General thoughts, ideas, recommendations for bit hobbles wanted...
I do dressage and trail riding on my little Morgan mare, and since we're leaving the competitive world, and she's always been fussy about her noseband, I just pulled it off her bridle. She's been SO much happier since I did it... no gaping mouth, tongue over the bit, running off (she probably wouldn't anyway as she's incredibly lazy for a Morgan), all of which I feared. She has a very soft mouth.
But, I am told that for safety, I should use a bit hobble since her bit is a loose ring KK snaffle. There are a lot out there, from cheap nylon to very fancy leather. So I'm seeking opinions, recommendations, etc. for such a thing. My current barn has no Western riders and in fact I don't know anyone who rides Western.
Note: she has a tiny muzzle so if these things come in adjustable lengths or sizes, that would be helpful.
It doesn't have to be much of anything. If you're into crafting something of your own to use, braid a bit of replacement saddle leather (I think Weaver makes a bag of the stuff you can buy at TSC -- looks like a lot of leather shoe laces) long enough to span the gap between the rings and around them, then force the ends back through the braid and knot it off.
Or if you have any old broken bridles/strap leather, you can do something similar but use chicago screws to keep the ends together.
Old leather curb straps work too.
The extreme low-budget solution is bailing twine (preferably the sisal rope kind, not the orange nylon :D) braided and tied to both bit rings.
Yeah, it really isn't complicated. Mine range from a fancy tie on with horsehair and rawhide to a doubled up shoelace and everything inbetween. Whatever you get should either have room to punch more holes or be tied a little tighter. I've never seen sizes.
Here's some pretty ones, if you want to get fancy-
Originally Posted by quietann
You might not need to add anything to your mare's bridle. The purpose of that particular item is to help prevent the bit being dragged all the way through the horse's mouth. It sounds to me as if your mare is cooperative and docile, with a soft mouth and plenty of willingness to listen to your soft hands. A piece of leather shoelace will do the job, or a very loosely-adjusted curb strap (NOT chain, just a strap), but if neither you nor your mare takes a strong, pulling hold on either end of the reins, a "bit hobble" is just a superfluous, fiddly little item that you'll need to clean regularly. KK loose ring snaffles are nice bits - if your mare is happy, which she seems to be, why not leave well enough alone?
I like riding Western, and one of the reasons is that the horse is taught to respond to the weight of the reins and the position of the rider's hand, so there's no reason for either the horse or the rider to put extreme - or any - pressure on the bit itself. It doesn't sound to me as if there's much of a chance that you'll ever haul so hard on your mare's mouth that the bit will be pulled through it.
I have one like the horsehair bit hobbles in the third row. My horse does not necessarily need it, but since when can you ever be too safe with your tack? Plus, it looks cool!
Originally Posted by gaitedincali
Well a bit hobble isn't actually always just for the pull through concern, depending on the type of snaffle. A Baucher snaffle can have issues hanging correctly without a noseband or bit hobble. My snaffle bridle is just the crown, cheeks and throatlatch from a dressage bridle, and when I use my Myler Baucher with it, it needs a bit hobble to avoid flipping and inverting the cheeks even riding out on a loose rein.
Likewise, if you ride out through brush, it can be nice to have a bit hobble to avoid large bit rings getting pulled on by the vegetation.
When I was looking for an "english" type bit hobble, I found a very discrete one made from a couple of small silver curb strap hooks and a thin piece of black elastic. It was simple to shorten to length by re-tying the stopper knot, and I slightly crimped the curb hooks closed so they wouldn't come loose.
For a western bridle, you COULD use a curb strap, but those tend to be fairly beefy or overly long. A pony-sized curb strap might work on a full-sized horse? I make my own tack, and I know I'd make a bit hobble thinner and much shorter then a curb strap.
Those are pretty indeed :)
Originally Posted by GypsyQ
I giggle a little bit over someone describing her as "docile." She is more... cooperative. Still has that opinionated Morgan brain, you know... just very little of the hot-and-crazies.
