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Bit Question

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  • Bit Question

    So I've been trying to find a suitable bit for my horse since I got him last June. I've gone back and forth between a couple, tried out some new stuff, but he hasn't gone exceptionally well in any of them. I'll run through a sort of timeline to keep my thoughts in order!

    When I tried him he was in a happy mouth D. He seemed a little fidgity in it and I didn't have the best brakes. That also could have been me as I hadn't been consistently training at the time.

    Once he was mine, I rode him in a loose ring snaffle. He was responsive in it but was always chewing it and still seemed really funky. He either evaded contact by going BTV or just would't accept the bit.

    I bought a copper french link loose ring which he liked much better and accepted happily. He salivated more, went on the bit like magic, and stopped fussing.

    That bit did its job for a few months, but as he got fitter I had more trouble getting a response out of him. He was happy to lean on the bit or ignore it somewhat when jumping. It's a pretty fat bit, so there's not really any bite to it at all, and I figured I needed a little something more for the bigger jumps.

    Over the winter, I tried him in a 3-ring gag with double reins just for the heck of it. He was really good in it but it was clearly too much for him and he'd get very backed off jumping.

    I tried a plain D but he still wasn't very responsive in that, and very fidgety again. It seems like there's a very fine line between too much and too little with this horse.

    I've hacked him in a hackamore a few times recently, which he goes very well in, but only if I'm very very light with my hands. He's absolutely happy and loose and supple in the hackamore, and the second I go back to the copper french link (what I'm currently riding in), he goes back to leaning around turns, stiffening, not wanting to accept the bit, etc. It's like night and day. The only problem is if I have an ounce too much hand, he backs way off in the hackamore. I don't even want to try jumping him in it because I know it'll be too much for him.

    Thanks for bearing with me! I'm stumped, and tired of playing musical bits. This horse is very light and has great natural carriage, but at the canter and while jumping he can stiffen and lean, and half halts and the like don't phase him at all. (And I know it takes two to pull, so I half halt and give, but he doesn't seem to get the picture). What really gets me is how absolutely lovely and light and happy he is in the hackamore, until I use too much hand.

    So...does this scream of a physical/dental issue, or is he just a picky horse? Any and all suggestions are very welcome
    Equestrianism
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  • #2
    My first comment is what everyone else will say, return to flat work and basics.

    but that's not what lead me to respond to this post.

    You went from a loose ring french link, which is one of the "softest" bits out there, to a three ring gag with a double rein. Then you said there is a fine line between to much and to little.

    Do you realize in the jump from one bit to the other that you missed thirty different options?

    My only other comment is that it sounds to be a rider error not a bit error. I am going to hazard a guess and say you are bracing on you reins, even if you don't feel like it. I say this because with each bit it works a little and then all of a sudden it's not and your horse is not listening. That usually happens when we are constantly holding our reins with no give or release. Our horses learn very quickly to ignore the constant nagging they feel when we, as riders, do this.

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    • #3
      My first thought was that you need to stick with copper. Whatever you try, obivously your horse seems to like the copper. With that said, going from a copper french-link loose-ring to an elevator (two reins or no) is a BIG step.

      Think about looking for a copper uxeter kimberwicke. You could keep it on the higher hole for regular use, but if you're having a 'day' with him, you could pop it down on the lower one. It's not a huge change, but enough of one that he would probably listen to.

      My other thought is that when he gets heavy and/or behind the vertical, push him forward. This was a problem I ran into with my little jumper mare. She would get heavy, I would pull, she would turn into an ass (no offense intended to the mule people! ). I have a tendancy to get heavy handed and I always lose a pulling match with my hunter mare.

      Finding the perfect bit sucks, but when you do.... *sounds of angels singing*

      Good luck!
      Steppin Not Dragon "Bella"
      Top Shelf "Charlie"
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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by nlk View Post
        My first comment is what everyone else will say, return to flat work and basics.

        but that's not what lead me to respond to this post.

        You went from a loose ring french link, which is one of the "softest" bits out there, to a three ring gag with a double rein. Then you said there is a fine line between to much and to little.

        Do you realize in the jump from one bit to the other that you missed thirty different options?

