I have a hot, sensitive mare who, yes--is more than a little neurotic and crazy.
I've been feeling her out and trying to find something that she actually LIKES in her mouth. She is nervous with the bit. She'll take contact and does not curl, but she chews constantly and has recently taken to clacking her teeth together. For. The. Entire. Ride. Which is driving me nuts.
She was just recently floated by an excellent dentist, so that base is covered.
I rode her in a HD Duo for some time, and it's okay, but I really feel like she wants a little more finesse. (And she was still nervous in it.)
From there, I went to a basic Korsteel eggbutt french link (nearly 20 years old, nothing fancy about it) and that's really been the best thing so far, but she still has all the nervous issues listed above.
I've also tried a single jointed sweet iron eggbutt I had sitting around. Huge, resounding NO. Same answer to the basic myler I tried.
I've tried this mare in no noseband, a basic cavesson, a figure 8 and a flash. I think the figure 8 is best, but again, she's still not relaxed and accepting of the bit.
I'd love to try a Micklem for her, but I've been dragging my feet on the $200 purchase price.
Any recommendations? I'm game for trying new bits or a new noseband setup, or you know...voodoo would be okay, too. If I hear enough truly amazing things about Micklem, I guess I suck it up and buy one.
(And good lord, any good stories about stopping the clacking? It is just terrible to listen to.)
My neurotic, ultra-sensitive, teeth clacking & grinding horse prefered the least amount of movement possible. The best setups for him were a mullen baucher or a single-jointed racing dee that's about a 1/4" smaller than I would normally fit.
Last I knew, Dover Saddlery had a trial version of a Micklem available.
Smartpak also has a return policy with a lot of wiggle room, but like Dover, you still have to pay up front. I've been hoping a used one would pop up on eBay, but no luck there.
I don't see a single jointed bit being in our future after the truly terrible trial of the single jointed sweet iron bit today. We never even got up into the trot--just walking her for 10 minutes was enough to get me to get off and try something new.
Interesting you mention a baucher. I had a filly who REALLY did well in a pelham (even if you never bought the curb rein into play) and I always figured she liked the hanging cheek and the port for tongue relief. I might have to test that in Dove, too. Wonder where that bit is....
I was totally surprised he was into the single-jointed dee since it seemed totally counterintuitive. All I could think is that it being slightly small made it sit differently and he appreciated it.
As far as nosebands, like you, I played around with all different kinds of setups. I ultimately landed on a regular caveson just fitted really loose. The busier things were, the more nervous and upset he would get.
My boy is retired now. I certainly don't envy your position--the teeth clacking drove me batty!!
I've always found it intriguing what different horses preferences are. My mare has a small palate and her favorite bit BY FAR is a double jointed bradoon with a middle piece made out of copper. She much preferred that type of bit over a single joint with a nutcracker type of action.
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
I'd never use a two piece snaffle. For me, it's either mullen or three piece snaffle. Right now, I'm in the process of getting an Uxeter Kimberwick with the solid mouthpiece and a low port. It can be a very gentle bit, and it's set up so you can use two reins if you want to.
Marcy, who is a tongue loller, seems to like full cheeks with the bit loops. The bit stays in one place and the cheeks give an extra cue.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
My freakout crazy, neurotic, TB cross of indeterminate breeding, leap out from under you in a heartbeat mare liked the mikmar snaffle that I borrowed in a fit of "what will keep this mare happy". I suspect that the lack of tongue poking, plus the widely distributed pressure, made it work for her. She had a tiny muzzle, and I think jointed bits just poked her, and ports were too high on most of the tongue relief bits. The mouthpiece looks horrifying, but she really liked it and I could eventually ride her in other bits...
Over and over again, use a Mullen Mouth Cheek Snaffle and make sure your not having an Ulcer problem and most importantly FREE CHOICE MINERAL, the cheap kind from Tractor Supply (General Purpose) Do NOT put the mineral in the feed, free choice means free choice and keep it dry.
My fussy mouthed Arab likes either the JP Korsteel oval mouth eggbutt snaffle (NOT a French link, has to be the bean not a flat link) or a Mullen Pelham. Those are he two bits he'll wear without fussing.
I have no idea if it's legal for anything, but that's not what I'm working towards right now, just wanted her to relax. The stability of the mullen mouth and the d-rings comfort her, while the copper roller gives her just a little bit of "something to do." She settles right down onto this bit and has been noticeably more relaxed.
I have two horses who are slightly similar. One really enjoys the super think full cheeck snaffle....it is very very fat. Have you tried a drop noseband? They are much more inviting then a figure eight or flash.
My other loves the Myler MB01 in a Micklem. I do think the Micklem is definitely worth the shot for you.
The other thing to remember is to ride horses like this very forward into a very consistent contact. My one guy and I have spent the last few months correcting this, it is a toughie. Good luck!
The only bit that my very fussy-mouthed, highly sensitive, reactive Arabian gelding will tolerate is a Pee Wee bit, (kind of a mullen mouth, half-cheek bit with a bit hobble (not a curb) to keep the lateral motion of the bit stable) that purchased from Dover. He hates any bit with a break or joint in it. The diameter of the bit is important, too. His palate is so low that he can't tolerate most bits. Horses are very idiosyncratic in their bit preferences. It ends up being a lot of trial and error. HorseLoverz has a lot of bits on clearance right now for $6 to $10, so if the bit doesn't work out then you aren't out much money.
I am going thru this with my 13 year old TB gelding. Luckily, I only trail ride him so I have all options open. I rode in a Kimberwick for a few years but he grinds his teeth the whole time so we tried a full cheek snaffle. MUCH better but he would drag me around in it (good thing I'm strong!). Tried a Myler comfort snaffle, he still mouths it the whole time and teeth grinds with all of them so I ordered a small s hackamore. I am padding the nose for comfort so we will see how it goes. Bitless is probably not an option for you but I feel your pain. I have about 5 bits I have tried on this boy.