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Rutledge bit?

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  • Rutledge bit?

    I recently got a recommendation to try a Rutledge bit on my horse (seems to have a very tough mouth). Anyone have experience with these?

    We have had mild luck with a Mullen Mouth and a Little S Hackmore, but he can still be a butthead at times...Of course, I know that can happen with any bit, but when he runs off and doesn't react at all to a big-POP on the reins (that should have gotten a rearing episode at least) you gotta wonder what the heck was used on him to toughen his mouth so much?!
    He's a trail / pleasure horse by the way.

    a link to description:
    RIP Traveler & Tesla <3

  • #2
    If you want to use a one-rein stop... to turn him around, you need to teach him first, using a snaffle bit.

    Once you teach him the one-rein stop (or rather the one-rein turn around), you can go back to a shanked bit.

    In other words, the horse needs more training. Not a different bit.
    When he takes off, do you get REALLY tight and grip with your legs and tense up and lean forward? If so, then you are urging him on. squeezing means go. tipping forward, means go. Pulling back with both reins gives the horse more balance to go faster with its head up.

    If you REALLY think you need a different bit, look at barrel racing bits, with the rawhide nose bands and gag sides. A barrel racing bit has 2 methods to its madness... one for "rating" the horse (slowing it's speed) and the other for turning on it's haunches when the rider sits back.

    Be sure to get the rubber discs for each side - with the velcro tabs to apply to any gag-type mouthpiece. Something like this...

    or even one with a mullen mouthpiece. (Which is what I use on my QH as his designated "go fast" bit).


    • Original Poster

      The bit recommendation came from an equine chiro/massage therapist (we have had issues with him hollowing out and not rounding up. His hip turned up out and that adjustment has done wonders overall). We've been doing well with a Mullen mouth and the S hack (which has a rope nose that I have put fleece on due to a rub), neither I or the trainer (He is in training right now to work on his back and cues) had heard of this bit so I was looking for insight.

      And FWIW, he can do a one rein stop, but we are working on HO and try not to use it all the time. Circles seem to be th be the best teaching method for him...so we do lots of those!

      I'm sure I do tense up, which doesn't help the matter of course! We are working on this with him patiently, as he has had rough training in the past and we want him to understand what we ask, not do things out of fear.
      RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


      • #4
        I had an 1/2 arab with the same issues, except not bad training. He would walk around with head in the air, back hollowed and had a terrible trot. Everybody said that's an arab. I kept checking eeverything, finally checked his mouth. The roof of his mouth was so low that it actually touched his tongue all the way across. No wonder his head was in the air. Tried different bits, no help. Finally tried an english hackamore or cloverleaf hack as soneone here on the board calls them. What a difference. No more running through the bit, no more head in the air and his back rounded out so nicely that I was able to sit his extended trot. Rode him on the trails with that hackamore for more than 16 years until he passed away at the age of 25.


        • #5
          My arab was similar. She is just a hard hearded (18 yr old) so not a whole lot of "more training" is going to help.

          I found success with this bit: http://tteamforendurance.com/TTEAMequipment.aspx

          The TTeam bit, and it is highly endorsed by endurance riders and it is NOT as "mean" as it appears.

          After struggling with what bit to get, I went with this one over the Imus style and other curb action bits. I do Not use two reins with it, just too much stuff to deal with. It is a great bit! You can clip the reins to be a curb action or snaffle action also.


          • Original Poster

            We actually had a really good ride today with just the Little S Hack. But, we were out on trails and he was really excited and curious. Took a bit to get him to slow down his trot and collect a little, but we didn't have any major fights till the end of our 2nd ride and he was stuck at the back (Hubby on a slow poke and I wanted to make sure he was OK...he didn't look so happy at that point). He apparently likes to lead!
            RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


            • #7
              umm...every critter's tongue fills their mouth. Doesn't yours when you close your mouth LOL? Cats dogs horses werewolves peeps...that's just normal.

              I don't mind a chain mouth bit b/c there's nothing to lean on or brace on...I don't like the rutledge b/c it's not sensitive enough. It's all a wall of action. eh, pass.

              I'd look at lots and lots of circles, bending, slowing with your own stride, softening, and both of you relaxing. If YOU tense up- he will too, every time.

              Keep at it in a mullen mouth, or slow twist snaffle, etc...just play with it. Double check his teeth are in good shape, your saddle fits him well, etc. ride where you CAN- not where you hope you'll survive, and tune tune tune.


              • Original Poster

                OK, so we are going to 'ignore' the rutledge bit suggestion and just continue his training in the mullen mounth, with working in the hack with me on weekends, as I'd like to go 'bitless' if possible, if not I just want something that works!
                RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


                • #9
                  There are several bitless solutions. Whether one works for your horse depends on what type of pressure they respond to well.

                  I have a horse that I ride in an LG bridle (www.lgbridle.com) which provides mild hackamore action through a curb chain and pressure on the nose. He also does ok in a little S hackamore, but it's a bit too much for him.