She does not bolt, but she has a wicked spin if something really surprises her. Seems to me this would be a situation where a bit hobble could be a good thing.
Interesting Fact number 548,253 I've learned through CoTH.
What is a Bit Hobble?
And people think I'm wasting time on the internet ;)
One use is to prevent a snaffle bit from being pulled through the horse's mouth as could happen when using a headstall without a noseband. While not so necessary with big D or Eggbutt snaffles because of the sheer size of the cheekpieces, it is something one would want to do with smaller cheeks like a loose ring.
Originally Posted by SmartAlex
Another use is to balance the bit in the horse's mouth or to prevent twisting against the horse's face like aktill outlined.
I've also seen them used to keep the shanks on leverage bits from being able to independently move too much but instead keep the bit working as one solid unit.
On the other hand, if you watch a video of a horse with a bit hobble on a snaffle, you can see how that can become a real annoyance horses have to learn to ignore banging around down there.
I never saw one of those until I came West, then it seems everyone had one, western or race horses with snaffles just had to have one.
I can attest that you can ride and have a normal, balanced snaffle of any kind on a horse and be fine without that piece of tack, it is utterly unnecessary.
I have never used one, have never seen the need for one, everyone around me has and you know, my horses go about as well as anyone else's horses, just as practically all horses before I came here, that never had one on, have gone.;)
I am sure horses are happier without that banging thing under there.
Now, someone mentioned some of those odd kinds of specialty bits that uses one as it is not a stable bit.
That I would not know, never used those either.
If you watch a video of a horse with a well-adjusted bit hobble, it won't even be noticeable. Negative results from badly adjusted tack are not reasons to avoid using said tack. The average state of horsemanship doesn't generally inspire.
Originally Posted by Bluey
Likewise, using cheap substitutes that CAN'T be adjusted correctly (ie, using a curb strap rather then a bit hobble that can't go small enough) is not justification for dismissing the concept.
Finally, a Baucher or drop-cheek snaffle isn't an "odd, specialty" bit, and they're hardly unusual in plenty of western or English barns.
A bit hobble is a piece of safety gear for the most part, nothing more.
On occassion I've put a chin strap on a snaffle before, but I guess I live too far east to call a chin strap a bit hobble.
I presume you always put it on below the reins?
Yes, because otherwise contact on the reins will increase tension on the bit hobble.
Originally Posted by SmartAlex
I almost never disagree with Bluey-
but I have seen horses in snaffle bits with, and without a bit hobble.
You can't pull the bit ring through the horse's mouth with a properly adjusted bit hobble.
You absolutely CAN pull a bit ring (even a big D ring or eggbutt) through the horse's mouth if things get 'western' in a hurry, if there is no bit hobble. I've seen it, and it gets REALLY ugly if the horse is a really sensitive type and is upset by the whole bit ring in his mouth. The ring can catch on the canine teeth, and horses don't like that much. A leather strap that bumps against the horse's chin is pretty much nothing for a horse to tolerate, next to having a bit ring in the horse's mouth, hitting the horse's teeth.
I also think that if you are riding in an english bridle, with a LOOSE cavesson, that you could pull the bit rings through the mouth pretty easily. I've seen that, too, especially with loose ring snaffle bits.
It can look as though the bit hobble is doing nothing. But it does engage and it does keep the bit from pulling through the mouth, if adjusted right. A plain leather curb strap works just fine.
The only snaffle that won't pull through a horse's mouth, and therefore never needs a bit hobble, is a full cheek. Of course, there are other issues with the full cheek, especially that it can hook on a stirrup, girth or fence and catch, trapping the horse and causing a panic.
Quietann, I read your post on the dressage board about getting rid of your cavesson. Good for you! It can be hard enough to learn to do right by your horse. Add the social pressures from people who tell you, you are doing 'it' wrong, and you really have to have a sense of right and wrong within yourself as well as in relationship with your horse.
