A little S hack, pad the nose with vet-rap. Get her a closed loop rein and tie knots in them at appropriate intervals- encourage/"make" her hold them at the correct knots to teach her where her hands should be/rein length. The Little S has good lateral steering w/o grabbing the face too terribly.
Thanks Candy Appy. I agree with you that this is all wrong. It's a backyard horse owner whose not going to take lessons, doesn't have access to an arena and rides with their hands. And yes, I'm concerned about the horse. Appreciate the feedback.
You don't want a french link, you want a double-jointed snaffle with a lozenge or peanut (it's a rounded oval piece in the center). That will eliminate the nutcracker effect of the snaffle point into the roof of the mouth.
Look on Eventing nation website, there is a description of a dressage clinic where the instructor had the riders tie a rope around the base of the horse's neck and hold with the reins to reduce the use of the reins. That might work for this rider.
We actually had a girl riding here in a hackamore with NO chin strap or chain for a while while she was learning. Angel horse still listened, and as the nose portion of the hackamore was soft and large it was fairly gentle.
While it wasn't ideal, it was definitely nicer on the horse's face.
There are also those Elasto-rein inserts which can soften the feel on the rein for the horse in these instances.
Also I think a double jointed snaffle would be fine, it is the single jointed ones that can be harsh.
(Although really I would be leading this horse and rider around in two point at trot for a while but if that is off the table then the Elasto rein may be a kindness.)
Very strongly recommend that she ride in a halter. You don't want to let a green horse learn 'how' to evade correct aids whether any sort of bit, or the different hackamore types.
And one can't blame a horse for learning how to get stiff-jawed with a heavy handed rider in self-defense. I agree w/neck strap or yoke, and with longeing w/o hands on the reins, period. You can also do simple exercises at the halt walk to teach independence of hands and legs- touch left toe with right hand and vice versa, reach up and touch between ears and reach back and touch but, and so forth.
Another tool- have the rider take up 'driving reins'- hands holding the reins as though driving a carriage horse- and practice, at the walk, give and take in movement with the horses head, as though reins, hands and arm are a big 'rubber band,' giving and taking. Hopefully that would give the rider a half a clue as to need to be sensitive.
All bits, even the mildest snaffle, are 'severe' with heavy hands, and I've seen the lacerations and torn tongues to prove it.
This is what I ride in all the time unless I am working cattle, then we go to a bit. BUT, my horses are extremely broke and work of leg with no hesitation. The noseband offers more a little more control that a regular rope halter. I don't think you could do much damage with it, except maybe to the nose. It is called an Ogden Loping Halter. Many cutters use them in the warm up pen.
I'm assuming it's an adult and not someone you can play games with? We kids used to challenge each other to do a lot of no hands trick riding type stuff, in addition to the exercises in lessons where we had our reins and stirrups taken away. It was always fun but also competitive, who could get their horse to make a circle without reins - heck who could keep their horse from eating (I always lost that one), who could do around the world, whose horse would stand still so you could stand in the saddle and steal apples.
I remember my adult mentor telling me all about the fun horse games she had played as a youth and teaching me side pass, opening gates, sort of challenging me to try it too, it was sneaky of her but enjoyable and I remember her fondly.
I agree that a neckstrap or cheater strap and a bitless bridle or curb chain less hackamore are the better ways to go. If she can't stay out of their faces there is no bit that is gentle.
This is interesting and giving me some fresh ideas/perspective for my kid! I got her a pony for Christmas last year, my kid was 6, the pony is a been there done that senior (17). But, the pony had quite a long time off when we got to her. And she is blind in one eye. We have made many changes while riding this last year, and have learned a lot, the pony is safe but quite challenging. I don't mind that too much, but it has taken quite a long time just to get the pony to go in a straight line! I have taken the bridle away because once the pony stopped constantly challenging our daughter on steering/direction I could tell she needed a reward, and our daughter was hanging too much on her face. She still is occasionally hanging on the halter. I think a neck strap is a great new addition! We constantly tell her to 'put your hands forward' she is aware of why we took away the bridle/bit, but still relies on the reins too much. I think part of this s because the pony will take advantage of the freedom she is being given to go anywhere she wants! And the pony won't lunge. I guess I'm kinda stumped! But, at least now I know what bit to look into when she is ready for that again! I would love to do lunge line exercises with no reins and just a neck strap I think that would do wonders, but that dang pony! Oh well, sorry to high jack! Just thinking out loud here!
