Bit vs noseband vs martingale (cross-post to Eventing)
Okay this is long. If you scroll to the bottom, I asked my 4 questions and you can just skip the history/treatise below :o)
Here's the scenario:
Horse is 18, retired eventer (learned from his old vet that he used to have an FEI passport, so I think he at least went up to Prelim). We mostly flat these days, and I'm riding in what I think of as a "classical seat" (grew up in the hunters). I hesitate to call it "dressage" since we don't even have letters in the ring, but I suppose that's basically what it is. He also loves to jump and hack our (as do I), which is why I'm posting this question to the foxhunting board.
He came to us as a summer camp drop-out (he HATED being a camp horse). Initially rode him in a snaffle, as he got fit, we moved him up to a single-jointed Uxeter Kimberwicke, he went pretty well in it, but I got to thinking about it, and it seemed like kind of a cop-out, and if I needed a curb chain, I should just put him in a Pelham (handling 2 reins is not a problem for me). Not to mention, I've decided I agree with the idea that putting a joint in the mouthpiece of a curb bit defeats the purpose (since when pressure is applied to the reins, the mouthpiece breaks, instead of rotating to engage the curb). At the same time as I was thinking of switching his bit, school got crazy, and I was riding him much less, not jumping at all, and then winter hit, so we were hacking out either. I had a corkscrew D-ring, put him in that, and it was adequate for flatting in the indoor. Now that it's summer again, I've been riding more, and hacking out more. After the last trail ride with some friends, we all agreed it's time for something more!
Badger just doesn't know he's 18 or retired. He respects a pulley rein, but obviously I'd rather not have to resort to that every time I want to stop cantering (or, what Badger calls cantering, which is what I call galloping). The other thing about him is that regardless of where we're riding (in the ring or out), once I've even trotted him, and especially after we've cantered, he is loathe to slow down! If I want to cool him down after a good work-out in the ring, I have to get off and hand walk him, because he just doesn't want to walk. He'd rather trot. (This is something we've been working on.)
(Wow, this is getting long-winded!)
I've read lots of the bits and noseband and martingale posts, and I think I've come up with some options, but I'd sure love to hear some opinions, too.
I was initially thinking just going back to something stronger in his mouth, so my bit ideas were a Dr. Bristol or a polo pelham (http://www.statelinetack.com/item/ko...bit/SLT900241/). I like the wide port on the polo pelham. For the Dr. Bristol, I wasn't sure what sort of rings, but was leaning toward a full-cheek with keepers, thinking that would keep the bit oriented properly in his mouth. There's also a Waterford in the barn that I could try out.
After reading some more threads, I started thinking more about putting him in a figure-8 or dropped noseband, but probably still with the Dr. B or Waterford rather than a single-jointed snaffle. With a figure-8 or a drop, I'd need an eggbutt or a D rather than a full-cheek. Pros/cons? I'm partial to the D, with my hunter up-bringing, but frankly I prefer the old-style barrel D-rings to the huge round hunter D-ring, but hard to find them anymore. Maybe use a Dr. B and plain cavesson for the ring, and switch to figure-8 for hacking out?
Finally, I've never used a running martingale, but it's recommended frequently on these boards as an alternative to bitting up. Pros/cons? One huge con for me is that it's just more strap goods to clean and store, not to mention kind of a pain to take off and on.
Okay, let's re-cap:
1. Dr. Bristol vs polo pelham vs Waterford?
2. Full-cheek vs eggbutt vs dee?
3. figure-8 vs drop?
4. running martingale?