        My only other comment is that it sounds to be a rider error not a bit error. I am going to hazard a guess and say you are bracing on you reins, even if you don't feel like it. I say this because with each bit it works a little and then all of a sudden it's not and your horse is not listening. That usually happens when we are constantly holding our reins with no give or release. Our horses learn very quickly to ignore the constant nagging they feel when we, as riders, do this.
        Yes, I fully realize how extreme that change was from the loose ring to the 3-ring. Another trainer (who I am no longer with) suggested it, and gave it a try but quickly went back to the loose ring. I rode in that for a month or two before stepping up to the D ring.

        As for the bracing, much of the time I actually go around with a fairly loose rein (not huntery loose, but there is a fair amount of play in the reins) unless I'm actively collecting or engaging the bit. Still, I could very well be bracing without realizing it. I will try to relax while hacking.

        I have been very conscious of my hands lately because there's obviously a happy medium between me supporting and him carrying his own load that we're missing. I hate bitting up (like I said, the gag was only tried because a trainer suggested it, and didn't last long). I'm hesitant to even continue riding in the hackamore because I'd rather not have enough than risk taking too much and messing with him.
        Equestrianism
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        • #5
          My horse loves a sprenger kk bit and really likes a "flavored" bit more than stainless steel. Also what type of happy mouth? Jointed or mullen? I am a big fan of mullen mouth happy mouths for the sensitive ones because it often is not too much bit that they go behind it (and often they are easier to push into this bit) but when they get a little strong you can give a good pull and they listen, but it isn't too much. I like the sprenger kk for ones that can lean and be strong a little as it is soft but I find I have pretty good control with it even on the strong ones, and then a mullen happy mouth for the very sensitive (which sounds likes your horse). A sensitive (but strong) horse I use to ride I liked to use a figure eight with the happy mouth (mullen) and that worked very well for at home schooling.
          http://community.webshots.com/user/jenn52318

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks! I am going to really focus on a) working on my issues, and b) finding a bit that he's happy in, because in the end, I don't care if I need to work a little harder on my end to ensure that he's comfortable with his bit.

            I'm not sure whether the happy mouth was jointed or not unfortunately. I'm going to try to raid my trainer's bit box and try a mullen and the sprenger kk if I can dig one up. I honestly think a french link D with a narrower mouthpiece would do the trick. My copper loose ring is just so dang thick and I think just having a little less bulk in his mouth would give me that extra ounce of oomph.
            Equestrianism
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            • #7
              Try a corkscrew. Cheek of your choice. I've had many horses that were similar to what you describe, with verified soft contact, and all really liked the corkscrew, some full cheek some D.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'd look for a slightly thinner mouthpiece in something similar to the loose ring copper french link. Some like a 14mm or 16mm Herm Sprenger KK ultra, or albacon french link.

                Alternatively, I'd try a different noseband with the french link you have. Maybe a flash or figure 8 will work.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm surprised no one mention that this could be teeth related problem...

                  And since you asked for it, YES it could surely be teeth problem.

                  You should have your horse check and done before going further in bit swapping!


                  I had similar problem and everything got back in place once the teeth were ok!
                  If there's a problem in his mouth, the more you'll ride him in 'pain' (probably just being incomfortable for now) the more you'll have trouble getting back to proper work after because he might remember that 'pain'.

                  Teeth problems leads to stiffness in the mouth, neck, back and affect all the horse,s locomotion. And if the horse compensate too much avoiding the bit, it might result in injuries at back, legs, neck...
                  ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                  Originally posted by LauraKY
                  I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                  HORSING mobile training app

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                  • #10
                    Agree 100%-check his teeth first!

                    One thing not mentioned is that the french link is essentially a double jointed bit as opposed to a single joint. Depending on the shape of your horse's mouth, that could be the reason he likes it better, not just the copper mouth. My horse does NOT go well im a single-jointed bit. He goes a bit better in a double jointed, and best in a plain mullen mouth. But if the French link worked for the most part and you just need a little more "bite" to it, you might try a Dr. Bristol, perhaps with a slightly thinner mouthpiece. The link isn't curved like a French and many horse respect it just a little more.

                    FWIW, I'd try a mullen mouth bit. Many horses evade the bit because it's too much for them, or doesn't fith their mouth properly. My boy's mouth is small, with a low palate, and I think he likes the stability of the bit in that small space. Many people mistakenly think that they need a stronger bit when infact, they need a milder one.

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                    • #11
                      What does your trainer ride him in? He is certainly extremely competent imo (as were the trainers you came from.)

