What mild curb bit for trail riding? Transitioning from snaffle
My instructor today suggested we try transitioning my horse from the waterford snaffle he wears in the ring to a mild curb bit for trail riding. He has great brakes and no issues we're trying to solve - she just thinks Conjure would prefer to be ridden without a contact on a curb bit for trails.
The only curb bit I know anything about is a kimberwicke, but my instructor says we don't need nearly that much bit.
So I thought I'd appeal to the collective COTH wisdom. Bit suggestions, please?
Or even bitless? I do trails and endurance rides with my Arab in this: http://www.runningbear.com/catpages/...Photos-SP.html He loves it. Its essentially a glorified halter with rings on the side of the noseband to make it a sidepull. The little rings halfway up the cheek pieces allow you to clip a bit or hackamore to it if/when you need to. I ride on a rather loose rein and just kind of neck rein (he can get his head most of the way to the ground), but mostly use seat/leg for steering.
Mullen mouthpieces are generally quite mild. Some horses like solid, ported mouthpieces. Shorter shanks will typically be milder than longer ones. Swept back "grazing bit" shanks are also often milder because they get more time to react before the rein actually pulls on the shank.
I don't think a Kimberwicke is a lot of bit if you're not riding with contact? Although, I don't really like them as a general rule. I think they're a weird compilation of a snaffle and a curb that doesn't really do either job well. If I need something more than a plain snaffle for a come to Jesus meeting, I go to a mullen mouth Pelham with two reins. I'll ride mostly off the snaffle, but will use that curb rein to enforce things when necessary.
I would just keep the bit he goes well in already. No need to ride on contact. Just keep a nice long rein and teach him to neck rein.
I do prefer a hackamore for long rides though just so they can eat more easily. I use the s-hack from distance depot. But my Arab also plays obsessively with a bit and is harder to get forward too. He's much more confident in a hack.
Thanks, y'all. I think I could've worded my title better, since my question really is: "What curb bit do you want when first transitioning from a snaffle?" Then I decided the western forum was probably a better place for that question. But thanks everyone for your input.
Why not just ride in the bit you normally use with loose contact? My horse goes in a french link. She trail rides in the same bit. Just because it is a snaffle doesn't mean you need to ride with contact. Plus when I trail ride I mix up just hacking out on a loose rein as well as doing some "arena" type work on the trail during which I do have contact. I think you would be better off using your regular bit- and I think your horse would be happier.
There is no way I'd put a horse in a curb bit for that reason. A curb is MORE bit especially if your horse doesn't neck rein so when you DID have to take up contact you'd be reefing him in the mouth pretty darn hard.
I wound up getting a plain old grazing bit - short, fixed, swept back shanks and a very low port - and bought a set of crazy-long reins. Conjure is delighted and very relaxed on the trails now, and so am I. I went ahead and got a synthetic western saddle, too. We're enjoying ourselves.