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  1. #1
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    Default Non-curb bit appropriate for driving?

    I have begun to work my gelding on the cart again after a couple-year hiatus. The man I rode/drove with back home visited me this weekend and helped me put the gelding to the cart again, and it went very well.

    For our short lessons over the weekend, I used his normal riding bit (a loose ring mullen mouth). It was fine for our short lessons in a quiet, controlled environment, but I would like to switch him to a bit that is more appropriate for driving.

    I have a Liverpool (which I use on my mare), but this gelding has never had any sort of curb bit (he has always gone in very gentle snaffles - first a "lozenge" mouthpiece, and now the mullen mouth). Are there any bits appropriate for driving that don't have a curb action (or at least no curb chain), other than a Wilson? Or is a Wilson available in a different mouthpiece? Or is my best option to just go to a Liverpool, and just let him learn to deal with it? Is a Glory Liverpool better than a "regular" Liverpool? I'm intrigued by the design.

    I want to find the bit that best fits the needs for safety and the horse's comfort.

    Thanks!
    Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous
    Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.



  2. #2
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    May. 3, 2006
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    All my driving horses are ride and drive. The majority of them when they're ridden go in snaffles. A couple are in kimblewicks.

    When driven they're all in curb driving bits. I personally use Wilson snaffles for training in safe confines only. I wouldn't use anything other than curbs otherwise though.

    Ensure the curb chain is fitted properly. Roll it to so it lies flat and takes out any twists and fasten it so it lies flat and loose at the chin groove. It mustn't be on the horse when it's in the neutral position. It's only there for when you need it.

    If you bridle your horse and long rein him with it, he'll soon get used to it.

    I tend to use mullen or low port mouth but not always and not necessarily with fixed cheek pieces. To be honest I don't think they're any different at all to the Glory bits you guys have.

    I've a couple that go in Hanovarian Liverpools.

    I always buy them with just 2 ports and use the first port. If they've got 3 on then I cut off the 3 port. Known as the Duffers Bar.



  3. #3
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    Thomas, what's the difference between a regular Liverpool and a Hanovarian Liverpool?
    Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous
    Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
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    Glory bits ARE built differently. The mouthpieces are made with an upward curve, along with a forward curve. Not your average mouthpiece, whatever the sides. It also used to come with a combination metal mix, with some copper in it. Not silver color metal.

    I haven't looked at a Glory bit for a long time, so I am sure there are new modifications since then. As with any magic bit, some folks and horses love the bit, other folks and horses hate it.

    I am a curb bit person. My horses work with me on holding the bit, giving and taking, as I request things from them, both ridden and driven.

    I think of snaffles, ring sided, whether broken mouthpieces or solid ones, as a transition bit. They are snaffles because there is no curb pressure, bits work with direct pull from reins, pulling from mouth corners. We use the snaffles on the way to developing the finished animal. I could probably ride anyone here in the snaffle, but it does not produce the finished results I want from the experienced horse.

    Horse and I are talking while he is being used. I feel his mouth, he answers by taking up rein or giving to me. Soft touches always, but he can be pushed together, for more collection with the contact, or let move forward with head lower as he hunts for the contact. He holds himself up, not hanging on my hands. He does not back off the bit, chin on chest or throw his head, if I take more hold, to "drive him ON!"

    For me, and other family members, this works for us. Expectations are a combination of riding disciplines that let us enjoy the horse, not holding them up, not thrown away in contact, for long rides and drives. A practical way of using them for longer periods of time, so your hands are not exhausted after a few hours with the reins.

    To me, a horse who won't go in a curb bit of some kind, using curb chain or strap, is unfinished. Mouth is not truly soft, just not educated yet. Horse maybe over-reactive to any pressure, does not know how to respond to reins, throws their head when they feel pressure.

    So many folks think snaffles are kindly, then they tell you about the mouthpieces!! YIKES! Twisted wire, slow twist, Waterford, chain mouthpieces. Not what I think is a nice bit for MY horses! I see constant pulling of reins using snaffles, people hanging on horse mouth with no response, no real control. Scary. And horse NEVER improves, because the action of his snaffle does not help show what they want from him. Just hanging on you all the time. Not my idea of a fun ride either.

    My curb bits are very short shanked, probably just below the mouthpiece, like the Uxeter Kimberwicke with slots. Horses don't need more shank length, that is enough. Training the mouth to understand and work with you is your goal. I find curbs do better than snaffles to finish my horses.
    Last edited by goodhors; Mar. 24, 2009 at 12:13 PM.



  5. #5
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    Dec. 13, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas_1 View Post
    I always buy them with just 2 ports and use the first port. If they've got 3 on then I cut off the 3 port. Known as the Duffers Bar.
    I call it the "OH SHIT" slot. If I see someone driving with the line in that port or slot I get out of the way and away from the horse. It is only a matter of time until the wreck if you need that much leverage.

