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How to get a horse used to a double bridle?

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  • How to get a horse used to a double bridle?

    I'm starting to school/compete in elementary/medium level now, and both call for a double bridle.

    Was wondering how I would get Taffy use to having 1) the poll leverage and 2) the 'chunkiness' of 2 bits in his mouth.

  • #2
    it surprises me how easily my horses have adapted to the double.

    The hardest thing can be getting the horse to open wide enough to get the bits in the mouth. I hold 2-3 sugar cubes in my hand with the bits. I've also seen trainers that cross the snaffle in front of the curb to make a smaller initial mouthful and then get the bits in the correct positions.

    Some suggest just hacking with the double for a couple of rides.

    when you start working in the double, try to keep a little slack in the curb initially


    • #3
      I always start the double (saddleseat horses) with the curb rein knotted on the neck.


      • #4
        I agree, most find it no problem. Hacking is a good idea.
        Just be careful about let the curb flap around, the weight of the rein can really jiggle the curb bit around. I prefer to hold the curb, but without influence.


        • #5
          The short shanks with rotating curb is the best and the mildest Weymouth to start horses in. Once per week, only hacking in it for start. Then increase the time and add work load. To have thinner braddon and thinner curb helps as well.

          This is my fav one to start horses in: it has a wide opening for the tongue, so no pressure on it + it's revolving thus canceling the actions of the shanks. So it's really just there mainly for looks This one is also great for horses who go in the snaffle better than in the curb.



          • #6
            Everything so far is good. The most important thing will be having absolutely elastic and forgiving hands in that curb bit. But another tip if your horse is a little hestitant about going into the curb, we used to wrap some of our intro curbs in that latex stuff. It's not legal for dressage shows, but it can be a nice "baby step" for some horses. Also, it can help to pad the curb chain somewhat (with the same latex stuff or with an actual curb chain pad) or use a slightly wider one.

            As far as your hands go, just be certain you're doing most of your turning work with pressure on the snaffle to ask, not the curb, since the bits don't read the same, otherwise you may end up with a confused horse to start. And I like to keep a nice steady, light, and elastic contact with the curb so that you don't accidentally bump it while taking up the reins at some point.

            Also, you can put pressure on the curb bit with the reins while on the ground, and when he flexes, give the pressure a bit, and repeat until he gets the idea. Obviously you don't want to drill that too hard, just a gentle give and take to help him understand. If you do that exercise from the ground, it will help him realize that he should flex his poll to the increased pressure while you're on him.

            I think the biggest thing is just to be patient, slow, and steady and just feel out how much your horse is ready for.


            • #7
              Not to hijack the thread, but maybe someone can explain to me: Is there is any concern that in moving to the thinner snaffle (as explained above somewhere to make more mouth room) that you are increasing severity of snaffle in addition to adding the curb?


              • #8
                MA- I think that is a concern for some riders. Please read my post on the bitless thread in this forum which explains why this is not necessarily a problem at all. As others mention, a thinner bit is often more acceptable to the horse.

                However, when one is ready to ride in a double bridle, the potential severity of a thinner bit is not the issue. It will only come into play if the rider is not subtle with the reins and does not have a good seat.

                Aside from getting the horse to accept the complexity of two bits in his mouth, actually riding in the double for the first time has not been a problem for any horse I have trained. I think I anticipated a problem the first few times because of what I had been told by others, but the problem never occurred. It was just like riding normally. I tend to use a 3 and 1 rein position on horses new to the double- so that the curb rein is kept at an even light contact but not in use except in an emergency- and ride off the snaffle rein. As the horse become used to the double, I can ask for more impulsion and use the standard 2 and 2 rein position which will employ the curb as an auxilary to the snaffle and more importantly, to the seat and leg aides, which become very important with the double.

                I have seen a couple of people who use fruit leather wrapped around the bit instead of latex bandage when trying a new bit. Also, Theo suggested carmelizing the bits, which also works well in promoting acceptance. You mix a lot of sugar and a little water and heat it up so it all disolves, then pour it over the mouthpiece and allow it to cool and crystallize. Yummy.

