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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2008
    Posts
    762

    Default And I need advice about a starter bit, please.

    I needed to buy another bit before I began longlining Cookie last fall. I was at Dover Saddlery in Chantilly, VA at the time and didn't see any driving bits so I bought a D-ring French link snaffle that Cookie does really well in with our ll-ing and for a change in riding. Is this a safe and effective bit for beginning driving?

    I believe her trainer had her going in a half-cheek broken mouth (snaffle?) and she must have done well with it because he had a wide choice of bits he could have used.

    I'll be going to the Dixie Draft & Mule sale near Charlotte next weekend, and that will be my best chance of finding driving bits *in person*. Otherwise, I'll have to order one online.

    Is the rule of fitting the same as for riding - about 1/4" mouthpiece showing between the lips and cheekpieces?

    And those big rubber ring bit guards? Umm.. how do you get them on the mouthpiece if your bit is accidentally too large??? I assume you need to cut the rubber ring - but if that's so, why don't they come already cut???

    Thanks! It's SO not easy being green!

    Wendy



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2003
    Location
    Aberdeen, NC, USA
    Posts
    3,752

    Default

    Wendy,

    I'd be careful buying a bit at the Dixie sale. Last time we went we saw a lot of cheap equipment. You want to buy a good quality bit and one that is made out of stainless steel or better - not that cheap white metal. You also want one that fits properly and has no rough edges or places that pinch.

    We plan on going to the sale, too, but more just for a fun day out than to shop for driving equipment. There are some good buys to be had but if you don't know what you're looking at you can get burned. Or worse, you could end up getting you or your horse injured

    My advice is to go and look and learn - but don't buy. I think you'd be far better off putting yourself in the hands of reputable seller like Claudette of Country Carriages, or Laurel of Driving Tidbits. Safety is of utmost importance in driving so please make sure you get good, safe equipment that is correct for both you and your horse.
    Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

    http://www.ashemont.com
    Ashemont2@gmail.com



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2005
    Location
    England
    Posts
    10,663

    Default

    Not a driver here, but I've used those bit rings. They are a PAIN to get onto the bit. I soak them in hot (almost boiling water) for five or so mins, then put two hoof picks in the centre hole and strech them over the bit rings. Works better if you have someone else to hold the bit for you.
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2004
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,112

    Default

    Wendy, if it were me as a green driver with a green horse, I'd elect to use a traditional Liverpool driving bit. They're available from many vendors. Let me know if you need links. A Liverpool bit offers a variety of rein attachments, from snaffle to curb (and more curb -hopefully you'll never need that) If your Haflinger is like mine, she'll probably have a thick tongue and a shallow palate. Mine have always appreciated either a low port or an arch mouthpiece to allow for tongue clearance. I would avoid straight bar bits. The downward pressure on the tongue can be extreme. A mullen mouth is an option but I've noticed a wide variation in the amount of curve in mullen mouth bits with some of them being nearly straight.

    My personal choice is the so-called Glory bit with Liverpool cheeks. This bit has two or three snaffle settings and two curb slots. I drive my ponies single on one of the snaffle settings but I bit them down to the top curb slot when I take them out as a pair because they can be fresh little rascals when they're out side by side competing for whatever it is Haflingers compete for in their goofy little heads. Some Liverpools come with 3 curb slots and I've always heard that if a horse has to be bitted down to the 3rd slot, it shouldn't be driven!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 3, 2006
    Posts
    11,568

    Default

    Just get a liverpool driving bit and ensure it fits well.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 25, 2008
    Location
    california
    Posts
    8

    Default starter bit

    Please don't confuse a stronger bit as a substitute for good training. Your horse should preferably be started in a snaffle until he understands basics, from bending properly to whoa. It sounds like you want to make sure you can stop him (being green) if things get sticky. Lots of ground driving done properly will allow him to understand what is expected before you even get your horse put to a carriage. Sometimes a bit that is too heavy will make things far worse. I would urge you to consult a trainer if you are not sure. I have haflingers including a pair I recently bought; both were trained as a competitive pair. In the hands of a novice driver, they were placed in liverpools to compensate for hands. It got ugly Since I have had them, I put them in kk's (which they really like) and we have gone back to the basics. Happy horses--Happy me. Good luck!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2003
    Posts
    4,409

    Default

    As far as bit guards go for IF your bit is a little wide - you can get nice neoprene ones that have a slit up one side and velcro to close, Since the neoprene is thicker than the rubber - your bit would have to be at least 1/2 inch too wide.

