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What bit might you try....

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  • What bit might you try....

    Ok so my horse has a lovely soft mouth. He can get a little draggy to fences sometimes, which normally wouldnt be a big deal, extra half halts, whatever. But, he needs like no hand when he is going to take off, because otherwise he kind of runs into the bit and wont stretch over the fence and just kind of pings into the air. I was riding him in a cherry roller earlier this year, but as his dressage got better it became too much for jumping so I went back to my french eggbutt. Which is not necessarily not enough, it just doesnt seem right. He can stretch ok over the fence, and it might be the right one for stadium, but he can be especially draggy on xc and I need more hand to bring him back, which then backfires as he jumps like crap. I tried a slow twist, which he seemed stronger in somehow. Im going to try my wonder bit/beval on him next, and my coach thought maybe something with nose pressure instead of mouthpiece, like the myler combo bit.

    Any other ideas for a generally soft horse that doesnt like a lot of hand but can get draggy out at speed? I should also mention he can be finicky to steer so bits that compromise on steering are a no go.

  • #2
    I'll be interested in replies as I'm also looking for a different bit for galloping in wide open spaces. Patrick is also in a french link (Herm Sprenger with the rounded middle piece) for flatwork, and, well, for everything else because it's on the bridle I always use.

    Years ago when we did this, Patrick was in a single jointed Baucher snaffle for jumping. That's the first thing I'm going to try (since I already have it...) and might be something to put on the list for your guy.
    ... and Patrick


    • #3
      Got video? Curious whether its really the horse... If his mouth is soft, then he should only need more training and better riding. Sometimes just switching snaffle type bits of various types will give a thoughtful horse better brakes. Also, possibly a kineton so that his nose is involved if you get too handsy and doesn't allow you to pull the horse's mouth too much as its stabilized. That's why those expensive bits with the nosepiece are so popular. Me, I like doing something that requires two reins, like OMG a pelham, for horses that intimidate me when they are going on. I have my pacifier (my curb) but I don't have to use it unless necessary. But Jim Wofford admonishes we need to train our horses to go in plain snaffles, and I work on that.


      • #4
        What about a full cheek single joint snaffle? The single joint is less soft than the french link, and the cheeks keep the bit in place. If you add keepers it makes the bit another tiny bit stronger.

        This is a bit of a stab in the dark but it sounds (from your other posts) that your horse is really pretty well schooled - is there something you can do with your position to half-halt him so you're not needing your hands? Like raise your upper body, sit back in the saddle?

        How about a bridge, or using a breastplate or yoke to pull on instead of his mouth?

        It does sound like he just gets too excited XC to listen to you.

        Your other option would be to use the slightly stronger bit and be super aware with your hands so you halfhalt in time to balance and immediately release so he can jump.


        • Original Poster

          He actually isnt that well schooled over fences, he is 6 and has been under saddle since he was 4, but due to the poor health of his owner he didnt do much in his 4th year and that winter after I got him was mostly learning basics on the flat. He started jumping in the spring of his 5th year. Then spent most of that summer off due to a bad bout of cellulitis.

          He has always been super easy on the flat, he takes to everything naturally. However, he has always been kind of a spaz over fences. He is an overjumper to the max and for a long time just kind of got to the fence and flung himself straight into the air. Its taken some time for me to get used to him as he is a super different ride from my other horse thats been my only ride for the past 10 years. But this one is a pretty complicated jump. He tends to be slow off the ground, he wants almost no contact the stride or two before the fence, but he also hates if you get forward the tiniest bit. I can pretty much do this for him in stadium where he isnt dragging me around, because I can half halt and then let go before the fence. But out in the open when he drags me to the fence, its really hard to let go the way he wants while keeping him up and listening, and then he gets there and goes "oh crap now I cant jump, boing".

          I did try a single jointed full cheek, just out hacking (in the chilly windy weather!), but he was getting to lean on it.

          I guess Ill have to try my beval and see, but I was thinking of rubber mouths, and cartwheel bits. I may be looking at softer mouthpieces and different cheeks. Im also trying my loosering myler, I know it wont give me brakes, and its not that I even think I need more brakes, just something different, because this snaffle is not *the* bit, for jumping in the open.


          • #6
            Ah, from the more detailed description it sounds like he's not accepting your aids - he's gotten you to ride him like he wants you to. I think he needs to learn to deal with being ridden. Not ok for him to get behind the leg in front of a fence - if he's insisting you have no contact as he takes off, (or he'll lean) he's not in front of your leg and on the aids.

            Since he's young I think you can fix it - it's ugly when they're confirmed criminals of 15 years.


            • #7
              I am just going to throw this out there but from your description I ride a horse that is very similar. I ride him in a herm sprenger duo on the flat and just went and picked up the same bit with in a three ring today for x-c and trail riding when he wants to really gallop on. This horse has the softest of softest mouths and is really well broke on the flat but does the same sorts of stuff to fences. I have no experience with the duo three ring but I thought it might work well for my purposes.

