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Bit vs noseband vs martingale (cross-post to Foxhunting)

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  • Bit vs noseband vs martingale (cross-post to Foxhunting)

    Okay this is long. If you scroll to the bottom, I asked my 4 questions and you can just skip the history/treatise below )

    Here's the scenario:

    Horse is 18, retired eventer (learned from his old vet that he used to have an FEI passport, so I think he at least went up to Prelim). We mostly flat these days, and I'm riding in what I think of as a "classical seat" (grew up in the hunters). I hesitate to call it "dressage" since we don't even have letters in the ring, but I suppose that's basically what it is. He also loves to jump and hack our (as do I), which is why I'm posting this question to the foxhunting board.

    He came to us as a summer camp drop-out (he HATED being a camp horse). Initially rode him in a snaffle, as he got fit, we moved him up to a single-jointed Uxeter Kimberwicke, he went pretty well in it, but I got to thinking about it, and it seemed like kind of a cop-out, and if I needed a curb chain, I should just put him in a Pelham (handling 2 reins is not a problem for me). Not to mention, I've decided I agree with the idea that putting a joint in the mouthpiece of a curb bit defeats the purpose (since when pressure is applied to the reins, the mouthpiece breaks, instead of rotating to engage the curb). At the same time as I was thinking of switching his bit, school got crazy, and I was riding him much less, not jumping at all, and then winter hit, so we were hacking out either. I had a corkscrew D-ring, put him in that, and it was adequate for flatting in the indoor. Now that it's summer again, I've been riding more, and hacking out more. After the last trail ride with some friends, we all agreed it's time for something more!

    Badger just doesn't know he's 18 or retired. He respects a pulley rein, but obviously I'd rather not have to resort to that every time I want to stop cantering (or, what Badger calls cantering, which is what I call galloping). The other thing about him is that regardless of where we're riding (in the ring or out), once I've even trotted him, and especially after we've cantered, he is loathe to slow down! If I want to cool him down after a good work-out in the ring, I have to get off and hand walk him, because he just doesn't want to walk. He'd rather trot. (This is something we've been working on.)

    (Wow, this is getting long-winded!)

    I've read lots of the bits and noseband and martingale posts, and I think I've come up with some options, but I'd sure love to hear some opinions, too.

    I was initially thinking just going back to something stronger in his mouth, so my bit ideas were a Dr. Bristol or a polo pelham (http://www.statelinetack.com/item/ko...bit/SLT900241/). I like the wide port on the polo pelham. For the Dr. Bristol, I wasn't sure what sort of rings, but was leaning toward a full-cheek with keepers, thinking that would keep the bit oriented properly in his mouth. There's also a Waterford in the barn that I could try out.

    After reading some more threads, I started thinking more about putting him in a figure-8 or dropped noseband, but probably still with the Dr. B or Waterford rather than a single-jointed snaffle. With a figure-8 or a drop, I'd need an eggbutt or a D rather than a full-cheek. Pros/cons? I'm partial to the D, with my hunter up-bringing, but frankly I prefer the old-style barrel D-rings to the huge round hunter D-ring, but hard to find them anymore. Maybe use a Dr. B and plain cavesson for the ring, and switch to figure-8 for hacking out?

    Finally, I've never used a running martingale, but it's recommended frequently on these boards as an alternative to bitting up. Pros/cons? One huge con for me is that it's just more strap goods to clean and store, not to mention kind of a pain to take off and on.

    Okay, let's re-cap:

    1. Dr. Bristol vs polo pelham vs Waterford?
    2. Full-cheek vs eggbutt vs dee?
    3. figure-8 vs drop?
    4. running martingale?

  • #2
    But what is he DOING, exactly?

    If he's just getting strong and disrespecting the bit, I'd go with a standard, non-jointed low-port Kimberwicke or a rubber or steel mullen-mouth Pelham.

    If he's throwing his head up and stargazing, a martingale;

    If he's opening his mouth or throwing his tongue over the bit to evade, then the Figure 8.

