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Some thoughts on bits and a horse's preferences

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  • Some thoughts on bits and a horse's preferences

    My horse was started in a regular full cheek snaffle and for a long time, I pretty much only rode him in that (mine being the curved Korsteel one).

    After a while, I started thinking, "hey, I bet he'd like a french link better" because of the nutcracker action, "especially one that has a copper link!" because he's so mouthy.

    So, I got a loose ring french link with a copper "bean" on it. And he went pretty normally in it, sure.

    Except when using that bridle he did become noticeably a bit more difficult to bridle. Nothing crazy, just a distinct, "I really don't want you to put that on me."

    Well, I figured finally, let's try this other bit I have. Being a plain eggbutt snaffle. No difficulty getting the bridle on and my instructor also commented he seemed more comfortable with it, somehow.

    It's just funny to me, because I'd seen people in the past talk about how their horse goes so much better in one bit over another and I remember thinking something like, "yeah, okay, if you're talking about the difference between a waterford and a curb...I could see that. But between snaffles???"

    This is me saying, "yeah, I guess they do have a preference, even between snaffles."

    Now if I really wanted to get technical, I'd try him with copper, without copper (but a loose ring french link), eggbutt but with copper, eggbutt french link...etc etc etc until I nailed down what precisely about that bit he doesn't like.

    But my patience and my pocketbook really don't need that kind of strain so I guess I'll stick with what works.

    Anybody have any similar stories?
    Last edited by analise; Mar. 4, 2011, 05:23 PM. Reason: fixed a word
    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

  • #2
    Had a gelding who would go absolutely batshit crazy if any type of shank was put on him. (even a hackamore made him flip out) Rode him in a big fat loose ring snaffle or a halter bridle (endurance horse) every day of his life, once I learned that lesson.
    Originally posted by ExJumper
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.

    Comment


    • #3
      this is a timely subject for me......

      I have been keeping a day book on my horses for a couple of years. One horse I am riding seemed to be moving more freely of late, doing less tripping. Today he was different, and tripping more. I had changed the bit from a Nathe mouth D to a Bristol D ......that was the only change. I have been wondering if this could possibly be the reason for the change in him. I went back in my day book and have found what seemed like unrelated differences in him when I have changed bits before. I plan to go back to the Nathe tomorrow. Thanks for this thread!!!
      "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

      Comment


      • #4
        Claudius, I like your idea of using a day book! I will have to try this to see if I can make some connections between my horse's "good" days and "bad" days.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have had two fairly opinionated chestnuts that certainly have preferences in terms of their snaffles, ironically they both like the same one; nathe loose ring. I think I have at least 10 or so variations of loose rings in addition to the eggbutt and D ring snaffles thanks to the one horse, and I have just rotated through those bits with the other. My biggest challenge is that I don't think the nathe is legal to show dressage in so I need to find something my little mare will like (or if I am wrong about it not being legal for dressage please correct me as it would make my day )

          Comment


          • #6
            After years of trying different bits in different situations I finally realized my OTTB loves straight type bits. Flat work and everyday riding he goes in a happy mouth mullen and for hunter paces and our beach ride he goes in a pelhem. he loves it!! hates all kinds of snaffles. Crazy OTTB

            Comment


            • #7
              SuperD

              I have a tb cross mare that was the same as your tb before I retired her to be a broodmare. She would lean on anything except a straight steel bit. I used a small straight pelham and then had Jay Shuttleworth make me a straight full cheek snaffle for showing....full cheek so that I could stabilize it so that it would feel just like a pelham. It must have something to do with their pallette...not liking it being poked with the break in the snaffle. That is why I like bristols.
              "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

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              • #8
                If a horse does not like a jointed snaffle it means they don't like tongue pressure. A jointed snaffle does NOT go to the palate, when you pick up the reins it rotates downward and pokes the tongue.

                The only time a jointed snaffle hits a palate is when you are leading a horse. Your hands are pulling down or forward, causing the bit to rotate UP.

                The is a huge misconception on bits. Bits ALL rotate down and work off the tongue and or bars, not the palate (unless you are using a cathedral port or have a horse with a weird mouth). Ports simply are a wide space that goes off the sides of the tongue, freeing it up so the horse can move its tongue and move saliva and swallow.

                Go pick up your bridle, put your hands where they would be by the horse's withers and pick up the reins and you can see what is happening inside the mouth!

                A straight bar bit will never poke a tongue, so that is perhaps why certain horses like them.

                A jointed snaffle is in many peoples opinions one of the harshest bits out there, and certainly never a bit a beginner should be riding in. Great bit for training in good hands, not so much for others.....

                Per the difference between snaffles, even the tiniest difference in shape, construction etc can mean a world of difference to the horse. I always like to think of bits like shoes or jeans are to me. Certain styles fit better due to seam positions, arch support etc. And a pair of shoes that is comfortable for my best friend might make my feet ache!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by howardh View Post
                  If a horse does not like a jointed snaffle it means they don't like tongue pressure. A jointed snaffle does NOT go to the palate, when you pick up the reins it rotates downward and pokes the tongue.