Oh, and the third reason for a bit hobble is on a western shank bit, when roping cattle. For safety reasons, you want a strong chain, cord or 'slobber' bar linking the ends of the shanks, because you absolutely do NOT want a tight rope (attached at the other end to a lively bovine) to slip up between the bit shank and the horse's lips.
Fillabeana, that's exactly what I'd worry about... that if the mare spooked and spun, the bit ring would go right into her mouth. She is a good girl, but quite sensitive.
BTW -- this was inspired by reading about new Canadian Eventing Coach Clayton Fredericks doing an eventing clinic up in Canada recently. In the flatwork portion, he had many riders remove the nosebands from their horses' bridles. His idea is that without a noseband, it's harder for the horse to lean on the bit, because as they lean, the lower jaw opens, which is uncomfortable. Saw this in the mare today... she was being resistant and leaning, and her mouth opened right up... and she moved her head a little until her mouth closed right up! (You can read more about the clinic at http://eventingnation.com/home/clayt...ic-report.html)
I use this bit hobble on the curb bits for both my reining horse and my trail horse. It's nice and lightweight and, I imagine, would work well on a snaffle as well.
It's not strictly kosher to use one for reining, but my reiner started life as a cow horse and I like the nod to his history (this bit). I use one for my trail horse mostly because it's pretty brushy around here and I like knowing that nothing can easily catch on a shank (this bit).
Update... no bit hobble yet, and I had to put the noseband back on just for today. The mare was Not Amused. Since I'd taken it off, she hadn't put her tongue over the bit once (and this was one of the reasons I was wary about removing it in the first place.) Today... tongue over the bit six times! :eek: I think she's telling me something... :o
So just keep riding her, no noseband and let HER fix her problem tongue! Honestly, if you stop to "fix" the tongue over, she quickly learns that doing it will give her a rest time!! So the trick gets to be a tool for stopping work. She has YOU trained!
Originally Posted by quietann
I would NOT suggest shortening her cheek adjustments on bridle. It really doesn't help. Seems like they can ALWAYS get the tongue over, but with short cheeks and bit way up tight, horse can't self-fix his tongue back under the bit.
We had one start the tongue over trick, but just kept working him. No stopping, no rest, still using the reins, which made the bit UNCOMFORTABLE. With bridle cheeks left in normal setting, horse worked his tongue back under in a little while.
Husband made it easier, set the bit longer by one hole each side, so "next time" horse was able to fix his tongue over problem even quicker. There is no reward here for doing stupid tricks, so they get over it pretty quick.
If we were in competition, we couldn't stop or ask Judge to halt the class to fix his bit! So horse fixes his self-created problem or goes on with an uncomfortable face. He KNOWS how to fix it, bridle setting allows fixing the bit himself, so it is his choice how to continue. We are totally over fixing bits if horse continues to make his own problem. He is punished if he tries to avoid behaving, while tongue is over during work. We might stop at the end of a work session, fix tongue to go back to the barn, no sooner.
Have to say we seldom have anyone with tongue issues in work. They learn to manage their bits, tongues, when they are getting mouthed wearing bridles with bits in the stall at the very beginning of training. Tongues are over and under, learning to eat wearing the bit, with a loose fit to allow horse to manage his bit easily.
I actually do just that -- let her fix it. She does so right away; it's apparently more uncomfortable for her to have it over (fat tongue and low palate will do that.) Yesterday, she did it basically every time I asked her to trot -- threw her head around and got her tongue over, and then hauled on me (she is normally very soft in the mouth) until she got it back under. I did a tiny bit of arena schooling with her at the end of the ride, and she didn't put it over anymore, though she was extra-zoomy. She's a goofy mare :)
I use pelham rounds:
The spare can also be used as a grab strap on the front of an English saddle. ;)