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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2004
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    Default Logical progression of bits?

    I am new to hunting but not new to riding ottb's so I am trying to figure how if there is a logical progression of making a bit change for a horse that is hunting? My friend left me a great message about her suggestions of adding or subtracting different things so I thought I would see what the masses had to say.

    One of the horses I have been hunting all season is a very quiet laidback guy who has done well either in first or second flight. I had been riding him in a french link and that seemed to be plenty maybe a touch more could have been needed for those really long gallops in open fields (our territory is almost all open fields).

    As the season has went on he has gotten slightly stronger which I associate with fitness and also I have changed his diet to add in some more protein via alfalfa and also more beet pulp too to keep his weight on. There is no bad behavior but he wants to run through the snaffle a bit more than he had been. My friend was riding him today at one of our fixtures where there are a lot of jumps and you ride single file. That is tough to ride behind other horses that are jumping at the canter and have a rateable horse. He wanted to get a bit quick by pulling upward and throwing his head up (had a standing) and on the long runs he was pulling down and out. I would say my friend has a tiny bit more electric seat than I do (hey, she is going to read this) but I too have noticed some of the same things so I think she just got the progression of an already occuring habit today. He was also ridden by a junior rider at the last hunt so maybe a bit left over from that as well.

    One thing that has changed is during hunt season we haven't been doing much ring work primarily just trail riding and hunting. Sometimes he might hunt without even been riding during the week (yes, he is a very sane TB!). Now that the footing and weather has improved he is getting more work and this week he got ridden 4x so enough that that shouldn't be a factor either.

    How do you determine if you might need a bit more and what steps do you follow? He goes in a standing but perhaps a running? Try different snaffles first and then and only then look at something with leverage or poll pressure? He is soft enough you wouldn't want to punish him but part of teaching him to balance has to come from him not running through the bridle whenever it suits him.

    I started out hunting my big horse in a pelham but decided it was to much and moved to a happy mouth french link 3-ring bit which seems really nice. He is a big 1300lb tb and 16.3 h of muscle and power. He might even be able to move down more as we go as he seems to be getting softer and softer even with all the jumping.

    Hunting is similar to riding cross country but the element of following other horses adds something different to the equation so I need some more education on proper procedure. Hunting is awesome and hunting and jumping is even better. We must have jumped 30 fences today ranging from 2ft logs to 3'3" coops. Awesome!!!!!!!



  2. #2
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    Oct. 1, 2005
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    Sandy, Utah
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    If he were mine, I'd start first by losing that extra protein. My OTTB (always hunted in a plain eggbutt snaffle w/standing martingale) was ultra-reactive to extra protein. He got all the grass hay and beet pulp he would eat, to maintain weight- but I found if I simply withheld his morning grain on hunting days, that made all the difference.

    Mind you, the last time he hunted, at age 20, I loaned him to a friend to whip in, and she found the snaffle wanting. So the next day I slapped a kimberwick on, and she and he were both happy. I don't much care for kimberwicks in general, but a pelham was too much for that horse.

    If he's running through the bit, then definitely, a different bit is needed. Not necessarily stronger, perhaps, but different. I had one that just needed a change of bits every 6 weeks or so. So yes, I'd play with different snaffles. Maybe try a waterford?

    I've only ever hunted horses in a standing martingale, not fond of runnings, I think in the heat of battle they tend to pitch a horse more on the forehand, so I'm afraid I'm no help there. Certainly, for the bit you want something that he isn't going to run through, ever. The halt, whenever needed, is the most important gait in hunting. And when I ask for it, I want it NOW. I've hunted a number of horses in a pelham because they rooted in a snaffle- I'd much rather have a light hand on the pelham, using the curb only when needed (rarely) than be hauling on a snaffle all day.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 11, 2007
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    Spring Grove, PA
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    My next choice would probably be a fat rubber pelham, with a short shank. See how he goes with the curb rein as needed on open gallops.

    I was taught to hold the curb on the outside of my pinky finger, apparently that is opposite of what is normally taught? But works much more effectively while out hunting. Just a little wiggle of the pinky and you got brakes!

    I would also not use a running martingale while hunting. You never know when someone else may have to lead your horse somewhere, and that is kind of PITA with a running on, nevermind it getting caught up in stuff (trees, bushes...)