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Bearhunter View Post
                        What does your trainer ride him in? He is certainly extremely competent imo (as were the trainers you came from.)
                        He gets ridden in the bridle I use, so the copper french link. As soon as he gets back from this show, I'm going to breach the issue with him and see what he thinks. (And yes, both he and the previous trainers are extremely competent and I respect both barns immensely. The bitting issue wasn't really with a main trainer at the previous place )

                        I will definitely look into the teeth. That's sounding more and more plausible, especially since he went so well the current bit a few months ago.

                        Thanks again for all the suggestions!
                        Equestrianism
                        Photography

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by *jumper* View Post
                          As for the bracing, much of the time I actually go around with a fairly loose rein (not huntery loose, but there is a fair amount of play in the reins) unless I'm actively collecting or engaging the bit. Still, I could very well be bracing without realizing it. I will try to relax while hacking.
                          I think you maybe just answered your own question here. I am willing to bet your horse isn't all that accepting of contact, so when you pick any up, he bounces between your hand and leg. My guess is that you will pick up your reins, and he'll suck back behind the vertical, so you bump him up with your leg into the bridle, after which he either pulls to evade, scoots, or bounces off the bridle again.

                          I'd suggest putting a comfortable bit in his mouth, something he doesn't totally drag you in, but also something that he's not afraid of, and teach him that contact is just fine. Perhaps ride with a shorter rein so that any hand and arm movements are relatively small - a loose, loopy rein magnifies your movements, making contact go from zero to sixty in an instant, rather than a smooth progression by degrees until the desired effect is reached.

                          Try picking up gentle but consistent contact via the reins, putting your leg on, and leaving everything status quo until the horse accepts it. Don't brace or pull, just maintain soft, steady contact. He'll most likely fuss and either drop behind the bit or try to go through it - add more leg and keep your bum in the tack. Let him fuss until he settles, then reward him by softening but not dropping the contact. I promise, it will work - I am going through all of this with a hothothot TB mare that I finally realized won't ever be ridable if I stay so tentative with my aids!

                          I also wonder if your horse wouldn't be better off in either a mullen mouth or a double jointed snaffle of some sort - you described him as being fussy in both of the single jointed snaffles you rode him in.

                          I very well could be wrong, as I've never seen your horse go, but based on your description, I think this could be the trick for you.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Small Change View Post
                            I think you maybe just answered your own question here. I am willing to bet your horse isn't all that accepting of contact, so when you pick any up, he bounces between your hand and leg. My guess is that you will pick up your reins, and he'll suck back behind the vertical, so you bump him up with your leg into the bridle, after which he either pulls to evade, scoots, or bounces off the bridle again.

                            I'd suggest putting a comfortable bit in his mouth, something he doesn't totally drag you in, but also something that he's not afraid of, and teach him that contact is just fine. Perhaps ride with a shorter rein so that any hand and arm movements are relatively small - a loose, loopy rein magnifies your movements, making contact go from zero to sixty in an instant, rather than a smooth progression by degrees until the desired effect is reached.

                            Try picking up gentle but consistent contact via the reins, putting your leg on, and leaving everything status quo until the horse accepts it. Don't brace or pull, just maintain soft, steady contact. He'll most likely fuss and either drop behind the bit or try to go through it - add more leg and keep your bum in the tack. Let him fuss until he settles, then reward him by softening but not dropping the contact. I promise, it will work - I am going through all of this with a hothothot TB mare that I finally realized won't ever be ridable if I stay so tentative with my aids!

                            I also wonder if your horse wouldn't be better off in either a mullen mouth or a double jointed snaffle of some sort - you described him as being fussy in both of the single jointed snaffles you rode him in.

                            I very well could be wrong, as I've never seen your horse go, but based on your description, I think this could be the trick for you.
                            Thanks, that definitely makes sense. I can get him to accept the contact and maintain a pretty good, forward flow, but he stiffens and falls ahead or behind so easily lately. It's funny, because sometimes it feels like he's searching for the contact, but when he has it he doesn't stick with it long.

                            I think I'm going to try jumping him in the hackamore tomorrow (and of course I'll have his bridle handy to switch out if it's too much) and then I'll try hacking him in a mullen mouth Sunday. In the meantime, I am definitely going to try to get the dentist out to take a look.
                            Equestrianism
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