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Sprenger Max Control Butterfly Liverpool - Experiences?

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  • Sprenger Max Control Butterfly Liverpool - Experiences?

    Has anyone tried the Sprenger Max Control Butterfly Liverpool? (seen here: http://www.horze.eu/Sprenger-MAX-Con...efault,pd.html )

    I had someone recommend it for my sensitive guy, apparently it's lighterweight than a regular liverpool, but offers more options than a typical post/butterfly. The design appeals to me, but I'm unsure of the action of the mouthpiece. It says that it remains supple when the horse is working correctly, but locks into a straight bar if the horse resists, so I'm guessing it works a bit like the Mylers? The picture also makes the mouthpiece look ridged instead of smooth and round, but I don't know if that's just the way the lighting is, or if I'm just seeing it wrong. The "max control" name makes me a bit leery, but then a bit is only as harsh as the hands attached to it, right?

    Java currently ground drives in a french link baucher, and is really happy with it, but I don't want to hitch until I have a proper driving bit. If the Max Control isn't a good option, are there any double-jointed liverpools out there that aren't going to totally break the bank? I like the variety of options of a liverpool vs a butterfly, though the roundness of the butterfly still appeals to me more...
    Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
    Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe

  • #2
    Haven't used one, nor held one in my hand to see how the shaping prevents the mouthpiece from folding as other 3-piece mouths do. It doesn't appear to work like a Myler bit, which has a covered hinge on the mouthpieces and DOES get solid when both reins are pulled at the same time.

    Here is another seller, with a different photo, but I still can't see how the mouthpiece get solid. Perhaps the fact mouth has 3 sections, prevents it from folding like a one-joint mouthpiece will.


    You can click on the photo, to get a larger, closer view of the bit.

    For the price, I would want to see and touch one before purchasing. See how that works to correspond with the written description.

    I would think if horse presently goes well in a riding bit, responds well out on the long lines, horse would also do well with that bit when you hitch him. I SURE wouldn't want to surprise him with a sudden bit change, going to leverage if he doesn't know how to manage leverage well on the long lines! You are already doing MANY THINGS when first hitching, so you want him prepared, knowing just what to expect at this big step of learning.

    We try to NOT change more than one thing at each Driving outing. Sometimes you just have to do two things, and this included changing harness adjustments. Every strap change is ONE thing. Horses do NOT LIKE change, can worry some of them with the distraction, get confused, so they are not listening to you as you set out.

    Have you tried using the baucher on horse during his long line lessons? Just because a bit is used mostly for riding, doesn't mean that such a bit is FORBIDDEN for driving uses. We had two horses who liked their riding Pelhams, so we used those same Pelham bits for Driving them, and they went well in Pelhams that year. The next year the Pair needed a bit change, and we went with Liverpool bits with solid mouths and a small port for tongue relief. They also went well in those bits.

    Driving bits are usually nice bits, having all the slots and adjustments on shanks can be useful. But you don't need to have a special Driving bit to use to train your horse FOR Driving. You need a bit that lets you keep control of horse, and try to have a mouthpiece he likes to wear, so you communicate with each other easily.


    • Original Poster

      He long lines beautifully in the baucher, but I've been told NOT to hitch in a snaffle. Most of our driving will also be on back roads and the track around our barn's pasture (originally a training track for harness racers, but since the main track shut down ours hasn't been maintained so it's not the best footing anymore. I need to get out and harrow it once the BO's tractor is fixed). I had one trainer tell me to use the Myler 3 ring combination bit (but it's a REALLY heavy chunk of metal, too heavy for him I think, and it doesn't look like it'd be the safest to use to hitch with the nose cord - I'd be worried about it getting caught on a shaft or something.

