Spinoff of "temperamental horse" bit thread--more about Kinetons, please?
I don't want to derail the original thread, but am tossing this out for some idea generation. Long--sorry--I don't know how to post any other way.
Bonnie goes in a Myler combination or a Stubben "golden wings" wonder bit for jumping, and I even think we're to the point now where I could do SJ in just any old regular snaffle. She'll pull DOWN when she's getting tired or feeling like tuning me out, but vastly better over time and we can do whole SJ courses with minimal adjusting now--just a growing up thing, mostly.
On XC she pulls like a TRAIN. Not like Gwen (also a confirmed puller) who pulled but had her head UP HIGH all the time (running martingale a must for Gwen). Nope, Bonnie pulls and pulls DOWN. If you let her, she will tuck her head right down between her knees and plow onward. And this is not a good place to be for jumping, obviously, in a horse who is not blessed with natural Connaught-like jumping talent. Interestingly, her mama was the same way but was MUCH easier to rebalance. Kelly had raced and the galloping low was more (I thought) a racetrack habit than anything, and we never went fast enough for it to be a problem in her career at mostly Novice. Kelly was too polite to pull. Bonnie is a TANK.
Yesterday going around 400mpm on our Novice course I was pulling the whole damn time, Myler bit and all. I could get her to sit back, up, and listen, but it was WAY more work than I feel like doing!! She doesn't object in the slightest to me pulling. No head tossing, no fussing--just keeps galloping, head lower and lower unless I re-balance all the time. This was very obvious right from the time we were warming up, and canter-halt-canter-halt transitions do a marvelous job of lightening/getting her to listen . . . but that technique is slightly problematic going XC!
In addition to more work at the gallop, getting her to rate from my body and half halts, plus the general benefit of experience (this is always worse in the early parts of the year) do any of you think a kineton would help? I don't really want to "bit up", but rather to give her an incentive to NOT pull so dang hard. Without getting lower, obviously.
I have had great luck with some of my OTTBs that pulled really hard in the Kineton with a Waterford. They couldn't get a purchase on the Waterford and the Kineton just gave me alittle extra uhmps when I needed it to get them up and back. I loff mine. Some horses don't go good in it though. Let me look tonight and if I can find it, I can mail it to you to try.
A kineton works for a puller (actually a "pusher", horses push, riders pull) because it transfers some of the weight of the pull on the horses mouth across the nose. It is basically a governor for how much pull must be carried by the horse's mouth. The mouth gets some relief so the horse doesn't have to push against it. It is a very kind option.
(Please note, I could well be wrong that the following is your difficulty. Having not seen you ride, I am only guessing. Please ignore and carry on as you will if this guess is way off your situation.) As you note, the best option would be for the horse to respond to a light rein aid alone. This will happen when the horse is given a release every time he complies. Horses don't respond to bit pressure directly, they respond to the promised release when they comply. The basic premise of how a bit works is "I (the rider) will produce a negative stimulus until you comply, and when you do, I will release the negative stimulus." If there is no conscious release by the rider when compliance occurs, there is no positive reward for the horse. The horse's only remaining option is to push against the constant pull. The rider thinks her only option is to pull against the constant push. The release has to start with the rider.
Retraining of horse and rider at the same time in this regard requires a lot of discipline and attention to detail but it is worth it. The results are miraculous.
Again, hope I am not offending and I wish you the best. Thanks.
Move up to Prelim. lol. that is what helped my horse. I was finally able to push him for the gallop and then he was more than happy to come back to me, unlike at any speed under 500mpm where I had to hold the entire way around.
I tried the Kineton. All it did was kill all lateral control. I also tried bit guards that same year for XC. I hit every left flag. So plain wimpy snaffle for me.
I have a really interesting coach in that if my horse did that he would say something along the lines of, "let him figure it out the hard way. He'll d**k around like that and either get himself back or bite it. And I wouldn't want to ride a horse stupid enough to bite it anyway".
I just smile and knod.
But I did truly find with both my horses that when I moved up and said, 'yey, time to go fast', they slowed down. I guess they both got what they wanted and then it was no longer fun.
I had the same ride up through Novice. It got better at Training and even better yesterday at Prelim- lol. So I sympathize. I usually finish xc with my forearms blown out from the pulling. Yesterday was the first time I didn't. But that's not all that helpful for you now
The bit I use now is the one I finally found to work. It's a true gag with rope cheeks, the mouthpiece is double jointed with a half moon type piece in the center. I wrapped the corners with sealtex because he would happily pull until the corners of his mouth bled. Once I got that bit I was much happier xc. I could actually go fast in between fences finally because I knew I could slow him down for the fences.
I never tried a kineton but I did try a lever noseband and that did squat.
The one thing that really helped me this year is doing gallop sets regularly at home. Now he seems to know when we are working and doesn't pull so hard everytime he gets to run. But that may just be him growing up too.
Let me know if you have more questions about certain bits etc. If anyone has input on mikmars I'd be interested to hear but don't want to hijack the thread!
My boy will happily gallop around with his face on the ground if I let him. The bit I finally settled on is a plain three-ring, with reins on the second ring and a chain under his chin. The lever action really helps me pick up his forehand at the jump and I let him gallop however he wants. You might try a three-ring waterford (and they do exist, my local tack shop carries them); if my horse still leaned like he used to, I would have tried that out.
HER, it's funny but as I was patting your horse and chatting after your XC I was eyeing your bit and thinking to myself: "hmmmmm". This was before our XC, so I hadn't yet realized I had a monster for a XC horse! Normally Bonnie has been willing and honest but not the "take you to them with gusto" type. Suddenly she's all about finding the next jump. Yay! No complaints. I just don't want to be hauling on her all the time.