                  The Dr. Cook's bridle works primarily on poll pressure. My horse hated it (reared) but I know several people who've found it very effective.

                  The horse that I ride bitless now also has a very low palate and a thick tongue. The bits that worked the best for him were a happy mouth mullen (the one with the ridges) and a myler triple barrel mullen.

                  I have more information on bitless bridles on my blog if you want more comparisons.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by paintedtrails View Post
                    I recently got a recommendation to try a Rutledge bit on my horse (seems to have a very tough mouth).
                    There is no such thing as a "tough mouth," only a horse who is ignoring the aids for one reason or another. Retraining is your answer - not a "big bit."

                    When I got Monster back after she was gone for years, she was a hard headed heifer with no stop, no turn, and no regard for the person in the saddle. She was in some big heavy shanked bit and had sores on the corners of her mouth. Over a course of months I transitioned her down to the Little S Hack and then finally just a rope halter with reins. ANYBODY can ride her in the Little S, or the rope halter. Even my dad who is crippled, old, and NOT a horse person. He's done 4 hour trail rides on her and never had a single problem. When we bought her back, the lady was scared of her because of her total disregard for aids, and her tendency to go faster and faster anytime something didn't agree with her.

                    I also had a scary incident when we were cantering in the hay field. She made a swooping right turn headed back toward the barn, regardless of my increasingly louder cues to STAY STRAIGHT. She started picking up speed headed down a slight grade toward the tree line with the barn on the other side. I had to whip her in a circle with a really hard one rein stop. It stopped her but then she kept spinning and I thought I was going off. She was in a D-ring snaffle and that was shortly after I'd gotten her back. At that very minute I decided we are going back on the circle in the ring and we're going to straighten out what cues mean and how we respond to them!

                    I've used her as a lesson horse, and kiddie pony for various kids. I'm still in contact with her ex-owner and she can't believe the transformation. It wasn't anything magic, it was just plain old - starting back at square 1. To that lady's credit, she didn't have the time or the desire to do retraining because she just didn't like the horse that much. No problem, but I do so I didn't mind the tremendous effort it took.


                    • #11
                      If the horse is hollowing his back, I would look at saddle fit too. Not sure if you have or not. just offering that.

                      Horses hollow to avoid pinching. Pain will make them not listen to cues.

                      To round up, a solid mouthpiece is better than a jointed. for lateral training, a jointed mouthpiece. If the mullen mouth works well, then you might investigate the Myler barrel mullen mouth.

                      I'm not a HUGE fan of Myler bits - but they DO have a rental/ trial program. You might want to take a look to see what possibilities there are.

                      SO far as the Rutledge.. it's flat and therefore not terribly awful - but it's also a large bit - a mouthful. It's use with steer roping makes sense as you can stop the horse fast, without worrying about cutting their tongue in half.


                      • Original Poster

                        A2: We are doing 'retraining', and your situation sounds similar. 1st owner was apparently afraid of him, so he has learned to take advantage when he can. The trainer says he's similar to a horse we had there who just like an ADHD kid. He takes a little time each day in the beginning to remember what he supposed to do, but he does get it eventually.

                        Gabz: I use a treeless, with a good pad and we have had the saddle fit checked. He did have some back pain that we called in a chiro for and has been much better. We have stretches to work on and he is continuing his training to re-learn how to break at the poll and round up. It seems like he has had badly fitting saddles in the past, causing him to carry himself with a hollow back, with or without a rider.

                        I've been debating that Myler rental thing once I figure out what to try!

                        I'm in it for the long haul and willing to take the time to retrain. He gets bored with the arena, but now that I have a trailer we can go out to trails and that is a great break for him...as well as it reminds him that putting your head down makes it easier to go up hill!
                        RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


                        • #13
                          Since you are working with a trainer, you might see about using some side-reins in lunging lessons. The horse needs to learn with a very knowledgeable person who has used them for training as they can create wrecks if the horse feels they are "stuck"...

                          My QH had years of bad saddle fit - has the white marks on his withers to prove it. Took several tries to get the right saddles (Eng & Western) and then we worked on bringing his head down using english bridle, french link bit, surcingle and side reins. 6 months + of several times a week for 30 - 45 minutes. Now, 8 years later, to get his head down (and I'm not talking level neck or ears below withers, I'm talking still an angle going UP but nose brought back and curve to the poll) and relaxed all I have to do is wiggle my fingers on the reins to a grazing (med/low port) solid shanked bit. This horse was never a western pleasure horse - couldn't keep his head/neck low enough for the judges! More a TB angle with a massive cow-horse body! LOL... VERY smooth though.


                          • #14
                            My guy is still young and while well trained I like to know I can stop on an endurance ride if I need to. Assuming you have good hands I ride him in a sliding 'H' gag with a 'dogbone' in the middle. 98% of the time I can have the reins totally soft without any contact but IF I really need the stop its there.

                            Thats what I like about the sliding H gag is it can be as gentle as you want until you need it

                            ETA: This is it http://cgi.ebay.com/BIT-STAINLESS-ST...19104007r39217
                            I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.