      I'm having a hell of a time finding a french link or lozenge liverpool that's actually affordable, the only affordable french link driving bit I've found is a 2 loop butterfly. He goes best in the double joint (prefers the baucher for driving since it works nicely with his closed bridle, and he has a d-ring with copper lozenge for his riding bit but it sits awkwardly on his closed bridle, hense the change to the baucher), ideally with sweet metal, though he's going well enough in the stainless baucher right now. Any new bit wouldn't just be slapped on the day we hitch, I'd be long lining in it, in multiple settings (starting loose cheek, rough cheek, and top slot, I don't see myself ever needing the 2nd slot) to get him used to it and to get a feel of it from my end of the lines before ever putting him to the cart. I don't want to mess him up, he's had a rough enough go in life so far, it'd be a shame to add to it!
      Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
      Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe


      • #4
        I actually don't like a folding/jointed mouthpiece with leverage sides. It can fold up and really pinch the whole lower jaw between the sides and mouthpiece. Think Nutcracker, for the effect on the horse. Even having the reins set on the snaffle ring, direct pull, having the curb chain hooked, will cause the folding action and pinching when reins are run up thru the reins terrets. Not the same effect you get using the same bit riding.

        I will agree that a snaffle bit, jointed mouth and ring sides, is not a "powerful bit" like a leverage bit can be. However a snaffle bit has been a common bit for driving for many years. Use of a snaffle is going to depend on your horse and how well he responds to the long reins, well before you ever hitch him. Has he ever showed you spooky tendancies or ignored you while using that baucher on him? If he is really obedient on it, likes the bit, I would probably try using him on it for starting his driving.

        If your advisor who doesn't like snaffles, thinks you will get into problems, then now is the time to start horse on a leverage bit, with a solid mouthpiece. Lots of choices in the Liverpool and Butterfly sided bits. Mullen, Arch, ported mouthpieces are pretty easy to come by, in various sizes. You could ride horse with the bit, as well as doing long lining, ground work using that bit, to get him comfortable wearing it and responding well to it.

        You might be able to even find used bits, not spend great amounts of money getting him equipped with various bits, while you see how he likes them. Sprenger makes great bits, but you can have a LOT of money invested on something you don't know he will even like! Our horses have always changed bits a couple times as they progress thru training stages to become skilled Driving horses. So spending $100 or more, several times, would be difficult to justify for the horse budget.

        Our horses prefer the solid mouthpieces, no jointed bits once they move into leverage sides. We like the swivel sides best. Other folks use bits I don't like, horses go fine for them. There just are no "absolutes" in bitting horses. All those designs sell because owners think horse "likes" that bit best or goes better in it! And as I mentioned, horse may like a DIFFERENT bit later in the summer or next year, go better with the change!! Keeps you on your toes for sure.


        • Original Poster

          Hmm, what would you suggest trying, mouthpiece wise, for a horse who REALLY disliked a mullen and a low port? Arc mouth I guess? He flipped himself over backwards in a low port kimberwick (with lines attached loose to the ring, like a snaffle, and a loose curb chain), and was head tossy, tight lipped, grinding teeth, and rushing through contact in the mullen mouth eggbutt I tried. The french link/lozenge has been the best thing we've tried. I was thinking of picking up a double-joint kimberwick with copper roller in the middle from the local Greenhawk and giving it a shot.

          But it makes sense about the bit collapsing simply by running the lines through the terrets.

          He still has a tendency to occasionally run through a halt, but I strongly suspect that it has a lot to do with anticipating pain (he was "officially broke" in a curb bit with what I'd describe as a "smoothed out slow twist" - three distinct sharp edges on the mouthpiece. Not cool.). There is a bit of scarring on his tongue as well, so I wonder if his reactions to the mullen and low port have something to do with the mouthpiece pressing on those areas. Would an arc mouth offer a bit more tongue relief? The way his mouth is shaped/the baucher is built, the bars hold the middle link off his tongue until I ask for a whoa or use too much hand to steer, and it's those times that he gets stressed and runs through my hand. My fault entirely that it happens, but it's tough to gauge because some days he'll tolerate a bit more hand and then the next day (or even a second session a few hours later) he'll freak right out.

          As for riding, he's just getting back into it after 9 months off. Encountered a serious issue last summer (see my thread under Dressage "Can't Dismount!" for the full story on that one, haha), and he had his first and second rides since July this past week, on the lunge line, so I'm not sure if riding him in a new leverage bit would work too well, but it's definitely something I'll keep in mind for when he's going better under saddle again
          Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
          Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe


          • #6
            For some reason I thought he was being ridden regularly, didn't know about his problem.