    Just as Beverley said, I would much rather have a tiny bit more bit and have a responsive mount than argue in a snaffle all day, just to say 'He hunts in a snaffle'!

    I see tons of horses out in those short shanked rubber pelhams, but of course YMMV.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2004
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    Camden, De
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    Default

    It could very well be some of the extra protein via the alfalfa hay. I can add in more beet pulp and less alfalfa and see if that makes a difference. I suppose that is a whole different thread about keeping weight on a big 16.2 hunting fit tb who is normally an easier keeper but all of a sudden I looked at him and went oh..not looking as good as he could be. His morning grain is only 2lbs of legends performance 11/10 with a nice timothy hay.

    I was thinking along the lines of a waterford, slow twist, maybe a single jointed vs double joined. When he arrived I was riding him in a happy mouth mullen maybe he might like that better with all the constant stop/go we tend to have on our hunts.

    I have a nice rubber pelham with short shanks I just am not sure I see him being a horse that needs it. He can be so soft but I do 100% agree I would rather keep the ride soft and not be pulling in a snaffle if I can just use a touch with something a bit stronger. The pelham was too much for my big horse and he wouldn't jump with it on but the 3-ring has done nicely for him. He is a much stronger horse though!

    Since I event I ride in the runnings eventing but have only used the standing on him for hunting. The action can be different so I was just thinking it might help for the head coming way up before the fences but hunting is new so I am open to all suggestions.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2000
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    Jlee I am like others here in that I play around with bits. I was about to switch B out of the pelham and back to a slow twist and a running. I find he gets used to something and we lose the effectiveness. When he is at home it is just a plain snaffle.

    As far as feed and keeping weight on them, I've played around with a couple of things. Since I like to eliminate the grain or significantly reduce it on the days of hunting, I work on making up the calories before and after in a slow fashion. Again, with B I will give him an extra cup of BOSS each meal for two days prior to hunting and one day after. The sunnies are low volume but high fat. This is something I started this year and he has held or gained a little weight through the season.

    The other thing I do is give him a dose of ranitidene two hours before we hunt. He used to go off his feed for a day or two after a hunt. Once I started his routine, he never skips a meal.

    He also gets all the alfalfa/orchard grass he'll eat. His normal feed is Triple Crown Senior which I believe is 14/10. He gets 8 quarts of that a day. For reference sake he is 16.2 and between 1350 and 1400 lbs and is lean.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep. 29, 1999
    Location
    MD USA
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    709

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    I hunted my little TB, Carambi in a full cheek with keepers and running martingale. His regular bit was a KK loose ring snaffle but he was a bit too much in the field for that! And anything stronger like the 2 or 3 ring was too much.

    Like elg, I also cut grain in half the morning of a hunt and give him a little extra ultimate finish that evening. In our first season, I also kept him on Stomach Soother.
    ************
    \"And indeed the love that the horses of the Rangers bore for their riders was so great that they were willing to face even the terror of the Door , if their masters\' hearts were steady as they walked beside them.\" The Return of the Ki



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 26, 2003
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    NE FL
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Beverley View Post
    If he were mine, I'd start first by losing that extra protein. My OTTB (always hunted in a plain eggbutt snaffle w/standing martingale) was ultra-reactive to extra protein. He got all the grass hay and beet pulp he would eat, to maintain weight- but I found if I simply withheld his morning grain on hunting days, that made all the difference.

    Mind you, the last time he hunted, at age 20, I loaned him to a friend to whip in, and she found the snaffle wanting. So the next day I slapped a kimberwick on, and she and he were both happy. I don't much care for kimberwicks in general, but a pelham was too much for that horse.

    If he's running through the bit, then definitely, a different bit is needed. Not necessarily stronger, perhaps, but different. I had one that just needed a change of bits every 6 weeks or so. So yes, I'd play with different snaffles. Maybe try a waterford?

    I've only ever hunted horses in a standing martingale, not fond of runnings, I think in the heat of battle they tend to pitch a horse more on the forehand, so I'm afraid I'm no help there. Certainly, for the bit you want something that he isn't going to run through, ever. The halt, whenever needed, is the most important gait in hunting. And when I ask for it, I want it NOW. I've hunted a number of horses in a pelham because they rooted in a snaffle- I'd much rather have a light hand on the pelham, using the curb only when needed (rarely) than be hauling on a snaffle all day.


