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Going hunting! Bitting question

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  • Going hunting! Bitting question

    I am going hunting next week! And I have questions!

    The hunt guide says they recommend a pelham or gag. I understand the need for sufficient control but don't want to overbit to the point it upsets my horse. My horse is a very sensitive-mouthed TB who normally goes in a nathe (soft rubber mullen) loose ring and I am a little concerned that if I put a pelham on him he will react negatively.

    I have a KK gag in my bit box. I also have a french link 2 ring elevator that seems like an in-between -- could that be enough bit to maintain control but not overwhelm him?

    Horse is an OTTB, not often ridden in company because I keep him at home and don't get the chance. I am not sure how he will do though generally he is pretty good. I expect he will be excited but he's a good boy.

    Any thoughts on bits? Words of wisdom? I'm excited!

    I expect my horse to be good, but if he blows a gasket, what is the polite way to extract myself? I want to make sure we are polite, as he is greenish in company and it's always best to have a Plan B if Plan A (having a great ride with the hunt!) fails.

  • #2
    Well, I wouldn't try a new bit on the day you are supposed to hunt. Horses will get up a bit to a lot on their initial hunts. Some require a little to a lot more bit.

    I would try working with a couple of options at home before going hunting. If you are comfortable with two sets of reins then a pelham is a nice option as you can turn on and off the extra when you need it. One of my hunt horses goes in a pelham (snaffle at home) another is in a snaffle whether hunting or at home. All of my hunt horses are TB's and what they go in varies from horse to horse.
    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with FitToBeTied... Never try something for the first time in the hunt field. If you can try as many options at home as possible prior to going out, that would be best. You want him to answer your requests with "Yes Ma'am", but don't want him upset by the extra breaks.

      You may be able to find a pelham that is similar to the bit you ride in at home and then you just have the curb rein a the extra break that you can adjust as you need it.

      As far as excusing yourself, it sounds like you will be "partnered" up with a "nanny" for the day. This will make things easier. If your horse is acting silly they can give you some ideas to try and if it doesn't work they will help you to excuse yourself.

      Generally speaking, if you've had enough of the day and need to leave you would speak to the field master for your flight and say thank you and may I be excused. If you can't get to the field master, speak to the person ahead of you and ask them to say thank you to the field master and excuse yourself. DO NOT RIDE IN ALONE!! Unless expressly given permission to do so. It is very easy to ruin the hunting for others if you take the wrong trails home, and could ruin the day for you if your upset horse pitches you on the way in and no one can knows about it.

      I hope you have a wonderful time and that your horse takes to hunting like a duck to water!!

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks! He has been in the elevator before (with 2 reins) on trail rides so I think I will go with that. It is a lot of bit for him and I will be very surprised if I can't hold him in it.

        Thanks for the advice about excusing myself, jawa. I hope not to need it but definitely don't want to spoil the fun for everyone else should horse lose his mind.

        Comment


        • #5
          They do make pelhams with both hard and soft rubber mullen mouths, though the soft ones are quite fat and can be hard to find. My horses that rode in them did well with a french link mouthpiece, instead, including a 3-ring. I agree with everyone who said not to try a new bit and new activity the same day. What do you normally use when he's "up" to a do a solid halt from the canter or hand gallop?

          I did a lot of down transitions, including lots of random halts from various gaits, and slow down/speed up calmly without being in his mouth all the time exercises to prep my guy with very good results.

          ETA: I see we posted at the same time. Sounds like you have a plan--hope you have a great time!
          Last edited by WildBlue; Sep. 24, 2011, 09:40 AM. Reason: eta
          ---------------------------

          Comment


          • #6
            I absolutely agree with not trying a bit for the first time in the hunt field.

            I like to hunt with a pelham and two reins -- my TB doesn't always need the "extra" control and I can ride him on the snaffle rein. However, it's nice to know that I have the curb rein when I need it. I don't want a bit that backs off my horse too much -- I still like him to come into the contact, just not abuse it.

            The trick is whether or not your horse accepts pressure from the curb strap.

            My own TB cannot stand a two ring but is happy in the pelham.

            I've also hunted in a Waterford loose ring. It gives me a bit more control but also prevents him from leaning.

            Horse is an OTTB, not often ridden in company because I keep him at home and don't get the chance. I am not sure how he will do though generally he is pretty good. I expect he will be excited but he's a good boy.
            Any chance you can go out for a gallop with a few friends in the days before the hunt to see how he does? At least with my OTTB my early challenge with him was teaching him he didn't have to be first. He threw some pretty good temper tantrums at the beginning. In a case like that, having a stronger bit wasn't going to help because he was just so upset. I spent quite a bit of time taking him out in groups and teaching him that he could go in the middle of the field.
            Last edited by Bogie; Sep. 24, 2011, 11:21 AM.
            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

            Comment


            • #7
              Just a thought

              Have you considered using a seasoned hunt horse for your first "Hunt"....I know you are a seasoned horsewoman but the hunt field is quite different from hunters, show jumping or eventing.

              If you can borrow or rent a field hunter for your upcoming hunt, then it may be a lot more enjoyable......Plus a great learning experience.

              My fourteen year old daughter's horse is great in eventing, hunter paces and hunter trials....but not the hunt field and it is undermining her confidence and she is fast losing interest.

              Yes, I am looking for another horse that can go in the first or second flight......
              Berkley

              Comment


              • #8
                My mare hacks in a big fat hollow snaffle and I hunt her in a slightly smaller diameter French link snaffle. That is all the extra brakes she needs in the hunt field. I would test a few bits that step you up just slightly, but test them at home or on a trail ride. I never try anything new for the first time in the hunt field. Good luck to you.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks for all the advice. He is used to being out and about but alone. Given my horse's abysmal track record (6 races, nothing anywhere near the top 3) I have high hopes that he will like galloping in the middle of the pack... We shall see!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just so you are aware, it's not always the galloping in company, although it can be, it is the standing still after a quick clip.