I agree with a sidepull to an extent; the nose will calous though so this solution may not last long and horse may end up with sores.
Is this person someone you know well enough to play "you be the horse and hold the bit, and I will be the rider" and show her how different types of pressures feel?
Or maybe give her some riding video as a gift?
Depends on the sidepull.
The one I have for my Arab is wide betathane and it has even wider (almost 1.5") neoprene padding to it. He is a sensitive, pops his front end off the ground if you pull too hard on his face in anything, type and he doesn't seem to care how long someone hangs on his face in that.
My mare is the same way. She'll full blown high ho Silver if you pull on her in a bit (she has good reasons...her tongue was nearly severed as a result of morons before I got her). She'll happily trot around all day in a "jumping hackamore" which is a rolled leather noseband that turns an English bridle into a sidepull while children hang off her face.
HorseKrazy, do you have access to a round pen? It's a good solution for horses/ponies that won't longe. Pony's freedom is limited, you can pretty much ignore the 'wandering' in the smaller space and focus on kid's use of aids- in other words, you can challenge the kid to get the pony to quit 'wandering' by correct use of aids, without worrying about what could happen in a larger area- the pony can't go anywhere so no worries.
Ugh. If this were someone getting lessons from me or being mentored into Endurance by me they would be on the lunge line in the arena with reins attached to the halter and doing a lot of airplane arms and no stirrups.
I also completely agree that green riders on green horses is a bad idea. One of the pair needs to know what they're doing.
But back to the reality of this situation. I'm not really a fan of any scenario where the rider is connected to a bit in this horse's mouth the majority of the time. You also run the risk of the horse's mouth (and/or nose) deadening while giving the rider the opportunity to keep making the same mistake only with less damage to the horse. The rider needs to develop an independent seat. Bottom line. I suppose I would recommend something like rainbow reins (ie reins where the novice rider can be directed to hold the reins in a particular, obvious land marked spot) held very loose (slack, with NO contact) attached to a sidepull or rope halter. I would then attach a second pair of reins to a bit that is run through a carabiner hooked to the saddle (I can explain better how to make that work). The bit is then only contacted intentionally for a specific reason until the rider develops independent hands and seat. There is also the option to pony the horse for back-up control.
A neck strap is a good idea and another form of back-up help. It doesn't work if the rider doesn't know how to work on building a correct base of support. You use the neck strap when balance is lost, not to routinely maintain balance, or the rider is still just learning to balance off his/her hands. You can trigger a light bulb moment by asking the rider to stand up in the stirrups and then drop the stirrups and do the same thing (no hands!). Those are the muscles are where the support and balance will come from.
There are lots of great ways to make learning this stuff fun for folks, but few of them are safe, esp for greenie horses AND riders, on the trail. Another great skill is to learn to smile through gritted teeth. Much like finding my distances over fences, this is one I'll be working on till I die
Western rider - put a night latch on her saddle. It is a strap that wraps around the pommel for cowboys riding rough stock. You can put it with enough slack so that she can only hook her little pinky in it so that she can stabilize her hand. Frankly, I would not let this person ride without developing more core strength and balance. It is a safety issue. My daughter's stirrups mysteriously disappears for several weeks until she developed strength and could ride in an independent seat.
It sounds to me like the OP is in no position to stop this person from riding, so she is trying to offer helpful solutions. Solutions that I think will go on ignored to the further detriment of the horse.
IMO (and I formerly was at ages 15 - 18 a riding instructor for 3 years in my Junior years), beginners should not be allowed to develop the habit of hanging on the reins at all! That is what the pommel of the saddle is for, to put a hand down to it as needed, with a loosened rein, as needed. Or, put a soft leather neckstrap or a knit leg wrap tied aroune the horse's neck. Building independent seat and hands, which may require including time riding on the longe line at a posting trot is vitally important and must not be skipped.
ETA, oops, sorry I missed the part about this is a trail rider not taking lessons...but certainly should be.