                DA- that's a nice bit you posted and a little improvement on the one I use:
                "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                • #9
                  MA the "thin" bradoon is relative as well You have following popular choices of bradoons:

                  16 mm http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1003
                  14 mm http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1078
                  12 mm http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1013

                  You can pair those bradoons with the following popular choices of curbs:

                  21mm http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1075
                  18mm http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1114
                  16mm http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1108

                  Some horses have very small space in their mouth, since their pallet is not very hollow and/or their tongue is very thick and/or they have a narrow mouth. My TB/WB mix has all of the above. I have to buy the curb in 4and 3/4" for her which is almost impossible to find, thus I have to custom order them from Europe. I also need to make sure that she has a space for her tongue (wide port with space for tongue). I need to make sure that she can close her mouth with 2 bits in it: so my choise would be thinner curb and thinner bradoon for my mare. Currently I'm using 14 mm bradoon with 18mm curb.

                  I see people using 16 mm bradoon with 21mm curbs... that will definitely not work for my mare, she simply doesn’t have enough space in her mouth for all that metal = she will be uncomfortable. So when choosing the combination of bradoon and curb we need to think not only of thin bit = harsh bit, but thick bit = not enough space in the mouth.

                  The mildest combination and most comfortable for the new to Weymouth curb horse that I was able to find is this:
                  14mm bradoon http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1109
                  16mm curb http://www.hastilowusa.com/shop/inde...19&prevstart=0

                  PS: Cat, did you see this one? http://www.dressageextensions.com/Pr...l.asp?KEY=1114 very short shanks = less pull. I graduated my mare to that one this year (after a year in the revolving curb)


                  • #10
                    If I were going to sink the wad o'cash into yet another bit, I think I would get the one with the rotating mouthpiece to try it out. The length of the curb shanks does not bother me, as I tend to put it into the mouth only because it is required, not that I actually use it much. I think the one you reference last is very similar to the conrad except for shank length.
                    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CatOnLap View Post
                      I think the one you reference last is very similar to the conrad except for shank length.
                      Yes, and eventually I'll graduate my mare to the one that you use now.

                      PS: and some times I wonder if I'll end up spending more money on the required tack and on the required rider attire than on the price of my horse


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by caddym View Post
                        Some suggest just hacking with the double for a couple of rides.

                        when you start working in the double, try to keep a little slack in the curb initially
                        That's what I did - W/T first time in double - no cantering. Next ride W/T/C - did not touch curb at all either time. By third ride she was more comfortable so although I picked up the curb rein I didn't use it. Trainer used it on her a few time and she's done fine - but that was after she'd been ridden about 1x/week for 2 months in the double bradoon in use only.

                        We went slowly as my mare is opinionated.
                        Now in Kentucky


                        • #13
                          A good weymouth to use with a loose ring bradoon is http://www.speedgate.co.uk/products/view.htm?id=11939 which encourages more easy chewing. Also holding the reins 3:1 encourages stability of the curb. The curb chain should be tight enough so that the curb does not go beyond 45 degrees. Personally I do not care for a rotating shank/mouthpiece which is more likely to press onto the bars.
                          I.D.E.A. yoda


                          • #14
                            just curious (my horse is not near ready for a double) but how about introducing a pelham to the horse first to see how they respond to that type of action before stuffing 2 bits in at the same time? Seems like it might be a little less confusing with only one type of bit action at a time...
                            "There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it"


                            • #15
                              A Pelham doesn't work the same way the separate bits of a double do. It might be a good idea for the rider to get used to a double set of reins (sort of like "training wheels"), I don't think it would help the horse at all. You'd eventually have to get the horse used to two bits anyway -- why not just do so and be done with it?


                              • #16
                                Pelham is not the same at all. Double is much more comfortable in action ultimately, but more to get used to. Just put it on, tie the curb up (there's a slider on the curb rein for just that), and ride as usual without the curb rein for some months. THen pick it up. Then use it. Takes about 6 months or more.

                                No real reason to ever put the double on as a rule change is coming. Unless you need brakes and that ultimately will fail.


                                • #17
                                  What do you mean, Slc2?

                                  Aren't doubles "required" at 4th and above? (Still not sure what's happening at Third yet, optional? Snaffle only?)


                                  • #18
                                    Axel Steiner said that a new rule is on the way that would allow people to ride national (only) FEI classes in a snaffle bridle.


                                    • #19
                                      the current rules are that either snaffle or double is permitted at 3rd and 4th levels and the double is required at FEI


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Over here our levels are:







                                        Here's the link to all the tests and their difficulty. http://www.efansw.com.au/default.asp...2F11745%2F0%2F

                                        Just looked over them, and Elementary use to call for either a ordinary snaffle or simple double bridle. Now it's Medium that says this. BUT, I would still like to get him used to a double, because I'm at the level where it would be better for me to use one in Hack Shows. (With a bridle like this:https://www.horseland.com.au/crosby/...w_weymouth.jpg )