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Bitting up - what do you use?

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  • Bitting up - what do you use?

    So for those of you who ride or manage a variety of horses in the hunt field, I'm looking for suggestions and opinions on bitting up.

    Personally, I am a fan of simple mouth pieces and adding leverage and tack, like running martingale, a grackle, etc to a jointed pelham or a three ring bit. Since I usually hunt drafty crossbred types, I find this is a pretty reliable set up until I figure out whether they need more or less.

    But I have a stocky little cob gelding, awesome in most every other way, but a hot head to hunt. He tries his best to pass any horse, in single track, and he usually hunts with a proficient teenager, not me. I've got him hunting in a three ring, second last ring, grackle and running and I added a curb chain and he still runs through her hands, already curls into a ball without lowering the rein to the bottom ring. This set up is also his XC bridle and it works great for that, he's soft, responsive etc. Its just out hunting I need to bit him up and I don't know where to go. There is a big tack swap next week so I want to pick him up something, but I'm undecided as to what. Just an FYI, she's ok at gallops, she can bring him back and always stays to the side/back of the field so she can circle if he won't completely halt. Its in singletrack that even walking she has a really hard time making him stay off the horse infront of her.

    I'm thinking the poll pressure just isn't doing the trick, so I'm leaning towards changing a mouthpiece to something with more 'wow' factor, maybe a slow twist or corkscrew fullcheek? He doesn't really bear down, at least not like the big crossbreds can, so I thought a waterford might not be right, but what have you guys used that works? I'd like to keep this as a hunter-ring legal bit just so I have something in the tack truck I can pull out if he's being a dolt at a schooling show, since he is my schoolie also, but the main priority is hunting. Usually he'd show dressage or hunter in his daily bridle, which is a simple eggbutt.

  • #2
    What does it take to remain legal in the show ring?
    Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



    • #3
      I had a horse that I hunted last season, who worked his way through the following: tom thumb pelham (1 day), mullen mouth pelham (1 day), double-twisted wire full cheek (1 week), and a 3-ring (2 months), all paired with a standing and regular wide flat noseband. I then switched him to a double bridle with a thinner bridoon mouthpiece and 5" curb shanks. It was the only thing that worked longer than 2 weeks, and I hunted him in that until he sold (NOT as a hunt horse, LOL).

      And a double bridle is 100% hunter-show-ring legal!
      Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles


      • #4
        Originally posted by altjaeger View Post
        What does it take to remain legal in the show ring?
        No unconventional (at least to the judge's eye) bits. So you are looking at a snaffle (these have a WIDE variety of mouthpieces!), pelham, double bridle.
        Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles


        • #5
          my idear!

          There's been a BUNCH of threads on this topic....have you done some searches yet? Lotsa wisdom has been shared on this. We feel your pain!


          • Original Poster

            thanks wateryglen, will do.

            I have threatened many a horse a full bridle to hunt, but never done it. This pony's rider isn't ready to handle a double in the hunt field yet anyway, if it comes to that I'll give the little bastard a CTJ moment myself. Hoping that a different mouthpiece is all he needs though!


            • Original Poster

              So after reading numerous bitting threads, as per wateryglen's suggestion, I can say that most of us use, and suggest using, some type of leverage bit, especially to start, with the plan of downgrading later.

              So more specifically, what do you use when leverage doesn't work for a particular horse? He's not a hot tb, as many of the past threads have been about either, and he's not overly sensitive about anything. I don't forsee him getting 'angry' unless I put something really extreme, like twisted wire, in his mouth.

              If your horse runs through a simple snaffle (plain single or double joint) and curls away from leverage, what would you try next?


              • #8
                I've had pretty good luck on several horses with a corkscrew snaffle and flash noseband combo, usually with a standing martingale.
                Lost in the Land of the Know It Alls


                • #9
                  Not implying anything about the OP or others but my observation in the hunt field is that some people bit up and don't understand why it isn't effective for long, but fail to understand how to execute a proper half halt.

                  Some folks unintentionally start hanging on the bridle, due to tension, excitement or lack of training and some horses will just numb out and start ignoring the bit.

                  One of my hunt horses, hang on him and he is guaranteed to speed up to Mach 10! If you stay light in his mouth you can hunt him in a simple smooth snaffle.

                  Just saying what I have observed...


                  • #10
                    I hunted my mare in a gag bit with a BIG ring. from a polo tack store. not hunter ring legal, but effective.


                    • #11
                      All good advice here and thank god I haven't had to hunt a horse like that for a long time cuz I am way too cranky and old.
                      fwiw, after some hot, fast hunts first flight this year my trusty hunter started taking the rubber mullin mouthed pelham in his teeth and bearing down with me. Galloping downhill. He had come to us really stiff in the jaw and cheek because of overbitting when he was started as a colt. I recently switched to a broken copper mouthed pelham with a roller and that works beautifully. He stays soft and plays with the roller. Doesn't sound like the same situation as you, but just a thought.


                      • #12
                        Mullen Mouth Rubber Pehlam

                        I like a rubber mullen mouth pehlam. Its my "hunting bit", I only ride as a guest very occasionally, so its usually a pretty novel event to the horse I am sitting on.

