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Update to Forum Rules: Criminal Allegations

In our continuing effort to provide an avenue for individuals to voice their opinions and experiences, we have recently reviewed and updated our forum policies. Generally, we have allowed users to share their positive or negative experiences with or opinions of companies, products, trainers, etc. within the industry, and that is not changing.

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What would entice a horse to choose a loose ring over a fixed ring?

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  • What would entice a horse to choose a loose ring over a fixed ring?

    I'm not sure how to phrase this question but I'll give it a go.

    I was reading the baucher bit thread and this idea came to me.

    It's common knowledge that some horses prefer fixed ring bits (more stable) and some horses prefer loose ringed bits (less stable). From the horse's perspective is there a way to tell whether or not a horse would prefer one bit over another? I've always been told fixed rings are for younger horses that need more security and reassurance, whereas loose ringed bits are for more advanced horses that can pick up the slightest signals. But then you also get into the realm of not enjoying a static position.

    I understand why a horse would like a fixed ring bit. But why would a horse prefer a loose ringed bit? What would entice a horse to prefer that more casual contact as opposed to a steadier, firmer contact? I guess even more specifically what would PREDISPOSE one horse to like one bit over another?

    Thanks for the insight.

  • #2
    My understanding is that because a loose ring bit has some "play" it encourages more chewing and mouthing of the bit, encouraging salivation, keeping the mouth more moist and sensitive. That sensitive, moist mouth, and the relaxed jaw that come from the gentle chewing and mouthing are key to the relaxation and submission we are striving for in dressage. (Chewing is good, stop strapping your horses mouths shut everyone!)
    For a young horse who doesn't have a real grasp of the aids yet, a more stable bit can be more clear, and less distracting. I don't want my 3 year old to mouth the bit as much as I want him to turn left... turn LEFT... Please, for the love of god turn LEFT before we go through the hedge! A lot of people like a full cheek for this, and although that isn't the REAL purpose of the full cheeks, they don't NOT help.
    Some horses, even more educated ones, just don't like the play of a loose ring bit. Maybe they have sensitive teeth and the vibration of the rings moving against the mouthpiece annoys them, or they have sensitive lips and the sliding rings pinch. Some horses have a busier mouth and might respond really well to something with a bit more movement. Or a horse that leans on the bit might have a harder time doing so with a loose ring because it isn't so static.
    The shape of the rings can also have a big impact on how the bit sits in the mouth and across the tongue. The reason a full cheek snaffle is meant to be used with keepers is that they orient the joint up toward the roof of the mouth, and not forward toward the back of the teeth. This changes the action of the bit substantially compared to the same mouthpiece on a D ring. A baucher bit also controls how the bit is oriented in the mouth, and keeps things "quiet" and stabilized, but it also has that subtle gag action that seems to work on the lips/corners of the mouth more. Some horses love that.

    Bitting is an art and science influenced by rider skill, horses mouth anatomy, discipline, trends, and above all the preferences of the horse it self. I could suppose at predisposition, but the horses would expose my ignorance. When I got my mare she was being ridden in a 3 ring gag with a waterford mouth (horrifying!). I switched her right over to a loose ring HS lozenge and I'm not entirely sure she noticed. Sorry about the book, but this stuff is interesting!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      jonem004 That post made me laugh out loud!! and It was fascinating! You are completely right - I suppose there is no scientific way to tell whether one personality would prefer one bit over another. I have my horse in a loose ring and a fixed ring on two different bridles and I don't feel a complete difference. I know a lot of horses are ridden in loose rings for popularity reasons.

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      • #4
        I suspect rider adeptness also comes into play here. Some riders do not have educated hands. Certain bits will have movement that is exacerbated by this. If a rider struggles to maintain quiet contact or has a tendency to ride a bit backwards, always holding on the face, then I can see horses expressing a clear preference for type of bit depending on if they want more stability, more give, less movement, etc.

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        • #5
          jonem004 Thank you for the good explanations, this was really usefull

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          • #6
            Happy to help.

            Comment


            • #7
              I was taught many years ago to use a loose ring on a horse with a quiet, "dry" mouth to encourage salivation and tongue movement. I ride most normal horses with no contact issues in a loose ring...personally, I like the softer feel in my fingers most of the time.

              A horse with a busy, chomping mouth tends to do better in a fixed ring. I recently switched my busy-mouthed stallion to a boucher and he is less fussy than with a loose ring.
              “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
              ? Albert Einstein

              ~AJ~

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              • #8
                Nothing of value to add, but I've wondered this myself before! Thank you for posting thecolorcoal

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  thanks guys! This discussion was super helpful.

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