    Each of these pieces of tack exists to counter a specific evasion.


    • #3
      Ditto above. What he's doing can tell a lot about what you need.

      That being said, he does sound like he's just being a jerky old man who needs a little remedial schooling. I would school his butt more than worrying too much about bitting/noseband/martingales (but doing SOMETHING along with the schooling would probably make your point better). I know that's not what you were looking for, but it may be more of what you need than new/different equipment, or will help make the new stuff work better.

      BTW, you can totally use a full cheek with a figure 8! That's what my horse goes in (Happy Mouth...lucky me!), and he certainly isn't the first one I've ridden like that.


      • #4
        Yep! I think a little o' that "Ole Time Religion" in the arena may be just the ticket! But ride him in a bit you can control him in easily; nobody gets any points in my world for being a member of the Suicide In Snaffles Club . . .


        • #5
          My gelding used to do the I'm not stopping routine on trail rides. Wasn't like he was going particulaly fast, just wouldn't stop. So the bits I used on him were either a full cheek Dr. B or a full cheek slow twist. I would switch between the two to keep him from getting too "comfortable" with either one resulting in him not paying attention anymore.


          • #6
            Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
            nobody gets any points in my world for being a member of the Suicide In Snaffles Club . . .
            omg, I am just going to keep that quote in my back pocket - that's great!
            “They were not sitting backwards on their horses,” he said with a sly smile. “But they had no dressage preparation..." - Bert de Nemethy


            • #7
              Bahaha, Suicide in Snaffles - Love it!

              I never thought much of figure 8s, thought there were a fashion trend in the jumpers, then I pumped up my cob gelding to a full cheek for XC after he'd grab my loose ring and run. The full cheek was getting stuck under the noseband and I worried it would rub, so I bought a figure 8. Holy crap, why didn't anyone tell me sooner?! Wonder nose-band! He was so light in the fullcheek he was backing off it, so I downgraded to the loosering again. He was crossing his jaw and running through the bit, so the figure 8 prevented the crossing and prevented him being able to run through it so I didn't need a wisper more of bit after all. I foxhunted, evented, stadium, did road work and dressage all in a double broken loose ring with a figure 8. But remember, it needs to be snug/tight to work. Not digging into his face tight, but if its loose its useless.

              I put running martingales on all young horses because they tend to get angry when you hold them back on gallops, XC, hunting etc and toss their head in protest. Once they've done it for a while without breaking my nose, I'll consider taking it off it they seem not to need it. But I'd rather have a running and not need it than need it and not have it. I don't use standings unless it is for a very short term solution, never as a long term thing.


              • #8
                I LOVE my figure 8 for my OTTB. He likes to open his mouth/chew/mouth the bit quite vigorously to distract himself from work, but as soon as I buckle it he's on the ball. LOVE it!
                ~Over or Through~

                A Blog of Percy's Journey!


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for the advice, everyone!

                  * sigh * you all are correct that more schooling would probably benefit him. I get out of the habit of "doing work" with my riding when my riding time gets limited. BUT, the old geezer put his foot through the fence in his pasture, acquiring a lovely gash on the outside of his cannon, so we will be flatting a lot in the next couple weeks, and NOT galloping on trails. Silly boy, I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into, when he was probably just reeeeeaching for that blade of grass that was so much greener than everything nearby!

                  Simbalism, that is what Badger does, too, not so much grabbing the bit or throwing his head up, but more like, "la la la I can't hear you."

                  Since he came to me indirectly from his eventing home, I know nothing about what he went in for dressage or stadium or cross-country--but it would probably be useful if I did! And that's partly why I feel like a change in equipment will help us, even if the conclusion is, well, THAT didn't work. I somehow doubt he went cross-country in our current set-up, lol (corkscrew D-ring, plain caveson, no martingale.) And I think when we are out on trail he gets XC flashbacks (nostalgic for his glory-days, I'm sure).

                  Thanks again for the tips!