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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 17, 2006
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    Default Best english bit for western-trained horse

    I just bought a Quarter Horse this weekend. He's really nice, moves forward, and will make a nice h/j possibly dressage (low levels) horse. He's very different from my WB mares. He's mostly a project for me. Anyway, he's normally ridden in a western curb bit with long shanks. I want to get him out of that. I put him in a regular snaffle, but he tended to pull, and didn't want to stop easily. Any suggestions on what to try as I'm retraining him? Thanks in advance.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
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    Michigan
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    I might get a Happy Mouth pelham and see what he thinks of the English curb action. (Or a rubber mullen mouth, though some are pretty thick and it'd depend on his mouth size how he feels about it.) Just remember if he's been WP or working trained, he's used to NOT having a lot of bit contact and working off curb, rather than snaffle, action. It may take him a while to get used to constant contact without thinking he's done something wrong.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2009
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    New England
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    Just put him in a regular snaffle and start schooling him. Some of the best dressage converts I've ever had were ranch stock QHs. They are great because they DON'T like to be babied and learn real fast (all that great work ethic). I'm assuming the horse is BROKE (as in real broke) if so he will do what you say and want to do it right, just give him a little time to figure it out. People often over think this stuff way to much and look for a piece of equipment to "make" the change. It's not about the bit at all.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 1, 2008
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    Did he show western at all? If so, he may have been trained with a spur stop. If that's the case, pulling a bit is not a bad thing. He'll need to learn to accept contact.

    Now, if he was a rope horse, you've got a whole 'nother set of challenges.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 22, 2006
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    2,143

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    Mine was a barrel horse ridden in curbs and for him pelhams sorta worked, but he would really lean on them. He went best in one of the sprenger kk 3 rings (it was my trainers, I bought just a french 3 ring and he was pretty good in that) then was very good on the flat and some jumping in a D-ring sprenger kk and for showing I used a broken segunda. I found he really hated single joints and often pelhams did not work as well as the other bits.

    At home he was ridden in either the 3 ring (mostly jumping or if we were out trail riding) or the sprenger kk D-ring, then at shows the broken Segunda. He accepts contact very well but if you offer to hold him up he would take full advantage of that and he went much better with a slightly harsher bit with light contact (similar to western riding) and while you can school him with contact and really work on the flat if you try to jump like that you get no where.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2010
    Location
    Atlanta, GA and New Orleans, LA
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    1,583

    Default

    I bought a Quarter Horse in October of last year who was a cutting horse in his previous life. I doubt he had an English saddle on him more than half a dozen times in his life before I bought him.

    I adore him -- he is an awesome all around horse who is developing into a great HJ.

    As RougeEmpire noted -- he is incredibly smart with a great work ethic. He wants to learn and please, and he picks things up quickly. My trainer has been GREAT with him, introducing him to the elements of the HJ world at just the right pace (she has had to teach him everything from scratch. e.g., leads since you don't have to worry about leads when you are the header horse going after a cow, how to bend, etc.).

    We have him in a Myler Wide Barrel D Comfort Snaffle with Hooks (used the hooks more in the beginning of his training - not so much now). This is a level one Myler bit, and the number is "MB02." Not only does my trainer like the bit, but we took him to a clinic on Sunday, and we asked the instructor's opinion. She thought it was an excellent choice as well.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2003
    Posts
    143

    Default

    The best horse I ever owned was a Western pleasure horse in his first life. I used a full cheek slow twist snaffle with him and he was the perfect gentlemen with all kinds of riders till the day he was retired. The slow twist was the only bit he ever wore after his "Western life" ended-great horse -the all American Quarter Horse



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
    Location
    Central Florida
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    591

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RougeEmpire View Post
    Just put him in a regular snaffle and start schooling him. Some of the best dressage converts I've ever had were ranch stock QHs. They are great because they DON'T like to be babied and learn real fast (all that great work ethic). I'm assuming the horse is BROKE (as in real broke) if so he will do what you say and want to do it right, just give him a little time to figure it out. People often over think this stuff way to much and look for a piece of equipment to "make" the change. It's not about the bit at all.
    It took awhile but once I got my horse off his forehand he stopped leaning on my hands. I use a slow twist D snaffle and occasionally a kimberwicke.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov. 17, 2006
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    Thanks for all the input. I did try a full-cheek slow twist and he was better in that than the plain snaffle. I may keep working with that for now and see how he does. His steering is still not great. Back to basics.