    The Liverpool is NOT a harsher bit than a snaffle - just because it (usually) has a solid mouthpiece and shanks (which you usually dont use) and a curbchain. Many people consider a broken mouth to be harsher because of the leverage of much longer than riding reins (3 ft vs 12 ft)

    I like seeing the bit in person or buying from a reputable dealer know for quality, because bits can be very different in person. It wass suggested we try a 6 1/2 on ALex and I find most of those (what few choices are available) pretty ugly and cheap looking but then I'm not yet willing to spend more than $100 on a bit.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2007
    Location
    Western North Carolina
    Posts
    1,467

    Default

    I'm a believer in snaffles and more importantly, using the softest bit possible. However, when we started my pony, she hated broken snaffles. We tried one and two joints and she wasn't happy in either. Then we went to a little mullen mouth with butterfly sides and she was thrilled. I drove, she was ridden and long lined in all similar bit (the riding/long lining bit didn't have sides).
    Last year, a trainer suggested a french link and I tried it. She loves it. Since then, I've tried several different broken snaffles and she has been fine. I currently drive in a riding bit, a loose ring fat french mouth. The bit was $30 on sale, the liverpool was $125. Maybe I'll get it when I have the money but since we never use any of the slots except the cheek one, it isn't a priority.
    Actually, my STB off the track was happy in a mullen mouth and most happy in a glory bit. But his tongue was tied at the track and he was always pretty unhappy with any kind of broken bit.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2003
    Location
    Aberdeen, NC, USA
    Posts
    3,752

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pricestory View Post
    Last year, a trainer suggested a french link and I tried it. She loves it.
    When I found I needed a bit more than just a regular pony snaffle on Maggie, Claudette of Country Carriages recommended a French-link bit that's a $50 knock-off of a $120 Abbey bit. The link is copper. It's been the perfect bit for Maggie.

    I tried it on Mollie, my older pony, who had always been driven in a Liverpool (but she let me know quickly that she did NOT like that bit when driven single). She, too, was great in it - but we had some issues when I put her back with Maggie. My trainer felt she needed to be in a solid bit and Claudette had the perfect one: a butterfly mullen mouth Abbey bit. I spent the $120 and it's been well worth it.

    Bits cannot fix everything but the wrong bit - or one the horse doesn't like - can create tons of problems. I like to have a horse going in the softest bit with which I have control. In the long run the cost of the bit is worth it IF it's the right bit for that particular horse
    Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

    http://www.ashemont.com
    Ashemont2@gmail.com



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2004
    Posts
    1,710

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RidesAHaflinger View Post
    ... I drive my ponies single on one of the snaffle settings but I bit them down to the top curb slot when I take them out as a pair because they can be fresh little rascals when they're out side by side competing for whatever it is Haflingers compete for in their goofy little heads. Some Liverpools come with 3 curb slots and I've always heard that if a horse has to be bitted down to the 3rd slot, it shouldn't be driven!
    I have a gelding that is a hard mouthed little pig. I drive him on the last slot on my LP bit. The mare is in a mullen mouth bit. There are times that little snot pulls the load with his mouth. Single you can drive him with a rubber bar bit and he is a dream but put him in a pair and he is a PITA to deal with. LF



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2004
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,112

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Drive NJ View Post
    The Liverpool is NOT a harsher bit than a snaffle - just because it (usually) has a solid mouthpiece and shanks (which you usually dont use) and a curbchain. Many people consider a broken mouth to be harsher because of the leverage of much longer than riding reins (3 ft vs 12 ft)
    Agreed. The arch-mouth Liverpool bit I use ('Glory' bit) is a mild bit. Even the top curb slot is still a quasi-snaffle setting because of the way the bit is constructed. It's also made to be used with a leather curb strap. There is nothing harsh about it, either in the way it's made or the way the hands that are attached to it (mine!) use it. Wasn't it Hardy Zantke who wrote a good article a few years ago about how severe a curb with a jointed mouthpiece can be in a driving bit? I don't know if I can lay my hands on the article but if I do, I'll post the link here.

    Anyway, the bottom line is use the bit that works best for you and your horse for the activity you're doing. I ride my horses in French-link eggbutt snaffles but I wouldn't drive them in those bits. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2004
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,112

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hafandhaf View Post
    Sometimes a bit that is too heavy will make things far worse. I would urge you to consult a trainer if you are not sure. I have haflingers including a pair I recently bought; both were trained as a competitive pair. In the hands of a novice driver, they were placed in liverpools to compensate for hands. It got ugly Since I have had them, I put them in kk's (which they really like) and we have gone back to the basics. Happy horses--Happy me. Good luck!
    Very good advice to work with a trainer. All the free advice on a chat board can't equal the benefits of paying a good trainer for his time and expertise.

    There are Liverpool bits and there are Liverpool bits. I believe the name itself derives from the characteristic slotted cheekpieces which offer several rein settings and therefore a lot of flexibility for the driver (and horse). However, the mouthpiece can vary significantly. As I said in my first response to the OP, above, the straight-bar mouthpiece can be very severe because it lies flat on the tongue and there is no tongue relief. Some of the straight-bar mouthpieces even have ridges on one side to be placed next to the tongue. This is especially tough on a Haflinger if he has a thick tongue and a shallow palate, as many of them do. A straight-bar mouthpiece would indeed constitute a severe bit on such a horse. That doesn't mean that all Liverpool bits are bad or that a novice driver shouldn't use one. There could be an equal number of situations in which a novice driver using a snaffle could be a bad combination. My advice is: work with a trainer, TAKE LESSONS, and realize that on a chat board, opinions are like belly-buttons. Everybody's got one! Fun stuff to read but it can't replace working with a good hands-on trainer.



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