    This is almost exactly waht I was going to say. My horses don't get any alfalfa at all the day before a hunt (TBs). Ever. They get a big ol hunk in their haybag for after though

    My older mare who is now retired went in a slow twist at home and showing, and once I figured out what made her happy she hunted in a sliding gag with a slow twist mouth. I know someone is going OH MY GOD but the mare was very happy in it. SHe was one of those horses "if she wasn't happy wasn't nooooobody happy". She rooted like nobody's biz in a pelham and could buck like even more, so I used that gag with two reins and she was happy as a clam. She would not tolerate a running martingale ever. I field mastered and whipped in and everything else off her for years. this one had to get ridden the day before a hunt ALWAYS since I didn't want to die.

    My current horse (this other mare's daughter) is 6 now and usually I ride her in a training D with the copper bean at home and whip in off her in a corkscrew D. This mare can sit for a week and come out and hunt with no problems. She's the one in my profile pic

    I don't really think there needs to a "progression" of bits, you just need to find the right combination of feed/or not feed and equipment that works for the horse and the rider.
    If he really wants to go no bit in the world is going to stop him, in fact it might make it worse.
    "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jleegriffith View Post
    One thing that has changed is during hunt season we haven't been doing much ring work primarily just trail riding and hunting. Sometimes he might hunt without even been riding during the week (yes, he is a very sane TB!). Now that the footing and weather has improved he is getting more work and this week he got ridden 4x so enough that that shouldn't be a factor either.
    I have three tb hunters and by far, my most difficult and strong horse to hunt is a mare who absolutely won't tolerate strong bits. She can and has launched me from here to China on the occassions I've tried stronger bits, including, rubber pelhem, gag snaffle and elevator bit. I've ended up having good hunting success with her if and only if I maintain a schedule of ring work and use a snaffle with a soft link in the middle.

    She's also a very hard keeper so I feed 14% protein Vintage Senior extruded feed and alfalfa/grass mixed hay. Actually, I feed this to all of my horses because they need to be fit for about 6 galloping miles. I think you stand to lose more in condition than you'll gain in quiet behavior if you start reducing the quality of a working thoroughbred's feed.



  9. #9
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    Sep. 28, 2003
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    Wildwood, MO USA
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    I guess I'm lucky as mine usually get quieter as the season goes on. The first couple of hunts can be quite the Rodeo though. I would say like the others have said, you've got to switch things around and see what works. I thought my mare went well in a happy mouth three ring but her new owner found heaven in a Kimberwicke. I've got one that does not like any sort of a break in the bit, likes a straight bar, the other one has to have a french link. He has a french link two ring that he goes well in. I have hunted him in a snaffle but it was hard on the arms. Now that he's been out several seasons we could probably go back to the snaffle but the two ring french link works so well, why bother. Then my wild four year old goes in an egg butt dog bone happy mouth, so go figure. I would say there is definitely no set formula. Keep a varied selection around and see what works best. My only problem is the dang four year old is in a 4 1/2 inch mouth and my collection is mostly 5". Now she has a collection all her own.
    -Painted Wings

    Set youself apart from the crowd, ride a paint horse, you're sure to be spotted



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2005
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaegermonster View Post
    My older mare who is now retired went in a slow twist at home and showing, and once I figured out what made her happy she hunted in a sliding gag with a slow twist mouth. I know someone is going OH MY GOD but the mare was very happy in it. ....
    I dont know why people have such a reaction to gag bits. Used properly, many horse quickly learn not to pull and are completely happy. My mare is very quiet at home but can be a freight train out hunting. I have a polo gag bit (big honkin ring, but regular snaffle) that does the trick.