              ETA- Wanted to say that the reason I am using the duo on the flat and in the ring is for the same reasons Hilary stated. Mine has to learn to go forward and not ping up into the air. He came back to me with some strange issues mainly a straight up and down jump but inverted. I have been retraining him to jump correctly by giving him a bit he could trust and really riding him forward to this soft bit so he has nothing to back him off. Then I can ride at the fence quite easily.

              I know it sounds crazy and I probably wouldn't have believed it before but this horse goes like a different animal in this bit where with others he gets tight/tense, won't stretch, won't go forward and sort of pings off the ground. It is like having zen so I just shelled out some cash for the same damn mouthpiece in the 3 ring just for trail riding when he thinks it is fun to run through my hand. I am the type of person who believe there is no point in riding a horse who gets to learn to run through the bit. Use something more and go easy with it to teach them to carry themselves. A snaffle is super if they aren't leaning and learning they can run through you.


              • #8
                I'm having good luck with a french link King D that has a slow twist for a horse who needs a soft touch, hates a singles joint but can get luggy. He seems to think this is a good bit and I'm thinking I might try and find a full cheek version for XC. The Tom Thumb pelham I hunt him in is perfect for that but way too much bridle for anything else.


                • #9
                  Both Sox and Cupid are currently going in a full cheek, single jointed happy mouth. I love the full cheeks for young horses or older ones with steering/straightness issues and find that these two horses hate anything metal in their mouths. I would try one if you can - they're pretty cheap and a handy bit to have in your collection anyway


                  • Original Poster

                    Jleegriffith, that sounds a lot like him! Even on the flat, warming up, he can get pingy and will pop into the air when he hits the bit, but Im not even really holding the reins. He is just super sensitive in his mouth I guess. Once he gets working he is totally fine, but at first he is often kind of "ahh, bit, boing".

                    In the ring the snaffle is totally fine, but then in the ring he is much more workmanlike and doesnt get over excited or draggy. But I do think there could be a better snaffle for him as well. I wonder if I can find one of those to try before shelling out the dough. A 3 ring (though i never use the bottom ring) never crossed my mind, as even my super strong horse finds it too much bit.


                    • #11
                      I think the difference can be in the mouthpiece for some of these really sensitive horses. One of my other personal horse is a big guy and quite strong but very picky about bits. He loved the rubber mullen pelham out hunting and a mullen on the flat. I also like the wonder bit a lot and use the one that has a bean in the middle. Enough brakes without changing anything to much.

                      I moved from the duo to the kk loose ring because I thought he was getting dull in the duo and wanting to hang. Rode in the kk for a few months and then felt like he wasn't seeking the bit and wasn't traveling as even into the contact. He was way backed off and when jumping if he hit the bit he would get inverted and upset. Back to the duo and my old horse was back again. I wish they could talk to us when it comes to finding the right bit!


                      • #12
                        Just another wild idea, but how about a waterford for jumping. Or try a Kineton noseband. I have used both (although not at the same time ) on a couple of soft mouthed horses who had a tendency to pull to fences.
                        Fox Haven Farm, Inc.
                        Home of 2002 JC Registered stallion Artrageous

                        Artrageous has his own Facebook page!


                        • #13
                          mylar combo

                          I love love love my myler. I flat in a loose ring with a middle roller piece, and jump in the 3 ring myler combo with the barrel mouthpiece in the middle. But my horse has a hard mouth and isn't bit fussy. What he is is draggy to fences, and he seems to love this bit. Also I'd reccommend the Stubben bit with the bean in the middle, if the horse gets draggy the bean locks, and if they stay soft the bit stays soft. It comes in a loose ring, a full cheek, or a D.


                          • Original Poster

                            ^ I thought about those Stubbens, the EZ control mouthpiece right? I might try to pick one up at the Royal. Also on my list is an oval mouth 3 piece loose ring, a cartwheel beval, and a kineton noseband.

                            I have a friend who has a myler 2 ring combo, Ill have to borrow it from her, but I think it might be too much. They make one similar, bit instead of a 2 ring it just has a fixed rein spot, might be more his style.

                            Ill get back with what works. He is the hardest horse when it comes to this, because he isnt really doing any one specific thing. My other horse gets low and leans, its pretty easy to narrow down which bits would work on him.


                            • #15
                              How about lots of cavaletti work? I say this because I have a mare who won't tolerate most bits. She's very honest but does get strong x country and thinks she can jump anything from any speed at any angle. If I mess with her she just tosses me off and goes on with life, and if I use a stronger bit, she tosses me off sooner than later. So I spend a good deal of time doing J Woffords combination (in the apendices of his eventing book). I have to set the jumps up to three feet or just under and let her crash one. This makes her think about jumping and take it (and me) a bit more seriously. She also becomes more responsive to my aids, which I must keep light, or guess what? She tosses me off : )