    I guess I should have mentioned that his previous owner used him to pony race horses. So, he's western, but not WP, etc. The trainer used a western curb, western saddle, and neck reined him. So we have some work to do. But so far he's really a nice horse. Great canter! I think he'll transition well.

    Thanks, again.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2009
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    79

    Default

    Much as I HATE Kimberwickes..... this can be a good bit for a Western convert. The "edged" snaffle bits do seem to work better on a horse that is used to a curb bit. It really just takes re-schooling. Best of luck to you!!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2007
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    Zone 7
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    708

    Default

    Baucher (plain mouth or dr bristol) for dressage.

    I'd try a little broken pelham for hunter/jumper.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun. 29, 2008
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    San Diego
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    Quote Originally Posted by katydidn't View Post
    Much as I HATE Kimberwickes..... this can be a good bit for a Western convert. The "edged" snaffle bits do seem to work better on a horse that is used to a curb bit. It really just takes re-schooling. Best of luck to you!!
    I have to agree with this- many former western horses go well in a bit with a port and a curb chain. My horse is happy right now in a ported myler d-ring with hooks, but I have ridden her in everything from a kimberwicke to a twisted bit. The biggest issue you may have is teaching them that contact on their mouth is okay.
    Proudly Owned By Sierra, 2003 APHA Mare
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  13. #13
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    Feb. 26, 2007
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    Bronx, NY/Atlanta, GA/Fort Dodge, IA
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    Default

    Just putting it out there: a well-trained Western horse should already be familiar with a snaffle...

    (But the OP mentions the horse was "ridden" Western as a pony horse, not "trained" Western, so all bets are off)
    Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 22, 2006
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    I did ride my guy in a kimberwick at first, and he prefers a bit with some "flavor" like a copper or the KK bits. He was totally fine with contact, just didn't really understand it. My experience with a few western trained horses (ridden in curbs) is that pelhams often do not work unless it is a mullen or ported many of them with contact want to lean on it which is why a twisted or ported bit works best and while you can ride with contact and make them work off of it, they go best with a looser rein and someone who will not let them lean.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2009
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    New England
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattnic View Post
    Just putting it out there: a well-trained Western horse should already be familiar with a snaffle...

    (But the OP mentions the horse was "ridden" Western as a pony horse, not "trained" Western, so all bets are off)

    The OP really needs to ride him get an idea of how well trained the horse is. I've ridden my fair share of pony horses, most weren't much more broke than race horses. Infact many were retired race horses that were simply bitted up and head strapped down. A truly well broke western horse would rarely if ever be demoted to pony work.



  16. #16
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    Oct. 12, 2001
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    Default

    yeah- they usually start western horses out in snaffles, so if he seems mystified by a snaffle, I'd assume he's just not well-trained and start over.



  17. #17
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    Jul. 19, 2007
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    Michigan
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by katydidn't View Post
    Much as I HATE Kimberwickes..... this can be a good bit for a Western convert. The "edged" snaffle bits do seem to work better on a horse that is used to a curb bit. It really just takes re-schooling. Best of luck to you!!
    Or a horse who prefers the curb for whatever reason--Lucky will tolerate the rubber mullen snaffle and HATES the copper D and full cheeks, while liking the Pelham and going well in a jointed Kimberwicke (I used it while my finger was broken and the double reins where more than I could handle. He wasn't in love with it, but he dealt better than he did with the broken metal snaffles.)



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb. 18, 2003
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    Alberta
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    Default

    My little paint mare was western broke and so far the bits I've found she loves are a plain snaffle gag, and a loose ring slow twist (which I use for showing). It's taken a year and we're slowly getting her off my hands but she still likes to get balled up, but it's better than when she first came and wouldn't tolerate any contact at all! I found that I've really had to use my leg a lot more than before and waaaaay lighter hands (which I'm really struggling with). I'm really enjoying the work ethic of these western broke horses though - and talk about bomb proof!
    Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!



  19. #19
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    Oct. 21, 2009
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    Definitely a plain snaffle. Most western trained horses LOVE being on the front end and not really engaging their hind end. I have trained quite a number of western horses for hunters (and a couple jumpers), and have always started with a plain D-ring or loose ring snaffle. They won't understand rein contact at first, so it is much better to have a softer (and less complicated) bit so you can encourage them to move up into your hands. If done correctly, you can usually get them going in a snaffle pretty darn quickly.



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