    I like a mullen mouth, bar, or slight ported bit to drive with. Especially with multiples. It allows for subtle adjustment depending on the horses mood and that of the team mate. I have one horse that is just a little hot and I like to have a little more bit on him after a long layoff. He will at times do a buck and snort in harness. Not being bad just happy to be out and back to work. I then have the option to move up the line the next day or a little later in the day.

    I am starting a pair of shires. I started in a bar bit with loose cheeks but I am moving them to a mullen mouth elbow bit so that I have the flexabilty to move them up or down. LF

    PS. Now don't you all go out wetting yourselves that Thomas and I agree.



  6. #6
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    May. 3, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by LostFarmer View Post
    I call it the "OH SHIT" slot. If I see someone driving with the line in that port or slot I get out of the way and away from the horse. It is only a matter of time until the wreck if you need that much leverage.
    I've called it that too!

    PS. Now don't you all go out wetting yourselves that Thomas and I agree.
    I've actually agreed with quite a bit you've posted previously I guess even blind pigs find acorns though hey???



  7. #7
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    Dec. 13, 2005
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    Default

    Actually, I also have this question for my horse. He's been ridden for years and has a soft mouth. He typically goes in a copper mouth jointed Dee bit. I am starting to ground drive him using that bit, and he's gone very well. Should I stay with the same bit or the same kind of mouthpiece, or should I get him used to a fixed one? Advice?
    Thanks in advance.



  8. #8
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    Nov. 2, 2001
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    I don't drive, so back up the salt truck...

    But I am somewhat of a gear geek. I have found that driving bits come in a huge variety, with sides and mouth pieces, so you can have 4 different bits that look the same on the outside (or even more) so even if you go 4in hand, you still get a bit for each horse individually.

    Snaffle bit...it depends on the turn out, no? You go country casual you can use a double lose ring, you go city formal, you have the look of a curb, be it liverpool or other.

    if I am not mistaken, I have seen curb cheeks with snaffle mouth pieces...
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 4, 2007
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    "Snaffle bit...it depends on the turn out, no? You go country casual you can use a double lose ring, you go city formal, you have the look of a curb, be it liverpool or other. "

    Not really. It has been discussed many, many times here but... here goes (again).

    A curb bit has leverage (ergo a stop). Driving is not like riding. In riding a horse, if he bolts; then rider looks for a happy dismount or horse comes down by himself. In driving, a horse bolts and usually the cart goes all over the place, the horse panics and a wreck happens. Driving wrecks are bad, think bystanders, horse, driver, and thousands of dollars in damage (and often very serious injuries). The best way to prevent wrecks is with a leverage bit. Honest, those of us who have driven a lot have had spooks, even with blinders. With a curb bit, at least nine times out of ten, you can stop the bolt. Curb bits save lives.

    Honestly, truly, a liverpool bit or low port curb bit, set to a modest shank does not make a hard mouth! Most horses take to them like ducks to water. THEY LIKE THEM!!! If there is even a head toss, it is probably fitted wrongly. But you have that chain and that shank and if something happens, you can bring the horse right down.

    Now, if you are working in the fields, and your horses are plow horses, dont' spook, etc, great! But if you are dealing with traffic, or are trotting even, having the curb is a lifesaver.

    There are a few horses that can be absolutely trusted to drive in a snaffle. I will conceed that. But a snaffle bit is such a liability, why do it?

    I know why, some breed shows require it. If it were me, I would be bugging my registry like crazy to change the rules!
    Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF
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  10. #10
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    May. 3, 2006
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    ^ Good posting and well said

    Why oh why oh why do folks think that a curb bit makes a horse have a hard mouth?! (rhetorical question so PLEASE don't anyone even try to answer it because I know it's not true!!!)

    Why do riders think that what goes for a riding horse is the same for a driving horse? Whevever riders talk about bits for stopping and steering it always makes me think they actually don't know that the bit is only AN aid or AN indicator and you don't stop and steer a horse with a bit.

    I always say for a driving horse "ask with your hand and demand with your voice". At the end of the day that's virtually all you have when you drive!

    For a riding horse I say "indicate with your hand and ask (even insist) with your leg and seat"

    I'd defy anyone who rides or drives to say that any of my horse's have hard mouths. I won't let them be ridden or driven EVER by anyone who is heavy handed and I can't stand unresponsive horses that are content to put up with being heavy on your hands. I drive and ride too much to be bothered with a heavy unresponsive clod of a horse that doesn't want to listen to a polite request.

    I must have them forward, light, responsive and well schooled to respond to subtle aids. Anything else isn't mine.

    I also drive multiples and of course it's true that you bit appropriate to the horse and to it's mouth conformation and way of going. Occasionally that means that although you have a beautiful matched pair or team that there may be some differences in dentition or behaviour as it effects way of going that might require different bitting.

