Let me start off by saying, my horse and I have no one "declared" discipline. We're game for just about anything, but currently we find ourselves in more of a hunter arena with the current shows going on.
Two Snakes was a reiner before I got him. Given his western background, he goes best in a western bit with leverage. So, that's what we school in at home. He likes it, and to me that's always half the battle. I know there may be some judgement on my decision for riding in this bit, but to each his own.
The problem comes in when we go to shows. Clearly, I can't ride in that bit. Normally, I use a kimberwick and he goes fine, but there is for sure more elevation and less collection. I know most look down on this bit, but again, he goes best in it.
I've tried several full cheeks and D Rings, and he just never goes well. He becomes hollow, sticks his head up and it is just not pretty.
Yes, I know what some will say, use the bit you show in to school. I hear ya, I really do. I would do this if I could find a bit he loves as much as his western bit. I do school in his "show" bit before shows, so he does get worked in it. Maybe the kimberwick is the best thing for him, but I just wondered if others had any suggestions.
At this point, we do not jump at shows. Just flat classes. I've never ever had anyone ding me for my bit choice. I think they are more taken back by my black eventer saddle and tack to care. But that's a whole other can of worms. I love, love, love my black Prestige Eventer. Someone will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.
I can continue as is, I just wondered if there might be something better. Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions!
Here's a link with some very old and more current pictures of us. Please ignore my horrific position in the old ones.
If he is more used to riding off the curb rein, you could start with that, and add the snaffle rein later. Pelhams come with all sorts of different mouthpieces and shank lengths, so you could try and get one that is most similar to the western bit you have now.
The Pelham is a great idea, and is pretty acceptable in the hunter ring. I really warn you against trying to show in the Kimberwick. When I asked a judge about using that in the hunter ring, I was told ... absolutely no way.
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The Pelham is the way to go if he's set in his ways. You might get away with a "connector" if you want to avoid two reins. It's a bit of leather that creates a small loop between the two rings of the pelham. You attach your one rein to that loop. But you won't have the same access to the lower ring on the pelham-- the one that make it like your western leverage bit. So you might not get the same horse from that.
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I also vote for a pelham, a short shank with whatever mouth seems to make him happy. The converters, also mentioned, are a good idea but check the rules as to it's use by an adult before showing. In The Great White North they are not permitted for hunters ridden by an adult.
Your horse is so cute!
Cute horse! I have friends who ride western and some of there bits are really scary looking!! But yours looks like a straight shanked tom thumb, so a single jointed pehlem would e very similar to it. If has a port in the middle like a lot of western bits do you might try a Myler pehlem on him. The nice thing about mylers is that you can take them on trial. I think its like a dallor a day or something like that. I tryed 3 or 4 mylers before I found the right one for my pony....
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It's hard to make a really educated recommendation (other than more leverage) without knowing what, exactly, the Western bit is. If it's the one in one of your photos, it looks sort of like a Tom Thumb? If that's the case, I agree that a pelham (similar leverage, curb chain, etc.) is worth trying. Much more accepted than the Kimberwicke, too.
Just curious: for the D-rings and full cheeks you've tried, what mouthpieces have they had?
The bit we school in is a single jointed tom thumb. (What you see in the pictures.)
As to the D-Rings and full cheeks, the mouth pieces have been just about everything I can get my hands on. Copper, with rollers, slow twist, french link, double link... I have not tried something with a more aggressive twist or a waterford. I have also put him in plain ol' loose ring snaffles. He rides okay in everything, he just isn't at his best. I did ride him in a D-Ring Myler that was ported for awhile. He did like to really yank and get heavy in the bit. That said, this is when I first took him over, so maybe it would be worth another shot.
Consider me another one who also thought, "what about a Pelham?" while reading your post. And who also thought, "What a cute horse!" while looking at your pics!
The beauty of the Pelham is that you can start heavy on the curb, if that's where you and he are most comfortable, and then gradually move off the curb rein to the snaffle rein. In looking at your pictures, he looks behind the bit in a couple of them, so perhaps (just consider it ) you might feel like he goes best in the leverage because you like the sense of control he gives you. See if you can challenge yourself to ride him more off the snaffle rein, knowing you've got an ace in the hole with that curb rein.
He is adorable and clearly you two have a great bond! Love those pictures!
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For what its worth...another Pelham vote over here! As another poster said, many different shank lengths and a variety of mouth pieces to choose from. If he's into leaning on your hand, they make waterford pelhams too.