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haflinger is too strong, how to bit her?

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  • haflinger is too strong, how to bit her?

    i know the first thing to do is get help. while i wait for the trainer to fit me into her schedule, what can i do with my haflinger to get her listening again? i trail ride exclusively, and we canter, trot, jump some small logs, etc. she is very strong and i have a hard time steering and stopping her lately. i ride in a western stiff rope hackamore, after riding her in an engish hack. she does not go well in a bit, she gets very fussy and tosses her head constantly. i think she may have the low palate i've heard haffies can have, and know i need someone to work with us to figure out what is going on.
    meanwhile, what can i do to help her learn to soften and listen?
    i have fairly soft hands, but lately with this horse i find myself hauling on her face for compliance.

  • #2
    Oh good, something I can answer

    I share your experience dealing with a strong-necked pony like a Haflinger. They've got pretty big heads, and mine has this neck that's just unbelievable. No wonder it's well nigh impossible to get his head up once he makes a dive for grass or hay.

    I can ride him in an english hackamore, and still do occasionally, although I've since found a bit we're both really happy with. For the last year or so, I've been trying to persist with a snaffle. He was ridden with a Tom Thumb curb when I first got him, and I rode him the first year in a full cheek french-link snaffle. Second year, things seemed to just really fall apart, and I tried a couple of other bits on him, a waterford snaffle, a kimberwick with a low port that he hated, and the Rockin S snaffle. He was all right with the snaffles, but never really comfortable. I think he's got a low palate himself, and a thick tongue.

    Ultimately, the bit I found that fit us best was a grazing curb with a medium port made by Weaver. I didn't think a curb would be what he needed, but he was western trained originally, and likes the tongue relief from the solid mouth of the port.

    I know you said you don't think your mare likes the bit, but maybe you might want to give this bit a try. It's only about $30. The problem I was finding was that like you, I have soft hands, but in a snaffle, I was on my horse's mouth constantly, which wasn't fair to him. Sometimes, it's just something about the leverage and control that makes Haffies stop and listen. Since I switched Mitch to the curb, he's been really good, and I can ride with a much looser contact knowing that I have something there in case I need it. I just stopped fighting with him, and let him tell me what he needed.
    "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan


    • Original Poster

      great answer!! thankyou, i'll try the bit you suggested. she's such a great pony, if we can get this sorted out we'll be so happy.


      • #4
        If she has a low palet, why not try a nice, soft three piece snaffle, or even a three piece curb (Weaver makes a beautiful one with sweet iron, only 3" grazing shank...) Something that won't pop her in the roof of her mouth, or nutcracker her jaws....
        The Galloping Grape
        Warrenton, VA


        • #5
          The biggest problem I had with finding a bit was finding one that fit him. Snaffles were no problem, but he needs a 5 1/2" bit, and I could only really find 5" curbs.

          So I was pretty glad i found the grazing curb in a 5 1/2" mouth. He's doing very nice in it. I don't have to fight with him anymore, and if he is being bratty, I can check him once, and then he'll behave, I don't have to yank and tug, and he seems much happier.


          Hope it works out. I figured for the price it was, it was worth trying.
          "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan


          • #6
            Hooray for this question! I get so tired of being told to manage my mustang in a snaffle, when I clearly have to lug and tug on him. Thats not fun and certainly teaches him nothing. Some of our horses outside of the arena are not "snaffle" horses.

            I found that a wonder bit has worked far better on the trail, as he still likes a snaffle mouth(no curbs, he clearly didn't like that) and
            I have more response.


            • #7
              I am usually a 'snaffle' person, but my aged dressage mare is VERY strong on the trails--low port kimberwicke is barely enough to keep her from snapping my arms off. I'm contemplating a beval gag for my OTTB mare for trails, just a teeny bit of lift--similar to the wonder bit, but sans curb strap.
              - JK Sporthorses -


              • #8
                I recently started using a western chain bit with a 6''-7'' shank. It really is not a severe bit at all if you have good hands. It will give you some more control however.

                I prefer to stay away from curb bits if possible, at least the ones with solid shanks that don't swivel. My older pony has always had a slightly hard mouth, and this bit seems to be what she (and I) like best. She goes really well without any pulling.

                The chain is sweet iron and it lays flat in their mouth. They can be a little pricey some places, but I found them in National Bridle Shop for $15-$25.
                Just cause you move to Texas, doesn't mean you are a Texan. After all, if a cat puts her kittens in the oven, It doesn't make them Bisquits.


