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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 22, 2010
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    NY
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    Default What bit to choose?

    I have been trying for a while to find a good bit match for my horse. I rode him in a hackamore until his teeth got done (6 months ago - they were AWFUL and have since been re-checked once) and now have tried a three ring happy mouth elevator with the reins on the same ring as the mouth piece (regular single joint snaffle). This is the bit he goes in second best. Also threw on a full cheek with copper rollers which he didn't care for, a full cheek waterford that he loved to suck on but wasn't effective, and so far the bit he goes best in is a D ring happy mouth single joint snaffle.

    He doesn't have a hard mouth (but I do think it's fairly small - not a whole lot of interior room for a bulky bit), I have soft hands, and I don't believe he needs a harsh bit. I'm leaning towards a loose ring french link. Now for the questions:

    What material? He salivates in anything but what are the reasons to buy: happy mouth, sweet iron, metal, rubber..? No idea what to choose.

    Or, if you have any other suggestions, they are welcome. If he doesn't like a bit he is a head tosser - all pain has been eliminated, TRUST me I got the vet/chiro/glucosamine/supplement bills to prove it He doesn't lean much, doesn't get too strong, very level headed, but 5yo OTTB who has just finished rehabbing and is now in training to hopefully compete at BN next season. As I said, fairly small mouth and salivates easily.

    Thanks!

    Amy

    "I decided I am going to live, or at least try to live, the way I want,
    with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure."



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2003
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,241

    Default

    Argghhh--don't get me started on bits! I have 2 horses. They don't wear the same size blanket, saddle, or bridle. I can't even swap their halters around. And I have the worlds largest collection of mild bits from years of trying to find the "perfect" bit for my older OTTB mare. Now, I've discovered that BOTH horses go well in the same bit.

    It's a happy mouth jointed boucher bit. My older Tb mare is a chomper and get's very wound up about too strong a bit, also needs a joint--doesn't go well in a loose ring, or metal. She likes that bit. My young horse is very steady and soft in the mouth (almost too soft) so I needed a bit that she would put weight into. She is SO happy in that bit. So now I have to buy another one (so I don't have to switch the bit back and forth) and the "bit collection" grows even larger . . .

    Anyway--you could give that bit a whirl. I always wish they had a "bit rental" service so you could try them before you bought them. Heck--I could probably start up my own business with the collection I own right now!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep. 22, 2010
    Location
    NY
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    1,205

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by slp2 View Post
    Argghhh--don't get me started on bits! I have 2 horses. They don't wear the same size blanket, saddle, or bridle. I can't even swap their halters around. And I have the worlds largest collection of mild bits from years of trying to find the "perfect" bit for my older OTTB mare. Now, I've discovered that BOTH horses go well in the same bit.

    It's a happy mouth jointed boucher bit. My older Tb mare is a chomper and get's very wound up about too strong a bit, also needs a joint--doesn't go well in a loose ring, or metal. She likes that bit. My young horse is very steady and soft in the mouth (almost too soft) so I needed a bit that she would put weight into. She is SO happy in that bit. So now I have to buy another one (so I don't have to switch the bit back and forth) and the "bit collection" grows even larger . . .

    Anyway--you could give that bit a whirl. I always wish they had a "bit rental" service so you could try them before you bought them. Heck--I could probably start up my own business with the collection I own right now!
    Wouldn't a happy mouth boucher be very similar to how I used the 3 ring happy mouth elevator with the reins on the same ring as the mouth piece?

    Amy

    "I decided I am going to live, or at least try to live, the way I want,
    with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure."



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 6, 2010
    Posts
    56

    Default

    I once had to deal with a horse that had little mouth space and was very sensitive when his mouth was crowded. I first tried happy mouth bits because of the sensitivity, some fat bits thinking the smaller ones were to sharp, then tried rollers and some bits that he could play with to get him to relax. One day, I had forgot the bit that was working the best and borrowed a friends very thin single jointed bit and the difference was incredible! I ended up putting the horse a myler with the barrel and it was even better than the original thin bit because it was shaped. Not sure if this will help you but sometimes thinner bits can be better, especially with horses that has less space in their mouths.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2003
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,241

    Default

    Wouldn't a happy mouth boucher be very similar to how I used the 3 ring happy mouth elevator with the reins on the same ring as the mouth piece?
    Not according to my mare! Tried it (have the 3 ring happy mouth in my collection) and used it on the same ring as the mouth piece. Oy! Very tense, chomping ensued. I tried it because I thought that the action would be similar. One difference might be that the baucher is more "fixed" (like an eggbutt) than the 3 ring snaffle. Here's the one I'm using:

    http://www.doversaddlery.com/product...pn_E_X1-010422



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 10, 2009
    Location
    Buffalo, NY
    Posts
    256

    Default

    I'd recommend a Myler. If your horse doesn't need the tongue pressure for control reasons, you could start with an 04 mouthpiece or go right to the 33, he sounds like a sane horse. For a legal dressage bit, just get a regular 02 for shows.