Camstock, your points are very well taken and very wise. Something to strive for.
My freight train of a QH (2/3 body weight in front of the withers) pulls down like that. The faster we go, the more he pulls down, I guess its the way he naturally runs. Of course it sucks to rebalance before a fence. However, he is also fussy in his mouth. Anything with a curb chain makes him hate you with a fiery passion, and anything with too much leverage makes him flip his head up. Very thick bits make him mad too. I go xc in a Beval with a figure eight, and gallop at home in a 2 ring (he is much naughtier at home, I dont know why). But I wish I could find something in the middle of those.
I agree with HER. Running gags are great for horses which like to gallop with their heads down, especially good for horses which gallop with their heads poked down and out in front of them.
I also agree with Camstock, but while you and your horse are learning that, you do need some control. The gag is great for the release, because when your horse lifts his head, she gets release. They quickly learn to gallop with head higher. Be warned, yo may need to move on from it if your horse is a quick learner.
A gag can be a great bit for a horse that wants to run and pull with it's head down. But do be careful, as they are quite powerful. A normally confident jumper can quickly lose their confidence if you're not careful to make sure that you soften immediately after she responds, and come to the jumps on a very soft, almost loose rein. IOW use it when you need it, and then stay really soft. You don't want to gallop on a contact like you would with a regular bit.
I used it briefly on a horse who tended to go around like a gazelle and pull and had no brakes. I got brakes and my shoulder stopped hurting, but I felt like it was too much for long-term use as I couldn't ride him forward into contact and then he would get gazelle-like and too light. I didn't feel like he was dangerous (was going to rear) it just seemed counter-productive to what I was trying to accomplish after awhile. They put someone with less strength on him at one point and gave her the kineton as a bit of ammunition. Unfortunately, she got a bit alarmed at his forwardness, pulled without releasing, and the the next time I rode he was over-bridled, nose tucked to chest, and powering around. The only solution at that point was to kick him forward, get his head up, and hope that I'd be able to stop at some point. So, based on that, I don't know if I'd use it on one that already pulled down. But I also know that bit-horse combos can have an almost infinite variation of responses.
The assistant trainer has put it on Star a few times when he decided to power through her hands (excitement as part of rehab; ADD and looking at babies in the field across the way; she was trying to ride him aggressively forward and his response was to go forward a bit too aggressively) and he pretty much instantaneously turns into a gentleman with it. I show him with a D-ring waterford, but my options in the eq and hunters are more limited than yours.
I might try a gag (with two reins, so you can ride with non-gag action when appropriate) in your situation.
You may find that with her head down m.o. the kineton will not help. With my Standardbred, she kept her head up and it worked super. Yours may just curl up in it.
I had a bit 17.2 hh TB I hunted in a gag. Reefed on him at the beginning of the first run and then he just slipped along easily once he knew I had the ability to get after him if I needed it. And I'm pretty lightweight and skinny - no muscles at all.
Three-ring on the same TB worked in stadium because it stopped him getting flat after X-C. Is she a bit bull necked?
DW, my old TB galloped long and low and had to be rebalanced before the fences. He was awesome, that is just how he went. I rode him in a wrapped pelham and that 'elevated' him enough. We pretty much galloped happily along on a loose rein in between so he could go the way he wanted to, then before the fence I could sit up and take a feel and he would rebalance back. He was a big strong field hunting bred TB so might be similar to your Bonnie. He was a horse that stopped if you dropped the reins LOL but was built a bit heavy in front so I needed a bit of help to rebalance.
Thanks, all. I do think Bonnie can and will learn this stuff, I just want to be safe and not scary until that happens. Yes, she has a fairly thick, short neck and "uphill" is not in any way a word you'd use to describe her. She's not a terrible mover, but just rather earthbound. And wow does she like to pull down. Gwen was the total opposite and more of a stargazer--a LOT nicer feeling galloping downhill to a big table! She also knew 100% what she was doing.
For now I'm going to keep working at home on the gears, and not just "bit up" because I can get the ride I need, it's just a lot of work. If it seems to persist when we get back up to Training or gets worse instead of better, I will reluctantly start fooling with hardware.
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
Is what you're saying that she roots? If it is, I hunted my old man in a happy mouth three piece snaffle, but he would root at times, mostly when I was trying to rate him and he didn't want to be rated. Basically, he was refusing to listen to me. I don't believe in bitting up or using gadgets unless the world is coming to an end, and what I found worked with him was pushing him forward with my legs--kicking him into the bit as it were--which would bring his head up, possibly from surprise. Then he would listen to me and my half halts. If you ask them for MORE speed, not less, my personal experience is that they will listen to that and then to what comes after that. The whole process takes about two strides.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
Another bit you might look at is a half-moon gag (also called a balding gag). This is a polo bit but super helpful for horses that get heavy on their forehand when they get tired.
The half-moon gag only works in the mouth (unlike some other types of gags) so they will not drop behind the bit to evade it. Basically light pressure on it raises the bit in the horse's mouth, lifts its head and rocks the horse back onto their hindend. If used in the wrong hands, it could cause a horse to go up but it will NOT stop a runaway.
I used one last summer on my green mare who has a soft mouth but gets heavy when she gets tired and it was great. Most of the time, we'd be galloping along with no contact. When she'd get heavy and dive forward, a little use of the bit and she'd sit back down. Eventually, when her muscles built up more, it was easier for her to sit-up when tired and I didn't need to use it much. In the meantime, it sure beat pully-reining her everytime I needed to check her in a game.