                • #9
                  Mullen mouth.
                  I have a haffie/morgan who was started poorly. Exbolter. Tried every snaffle and myler combo on him. Rode so so in a mullen pehlam. I ride him western on a greg darnell mullen mouth copper inlay 6 inch shank. He loves that bit. The mouth piece is thinner than the pelham and has cooper. i can ride on a lose rein but have enough bit to hunter pace on him at a gallop in a field of horses.
                  On top of a low palate mine has a fat tongue.
                  Pamela Ellis


                  • #10
                    My low palate-d (is that a word? haha, it is now!) goes best in a Myler. He likes the movement and the narrow-ness of the mouthpiece fits him well.

                    However, in the past when he was pulling a lot and trying to run away I had good luck with an elevator. I tried a kimberwicke and a pelham, but he was very backed off of those...I assume because of the curb/chin strap. He was overly respectful of those bits. My instructor and I joked that we could probably put a chin/curb strap on his Myler and he'd behave like an angel.


                    • #11
                      first - those of you who refer to a "myler" what do you have in mind? myler is a brand that makes numerous bits, can you be more specific?

                      second - my mare has gotten v. strong on trails since her lay up as well. i normally use a myler comfort snaffle on her but she just took it in her mouth and ignored me until i turned her in a circle.

                      a friend happened to have the same mouthpiece myler (comfort snaffle with copper inlay) but with short shanks and a curb chain. i tried it on her and it was like riding a different horse. the curb chain was wrapped in vet wrap so i initially thought that maybe i could just use a leather curb strap instead (feeling guilty about using the curb chain). well it turned out the leather curb strap had no persuasive value so back to the curb chain wrapped with vet wrap we went.

                      i think until now i limited myself in my choice of bits b/c of some inner guilt triggered just by the mere thought of getting a stronger bit. but as others have said, pulling on my mare's mouth all the time just to keep her in a snaffle is certainly not fair or humane.
                      TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GallopingGrape View Post
                        If she has a low palet, why not try a nice, soft three piece snaffle, or even a three piece curb (Weaver makes a beautiful one with sweet iron, only 3" grazing shank...) Something that won't pop her in the roof of her mouth, or nutcracker her jaws....
                        I have been looking for a bit like this but can only find the 7" shanks. Do you know where I can buy this curb bit? Thank you.


                        • #13
                          my low-palated super-strong arab we did dressage in a french link snaffle (3 pieces), but trails, jumps, we used a Happy mouth bubble bit with the flexible bumpy mouthpiece and the three rings
                          Put the reins on the lower rings you get leverage without any nutcracker effect or harshness.

                          Lot of people rode VERY strong horses x-c with one of these:



                          • #14
                            I like to ride Haffies in a Pelham--that way I can use the snaffle rein if they are listening, and if I need more I've got the curb rein. Which type of Pelham I use depends on the Haffie...if I had one with a low palate I would try a mullen mouth. But I have found that horses either like the Pelham with a mullen mouth or the Pelham with a jointed mouth--but not both. If the horse does poorly in one, I'll try the other.


                            • #15
                              bit help

                              Many stores that carry Myler offer a rental program, which is awesome. It is helpful to talk to the store and they can send you home with a bit that may work. This way you do not have to buy a bit unless it works! However, all a bit can do is make a horse comfortable and not fight your hands, it is never a substitute for training.

                              Many horses don't like the pinch of a snaffle on their tongue and not all bits are created equal. Cheaply made bits tend to have ragged edges and will pinch more than nicer bits, so even though they look very similar to you they can feel very different to the horse..

                              Don't discount ported bits, as contrary to some beliefs, bits do not go to the roof of the mouth, they rotate down onto the tongue and depending on the port, off the sides of the tongues and onto the bars in varying degrees. I have had good results with some horses resisting a snaffle and moving to a port of some kind (of course there are a million ported bits too..)...

                              To add to the misery, all horses are individuals and certain shapes feel better to them, some hate tongue pressure, some don't and not all riders hands are the same...so a bit that worked for someone with their horse may not work for you. ARRGH!!! It can make you crazy!

                              I would try bits from friends (just boil in hot water to kill germs) or rent a bit from a store that carries Myler to cut down on the cost of trying bits. Kind of my rule of thumb is that if you are using one shape, and the horse is fighting it, go for a different shaped mouthpiece for a hopefully better response.

