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pelhams for dressage training

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  • pelhams for dressage training

    Other than the Moffet person in the UK and a small cult in California, I've not heard of people using the pelham for dressage training.So I'm curious.

    Anyone else using a pelham to train dressage (not talking about other disciplines)? If so, can you give the rationale for skipping the old regular acceptance of the snaffle part of the training?

  • #2
    My coach used a Pelham briefly when she started cross-training her Oldenburg gelding over fences to help improve his dressage. She and the jumping trainer experimented with a Waterford, too. There may have been other bits they tried.

    But when she schools dressage, it's always in a snaffle or a double. The Pelham and Waterford were strictly for over fences.

    Don't know if that counts... but the jumping did help his dressage.


    • #3
      From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.


      • #4
        Yup. "Pelham" isn't the first thing that springs to mind when I think of bits for dressage.


        • #5
          small cult in California

          I'm familiar with that place. I heard that an FEI level trainer and also that quite a few of her students regularly ride in Pelhams. Maybe the Pelham is the new thing in dressage?

          Personally, I've never had a dressage trainer of mine suggest a Pelham or ever ride in one to my knowledge. Either a snaffle or double in my experience. I'd see them on jumpers though.

          Indeed I'd be so bold as to suggest that the only reason why someone would use a bit that wasn't dressage legal would be to appease the rider.
          That's why I found it so curious that an upper level rider would ride in this bit, with it not being dressage legal. I can't understand why you would.


          • #6
            Originally posted by FancyFree
            I can't understand why you would.
            Probably because you're not a lazy, incompetent boob.

            Such things are shortcuts intended to appease ignorant clients and keep the cash rolling in.

            It's a great bit and I use one for foxhunting. It has no place in dressage. Neither do mule bits or tack nosebands. But I'm sure there is someone out there using those too. Doesn't make it right.

            It's not that it's not "legal" for dressage and shouldn't be used - it's that its use is INTENDED to be a shortcut. To produce a "frame". The rider thinks he/she has this nice "round" horse when what they really have is an overbent, frustrated horse heavy on the forehand and trailing its hind legs.

            Eventually a judge is going to point that out to the rider in the form of very very low scores.

            Frames are for pictures, Pelhams are for hunting - jumpers, etc.
            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
            -Rudyard Kipling


            • #7
              I use lots of bits that technically aren't dressage legal. Doesn't mean I'm a sinner, a lazy boob, or that my poor dear horse is suffering from it.

              Bits are tools, and if a certain one helps to fix a problem in the long run, I'll use it. For example, I'm riding a horse now who will literally pull you out of the saddle she hangs so badly. Obviously, this is a training issue, and can only be fixed through training. But, I'm not going to finish every ride with blistered and bleeding hands in the name of doing it "right". She goes well in a Mikmar to HELP fix the problem. I'm doing all the other exercises one would do, I'm doing everything else "right", I'm just not using a dressage legal bit at the moment because we get more done when we're actually working than wrestling.


              • #8
                Coppers Mom -

                There is a difference between using such things to overcome an issue. If you're using a bit or martingale intelligently and with a plan... that's not what the OP is talking about (I don't think so anyway)

                I think what the OP is talking about is using the Pelham as a shortcut in training - to quickly accomplish what is an artificial and forced "frame".

                That's not dressage, good training, or good horsemanship.
                Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                -Rudyard Kipling


                • #9
                  Doesn't mean I'm a sinner, a lazy boob, or that my poor dear horse is suffering from it.
                  I think JSwan was just joking.

                  But how effective is it to use a bit, (not talking about your situation specifically) that is harsher to school in, then have to go back to a simple snaffle to show in? It just seems like that would be ridiculously hard. It's not? From what I've been taught, ideally, you want to fix issues in the snaffle. No?

                  Not judging or being sarcastic, genuinely interested. I've been fortunate that as long as I've had horses, I haven't had a lot of different kinds of bits. Different sizes for snaffles, but that's it.


                  • #10
                    Michael Poulin had at least two horses going in pelhams when I was there. Both were transitioning to the double.

                    Just saying...
                    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
                      Michael Poulin had at least two horses going in pelhams when I was there. Both were transitioning to the double.