            Here are pictures of Arch mouth bits with Liverpool sides. A fair amount of tongue relief but not lots like the Western bit with the old Sweetwater mouthpiece.


            Here is a page showing the different kinds of ports you can find, one of which he might like better than the low port model you tried before.


            Here is the bit page on that site, you can look at the variety being offered in Driving bits.


            I am using these folks because their site has so many kinds on each page. They are helpful, have great quality stuff. The same style bits may be available other places if you like to shop around.

            You mentioned a mouth injury, so my question is asking if horse has been used with a leverage bit since his beginning training? With the poor choice used to start him, he certainly could be afraid of curb pressure, both in the mouth and under the jaw. Would explain his over-reaction when you tried the Kimberwick.

            We do a step in training our horses, where they wear the bit to eat, couple hours a day. You might start him with the bit he wears now, let him eat wearing that, then change to a solid bar mouthpiece, no shanks, to wear while he eats his supper. Our goal is to get horse used to managing his bit, not having a bit on be "exciting" because he might get used. Bit is not pulled up tight in the corners of the lips, to allow horse to lift or move the bit in his mouth. Him having to manage bit while eating hay, grain, drinking with bit on, makes the bit a ho-hum thing. Only one ever played with the bit after, she NEEDED to be busy with her mouth any time she was not working. We got her a loose-jaw bit she could lift and drop, stood like a rock anyplace, for LONG TIMES, while she played with the bit. She was happy. None get excited when bridled after going thru the mouthing training. Ours usually wear the bit at meals for a couple weeks, but you do need to watch the mouth corners so they don't get sored. Some horses do, most never get sored.

            Just an idea to get him accepting of the new feel of a solid mouthpiece. You might also use a wider curb chain, switch to a leather strap under his chin, to spread the pressure when reins are used with leverage. An Uxeter with the low port or Mullen mouth, is the slotted Kimberwick design, has about the least amount of leverage, is a no-shank bit with the solid mouthpiece. Good one to try wearing during eating and when long-lining or riding. He needs to learn to work with you on the leverage factor, give and accept chin pressure, before you can use any of those driving bits with longer shanks.


            • Original Poster

              Yep, the kimberwick I have is an Uxeter with low port. the chain has a rubber chain guard on it because chain touching him = BAD. (long story short - came to barn where I first boarded him and found BO shanking the crap out of him with a gum chain AND chin chain. We got on a trailer and left THAT DAY). Still working on desensitizing him to let me touch him on places like bum/neck/barrel with a chain just so he doesn't have a fit if someone walks past him with chain in hand (like when they go to catch the stallion he lives next to). Did I mention that the crap this little horse went through just breaks my heart?

              I'll try throwing his old western headstall/kimberwick on while he eats lunch tomorrow while I finish mucking out the barn. Thanks

              His last owner (who was the stepping stone between his original owner/where he got broke and when i bought him) rode him in a mechanical hackamore and he was apparently really good in it, so the actual leverage doesn't seem to be a huge issue, unless the BO at the first barn I had him at was doing more than just what I walked in on, which honestly wouldn't surprise me. The mouth injury is directly related to the bit he was broke in.

              The purchase on the kimberwick is too small for me to fit a leather curb strap to, so would it be a terrible idea for me to use keyrings to attach between the bit and the strap instead? Sort of the same idea as some people that add a weak link to the chain itself so it breaks in an emergency.

              I've been cruising Driving Essentials since the day I decided to pursue driving with him, actually! Some of the bits look scary, but I quite like the look of some of them (such as the Sprenger CM Fixed Cheek 2-slot Liverpool on the "other liverpools" page). One of the other bitting issues I have with him is I need a thinner mouthpiece because he has a very small amount of space between his bars. Happy Mouth/rubber bits and a lot of the hollow mouths are too thick. But on the flip side a lot of the thinner solid ones are really heavy! I had to google what the "sweetwater" mouthpiece you were referring to looks like, and that's almost exactly what he needs as far as port and bar thickness (of course it's also something that doesn't seem to exist on driving cheeks, haha).

