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Bits / Bridle Questions

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  • Bits / Bridle Questions

    Training is going very well with my mare. She is walk/trot/canter/whoa on command on the lunge line in harness. We will be moving on to long lining soon.

    I have been working her in a regular bridle as my driving bridle has blinders built in. Do I need to have her in a driving bridle or is this okay until she moves into the bridle with blinders? Also, she is working in a full cheek single jointed snaffle and I know that she needs to be in a driving bit eventually. Any preferences on a good starter bit? A half cheek snaffle? Under saddle, she could get a little strong when fresh, but was also sometimes a little fussy in the mouth so we had to find balance with the bit.

    Thanks for the help!

  • #2
    "I" did not do the basic training on my horse
    but I like that our trainer got them used to pretty much every step of the way WITHOUT then WITH the driving bridle

    Unless you are doing breed shows where some judges can still be pretty fussy
    it has become fairly accepted that you can use whatever bit the horse prefers

    you want to make sure that the bit does not interfere with the driving bridle. The driving bridle is a bit bulkier and stiffer than a typical riding bridle - so some bits do not work as well

    the other thing to consider is that with the leverage of 12 or more feet of rein, sometimes and for some horses, a single jointed snaffle can be a fairly severe bit
    Many drivers like a double jointed (3 piece) mouth piece
    and many drivers also feel that a solid mouth gives a quieter and more sensitive feel

    One of our boys has a Glory bit - straight mouth with low port and the mouth slants forward for tongue relief - also an alloy "sweet mouth" metal

    the other boy has a low port solid mouth covered in latex - which he loves to chew on

    Both ride in a snaffle

    Use what works best for you and the mare


    • #3
      Agree pretty much with Drive NJ. Alternate the bridles when you have her going on the long lines, so she is used to going with blinkers, using only voice commands.

      Question on why the full-cheek? You can get whatever mouthpiece it has, on a ring sided bit, not have to deal with the cheeks catching on things. And while a half-cheek ring sided bit is a "traditional" driving bit, the cheek doesn't make it "work better" on a driving animal.

      The only reason I use a full or half-cheek bit is so I can change how the mouthpiece lays across the horse tongue by using a bit keeper on the cheek part. With the cheek piece in the bit keeper, it holds the mouthpiece CONSISTANTLY across the tongue, so there is no delay from hands, reins, to mouth, while the bit mouthpiece swings into place with a pull.

      If you are not USING the bit cheek pieces with the bit keepers, then I see no reason to use that full or half-cheek bit on a horse and take the chance of getting poked with cheek or snagged on something, so horse hurts themselves jerking away. If the cheeks are to prevent possibly pulling the bit thru the mouth, there are better methods for that. Horses can open their mouth WIDE, so I wouldn't trust the cheeks to prevent bit pulling thru.

      Nice to hear your horse is progressing.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks! I just went with the bridle that she goes in under saddle. With the hunter/jumpers, we use the full cheeks (with keepers) for some horses as it does provide consistent pressure as well as a slight amount of leverage. We use a Happy Mouth straight bar to start babies and then usually move up to either a single jointed snaffle or french link depending on the horse. Typically they are in a D ring for the hunters or a loose ring with pinch guards for the jumpers.


        • #5
          Thanks for the answer. Glad to hear you are using the bit keepers, along with bit guards to prevent pinches of the lips. I agree the bit keepers hold the bit mouthpiece in position for consistency.


          • Original Poster

            LOL ... well I appreciate that advice from you both. I was looking at the driving bits and had no clue. Guess I am over thinking it and will bit her up by feeling like the riding horses. When she goes for training, then the trainer can recommend what is appropriate for her at that point.