    For example I've a well matched (full sibling) pair that are ridden in snaffle and mullen kimblewick respectively and driven in these respectively:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...dliverpool.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...nliverpool.jpg



  11. #11
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    Feb. 16, 2003
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    Thomas, not sure if you can see it, but do you recognise the bit on the left Leader?

    http://www.drivingdigest.com/

    Photo is very small, but we have the magazine, and can not ID the bit. Curious about the mouthpiece inside the horse mouth too. Thanks



  12. #12
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    Good grief you're joking! I can only just see the horse!!!!



  13. #13
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    It might be a Swale as that seems to be the bit in vogue right now.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 24, 2001
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    Lexington, Kentucky
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Thomas, not sure if you can see it, but do you recognise the bit on the left Leader?

    http://www.drivingdigest.com/

    Photo is very small, but we have the magazine, and can not ID the bit. Curious about the mouthpiece inside the horse mouth too. Thanks
    I would think Chester would be happy to tell you what bit that is. You can contact him through his website.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton



  15. #15
    lkirby Guest

    Default Start softly then advance to more control

    I am starting to drive again after an absence of 30 years, so I have lots of old, but still applicable, experience. Don't listen to anyone who says that you "have to do something", as every horse is different.

    Somebody said that some snaffle bits are extremely cruel. If you are driving in US "pleasure driving" classes in many breed shows [American Saddlebred, Morgans, and Arabians, etc] then you are limited by their rules to only using a snaffle bit. Since many of these horses have already had their mouths completely ruined by bad riding, then some drivers do use those cruel bits for control.

    I would never recommend the use of those cruel snaffle bits/bradoons for driving or controlling a carriage horse.

    What you need to use with your driving horse is the softest bit that will still give you adequate control. If your horse is doing fine in a snaffle, then keep driving him in that snaffle. Start very softly with your horse's mouth and then advance slowly to bits that give you more control.

    At the point that you think that you need more control, then the best bit to use is a liverpool bit that has the very same mouthpiece that your previous snaffle bit had. By using the liverpool bit with the same snaffle mouthpiece that your horse is already used to, you can then very gradually introduce your horse to being driven with a curb bit by the placement of your reins from gentle to more restrictive positions.

    Lorna G. Kirby, PE



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 19, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Thomas, not sure if you can see it, but do you recognise the bit on the left Leader?

    http://www.drivingdigest.com/

    Photo is very small, but we have the magazine, and can not ID the bit. Curious about the mouthpiece inside the horse mouth too. Thanks
    Isn't it a liverpool? I have seen Linda McVicker drive a number of times and don't remember her ponies ever having unusual bits. Not that it couldn't have changed though.

    For the original poster, you can certainly buy a french link with liverpool sides. You could also make a Wilson snaffle by having the ring put on whatever mouthpiece you like. Or you could simply take the curb chain off any bit.

    I would check Driving Essentials or Advanced Equine for bits, as they usually have the best selection.



  17. #17
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    Feb. 16, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowpony View Post
    Isn't it a liverpool? I have seen Linda McVicker drive a number of times and don't remember her ponies ever having unusual bits. Not that it couldn't have changed though.
    Sorry, when we first started this, the cover showed Chester Weber and his Team, with the question about his Leader's bit with the odd looking side.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkirby View Post
    At the point that you think that you need more control, then the best bit to use is a liverpool bit that has the very same mouthpiece that your previous snaffle bit had. By using the liverpool bit with the same snaffle mouthpiece that your horse is already used to, you can then very gradually introduce your horse to being driven with a curb bit by the placement of your reins from gentle to more restrictive positions. Lorna G. Kirby, PE
    Sorry, I have to totally disagree with the kindness of a broken mouthed bit, using long shanks with a curb chain. Such a bit design does not work at all like a ring-sided broken mouth bit, the common "snaffle bit".

    The bit with shanks is not a kindly bit, and works severely on the horse mouth when any kind of rein setting below the direct pull ring, is applied. I really do not care for this style bit, would not recommend it to anyone. This style is now more commonly known as the "nut-cracker" bit, regardless of the shank style. When the reins are pulled, the shanks come together because the pull makes the mouthpiece hinge gives, poking horse in the upper palate, and crunching the lower jaw between those shanks with the curb chain preventing the bit from rotating further. Shanks often will touch or cross under the lower jaw when reins are pulled.

    Truly a nasty bit, quite misnamed "snaffle" because people perceive the broken mouth as kindly, to correlate with ring-sided, broken mouths (snaffle bits) that have totally different action with direct rein pull.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Sorry, when we first started this, the cover showed Chester Weber and his Team, with the question about his Leader's bit with the odd looking side.
    Oh, no wonder I was totally confused.



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