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Bit for a light horse

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  • Bit for a light horse

    Looking for suggestions for a strong, scopey horse who gets too light in the bridle. When you introduce contact he comes behind and above the bit. Working on getting him to stretch off the leg but I need suggestions for bitting options for jumping. He gets out ahead of the rider and will hop up and down when they take a feel of the bridle.

    Anyone have a similar type horse? What are you using on them? We've tried a hackamore, pelham for pole pressure, several different snaffle options. Nothing seems to be just right yet over fences. Any help is appreciated!

  • #2
    It's hard to tell without a little more information, what I'm gathering is he's good on the flat (in a snaffle?) but gets worse when jumping. It's tough to find a bit for a strong horse with a sensitive mouth! For hard to match horses we often try a waterford. It's strong without being sharp and doesn't have the traditional snaffle nutcracker action that can disturb some horses. They come in many different cheeks, loose ring, d ring, full cheek, and even 3 ring. Another option is a mullen mouth short shank pelham, depending on what kind of pelham you've already tried. Again, this has a pretty benign mouthpiece but the leverage helps with control, for very sensitive horses use with a connector for consistent use of leverage.

    Have you had his teeth checked? I'm assuming if he's good on the flat but not over fences it's not his teeth, but the mouth is a tricky area and even a small tooth problem can be big when riding!


    • #3
      What does the inside of your horse's mouth look like? Thick and fleshy, high palate, etc.... I think identifying that alone can make it easier to find a mouthpiece they like. My go-to bits for horses who are difficult to bit (and by that I mean that you need something they're willing to lay on without being able to rip your arms out) are Mylers and Mikmars if I'm finding that "normal" bits don't work. But my first test, if you haven't already tried it, would be a mullen mouth bit.

      For the Mikmars, I had a horse that was a really bad "curler" and would ball up behind the bit while bolting....fun horse (*sarcasm*), but that's a whole 'nother story. He had an oddly thick and squishy mouth and I tried every bit I could think of that was thin enough and soft enough for his mouth and would still give me control (rubber mouthpieces, happy mouth, bitless bridles from side pulls to Dr. Cook's). I finally stumbled across my Mikmar combination bit (low port, curved mouthpiece). I guess the large, flat size was a good fit for his mouth, and then to have the additional control of the curb strap and nose rope was helpful. He's the horse that introduced me to my Mikmar and I've used it on several horses since who have benefited from the multiple points of contact....seems to be softer for some horses than a simple snaffle.

      But the other question I have is who will be using the bit? I toss out Mikmar with the idea that you would have someone at the other end of the reins who is in control of their hands and their rein pressure on two sets of reins. I probably wouldn't recommend it for a beginner level rider.

      The Mylers I've used could be something that might work for anyone including a more novice rider. I started using my MB43LP with my dutch warmblood gelding who's neck was set on his shoulders at a 90 degree angle....boy could he get his head up high, giraffe-style! I had him in a Sprenger KK double jointed snaffle and every time I would take up more contact while jumping, he'd stick his head straight up in the air before relaxing into a correct frame. I moved to a Myler and got more control AND a horse who was clearly comfortable with the bit....he stopped inverting and stiffening his neck and was willing to lay on the bit more, but was still much softer overall. So anything from the comfort snaffles to the ported bits might work from that side.

      But my last disclaimer.....those suggestions would come after trying "regular" bits (mullen mouth, single and double jointed snaffles, gag bits with the same mouthpieces, pelham, etc.). And if he's good on the flat and bad while jumping, my first inclination would be to use a gag with the same mouthpiece as his flatwork bit to give you the same effect but some additional leverage.

      Good luck!
      Flying F Sport Horses
      Horses in the NW


      • #4
        Is he strong? If he's not too strong I would just try a basic rubber mullen-type like a loose ring Duo or nathe.

        Another option is something very fixed -- my light/hoppy horse liked the stability of a french link happy mouth baucher in his mouth. It does *not* provide leverage but he really settles into it well.

        I'd avoid leverage until I tried the other options (gag, pelham) as that has always made my light, hoppy horse do even more of his pogo-stick impression (he tends to go up and down instead of forward in them). But every horse is different so it might work....