                              I have had horses that are pushing and strong get really light if I hit a bit that makes them relaxed and comfortable.

                              Good luck. Bitting can be very frustrating but so crucial to a fun ride. NEVER toss a bit, you never know if you will have a horse that likes that mouthpiece sometime in the future.


                              • #16
                                WOW! It does my heart good to see bit responses that don't foster the belief that ALL horses should go in a snaffle.

                                I have several that just flat do not like a snaffle. I have one horse that I never really thought about having a low palete, I always thought his tongue was fat. But he rides very well in the bit shown earlier. The curb, only mine has a sweet iron mouth (instead of copper) and 5" shanks.

                                I have one that rides in a halter, english hack, columbian bosal, or a mullen mouth pehlem equally well. He just goes with the flow. He despises all the snaffles I have tried him in.


                                • #17
                                  Not all horses think they should go in snaffles either! If they did crank nosebands, flash nosebands, tiedowns and other devices may never have been created!

                                  I am not sure why the snaffle is considered a gentle bit. Have you ever tried one on your arm to see what it feels like? You can put a blister on your flesh with little effort, it is no wonder horses resist them! (once again all snaffles not created equal, but try a cheapie and see how it feels-----OUCH).


                                  • #18
                                    read my helpful links pages and all links on page one as its all relevent
                                    as this is a training issue not a bit issue
                                    and as your riding english then even more reason to read the helpful links pages


                                    and read this link by thomas 1 mouthing and bitting


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by suz View Post
                                      i know the first thing to do is get help. while i wait for the trainer to fit me into her schedule, what can i do with my haflinger to get her listening again? i trail ride exclusively, and we canter, trot, jump some small logs, etc. she is very strong and i have a hard time steering and stopping her lately. i ride in a western stiff rope hackamore, after riding her in an engish hack. she does not go well in a bit, she gets very fussy and tosses her head constantly. i think she may have the low palate i've heard haffies can have, and know i need someone to work with us to figure out what is going on.
                                      meanwhile, what can i do to help her learn to soften and listen?
                                      i have fairly soft hands, but lately with this horse i find myself hauling on her face for compliance.
                                      read my above links- this is a combination of you of how you riding her and also her lack of education
                                      as shes sounds like tossing her head thats an advasion of your hands
                                      so read link 2 on page 1
                                      read thomas links so you can re- mouth the mare
                                      and then learn how to ride english and learn to use an indepedant seat
                                      and ride the horse between leg an hands
                                      english riding is different to western and unfiar of one to balme the horse if one is givng the horse mixed signals of forwards and stop at the same time
                                      this will only confuse the horse and confusion is a fear factor to ahorse in its mind 1st is to flee the 2nd is to advade you

                                      more than likely it how your riding your horse and how you have trianed that horse as they only do what your telling them to do

                                      dont haul on her face as that putting all your bodyweight into her bridle and her mouth - thats a vice like grip and what will happen is the horse will hollow up rear or pull agaisnt you to run away as its hurting the horse and there no way your stronger than a horse- so its a lost situation

                                      your actually teaching her to rear and pull did you knwo that


                                      • #20
                                        While I agree that training riding and bitting are very much dependent on one another, I remain convinced that a bit is still just a piece of gear (like tennis shoes) that either is comfortable or not. I have had issues such as head tossing, sticking the tongue out etc that have been completely fixed simply by changing to a different bit.

                                        It continues to amaze me that riders will not switch out a bit if their horses are tossing heads, fighting their hands, pulling all the other things they do to evade the bit, yet they don't hesitate to buy a new pad or even a new saddle if they think that the saddle is not comfortable for the horse!

                                        I wish I could spent years in lessons to become the rider that my trainer is. An accomplished rider can ride a horse in any bit because they have the release, the seat etc, but sadly i have to work for a living and my riding is limited to a lesson a week and riding as much as I can on the weekends and evenings! Most of us want to ride for relaxation and fun or to mess around at a horsey hobby like endurance.

                                        If you get the results you want by switching to a bit and most of all your horse seems happier, what does it matter what kind of bit you are using? We wouldn't continue to use a saddle if the horse humped up his back or bucked every time we put it on...

                                        As trail riders and endurance riders we have the freedom to choose whatever bit we want to ride. There are no governing boards telling us what we have to use so thank goodness for that!