So I've recently bought and started riding my horse in a happy mouth racing D bit. I am personally a fan of the happy mouths and I love the look of the racing D's. Before, he went around in a waterford hunter D. I wanted a little bit of a softer mouth piece as he's begun to rush fences and I'm working on retraining his approach to the fences (he was green last year and my emphasis was getting OVER the jumps, now he's learning to be polite to them) He goes just fine in the happy mouth and we've started doing canter poles before and after the jumps, which has been working quite fabulously.
ANYWAYS, I was wondering if the racing D and/or happy mouth bits are frowned upon by hunter judges. I haven't shown him in it yet, nor have I shown him in one before, so I haven't gotten a judges personal opinion. I've heard mixed feelings about them and was wondering if anyone had some insight Sorry for dragging this out, Thanks!
About a million people use Happy Mouth bits. I started my horse in one, but she kept chewing them, so she lost her Happy Mouth privileges. Much like she lost her fly mask privileges, by destroying them in less time than it took to order them and get them here.
I, personally, think the big Hunter Dees are prettier than the Racing Dees, but that is my personal preference and more the fashion. Just like full cheeks are out of fashion. I remember when EVERYONE went in a full cheek. I have shown in one recently, but it isn't my favorite "look". Given the choice, I'd pick the big Hunter Dee, but it is my personal thing. If my horse seemed to go better in one than the other, then I'd not have a problem going with that bit. I don't think a judge is going to care either way. It's when you get into less "conventional" bits that it "might" count in judging and that depends on the level of competition as well.
I agree with luckeys71- the look of the racing D is way less desirable right now in the hunter ring. The big hunter Ds are what people seem to prefer right now. Personally, I would use whatever works for your horse. I love the happy mouths! I know some horses like to chew them so you have to watch for sharp edges but I pretty much ride everything in them.
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The big D just looks prettier - makes a horse's muzzle look smaller than a racing D, but I doubt the judges care that much if you lay down the trip. As for Happy Mouths, my horse started showing in a happy mouth mullen mouth in 1999, so I think you are safe... and back then I "had" to buy a $200+ custom D (built on a HM mouthpiece) because the happy mouth D was so freakin' ugly in pics with that big honkin' yellow piece sticking out of their mouth. Not because of the judges, you understand... but because of the pictures. We are far harsher critiques than reality!
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I love how the D is the hot thing in the hunters but it's the mouthpiece that make it work. Many of the D's in the ring are actually all sorts of wild mouthpieces. I see rollers, ports and many non traditional mouthpieces hidden away behind pretty big D's.
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I would ride him in what works best. I started my horse in a western D snaffle and he loved it. It was a borrowed bit, so I wanted to find my own and got a good price on a Hunter D that was almost exactly the same, minus the rings. Dang if he didn't detest that bit. It was Western D or nothing and those are not favored in hunters or dressage! Now he very happily goes in a loose ring snaffle when we're not doing jumpers, for which I use a 3 ring.
I also think it depends on the horse. I had a french link hunter D on my OTTB and the d ring just looked weird on his head. I switched him to a fat rubber snaffle that happened to have a racing D shape and like it much better as far as looks go (although looks is not what prompted the change! )