                        My old OTTB event horse was my usually my partner. Usually I rode him in a regular ol' snaffle for dressage and SJ, cross country I usually used a three ring gag as he likes to root low with his low set neck and it helps pick him up.

                        The rubber pehlam worked great in the hunt field. I could pick him up and break with the curb rein, while maintaining a nice contact which he didn't fight riding off the snaffle rein (you don't want your horse head tossing and fighting the bit in rough terrain).

                        Oh... and mine is a tom thumb.. love that bit
                        APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                        • #13
                          My little app goes in a snaffle at home and we're working on building his training foundation so that he can hunt in less bit... but what worked like a miracle for him last season was a Segunda kimberwicke. I think it is hunter legal. The mouthpiece is heavy and ported. It's not a bit that I'd put in the hands of a RIDER that pulls or is heavy-handed. But it was just the ticket to get him to stop grabbing and go. I can practically hunt him on the buckle with that bit - and the brakes are there when needed.

                          It has something to do with the way the mouthpiece is angled, but it keeps him soft and light. Gags and 3-rings just made him hotter and more apt to come up. He'd grab, dive and run - I'd say No - he'd get offended and all his energy would start to go up and down. The segunda keeps him light and forward, and to do any downward transitions etc., I just have to ask as I would with a loose ring at home.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rennyben View Post
                            My little app goes in a snaffle at home and we're working on building his training foundation so that he can hunt in less bit... but what worked like a miracle for him last season was a Segunda kimberwicke. I think it is hunter legal.
                            Technically, yes, it is hunter legal, but kimberwickes are not looked at very favorably by most judges. They would prefer to see a pelham rather than a kimberwicke. And yes, you can get a segunda-ported pelham. They are called Trakehner pelhams.
                            Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles


                            • #15
                              I love Mikmar bits for hunting, specifically a short shank, low port with a roller and the nose strap. Maybe not legal in the hunter ring but could be used in jumpers.
                              Who cares if it's legal in hunters if it's being used to hunt?


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Doctracy View Post
                                Who cares if it's legal in hunters if it's being used to hunt?
                                Because the OP asked specifically for a bit suggestion out hunting that she could ALSO use in the hunter show ring, as the horse would be used to it.

                                A hunter-style Mikmar bit (i.e., d-ring, full cheek, pelham) is legal in the hunters. A Mikmar combo bit is not.
                                Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles


                                • #17
                                  You may need an elevator three ring since the horse is getting behind the bit, or a happy mouth, Mullen (straight) mouth Pelham. Behind the vertical, coming in to the chest can be a difficult horse to work with because you need control but going up in severity can sometimes get you in trouble. Sounds like more leg and more forward motion is badly needed.
                                  I usually try getting a bit with the leverage and pressure in different (new) areas, with gentler pressure in the areas of the old bit.
                                  I ride almost every horse with some form of leverage/curb chain when it's broke enough for the field, but I might not put same bit in horse's mouth with husband/brother. They have less experience so only get to ride with snaffle type bits as they don't have enough control of their hands yet.
                                  More broke/more educated hands get more bit which may be different from how some people think. I've been known to ride my TB (really broke but a hot and fast jumper) with a ported western bit at times in the hunt field, with great results, loose rein, one handed for the most part. But, he has a very educated mouth and can also go on a snaffle or any other bit, but I really prefer having more bit on him, since he can be a lot of horse and I'm not very strong.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by Doctracy View Post
                                    You may need an elevator three ring since the horse is getting behind the bit, or a happy mouth, Mullen (straight) mouth Pelham. Behind the vertical, coming in to the chest can be a difficult horse to work with because you need control but going up in severity can sometimes get you in trouble. Sounds like more leg and more forward motion is badly needed.

                                    First of all, he's already going in a three ring, thats what I stated in the OP and he is curling away from it when the rider actually needs it. She's not a hand-sy rider and does not hang on his face. She can't keep the horse from getting too close to other horses when she's walk or trot in the single track trails in the woods. Thats when he's curling, is when she is trying to use rein to hold him back and he won't have it. How do you use "more leg and more forward motion", since you feel its so "badly needed", when you're trying to walk in dense forest? The horse is fine on gallops and in the open because she can circle if needed, its in the single track that he is hard to keep away from the horse in front.


                                    • #19
                                      I haven't taken my pony out hunting yet, but she is frequently a bit strong for me in a snaffle. At the suggestion of a hunting friend, I tried a Waterford, and it has helped tremendously. She is more responsive, and softer.
                                      I don't know if a Waterford would be considered unconventional in the hunter ring, but unfortunately, it might be.
                                      I also saw this Waterford/3 ring bit. I have no experience with this, but perhaps you have?



                                      • Original Poster

                                        Hinderella, I've been thinking seriously about a waterford. Did you buy the same size as a regular snaffle or did you go up a size?

                                        I've seen the waterford three ring before, but I've never been sure what to make of it. Maybe its just too much going on in one bit? Would the leverage still be effective with such a flexible mouth piece? I'm not sure.