                    Allowing room for circles after gallops just in case your horse would rather move than stand still.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'd go with the elevator with two reins before the pelham. Race horse/TB's tend to take exception to a curb chain!! I had the "strongest pulling TB in the world" some years ago. Never hunted him, but he almost killed me (at home) when I rode him in a pelham!! ...Tucked his head between his front legs and RAN!! He didn't care if there was a tree in the way, either!! But he rode great in a 3 ring elevator with double reins...and even better in a French link snaffle!! Go figure!
                      www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                      Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Yes, crosscreek, this horse is extremely light-mouthed but can be a curler. I am very hesitant to use a pelham on him as I just think he's going to drop behind it and turn into a stick of dynamite when he feels the curb chain. I know the 2 ring with 2 reins will work as emergency brakes so I'm going to go with that. I might have tested the pelham but he lost a shoe and I will only have 2 rides between when the farrier can get out and the hunt, not enough time to really pilot test a pelham this time around. Maybe next time...or I'll stick him back in a french link, I bet he will be fine in that once I confirm he's not going to do anything stupid like stick his head between his knees and try to toss me in company. Nice to have the 2 ring in the meantime, more leverage!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Go with the elevator, you and horse are familiar with it.

                          I had a Secretariat wannabe OTTB that I hunted for years, and though pretty 'hot' and jiggy in the field, he really never pulled or rooted or anything, remained responsive to a plain old eggbut snaffle. In later years I had a friend or two who preferred hunting him in a kimberwick and he was fine in that, too. For him a Pelham would have been overkill.

                          Likewise, I've had horses that I did 'everything else' in a snaffle and hunted in either a rubber or broken mouth pelham, sometimes because I otherwise had no brakes, others because they lugged 'just enough' in a snaffle that I preferred to overbit and have them light and responsive in the pelham. But I've had several, including current 8 yo appendix, who go (or went) Just Fine in a plain snaffle.

                          Once you get hooked on hunting you might ponder a waterford mouthpiece too, I have had friends with light mouthed horses who reported good results with these.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Be Sure To Post an Update

                            This has been an an interesting thread. In any case, be sure to tell us how it went! Lots of information here that deserves review.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              For the first time..........

                              go in a field where you are comfortable controlling your horse with the tack you normally use. Request to be part of a field that is walking/trotting. This way your horse will have an enjoyable experience and gain confidence in company and in the Hunt field. The atmosphere alone can be overload and changing/adding tack for that day could cause harm to his psyche and your body
                              Alison Howard
                              Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My only other suggestion is to add a running martingale. I'm a bit hesitant to suggest this if you are using a two ring because when you are riding on the second ring there is always some pressure on the reins, but I find a running can give me just a little bit more leverage without resorting to more bit.

                                I do not ride in a leverage bit (or, if I'm riding in a pelham, I put the running martingale on the snaffle rein).
                                Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ford, you do not know how your horse will be with others beside, behind, in front of him galloping until you are "there".

                                  I've found that being off the track sometimes doesn't mean much. It's an individual thing. The better trained a horse, no matter what his background, the more fun I think they are as a hunt horse.

                                  Even at the move off horse can be crazed as soon as staff leaves and the field begins to trot. Having too much bit at the point where they start to get excited and hop, dance, buck, jump, etc. is almost as bad as not having enough when on a good run. If your horse is sensitive and a curler, something even like a bitless bridle noseband underneath your normal bit might help (you would have two sets of reins).

                                  Be cautious, careful, give your horse a good work out the day before so that he will be quiet and stay with someone who is about same as your horse in terms of speed and stride. Rather than pulling a horse off, it's safer I think when you have a horse excited, to stick right next to another safe horse going a safe speed. This helps to keep your horse paced. But you just don't know until you've tried it, and even the first time may not be enough, we often say it takes about 4 hunts to know if they will like it. I am still learning what is a good hunt horse, so I've learned with some bad hunt horses what to do! Good luck!
                                  Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                                  Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    jmho!

                                    Yeah...like they said!! Don't overthink it or condemn him to a strong bit if he doesn't need it. Or just tighten the noseband some or do a flash attachment/figure 8 or drop instead of a stronger bit just get a better response to the one you have. Or add a martingale. I think there's so many jointed bits that might work better if he's got any tendency to lean.
                                    Go with your elevator....use 2 reins on it maybe! It's a loosering snaffle that can get stronger already if you're on the second hole.....JMHO!!

                                    And remember, if you're nervous...he might be just from that! Smile and have fun!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Neck strap magic

                                      Another idea for you to experiment with- some race horses are trained to respond to a neck strap of a standing martingale. when the exercise rider wants to slow down or stop, she picks up the strap and pulls on it like a half halt/ halt. It puts pressure on the nerves in the neck and the horse slows down/ stops in response. Then the rider doesn't have to use the mouth to stop. It saves the mouth. It is useful for those who have been trained to lean into the bit.

                                      The neck strap is also used in eventing. Take a good look at William Fox -Pitt, winner of Burghley. You will see it in action. Wofford has his students using it, too.
                                      Intermediate Riding Skills

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Whicker, I'm glad I'm not the only one who believes in the neck strap/yoke concept!! I never get on ANY horse without one!! Adds incomparable security to the rider, but saves the horses mouth when something unexpected occurs. I never "leave home" without it!!
                                        www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                                        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                                        Comment

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