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What bit do you start horses in?

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  • What bit do you start horses in?

    Either with youngsters, restarting horses from the ground up, an auction horse you know no history of, or whatever- what kind of bit do you start your horses in? Specifics would be great!

    And an even more specific question- if you had an older horse (not a baby) that may or may not have been ridden before that will bolt and fights with the bit, what kind of bit would you use? (yes, this is specific to a horse of mine!). I started with a jointed dee ring with copper rollers that my sensitive Arab gelding goes in, but she does not seem happy in it. Perhaps a french link that would hit the roof of her mouth when I put pressure on the bit and she's already fussy?


  • #2
    For youngsters, I just use a plain old loose ring snaffle w/sweet iron mouthpiece.

    For an older horse with 'issues,' it depends.

    I once borrowed a horse to go hunting and said horse was said to go in a snaffle. Draft cross mare, green for hunting. I put a rubber pelham on her and needed every bit of that control.

    My current two- six and eight, prefer an eggbutt to a loose ring.


    • #3
      I'm easy - if I know the horse - either a sidepull or a snaffle. If it has issues like your older horse, I would work on ground driving with a snaffle.

      When I broke my baby, I started her ground driving in a sidepull and that was what she had on the first time I got on her back.

      In the rare occurence when I have to get on a horse without seeing it lunge first and I'm the one that tacks it up - western with a shank. I don't like using shanks but if the little effer decides to get a little fresh, I want to be able to pick his head up.
      Southern Cross Guest Ranch
      An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia


      • #4
        I always start in a french link (with the peanut instead of the flat link) dee ring or full cheek. It is soft and helps with turning. With your guy, I would play around and see what he was happiest in. I wouldn't go straight to a heavy bit because of the bolting issue but try to work through it with something lighter first. Good luck with him!


        • #5
          Half breed sidepull when starting a youngster or "legging up" an older horse.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Reagan View Post
            I always start in a french link (with the peanut instead of the flat link) dee ring or full cheek. It is soft and helps with turning. With your guy, I would play around and see what he was happiest in. I wouldn't go straight to a heavy bit because of the bolting issue but try to work through it with something lighter first. Good luck with him!
            This. My favorite and most used bit is my full cheek french link, especially with green horses or re-start projects.

            And OP, you are thinking of a Dr. Bristol, not a French Link. The Dr. Bristol has a longish flat piece that works on the tongue. A French Link is just a double jointed piece, quite small. French link is super mild. Dr. Bristol is a step up from a snaffle... sometimes they work great, sometimes horses hate them. The two bits can look very similar but the have very different action.

            If you've done the whole teeth/back/ulcers bit, I'd start working on bit acceptance from the ground up... start with a lead line and work on whoa. Then longe, ground drive, blah blah blah.

            Biting him up will just create some other fun problems.
            We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


            • #7
              Usually KK eggbutt snaffle or JP oval mouth eggbutt. I like that link and prefer the stability of an eggbutt for youngsters (especially as I often have TBs). Sometimes go pretty quickly to full cheek (same mouthpiece) if steering is an issue.
              OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


              • #8
                I have a full cheek with a copper roller
                Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                • #9
                  I love the results I get with my loose ring snaffle w/ copper oval link. I've used it on all of the above: youngsters, restarts, and auction rescues and thus far have consistently achieved the results I sought. I find that it really helps the horses relax, soften, and seek the bit.

                  As to your second question, I would in fact recommend the same bit in combination with further training from the ground, starting with the basics of simply encouraging the horse to relax and soften on the lunge, and working to get him to where he's actively listening, and reliably responding to you. Once you have that solidly in place (as it is your first line of defense in the event of a spazz or bolt), progress to adding a light contact with a surcingle & sidereins (provided you're knowledgeable in their usage), continuing to encourage the same softness and relaxation that you had before. As he makes progress, you can then move on to adding under saddle work back into the mix, hopefully finding him still relaxed and having refined his mouth and his reactions.

                  It's just one of those things that requires going back to square one for a while. Trying to short-cut or bit up will only turn the molehill into Everest.


                  • #10
                    I have a rope bit that I made....1 inch cotton rope with ends through the rings and braided back into the middle and then wrapped just inside the rings to keep from unravelling. Next up is a full cheek snaffle....most stay in that until they are sold or go to training for reining, cutting or reined cowhorse and then we go with trainers suggestions. Have moved several from snaffle to bosal/mecate and two up to combo (two rein) and then into curb/spade/cathedral....with assist from trainer.
                    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                    Northern NV


                    • #11
                      I use a sidepull and or a KK D ring plus a TTEAM balance rein.

                      All horses get lots of TTEAM ground exercises first!


                      • #12
                        Sidepull to rubber mullen to Dr Bristol. (a real one)
                        ... _. ._ .._. .._


                        • Original Poster

                          FlashGordon- I do mean a French link. It has that little fat piece in the center as opposed to just a joint of a jointed mouthpiece so it doesn't create the pinch of the roof of the mouth from the sort of triangle that the jointed mouthpiece makes.

                          Thank you for all the responses and advice. Question- what exactly does a sidepull do? I know its similar to a hackamore in that you don't use a bit (I think), but does it use pressure on the side of the face as opposed to the nose? As kind of a tool for teaching them to turn? Thanks!


                          • #14
                            loose ring french link is generally my go to bit.
                            "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                            So you might as well have a good time"


                            • #15
                              For my three year old I have a small (4 3/4") "pinchless" D - the arms of the mouthpiece are curved with copper inlays on the tongue side. The curved arms mean the joint doesn't poke the roof of the mouth. It's a single joint, but the single joint can spin independent of the arms. He's working well in it.

                              I started the last one in a single jointed, straight armed full cheek and then switched him over to the pinchless D fairly quickly.

                              I like the D and full cheek for the extra push on the side of the horse's face when teaching steering. I prefer a D because it's harder for the horse to catch it on things than a full cheek.

                              I like french link bits. But don't forget to try bits of different diameters for the fussy horse. Some much prefer thinner or thicker bits.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by LookmaNohands View Post
                                I use a sidepull and or a KK D ring plus a TTEAM balance rein.

                                All horses get lots of TTEAM ground exercises first!
                                This. I start everything in a KK oval link D-Ring, unless the youngster is especially sensitive, in which case I will use a sudepull, with a padded noseband for a while. I like loose rings, but they can pinch, and even go through the mouh if you have a fussy youngster.

                                When I took training horses in, I always started with that bit as well. I like to really be able to get a feel of the horse, the first few rides.

                                I also do a lot TTEAM ground work, and almost always ride with my Team Neck Rope - like the balance rein, but stiff.
                                The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!


                                • #17
                                  Half cheek plain snaffle or a D-ring with a copper roller that most horses seem to like - with a second set of reins going through a running martingale. I feel nekkid riding with just one set of reins!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Crown Royal View Post
                                    Perhaps a french link that would hit the roof of her mouth when I put pressure on the bit and she's already fussy?
                                    Sorry this is where I got confused.
                                    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                                    • #19
                                      Here's another vote for loose ring snaffles.
                                      Zion Farm - Friesian & Norwegian Fjord Horses


                                      • #20
                                        I like to start all horses ground driving first, we do the first few sessions in a plain sweet-iron loose ring snaffle with a rope noseband, mostly becuase I like the rope noseband for the first few sessions and this bridle has the sweet-iron snaffle permanently attached.

                                        Once they graduate to the "big kid" bridle, MY prference is either my loose ring KK or Full-Cheek french link, however Felix HATED HATED HATED the french link, and the KK was too big, so we tried a friend's big fat copper snaffle whick he loves, so that's what we're using!