    I just recently re-read their book and remembered why I bought 3 of them, have seen a major improvement in my horses already. I haven't used them in years. I was worried about needing a dressage legal bit, but like they say you school your horse 90% of the time and show maybe the other 10%, might as well get the least resistance.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
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    6,930

    Default

    What's wrong with the D-ring happy mouth? The horse told you that he likes the bit that you already have. If my horse liked a simple cheap bit like that, I'd not push him to consider alternatives.
    ________________________
    Resident COTH saddle nerd. (CYA: Not a pro, just a long-time enthusiast!)
    http://twitter.com/jenlmichaels



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 22, 2010
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    1,205

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jn4jenny View Post
    What's wrong with the D-ring happy mouth? The horse told you that he likes the bit that you already have. If my horse liked a simple cheap bit like that, I'd not push him to consider alternatives.
    There is nothing "wrong" with the D happy mouth per se, but there are a few reasons I'd like to still try something else.

    I am looking to lease him out and would prefer a bit that does not have the nutcracker effect a single joint has. I know my hands are soft but with a low palette I am worried about him getting jabbed.

    Also, although he goes the best in this bit so far, I'd still like to see if he'd like a double joint better.

    I feel like he just "tolerates" the D but doesn't love it. I want my horse to love his bit and want to use it, not avoid it - which is sometimes the feeling I get with the D ring.

    I certainly agree with the sentiment "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but I feel there is room for improvement.

    Amy

    "I decided I am going to live, or at least try to live, the way I want,
    with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure."



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Location
    Middleburg, VA
    Posts
    13,669

    Default

    I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of horses out there who just need a collection. I've only had two horses in my life that truly were PERFECT for years in ONE bit (funnily, it was the same bit for both horses- straight bar plastic, like a Nathe or a HS Duo). Most horses I know for longer than a couple of months cycle in and out of a variety of bits, depending on their strength, fitness, well, and their own general whims. My own horse, who went all last year in straight bar plastic bits cycled through his plastic bits, into a a plain eggbutt (that lasted a week, really), a french link eggbutt, a loose ring eggbutt, and now back to his plastic bits. Nothing has really changes...I'm the same rider, he's the same horse, all the bits worked well for a time, he basically just changed his mind.

    So, you can try a french link (if he really seems happy in Happy Mouths, that would be the first place I'd start), but just know that he might change his mind, or hate it, or all of the above. Also, in my experience, I've known a few horses with small mouths that HATED french links of any variety.

    In the long run, it is HIS mouth. This is one of the very few aspects of a horse's life where I give them LOTS of say in what we choose. As long as we can find something that's legal, they can go in whatever they want if it makes them happy. I never try to get them to conform to what I think would work (would you really think that a straight bar was the best for a horse who hangs like a freight train on one side? Nope, me either...but it's what he likes). So, I would say that if he seems happiest in the D ring, stick with it until he tells you otherwise.

    One last thought, unless you are planning on leasing him to a baboon with hands of iron, I can't imagine too much of a softer, gentler bit than a Happy Mouth, single joint or not. I have a horse in my barn who is frequently ridden by really rank beginners, has a VERY sensitive mouth and happily forgives various beginner grabs with no issue, and is great for everyone else who's got some better control.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 7, 2010
    Posts
    1,238

    Default

    I have a bit that I love, and if I could ever find another like it I'd buy it in a minute, but I think this one was handmade:
    It is a D-ring, but a western-style where the rings are actually round rather than D-shaped. I think a similar bit with loose rings would be too loosey-goosey.
    It has a copper french link that is more Dr. Bristol sized, but rounded. In the western world, they call these 'dog bone'.
    The pieces that go on the bars have a nice curve to them, so the whole bit fits nicely into a mouth that doesn't have a lot of room to it.
    The bit is made of sweet iron, with some copper inlays along the bottom.

    I haven't had it on a horse that didn't like it. When I unbridle my gelding, he often takes hold of the 'dog-bone' with his teeth and won't let go. But most horses like sweet iron, the rust tastes good.

    Unfortunately, I've never seen another bit just like it. If and when I find one, I'll buy it for myself.
    I have seen lots of sweet-iron 'colt snaffles', a western leverage bit with a similar 'dog-bone' link in the middle, so that you never nutcracker a horse's bars. If I needed some whoa for X-C, I might try one, but these would be a lot of bit if you put a curb strap on it and/or a flash noseband.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 16, 2008
    Posts
    59

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    I've only had two horses in my life that truly were PERFECT for years in ONE bit (funnily, it was the same bit for both horses- straight bar plastic, like a Nathe or a HS Duo).
    I had to quote this because it is too funny. I have a horse that goes in one bit and have had many people tell me he probably will never "graduate" to anything else and guess what it is... a loose ring nathe lol! He runs around Prelim in it currently for all three phases of course!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Location
    Middleburg, VA
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    Haha!!! That's too funny!!! Yep. The gelding loves it and goes all three phases in it. He is actually so easy he can go xc in a Micklem bridle, bitless style, but he loves those soft, flexi bits. They are nice for him, too, because somewhere in his past (the couple of years he HASN'T lived with me...I started him as a 4 year old and we got him back as a 6 year old...he's 13 now) he learned how to curl. The Nathe is the best for him because he actually doesn't curl behind it. He also broke his jaw 18 months ago or so, and I like NOT putting anything too strong in his mouth (not like he needs it). The mare I had NEVER went in anything BUT a plastic or rubber bit from the moment I started her. She had the GREATEST mouth, and the day she discovered the Duo was the day she found HER bit. Her broke, teenage owner even spent a small fortune and bought one in the perfect size (she was tiny little thing). She went all three phases in that, too. Vernon would like to go all three phases in his Duo, but he gets a little too carried away still. Maybe those are just the perfect bits!



