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Gentle Bit for beginner rider who hangs on reins

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  • Gentle Bit for beginner rider who hangs on reins

    Hi There,

    I'm working with a beginning rider that tends to hang on the reins when riding. Horse is green but good (yields readily to subtle rein cues) in a basic snaffle when ridden by a more experienced rider, however I've read that snaffles used by riders that hang on the head can be really severe for the horse.

    While I'm working with the rider occassionally, it's clear that the rider is going to continue riding while learning not to hang on the reins. Currently horse is very upside down with this rider as her head is up to get away from the constant pressure. Currently being ridden in a hackamore.

    Rider primarily trail rides (western saddle) with her friends and not doing lessons. Feedback not needed on this point, it's just the reality of the situation.

    Horse follows others, stopping is not an issue and horse will rate.

    OK: So the question, for this type of rider, what types of bits / or other, do you recommend while the rider gets her balance. is a short shanked slightly ported curb less severe than a snaffle? Everything I seem to read online is contradicting the next article I read, so looking for expertise here. What do you all do in this situation, as the rider is getting their balance?

    Thank you for responding.

  • #2
    A neck strap is more important than a bit when learning to balance in my opinion.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home


    • Original Poster

      Thank you! I was planning on suggesting the neck strap thing to her next time I saw her. I agree....


      • #4
        Regarding the short-shanked curb vs snaffle.... depends on the snaffle. If you're comparing it to a standard single or double-jointed snaffle, the snaffle is very likely softer (esp if she hangs). If comparing to a thin, twisted wire snaffle, I'd go with the curb.

        Why not try a side-pull? Then she can hang all she wants without screwing up his mouth. Or if she really wants a bit, or horse won't stop without one, a rubber mullen mouth ("dog bone bit").

        Agree, neck strap is a great idea!


        • #5
          Green rider + green horse = broken body parts.

          Change the horse or run away.
          Last edited by Equibrit; Jan. 22, 2013, 08:59 PM.
          ... _. ._ .._. .._


          • #6
            Assuming you can't fix the situation, I'd go with a side-pull and a neck strap. The other option would be a rubber mullen mouth snaffle or a rubber french link snaffle and a loose noseband (with neck strap). I wouldn't go with a single jointed snaffle.


            • Original Poster

              Not my call but excellent trail horse which is it's only job. No spook or buck just doesn't know anything else


              • #8
                I'll agree with a side pull or halter, and a neck strap, and lots of nagging too!


                • #9
                  I'd also vote on a sidepull. My Arab wears one from Running Bear that's biothane and neoprene padding. He's super sensitive, but doesn't mind kids hanging on his face in that.

                  My mare wears what is labeled a 'jumping hackamore' from Tory. She's got a strong aversion to bits at this point (her tongue has horrific scarring from moron prior owners). She's perfectly happy to tote kids around in that though.


                  • #10
                    Mullen mouth rubber snaffle?

                    I second the neck strap as well.
                    The plural of anecdote is not data.


                    • #11
                      IMO (and I formerly was at ages 15 - 18 a riding instructor for 3 years in my Junior years), beginners should not be allowed to develop the habit of hanging on the reins at all! That is what the pommel of the saddle is for, to put a hand down to it as needed, with a loosened rein, as needed. Or, put a soft leather neckstrap or a knit leg wrap tied aroune the horse's neck. Building independent seat and hands, which may require including time riding on the longe line at a posting trot is vitally important and must not be skipped.
                      ETA, oops, sorry I missed the part about this is a trail rider not taking lessons...but certainly should be.
                      Last edited by sdlbredfan; Jan. 24, 2013, 10:55 PM. Reason: typo
                      RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                      • #12
                        I vote for lessons on a longe line with no reins and no stirrups. If you make the bit/contact milder than what it "should be" you wind up with a rider who really does have to manhandle the horse to get the control they need... if you turn it up- well then the poor horse is just punished even worse for their rider's weakness. It's the rider's hands which need changing.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks! Current snaffle is single joint happy mouth. Was thinking of a french link sprenger, but I've read that french links can be more severe than single joint as they don't provide tongue relief....so I'm utterly confused. Everything I read contradicts the previous article... Like the side pull idea...appreciate the input.


                          • Original Poster

                            Totally agree. The rider doesn't have access to an arena so I'm trying to assist with what their situation is. Not great, not right, I know. All these comments though are really helping me focus on getting her hands off the reins. Thanks so much....


                            • #15
                              can you try a bosal? it's difficult to impossible to "hang on the reins" on a bosal because of how they attach below the horse's nose. A bit of work here and there with a bosal will improve anyone's hands and will help a horse learn to respond to subtle rein cues.
                              I would NOT put a curb bit in the mouth of horse with a rein-hanger rider. The horse will object very strongly.


                              • #16
                                Try an S hackamore. It is not like a hackamore, but kinda is.

                                No bit, a bit of a chain, you can isolate the shoulder, iow rides like a snaffle. You can neck rein if you want also in this bit. Ride 2 hands, no hands, or one hand. The chain action is not harsh like a regular hackamore.

                                TSC, cheapest place to get one. $25. I just bought a new horse size 12 3/4" for my big head gaited mare. I have an arab size 11".


                                • #17
                                  It is hard not to comment on this situation because it is wrong in every way. There is no bit that is made to be hung onto like a water skier would a tow rope. I would not recommend a hackamore either. Put a halter on this poor horse because I bet this habit will never be broken for this rider no matter how many lessons she has.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Imnahawolfpack View Post
                                    Thanks! Current snaffle is single joint happy mouth. Was thinking of a french link sprenger, but I've read that french links can be more severe than single joint as they don't provide tongue relief....so I'm utterly confused. Everything I read contradicts the previous article... Like the side pull idea...appreciate the input.
                                    AFAIK, single jointed snaffles provide no tongue relief either. French links reduce the nutcracker effect that a single joint has on the lower jaw.


                                    • #19
                                      My students had to ride in a side pull, and a neck strap, until they were able to keep their hands still. It went back on, when they learned how to jump.
                                      The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!


                                      • #20
                                        Oh - and let me add, that I always like to add some sort of cushion to the nosebands of sidepulls, such as fleece, or even Vetwrap. I also get Velcro, and fix the cheek pieces so that they don't come close to the horse's eyes.
                                        The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!