                  The only time a jointed snaffle hits a palate is when you are leading a horse. Your hands are pulling down or forward, causing the bit to rotate UP.

                  The is a huge misconception on bits. Bits ALL rotate down and work off the tongue and or bars, not the palate (unless you are using a cathedral port or have a horse with a weird mouth). Ports simply are a wide space that goes off the sides of the tongue, freeing it up so the horse can move its tongue and move saliva and swallow.

                  Go pick up your bridle, put your hands where they would be by the horse's withers and pick up the reins and you can see what is happening inside the mouth!

                  A straight bar bit will never poke a tongue, so that is perhaps why certain horses like them.

                  A jointed snaffle is in many peoples opinions one of the harshest bits out there, and certainly never a bit a beginner should be riding in. Great bit for training in good hands, not so much for others.....

                  Per the difference between snaffles, even the tiniest difference in shape, construction etc can mean a world of difference to the horse. I always like to think of bits like shoes or jeans are to me. Certain styles fit better due to seam positions, arch support etc. And a pair of shoes that is comfortable for my best friend might make my feet ache!
                  Good post. Tongue thickness/width, palate length/height also effect the bit fit and some horse don't care for certain metals. I've had horse who hate any bit with nickel or copper. Others love it. One horse I now have hated the very expensive German Silver bit I tried and loves his $20 stainless steel bit. Less is sometimes more.
                  Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Is it just try a bit and see how they do? I don't have a lot of different ones but the BO does. Im afraid to experiment
                    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      JohnDeere

                      I try to "listen" to them....sometimes I just ride the way they are behaving, and later I kick myself. If there is a change in their attitude with a bit change, I think it is their way of telling you they don't like it. My horse is so noticably happier in the Nathe it is touching. The only reason I changed that day was because he ran through the Nathe a little at some fences....not all of them. But in retrospect, I would criticize my hands, rather than the horse. He is back in the Nathe and happy as a clam!!! (Clam's smile all the time!!!)
                      "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My big guy doesn't "do" a full cheek. At all. Regardless of the mouthpiece. A big d-ring is perfectly fine, but a full cheek? Forget it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          DON'T be afraid to try a new bit! A bit is not magic it is just a piece of metal shaped a certain way that the horse either likes or doesn't.

                          Put it in and move your hands to the withers and pick up the reins and put slight pressure on until the horse gives. I have always been able to tell really quickly if a horse likes a bit or not.

                          Keep in mind that they always remember what was in their mouth last so give them a little while to realize something has changed and do it before you get on!

                          If you are in a single joint, move to a new shape be it straight bar or port. If a horse dislikes a snaffle he will most likely not like a copper snaffle as it put pressure in the same place.

                          does this make sense?

                          Most importantly listen to your horse only and not all the geniuses that will tell you that what your horse SHOULD likey

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            COTH genuses?

                            I will try. Rainy days are good for that.
                            “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              So what is a nathe? I have never heard of it.
                              The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                              Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                analise

                                I read about the "Nathe" years ago....in the article I read it was stated that it was a very popular bit used in Europe to start the young horses. It can be found in a loose ring and a d bit....I use both. It is a cream colored rubber/plastic mouthpiece, narrower in the middle, not jointed.....with a steel cable inside the rubber. I found it to be as likable as the happy mouth to a horse, but it is more flexible...much more, the outer covering is not as hard as a happy mouth, and yet, it gives you more power in a pinch. Also, I have never had a horse chew on them as I have with a happy mouth or a "hot dog" rubber straight bit. Nothing is absolute, but I think it helps a horse to go through himself without getting away from me as a young horse.
                                "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by howardh View Post
                                  If a horse does not like a jointed snaffle it means they don't like tongue pressure. A jointed snaffle does NOT go to the palate, when you pick up the reins it rotates downward and pokes the tongue.

                                  The only time a jointed snaffle hits a palate is when you are leading a horse. Your hands are pulling down or forward, causing the bit to rotate UP.

                                  The is a huge misconception on bits. Bits ALL rotate down and work off the tongue and or bars, not the palate (unless you are using a cathedral port or have a horse with a weird mouth). Ports simply are a wide space that goes off the sides of the tongue, freeing it up so the horse can move its tongue and move saliva and swallow.

                                  Go pick up your bridle, put your hands where they would be by the horse's withers and pick up the reins and you can see what is happening inside the mouth!

                                  A straight bar bit will never poke a tongue, so that is perhaps why certain horses like them.

                                  A jointed snaffle is in many peoples opinions one of the harshest bits out there, and certainly never a bit a beginner should be riding in. Great bit for training in good hands, not so much for others.....


                                  Per the difference between snaffles, even the tiniest difference in shape, construction etc can mean a world of difference to the horse. I always like to think of bits like shoes or jeans are to me. Certain styles f

                                  it better due to seam p

                                  ositions, arch support etc. And a pair of shoes that is comfortable for my best friend might make my feet ache!

                                  (Still on my phone and did something wrong, as you can see).

                                  The last paragraph is about the best explanation I've seen about bit fit and horses. I hope you don't mind if I use it in the future?? Will give you credit, of course!
                                  GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

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