  11. #11
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    Jan. 23, 2004
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    I suppose the hard part is sometimes the only way you can truly test it is out in the hunt field. He is always good on the trails at home but I will do a bit more galloping and see what I have. He truly loves hunting and I think he understands what it is all about. We missed some hunts due to footing so it could be he is just excited about being out again. I think footing always factors in as it has been muddy and slick and the fixture has gorgeous sand footing and jumps that make the horses pretty happy He has such a soft mouth which makes it even a bit more challenge because with a snaffle if you have to do a lot to make him balance up and slow down you are picking at him all the time which is going to annoy him. The trick will be to find something that works well enough that you can just leave him alone so you don't have to touch his mouth.

    I will try taking away the alfalfa and feed in the a.m. of the hunt as well.



  12. #12
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    May. 25, 2003
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    Talking We share your pain!

    This is TOTALLY in jest mind you!!!..........

    So just WHY should we tell you OUR secrets to biting (like there even are any! ) anyway!??? I mean, why shouldn't YOU spend years & months changing & experimenting and buying a zillion bits for your horse like the rest of us!!! She who dies with the most bits wins!!
    Just go to the tack store...stare at the display thinking for an hour....buy a neat bit.....try it....get run away with......toss it in the tack trunk.....go to the tack store....buy a better bit......well, you get the picture? I suggest stopping at around 20 bits and just start trying them over again because you can't remember how it worked and why you tossed it the first time!!! Yep! That'll git R done!!
    Bit re-cycling is green too!!!
    Last edited by wateryglen; Feb. 17, 2009 at 08:35 AM. Reason: I thought of something funny to add!



  13. #13
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    Nov. 23, 2006
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    New England
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    given the fact that it seems your main problem with the horse is balancing him up and rating him I would probably be inclined to try a plain snaffle sliding gag? It shouldn't be any harder on the mouth but will help balance him up.

    I too am at the point of finding the perfect bit for my horse while out hunting and like you have discovered it is so hard unless you are actually out hunting. At home my horse goes in a loose ring roller happy mouth with plain noseband if going on trail alone or a eggbutt mullen mouth happy mouth w/ figure 8 for ringwork or trail in groups. If I took him out hunting with either of those bits I'd be a goner! We've already had two episodes of bolting to pass or catch up to the field master and I'd like to not have a repeat

    I've kinda been able to replicate the scenario by sticking my horse in back and going out for a longer canter/hand gallop in a group of a few horses. Would that be possible?

    Call me crazy but the other thing that has made a BIG difference in my horse for hunting is a dose of Quietex or Calm and Cool in the AM of the hunt. Prior to this change he really was only suitable for a very experienced and STRONG rider while out hunting. I could not ride him and last 2 or 3 hours. I dont' change anything about his feed but he DOES get worked usually the day before. That makes a difference for him no matter what we do really.

    Good luck and give us an update!



  14. #14
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    Jan. 23, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by wateryglen View Post
    This is TOTALLY in jest mind you!!!..........

    So just WHY should we tell you OUR secrets to biting (like there even are any! ) anyway!??? I mean, why shouldn't YOU spend years & months changing & experimenting and buying a zillion bits for your horse like the rest of us!!! She who dies with the most bits wins!!
    Just go to the tack store...stare at the display thinking for an hour....buy a neat bit.....try it....get run away with......toss it in the tack trunk.....go to the tack store....buy a better bit......well, you get the picture? I suggest stopping at around 20 bits and just start trying them over again because you can't remember how it worked and why you tossed it the first time!!! Yep! That'll git R done!!
    Bit re-cycling is green too!!!
    Ha, I have a collection of snaffles that is pretty darn impressive if you ask me. Tons of different ottb's come through the barn and I get on ebay and start looking so I have loose rings, eggbutts, full cheeks, mullens, happy mouths, rubber, nathes and the list goes on and on. trainer comes out and sees the young horse and says I think you need a nathe for him..lordy $60 for a bit! Then I got this big horse who took a 5.5" bit when all I had was 5-5.25 so the bit buying started again. He turned out to be a freight train so then I started collecting things that may work-pelhams, elevators, gags and some different models of the mylers.

    The problem was then I had these types of bits in a 5.5" but what if I needed them for a normal 5" horse and I had to go back to ebay to look some more In my new barn I have a few pegs to seperate the bits by mouthpiece- mullen, jointed or single jointed. Keeps them organized.

