby girl in a bridle that fits and a bit more closely related to what she is used to (I've ridden quite a few horses who were a total no go in a metal bit if they were used to plastic or rubber). Then, go slow and don't expect perfection from her. She IS a baby, and she's going to need at least a little time to settle and figure this out.

Dec. 7, 2011, 10:56 PM

Luckily for me, I went into my local UFA and voila: They had the exact bit I need! Snapped that up, now to borrow a full-size headstall until mine arrives and we're set. Information from the seller agrees that this horse is a lot happier with a rubber/plastic mouth piece, they had tried metal and it was a no-go.

Thanks for the information everyone, and reassurances (in a sense). Cannot wait to take her to the indoor this Saturday. Hopefully she'll be a little more settled by then, and with the proper equipment I'll get a better feel as to how she goes.

Will keep you updated :)

Dec. 7, 2011, 11:18 PM
Glad to hear you might've found an answer. Did you ride her before you took her on trial? Was she much more accepting of contact that ride? The only reason I ask was that when I bought my young horse, she wanted to get curl and get behind the vertical. I found out later that the trainer who started her used draw reins on her! :mad: So, there is a possibility it may be a training issue that you will need to work through.

I started out with a uber mild bit (nathe) and slowly got her to get comfortable with leaning on the bit over a long period of time. It wasn't something we solved in a ride, or with a specific bit. Now she happily goes in a metal bit, still very light in my hand, but makes good connection and no longer gets BTV.

Dec. 7, 2011, 11:58 PM
I know for a fact that draw reins were used on her, and that does seem to be her way of going (photos show the draw reins, not a fan!!). When she was actually paying attention, she did tend to do the curl down and around, but not so far as to go behind the vertical, more of that fake "frame/headset" instead of really moving into contact (which there was basically none since every time contact was attempted I'd have a horse moving every direction but forwards).

There wasn't an opportunity to ride her before the trial based on where she was, along with my situation as well. How did you work through the use of draw reins, that artificial 'head-set'? I'm assuming a lot of light consistent contact, changes in gait, encouragement of stretching down to reach into the contact.

This girl has incredible gaits, and for what I can afford and where I'm situated (middle of no where, quite literally) I'd really like to see if this can work for me. Her personality is a big change from my past guy who was a bit "above it all", she's a bit more feisty and personable. It's going to be an interesting time!

Dec. 11, 2011, 12:21 AM

Rode her today in the indoor arena with proper bridle and bit, and she was a completely different horse. Actually went into the bridle, could ride her through some figures, steering, brakes, all present.

I'm 99.9% sure she has been over-trained with draw and side reins since she goes into a 'frame' without any contact whatsoever, without lifting her back, etc. It was nice to see that throughout the ride she was relaxing more and more into my consistent contact, doing a little bit of stretching too at the end. Much happier and relieved with this ride.

Dec. 11, 2011, 12:29 AM
Glad this ride was such an improvement! Some horses are very particular about their bits...

Regarding the artificial "frame" - My experience suggests that she will get over this quickly if it's not reinforced. Give that she's young, I think you can easily teach her the "right" way to do things once she's yours. While you have her on trial, be sure to just make sure that you like working with her. She sounds like she might be great for you!

Dec. 11, 2011, 11:19 AM
Glad you figured it out! It was night and day with my TB hunter.

Dec. 11, 2011, 12:24 PM
Well thank goodness if that is how they were riding her, they only put 30 days on her. The damage should not be too difficult to undo!

Right now everything I ride is in Happy Mouth or Nathe bits.... most will go fine in metal too, but one of the 4 yos you can't even THINK of putting metal on. Ears up your nose the entire ride.....