The eventing forum is a little more active, so I thought I'd pose my question to the very knowledgeable folks here!
I currently ride my TB gelding in a KK Ultra loose ring snaffle, it's what we've been using since day 1, about a year and a half ago. It's been perfectly fine for all uses, dressage, hacking, jumping, xc, but we joined our local hunt this fall and we're going to need a major hardware upgrade just for the hunt I think :/
In a group when we're cantering/galloping along, he doesn't so much try to run off we me as much as he roots down and tries to snatch the reins from me! I've almost been pulled out of the saddle a couple times and its not a pleasant experience
He's rooting down after fences too, yeehaw! I know its the hunt environment and his little TB brain is just going a million miles an hour, but I'm afraid we're going to both face plant one of these days!
A trainer that i've taken some lessons with and leads the cubbing/hunter pace/hunt camp practices mentioned a gag, and someone else said elevator.
Can someone explain the differences to me? I'm not sure what we should try
I am probably completely wrong, but I find that gags help keep a horse's head down while an elevator/ring bit bring them back up. I'm not typically a fan of ring bits, but that's what I went to with one really strong little pony who rooted in even the most serene settings, but could get really ugly about it while hunting. Worked like a charm for him. I personally believe that brakes and steering are all that matter in the hunt field, so I forgive certain issues that arise from over bitting that I would not necessarily like if I was going xc. I would always test run a bit to make sure the horse isn't going to react violently to it (stand up, not go forward, etc), but if it flips its head or climbs a little in it, I am ok with that out hunting, as long as it is otherwise polite and I'm not bowling over the field.
You could also try a pelham, which I have found helpful in similar situations.
My mare that did this knocked it off when I switched to a gag. I used an elevator on another horse I hunted who didn't root, but I wanted to be able to stop in the field. Gags have the rein running through the bit, so when you pull on them you pull them up in the horse's mouth; the horse diving its head creates the same action.
I like both options for hunting, as they're powerful when needed, but, with a mild mouthpiece, can still be gentle on an easy rein.
I hunt my event horse. I event in a straight loose ring snaffle (thinner side) at Novice. Horse is relatively ridable at this level with this bit (spooky isn't factored in here).
While hunting (First Flight), I need more bit. Gag or Elevator contains her way too much and my leg is slower than my hands (working on this), so these are not options.
I use a broken snaffle pelham with two reins (no converter). Ride her on the snaffle and when I need it, I have the curb for more breaks. Some hunts are successfully done with just the snaffle...
We've been discussing using the pelham to event with, particularly if I move up to training. I'm doing the Hunter Trials in a couple of weeks and will use the pelham... if I find that my leg is too slow again, then we will continue to use the snaffle to event with...
I'll second bridging the reins before changing bits. Let them tug on themselves for a while. Once they get used to the hunt field they'll settle down. My younger event/hunt horse goes in a copper roller snaffle for everything. At the beginning of the hunt he'll pull and tug a little I just bridge the reins and tell him to have fun.
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
I had a hunt horse who rooted when galloping. I found that rather than going to a stronger bit, I could get his attention back by pushing him FORWARD (kick, bat, whatever) which would bring his head up. Then he'd listen to a half halt.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
A nice mullen mouth pelham would probably be good. Separate reins allows you to be in charge of the leverage. It's a lot easier to first get a horse hunting with good manners and without pulling, then back the bit off than it is to let them learn that they can lean and root then try to fix that...
* What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis