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When to change bits

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  • When to change bits

    I'm toying with the idea of changing bits on my 4 and a half year old Trak gelding, but I'm not sure if I'm thinking everything through.

    I have him in a loose ring french mouth snaffle currently. He doesn't seem to actively seek contact and usually goes around with his head a bit high. He will even throw his head up repeatedly until I really push him forward. I have had moments where he is working through his back and his head/neck relax downward into my contact, just not consistently. Our first show in November doing Intro B and C was good, but the judge said that we needed to work on long and low.

    I tried a plain eggbutt snaffle prior to the loose ring french mouth. He didn't seem to like the point of the snaffle hitting the roof of his mouth. My trainer and I are working on my hands (not the steadiest, especially when he's flinging his head around but better when he's steady), but I do follow his head up and down. His teeth were just floated in early November.

    So should I consider changing bits, and to what? TIA!
    My May boys: Beau , Neon, Criss

  • #2
    My horse really, really, really prefers a snaffle with a "bean" in the middle (removing the nutcracker action, in other words.) When we were dealing with some contact issues - he is a converted hunter, used to poking his nose out and going on a LOT less contact than is typical in dressage - I found this baucher worked beautifully: http://www.doversaddlery.com/herm-sp...se2jropqmgfr2f

    Horse now goes in a regular loose ring snaffle (same mouthpiece with the center roller/bean.)
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


    • #3
      Him not forward and your hands not steady could be more of the problem than the bit.
      Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.


      • #4
        I suspect that it's your hands that are most of the problem. Forward is part of it, but no matter how forward he is your hands will get in the way.

        Do remember that hands are attached to wrists, which may not be bent backwards, and must maintain a thumb uppermost. Those wrists are attached to a forearm which ends in the very important elbow joint.. It is there that the give and take must happen so that you can follow the head.

        So there is always more give than take. So simple..........................once you've got it.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


        • #5
          Try it and if same results then at least you know its not the bit
          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
            Try it and if same results then at least you know its not the bit
            Good point NOMIOMI1.

            I'm fully aware that it could be my hands that are the entire problem. He's really bouncy while I'm warming up, so my hands just end up bouncing along with me. During my lesson on Friday, my trainer said that he was going better late in the lesson than early. It seems I have the problem only while trotting. We were working on getting the feel of where my hands need to be along with some other things so it wasn't boring for him.

            He's definitely forward enough. We have the nice, steady rhythm that was missing when I bought him in February of last year. I'm just wondering if the movement of the loose ring french mouth combined with my somewhat unsteady hands at the trot could be helped by changing to an eggbutt with a link in the middle.
            Last edited by LadyNeon01; Jan. 7, 2013, 04:09 PM. Reason: forgot something
            My May boys: Beau , Neon, Criss


            • #7
              Most people have fewer problems at the rising trot. It is when they begin sitting and forget to disconnect their hands and arms from their body, that the problem starts.
              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


              • #8
                If I were you, I would try a double jointed ''Full cheek'' (with keepers) or a Baucher (half cheek).

                Those bits won't have the nutcracker effect and will be more stable in his mouth.

                As a rider, you need to be even more quiet with your hands with a loose ring.
                ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                Originally posted by LauraKY
                I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                HORSING mobile training app


                • #9
                  Loose rings are a "noisy" bit and preferred for horses with too quiet of a mouth. IME not many lower level horses I've met enjoy them as much as the same mouthpiece with a steadier cheek. This may by synonymous with LL riders less steady hands.
                  Some horses who prefer a technical rider also prefer a steadier cheek. My horses bradoon even has eggbutt cheeks.
                  My go to bit as a starting point is the JP Korsteel eggbutt with the bean/lozenge center.
                  If nothing else it'll be quieter for him than your current set up.
                  chaque pas est fait ensemble


                  • #10
                    I've found that quite a lot of horses prefer a bit with a lozenge in the middle, which eliminates the nutcracker action on a horse's pallet.
                    Also, if your horse's mouth anatomy allows (medium/high pallet without a fat tongue), you may want to consider trying a bit that is thicker (18mm-21mm).
                    Since you mentioned that your hands aren't as steady as you would like them to be, perhaps you should try a bit with eggbutt cheeks rather than a loose ring. The eggbutt would provide additional stability of the bit in your horse's mouth. A loose ring may be a bit too wobbly for you and your young horse at the moment : )

                    Here are a few links to bits that I have founds on a few websites:


                    • #11
                      How does he lunge with side reins in each bit? That may be the best way to tell what bit he likes because it takes away the influence of your hands. I wouldn't just go by one time lunging because he may anticipate the feeling of your hands. Lunge him a couple of times in each bit, so he can figure out how the bit alone feels.

                      I went through a bunch of bits, and I still don't know if I found the right one, but I knew which were the wrong ones. I tried a bunch of saddles too. My horse picked the one he liked and it wasn't the one I was thrilled with but it was better than what I had, so he got it.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by xQHDQ View Post
                        I went through a bunch of bits, and I still don't know if I found the right one, but I knew which were the wrong ones. I tried a bunch of saddles too. My horse picked the one he liked and it wasn't the one I was thrilled with but it was better than what I had, so he got it.
                        And if your horse is like my mare, he picked the most expensive saddle/tack/bit that's on the market...

                        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                        Originally posted by LauraKY
                        I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                        HORSING mobile training app


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks everyone! Good to know that I'm thinking along the right lines. I talked to my trainer last night before my ride. She thinks changing bits is worth a shot. There's a double-jointed full cheek floating around the tack room that I can try. We couldn't find a double-jointed eggbutt anywhere, so I may have to get one to try. I was thinking of doing the bit rental thing from Bit of Britain or Dressage Extensions. Thanks for the links, envoke! That's along the lines of what I was looking at.

                          Strangely enough, I got a good 10 minutes of long and low at the end of my ride last night. But he was still kind of fussy early in my ride. If it doesn't rain on Wednesday, I'll change bits and ride. Otherwise, I think I'll have to wait until Friday.
                          My May boys: Beau , Neon, Criss


                          • #14
                            Just remember that the horse accepting the bit takes time TO TRAIN. No bit will change that. But eggbutts or full cheeks can be less noisy. I've never had a horse not learn to accept the eggbutt french links that I use - mostly on small mouthed, sensitive types. I would probably not change to a bean as those can hit the roof of a horse's mouth if they have a low palate - some of those beans are big!

                            If the horse goes fine for a while then tosses his head, I'd point directly at the rider's hands stopping or jerking on him. Frankly, I'd stay with what you have and use it as a learning tool to check yourself. Whenever the horse tosses his head, you've done something wrong. Why not use that information?


                            • #15
                              MY Trakehener (but 20!) was fine in his loose ring double jointed "peanut" as long as we were just hacking around and not really working on contact. But I decided to do more with him and started lessons. He sounds a lot like yours, sometimes getting contact but very inconsistent. We moved him into a single joint baucher and he is much steadier (I think a double would have worked but we had a single available). I may also pick up a single or double joint full cheek snaffle, as George Morris on the USEF videos (those are great, be sure to watch the flatwork sessions) recommended that bit. But mostly it is riding riding riding focusing on straightness and bend and not worrying much about the head, just getting him to be rhythmic and move with impulsion, not speed.


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by FatDinah View Post
                                But mostly it is riding riding riding focusing on straightness and bend and not worrying much about the head, just getting him to be rhythmic and move with impulsion, not speed.
                                FatDinah, that's exactly what we've been working on since I bought him. Both my trainer and I feel like he's SO much better than he was last spring (I feel the difference, and she sees it). He's perfectly happy on a loose rein but as soon as I ask for some contact, he can get fussy. Consistency is seriously lacking right now. The work never ends!
                                My May boys: Beau , Neon, Criss


                                • #17
                                  Glad I stopped in to read this thread - it motivated me to try a different bit with my mustang. He had been going in a Myler comfort snaffle (loose ring), but I had the a-ha! reading about how a horse with a fussy mouth can find the loose ring to be too busy. So I switched to a different Myler that I have (level 2 - looks like a low port) with an eggbut cheekpiece and he was much quieter in his mouth and nice and forward.

                                  Thanks for a reminder to try something new!
                                  "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                                  • Original Poster

                                    ** Update - on the right path! **

                                    So I tried the full cheek french mouth that was not being used by anyone at the barn. I've only had one ride in it (due to weather), but I think I'm on the right path. Criss was still fussy but I think that was more to do with the fact that he had a week off (stupid rain). I was hoping to ride in it again yesterday, but it was too wet to ride in the lighted arena (have I mentioned how much I hate rain?!) I'm skipping my core class after work to ride in a somewhat drier ring, although it may be a swamp after last night's rain (ugh). I'll take my chances, especially since I'm showing in 2 weeks.

                                    I ordered a JP Korsteel oval mouth eggbutt to try out. I like the curved mouth on that bit. It should get here on Friday. Fingers crossed that it works. Thanks for all the suggestions!
                                    My May boys: Beau , Neon, Criss