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Musings on bitting

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    Musings on bitting

    I will start this off saying I am 100% of the opinion that a stronger bit should never be used as the first port of call, and that as a general rule, if the horse can be trained to go in a snaffle for everything, that is ideal. However, I do wish I had not been so married to that idea and so convinced it was the only way by other people. I've had my lovely, but very strong pony for 11 years now. She happily goes in a snaffle for dressage, a relaxed trail and just plodding about the place. Fast work, jumping etc, whilst she *can* be ridden in a snaffle, I've often had to use stronger hands than I would like, she isn't straight and going for a gallop at the beach, on a trail and the like always had an element of uncertainty. Will she try to take off? Will she pull up? Do we have the space to deal with it if she doesn't want to? And yes, there's alot of training that has gone into her, at 20 years old she just is how she is, and I will never ever get rid of her instinct to go strong and fast.

    I recently purchased a port mouth kimblewick for her. The difference is astounding. She stays with me on a light contact, we can gallop and I know she will pull up, she is straight and not a hint of ducking and spinning through her shoulder. Whether she prefers a non jointed mouthpiece or it's the slight poll action, I don't know but suddenly fast work is FUN and worry free. And she seems very happy and quiet in the mouth.

    So in conclusion, I would never opt for something stronger than a snaffle from the get go, but maybe sometimes it IS the answer when used correctly. Horses are funny creatures with their little preferences.

    #2
    A Kimberwick bit with a port is often a gentler bit than a jointed snaffle, particularly with horses whose mouths are not completely "normal."

    Because it does not hurt the horse's mouth as much as the jointed snaffle the horse relaxes, the horse's mouth and lower jaw relax, the head comes down and they accept contact a lot better.

    Of course there are some horses who hate a Kimberwick. Horses are opinionated creatures after all.

    I am glad you finally found a solution for your problems. I owned one horse who also decided that the ported Kimberwick was the most marvelous bit ever invented.

    Comment


      #3
      Is the new bit with the slotted D side or just a plain D side? If you don't use the slots, you really have no curb action, no pressure at the poll, because the reins slide up the D, making bit have a straight pull to your hands. Reins drop back down the D when you release pressure. Curb chain is not really engaging with straight rein pull, mostly decorative without reins in a slot for leverage.

      The slotted D is properly called an Uxeter to disinguish side from the similar looking Kimblewick/Kimblewick bit with the plain D sides.

      Obviously pony likes the solid mouthpiece, is responding to it well. It may just be easier to hold, more steady in her mouth than a broken bit is. You might want to try a Mullen mouth with ring sides for your dressage work if that is legal. See if she goes well in that for using in your dressage. Without leverage, it should still be considered a "snaffle" with direct pull of the reins. Some animals much prefer the solid mouthpieces over broken mouth bits of 2 or 3 pieces.

      Comment

        Original Poster

        #4
        It's slotted (I don't think I've ever actually see a plain D for sale in this part of the world).

        We don't show anymore so really I could do our dressage rides in the kimblewick if I wanted, but she seems happy enough in her KK for that, but certainly a mullen mouth is worth considering. It all does make me wonder whether we could have gone down other paths besides dressage if I'd experimented a long time ago.

        Comment


          #5
          I own slotted Kimberwicks. I ignore the slots completely and just put the rein on like I would with a non-slotted Kimberwick.

          My riding teacher and I have discussed this. She is like me, she likes the rather minor luxury of being able to move where the rein pulls on the bit, mostly by altering where our hands are, up a little bit for "snaffle" aids, down a little bit for the "curb" aids. This is part of what makes this bit so charming with horses who just.do.not.like.those.snaffle.bits at all but need SOME more "authority" than what comes from a direct rein on a fixed ring.

          I have never ridden with single or double jointed Kimberwicks, mainly because the usual Cambridge or Mullen mouths work so well for me and the horses I ride when the horse needs a Kimberwick to feel comfortable.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by sweetsalute View Post
            It's slotted (I don't think I've ever actually see a plain D for sale in this part of the world).

            We don't show anymore so really I could do our dressage rides in the kimblewick if I wanted, but she seems happy enough in her KK for that, but certainly a mullen mouth is worth considering. It all does make me wonder whether we could have gone down other paths besides dressage if I'd experimented a long time ago.
            Just curious -- do you use the Uxeter Kimberwick with a curb chain, or without?
            Rack on!

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Rackonteur View Post

              Just curious -- do you use the Uxeter Kimberwick with a curb chain, or without?
              I bought it second hand and it didn't come with a curb chain...rode once without anything and decided it could rotate too freely for my liking. Found a leather curb strap lying in a box somewhere so whacked that on, adjusted to give it a little bit of movement but not too much. Works a charm!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Jackie Cochran View Post
                A Kimberwick bit with a port is often a gentler bit than a jointed snaffle, particularly with horses whose mouths are not completely "normal."

                Because it does not hurt the horse's mouth as much as the jointed snaffle the horse relaxes, the horse's mouth and lower jaw relax, the head comes down and they accept contact a lot better.

                Of course there are some horses who hate a Kimberwick. Horses are opinionated creatures after all.

                I am glad you finally found a solution for your problems. I owned one horse who also decided that the ported Kimberwick was the most marvelous bit ever invented.
                Could you post a link to this type of Kimberwick? I'm having problems with my horse head-tossing when I try to make contact. Normally I trail ride on a loose rein (she has a great stop with me just lifting my hands slightly and sitting back) but I would like to work sometimes in the arena. I know I've tried other bits with her, can't remember which ones, but she's always tossed her head. She doesn't have any teeth problems. I currently ride her in a jointed snaffle.

                Thanks
                In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hi Malda, I have difficulties in giving links that show up.

                  The ported mouthpiece is often called a "Cambridge" mouth piece.

                  Dover Saddlery has one, it is called "Uxeter Kimberwick bit", the one I use has a regular port in the mouthpiece and no joints in the mouthpiece.

                  The Uxeter Kimberwick has two slots for the reins, one mild with just direct action, and the lower one to give the bit some leverage.

                  I just ignore the rein slots and put the reins on the ring, that way I can influence the action a little bit by rising or lowering my hands a little bit.

                  My riding teacher's personal riding horse has some, uh, difficulties with any jointed bit. He really likes this type of bit and accepts contact a bit better without slinging his head around like he does when he does not like a bit.

                  Good luck with your bit search.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If the horse goes well in a Kimberwick without the slots, it's worth trying a Baucher bit.

                    Here's a good discussion of the Baucher which also references the Kimberwick:

                    The Baucher is one snaffle bit that certainly gets a lot of discussion amongst riders, on forums, at gear checks and I feel is one very misunderstood horse bit!  The questions always are- does the baucher bit apply poll pressure or not, is it a leverage bit and should it be permitted to use as…
                    "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

                    Comment

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