    I should know better than to post bitting questions but I thought I could perhaps avoid the process of buying/trying new bits. Guess not



  15. #15
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    Nov. 23, 2006
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    New England
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    In case you don't have what you want in your vast collection and you can't find it on ebay I've found this link to be oh so helpful! In addition, if you don't like the bit after a month you can send it back

    http://www.shop4bits.com/item--Coppe...enham-gag.html



  16. #16
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    Mar. 9, 2001
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    Rather than switch up bits, perhaps try a Kineton?


    The Kineton (or puller) noseband originated in the racing cirquit, for use on pulling horses or horses that would go out of control at higher speeds. If you read older english books about tack and this one surfaces, it will invariably be called "sharp" and "harsh". Why, it doesn't say.
    I think they have actually only "figured out" that it is harsh without even trying it. The logic is this: Since it stops hot pulling horses from running away with their riders it must be incredibly harsh and sharp, because it can accomplish what a thin, twisted scissor pelham cannot. Therefore it must be incredibly sharp.
    http://www.nunnfiner.com/Nunn-Finer-...eband-p/46.htm



  17. #17
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    Feb. 10, 2009
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    the Kineton is great too because you can throw it on over a normal cavesson if you get out and have problems. Ideally you'd change out, but you don't have to and it's a really quick add or subtract. I had a TB that it worked on too because with any normal leverage action he'd get behind the bit at the poll.

    I also have had good luck on my current ride with a myler (expensive, I know...) that has the rein and cheekpiece hooks. It has a little leverage that way, but not too much. Also, the bit has holes that will take a curb chain to increase the leverage - another quick and easy fix in case you get out and discover a bit more strength than you thought you had when you left the barn.



  18. #18
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    Oct. 1, 2005
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    Jlee, curiosity question...what happens if you simply bridge the reins when galloping?



  19. #19
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    Jan. 23, 2004
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    The perfect world is bridging the reins so he has something to come into. In the perfect world I would want him to just sit steady in the hand but he wants to go above and then pull against the hand via the up and out method of pulling and when you try to slow down it can be the down and out method of pulling. Beginning of the season life was great as he was coming from eventing and had a great deal of ringwork on him. I could bridge the reins for a very fast gallop and he was sitting in my hand and no problems with him at all. A lot of the fixtures we have been to lately have a lot of stop and go which is hard on any of them as they don't get in a good rhythm before you have to pull up quick so you get into a lot of quick stops and quick go. I have found this has lead to him wanting to pick up the canter even when at home and shoot off with his head in the air. The jumping tends to be the hardest because you follow single file and even when in the bridge he wants to come above and get quick to the jumps where before he was much more relaxed about it all.

    I have been fixing it back in the ring and it should be easy with him just to remind him of his job. I had a junior ride him in second flight and he was as quiet as quiet could be but a lot slower pace so it just doesn't rev them up as much as the run fast, stop and then run fast again.

    I think if I could fix the rooting up it would solve a lot of the problems with him pulling you out of the tack so he can evade the bridge or the rider's aids of asking him to balance up in that canter/gallop. When we gallop across the open fields I don't do anything but let him go which he loves and is fine with.



  20. #20
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    Nov. 3, 2003
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    I used to hunt my tb in a happy mouth pelham. It is very soft and light but the curb rein is there just in case to provide a little leverage if he got upside down or too strong. The only problem with the happy mouth pelham is that it has a longer shank than I would like.

    I started reading this thread thinking it was going to be something different. My experience with my hunting horses is that I start them out on a stronger bit and gradually move them to a snaffle. The stronger bit lets me ride the kind of horses I usually ride without much fussing in their mouth. You can kind of tap on it, use your body weight, get them to learn what the job of hunting is, etc, then dial it down. But that really is only my experience.

    I did find with my tb that as he got more fit he did get hotter. One winter the place where I boarded him midseason ran out of the usual grass hay and switched to alfalfa. Yikes! On top of already being very fit, my guy got very lit up. It took me a couple of weeks and then I asked the barn owner what hay he was feeding. We switched the horse back to grass hay and he was much more relaxed again.

    Also, I have hunted with a running martingale. If you put a snap on it there is no problem if you have to lead your horse. Just unsnap the running attachment from the breast plate. I guess I have been around enough eventers now that I am nervous about riding with standing martingales.



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