              Thanks for all the help! I really appreciate it. I don't have much in the way of resources for driving in my area, in fact the trainer I'm going to be working with comes to town once every couple months from England to do lessons and clinics! So in the grand scheme of things, I'm kind of flying solo, which isn't exactly the best.
              Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
              Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe


              • #8
                I would actually let him eat with a jointed snaffle on for a couple days, before going to the Kimberwick. The snaffle is so much more flexible that he can work things out easier in the beginning, eating in his stall. The solid mouthpiece will be harder to manage, so do that after he is good with the snaffle mouthpiece. Do adjust bit a little looser than you would ride him with, for eating comfort.

                I would NOT use a curb chain on his Kimberwick while eating. He is learning just to manage the mouthpiece at that point.

                You need to let him learn about curb chains while you are handling him, long lines, riding, or standing beside him and working the reins for "give" and BIG release when he gives nose a MICRON to the pressure. He needs the big reward for giving as asked, so he can tell the difference in pressure stopping. And you build on that, with more give from him as he understands better about the reward.

                I wouldn't put much faith in horse understanding leverage from use with a mechanical hackamore, because most of them are higher on the nose, so curb strap doesn't ever lay in the chin groove. Curb strap is usually up higher on the jaw bones underneath the skull, so horse is using a different place to feel the curb pressure, with the higher nose band placement.


                • #9
                  I'll throw my 2c in for whatever its worth....

                  I converted my riding morgan to driving when I discovered he had broken withers. The horse was a training project that had a long history of diabolical behaviors (which turned out to be years of being in pain due to his withers). He was not the ideal choice for a driving prospect, but we had no other options for a career so I went for it.

                  As a riding horse, I went through a zillion bits as he had a strong reaction to most. He hated mullen mouths despised mylers. His most favorite riding bit was a 3 piece lozenge baucher, so naturally that is what I used for long lining. And he did basically ok in that bit, a little fussy when out far (long length of lines between him and me). The bit didn't have a lot of 'whoa' however and he could and would sometimes get strong and just ram right through my hands. Which of course left me *really* doubting my decision to try to drive him.

                  When it was time to hitch I was extremely concerned about him blowing through my hands and causing a bad scene. So, on a whim I decided to bit up to something he couldn't run through, a baucher waterford.

                  Darn horse LOVED that bit. I'd always been afraid to try it as I thought it was "a lot", but its also VERY conforming and comfortable apparently.

                  I drove for our first 2 months in a waterford baucher. My hands were light anyhow as we were just getting started. He was happy as a clam and I was happy knowing I had enough bit in his mouth to have a fighting chance at stopping a bad situation.

                  After a winter break however, I knew coming back into work the waterford had to go as, as much as he liked it, its not the type of bit that would allow him to start taking up contact on his own and trusting my hand.

                  I ended up trying a Glory http://www.drivingessentials.com/sea...t.php?ID=51394

                  Turned out to be a magical bit for him, though he'd always hated mullens in the past. Glory bits are arched in two direction, side to side and front to back, so they really sit nicely in the mouth. And they are more or less a hanging cheek bit, so they have that nice suspended stability.

                  They also have a range of rein attachment options from pure snaffle to quite strong leverage. We've only ever used the "rough cheek" slot, and he's perfectly happy with that.

                  I had a lucky ebay find on a Glory bit baucher cheek too, the riding counterpart to this driving bit. Turns out he goes gloriously in this bit on the long reins, thanks to a suggestion from an online long lining group.

                  This has since shown me what Goodhors is explaining, about the amount of leverage on a broken mouth snaffle when out on 10-20' of line. From just the weight of the lines, the bit spends more time in a 'folded' position than not, so the horse was in a chronic state of having his jaw tweezered.

                  Then add those minute movements you and your horse have from just the movement of a horse and your arms. Up close it doesn't seem like much, but add distance and the movements are really amplified.

                  With a bit that collapses that can be a lot of extra noise, with a solid mouthpiece, it can have a nice massaging action that can help with a supple jaw.

                  So, I went around my bum to itch my ear, but the short story is... perhaps don't think in terms of "what is the right bit for us?" but rather, "what is the right bit right now?". I have learned that as my horse and I grow in experience, trust and competency, our bitting needs have evolved too.

                  Also, keep an eye on ebay for good deals.

                  good luck.
                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.