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 17, 2009
    Location
    The Mitten
    Posts
    1,282

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ake987 View Post
    Or, if you have any other suggestions, they are welcome. If he doesn't like a bit he is a head tosser - all pain has been eliminated, TRUST me I got the vet/chiro/glucosamine/supplement bills to prove it He doesn't lean much, doesn't get too strong, very level headed, but 5yo OTTB who has just finished rehabbing and is now in training to hopefully compete at BN next season.
    Don't be so sure...
    After doing the whole wallet-hemorrhaging health workup and bit tryouts mesself, I just had bone spurs removed from my fussy-mouthed TB's bars. Not cheap, but he is rehabbing nicely so far.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 1999
    Location
    Midland, NC, USA
    Posts
    7,294

    Default

    How about a straight Happy Mouth? I'm not a fan of single-jointed bits since I ride a lot of small-mouthed, low-palleted TBs.... so I usually go with either a double jointed or straight mouth....

    I have one mare I put in a mullen-mouth D ring Happy Mouth when I got her off the track.... trainer told me she hated metal bits.... Goes great! Another mare I got has graduated to the same bit from having to go in a jumping hackamore.... HATED bits of any kind when I got her!

    I just put my Training horse, who is about to move up to Prelim, in a Happy Mouth d-ring and knocked eight points off our dressage score in two weeks. She was in a Myler MB02 previously which is a mild bit but she was just "tense" in her front end and just held herself "away" from the bit a trifle. When I tried the Happy Mouth the difference was astonishing. She really goes to the contact now!!

    Tonight I tried her HM on one of my lesson horses.... ex-Intermediate eventer that a student is doing dressage on. She also was in a Myler--she's been in it for seven years and always went fine, but with the student she was getting a bit fussy. Liked the HM much better, no fussing even when student got a little tight in the hands. So I guess I'm buying another one....

    Jennifer



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep. 22, 2010
    Location
    NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ThirdCharm View Post
    How about a straight Happy Mouth? I'm not a fan of single-jointed bits since I ride a lot of small-mouthed, low-palleted TBs.... so I usually go with either a double jointed or straight mouth....

    I have one mare I put in a mullen-mouth D ring Happy Mouth when I got her off the track.... trainer told me she hated metal bits.... Goes great! Another mare I got has graduated to the same bit from having to go in a jumping hackamore.... HATED bits of any kind when I got her!

    I just put my Training horse, who is about to move up to Prelim, in a Happy Mouth d-ring and knocked eight points off our dressage score in two weeks. She was in a Myler MB02 previously which is a mild bit but she was just "tense" in her front end and just held herself "away" from the bit a trifle. When I tried the Happy Mouth the difference was astonishing. She really goes to the contact now!!

    Tonight I tried her HM on one of my lesson horses.... ex-Intermediate eventer that a student is doing dressage on. She also was in a Myler--she's been in it for seven years and always went fine, but with the student she was getting a bit fussy. Liked the HM much better, no fussing even when student got a little tight in the hands. So I guess I'm buying another one....

    Jennifer

    So funny I just saw this. I tried him in a loose ring happy mouth french link and he was "meh" at best. Put him in a rubber dogbone mullenmouth bit and he couldn't get enough of it.

    I ordered one a few days ago.

    Amy

    "I decided I am going to live, or at least try to live, the way I want,
    with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure."



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2007
    Location
    too far from the barn
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    5,852

    Default

    So funny I just saw this. I tried him in a loose ring happy mouth french link and he was "meh" at best. Put him in a rubber dogbone mullenmouth bit and he couldn't get enough of it.
    Often expect this, but haven't found it with the last two. Current guy hated everything until putting him in the current Stubben curved D-ring with oval bean (looks like a JP Korsteel, but is actually Stubben):
    http://www.doversaddlery.com/product...&zmap=X1-01181



    I have had the extremes of a guy that I had to switch bits about every 4 weeks and one that did all three phases in his KK d-ring through intermediate.
    OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2009
    Location
    Summerville SC
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    329

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ake987 View Post
    So funny I just saw this. I tried him in a loose ring happy mouth french link and he was "meh" at best. Put him in a rubber dogbone mullenmouth bit and he couldn't get enough of it.

    I ordered one a few days ago.
    That was gonna be my suggestion.

    My biggest complaint about the happy mouth shaped mullens though is that they don't come in 1/4 sizes. My mare loves her loose ring happy mouth shaped mullen, but it is about 1/4 inch too small And with a mullen, I'm not getting the 5.5" because it'll just stick out to the sides and not conform to her mouth lol



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