                      Just saying...
                      Hmm, maybe he'll come on and post. Since the OP did ask for feedback from trainers who do use it. Or maybe not


                      • #12
                        [QUOTE=FancyFree;4390716]I think JSwan was just joking.


                        Sorta kinda. If trainers are advocating the use of bits like the Pelham, with the intent of producing a fast result.... they are truly lazy, incompetent boobs. Again - there is a difference between using a bit or tack for a reason - and merely slapping things on horses to get a quick result.

                        I've got quite a collection of bits and am happy to use whatever the heck works for the horse. I'd rather ask with a Pelham than yank with a snaffle.

                        But using the Pelham as part of the dressage training of the horse is intended as a shortcut and/or to keep clients happy. Working out a problem? Working on a issue? Experimenting? Ok - I'll buy it. Putting that bit in every horse's mouth and riding with it every day? Nope - that's a shortcut. I don't care who uses it. When you see a trainer using a certain piece of tack or a bit on every horse - and their groupies never question it.... run fast in the other direction.

                        I'm enough of a closet DQ to appreciate that gaps and holes in a horse's training will eventually come back to haunt the rider. And horse.

                        If the rider is happily plodding along in the ring, with an overbent horse on the forehand - that's fine. Be happy.

                        Just don't call it dressage. It's not and people can tell!
                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                        -Rudyard Kipling


                        • #13
                          Both were transitioning to the double.

                          Yes I can understand that situation. But for the lower level rider who must show in a snaffle to school in a Pelham, just makes no sense to me. It may be considered a shortcut, but to where? The horse that must be ridden in a Pelham while schooling is going to be a bear to show in a snaffle, is my thinking.


                          • #14
                            I used to ride my Haflinger in a pelham when she was younger, since she had some issues with aggression towards other horses. There was one time when I was riding her that there was a 16-17hh gelding also being ridden. I was trying to ride her, but at the trot she kept getting faster & trying to get to him, and I had an incredibly difficult time getting her to halt in the snaffle she was in. When I got her, she was in a kimberwicke. I decided to try a pelham, since I could just use it as a snaffle, only picking up the curb rein if I needed it. It was more of an issue of safety for me, and I didn't always have the option to not ride her if the horses she didn't like were being ridden at the same time.

                            Now that she's semi-retired, I can get away with a bitless with her. Plus she doesn't seem to dislike any of the horses where she is now.

                            Personally, I do not show and have absolutely no intention of showing ever, so if a bit is 'legal' or not doesn't concern me. My opinion of bitting is that the bit used should be what the horse is most comfortable with. My other pony is only comfortable in a curb bit and finds snaffles very uncomfortable, and a double isn't an option since her mouth isn't big enough. Her issue stems from having her jaw broken when she was younger.


                            • #15
                              There is a trainer at my barn who routinely puts lower level horses with lower level riders in pelhams, so it isn't a completely narrow issue. I honestly haven't taken the time to ask her why as I don't want the question to be misconstrued and don't want to start a fight.
                              It did bother me when she let a student of hers show in one of our barn's dressage schooling shows in the pelham though as I thought they were illegal
                              My blog:



                              • #16
                                merely slapping things on horses to get a quick result
                                That's what I would use a pelham for ... out on the trails with a new unreliable poorly trained horse that was ring sour.


                                • #17
                                  I decided to try a pelham, since I could just use it as a snaffle, only picking up the curb rein if I needed it.


                                  • #18
                                    Ooh, saying that using the direct rein on the pelham is like using a snaffle is heresy against the almighty snaffle!

                                    20 Hail Podhajskys for you!
                                    Last edited by Ambrey; Sep. 21, 2009, 07:24 PM. Reason: wow, that is one hard name to spell correctly!


                                    • #19
                                      I'd only seen a pelham used once on a freight train of a horse in dressage training, and I've spent years working with some very BNT's. That was before I got to my current barn, where they run amuck on dressage horses. It's the same ol' same ol': yes, they have a purpose but not as a shortcut for proper training. Heck, I have even heard rumors that over in H/J land the big Eq judges are beginning to frown on them... many more horses went in snaffles at the regional Maclay finals.


                                      • #20
                                        I do believe there is one person in the US who would be successful using it, know when to use it and when to stop; he was already mentioned.

                                        I've seen them put a running martingale on a horse. For a few days. Draw reins. For a few days. Various bits. For a few days. That's a little bit different.