        • #5
          Have you tried something jointed twice like a dr. Bristol? He may be telling you, he doesn't like the nutcracker action.


          • #6
            I ride a very, very light horse who can be hot at times. She absolutely hates contact and any pressure up front. Because of this, she can be difficult to get on the bit, however when I do get her there, I have no problem with brakes. She also has a fairly small, thin mouth. We have her in a French link loose ring snaffle with a thin mouthpiece right now that she is very comfortable in. Before we were using a Stubben EZ control D-ring snaffle, which was also okay, however she likes the loose ring much better. I agree that it depends on mouth shape as well- some horses have very low palettes that can make them super sensitive.


            • #7
              Are you sure you aren't talking about my horse?

              My horse sounds just like yours. He curls behind the bit and doesn't naturally seek contact. He gets quite strong when jumping, and tends to charge forward, especially when we jump up. After lots of dressage lessons, he flats well and is not too strong on the flat unless we are really lengthening/shortening, etc.

              He has a big tongue and low palate and the bars of his mouth are sensitive, so NO single jointed bits have been comfortable for him.

              We had a lot of success in a hackamore, but it started to rub his nose badly so we had to find something else. Bits that have worked on the flat include a double jointed (neue scheule) loose ring, a double jointed eggbut with a copper crescent moon shaped bean and a double jointed d-ring with a large copper roller in the middle.

              For jumping he goes the best in a Myler with hooks and a curb chain. It is a level two mouthpiece with a low/medium tongue relief.

              What has made the biggest difference is using a Rambo Micklem Multibridle. It has made a big difference in how happy he is about having a bit in his mouth and so he has been much better in terms of contact.
              Faibel Farms Custom Fly Bonnets
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              • #8
                Another suggestion for the Herm Sprenger Duo. It's a very nice, very comfortable bit that the horse can form to a shape that is right for his mouth, and very stable. I really like the connection it creates.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                • #9
                  My tiny mouthed, sensitive sometimes hot Arab who violently protests harsh bits goes well in either JP Korsteel oval mouth eggbutt snaffles or short shanked Mullen Pelhams. Those are the only two bits where he'll go on the bit and actually work from behind. Anything else is just met with hollow head flinging ridiculousness.


                  • #10
                    Sounds similar to my new guy. He's going well in a 3 ring happy mouth elevator w/ 2 joints. We use 2 reins so 95% of the time, he's going on just the snaffle action but when he makes a bid for a jump the elevator gives me some leverage.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
                      What does the inside of your horse's mouth look like? Thick and fleshy, high palate, etc.... I think identifying that alone can make it easier to find a mouthpiece they like. My go-to bits for horses who are difficult to bit (and by that I mean that you need something they're willing to lay on without being able to rip your arms out) are Mylers and Mikmars if I'm finding that "normal" bits don't work. But my first test, if you haven't already tried it, would be a mullen mouth bit.
                      I also find that the mikmar mouthpiece (I use one without the nose rope) seems to work with a lot of horses, as does a mullen mouth. My last horse had one of those hard to fit mouths -- low palate, thick tongue -- and while I eventually rode him bitless with great success, the bit that worked best for him was a Happy Mouth Mullen Mouth fixed ring snaffle. He hated the movement of a loose ring bit.

                      Sometimes it really just is a question of trial and error.
                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                      • #12
                        Leg, leg, leg..

                        If the horse chooses to hop rather then respond properly to a half halt then he is probably over bitted and the rider isn't using enough leg to send him forward.

                        If the rider is pulling to slow down but not backing it up with some leg on sensitive, forward horses then you tend to get 'the hop' because ultimately the horse is confused.

                        From what OP described I don't believe the bit is the issue.


                        • #13
                          The bit is probably not the issue. The issue is in the flat work which has some holes in it. Contact and the bit is not what should be slowing and balancing the horse. The horse should be following your body without the bit.

                          Whole threads have been spent on the dressage forum on horses who curl,,etc.
                          I suggest you look them up.

                          Sorry there is no easy, quick answer.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                          • #14
                            My horse does the exact same thing!! I use the duo bit and it works really well and my horse if allowed in the show ring could go bitless!

                            Here's a link to the bit, I know it's kind of expensive but it's worth it!