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Transitioning to curb bit

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  • Transitioning to curb bit

    Just for giggles, I am thinking about taking my old TB to the local western circuit. Due to his age and the rules, he will have to show in a curb bit.

    I have toyed with neck reining in the snaffle, and he works very well off the leg so I think I might be able to do this. He has previously gone in a mullen happy mouth pelham so the curb chain and curb rein pressure are definitely not foreign to him.

    So, do I just put the the curb bit in, and hack around the pasture to give it a shot? Is there a "best" kid of curb bit to use?

    I was considering one of these, just because they look simple. I have a sweet iron snaffle that my gelding seems to really like, and he works well in a copper mouthpiece too. Plus, these are both pretty cheap and the shanks seems relative short compared to a lot that is out there. Good idea? Are there better options?




    Also, does it sit at about the same height as a snaffle? How tight should the curb chain be? About the same as when you use a pelham?

    Thanks in advance everyone!

  • #2
    I use this bit with my gelding who previously was ridden in a d-ring snaffle.


    It's a Robart pinchless bit, short shank with copper overlay. The curb chain is set so I can get two fingers vertically between it and his chin, with one wrinkle on the corners of his mouth.

    I'd think if your horse was used to a mullen mouth that he would do ok with the bits you posted. The only way to know for sure is to try it out and see what happens. Just remember the shanks mean there is more pressure with less rein, but if you've ridden in a pelham, you already know that.

    Good luck with it!
    Alis volat propriis.


    • #3
      Depending on the horse, single jointed shanked "snaffles" may or may not work. I've found that horses with a low palate don't like the nutcracker effect of the these bits. There are two mouthpieces that are not totally solid and have some movement, but don't nutcracker.

      My first horse loffed this bit and despised single jointed anything:


      My current horse goes better in something like this:


      Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
      Crayola Posse: sea green
      Mighty Rehabbers Clique


      • #4
        Be careful about using the bits that have shanks and a broken mouthpiece. Some people think these are kinder to the horse and make good transition bits from snaffle to curb because of the broken mouthpiece. But it can really give conflicting signals. Here is a good article explaining it.


        Not to say those bits shouldn't ever be used, or that some horses might go very well in them and like them. But just be aware of the mechanics of the bits and how and why they work and don't work.


        • Original Poster

          BabyGoose, I actually came across that exact same article in doing my research. One of the clerks at the local western tack shop also despises them and said she wished they didn't sell them. I think her exact words were that it's a great bit if you want to teach your horse to rear. Very interesting.

          I went there to get a "western" bit for my daughter's pony since she wants to do some western leadline, and I had originally picked up a tom thumb or argentine bit and she talked me into this one instead:

          I may try it on my gelding, but I got in in a pony size (4 1/2? I think) so I'm not sure it would fit. But I guess I could get one of these in my gelding's size...it seems pretty mild and he has gone in a myler snaffle that looks similar. I just figured a stable bit, like one with a mullen mouth and no rotating parts would be best for neck reining, but again I don't know anything about this stuff.


          • #6
            I can't help you much with the actual training of a horse from snaffle to curb. I have had horses that were used to curbs (probably not exactly "trained" to a curb, but accepted it and went in it okay) and horses that were always ridden in snaffles and I never had a reason to put them in a curb. I would LOVE to learn the vaquero method of bringing a horse along slowly through the hackamore, two rein, and then bridle horse. But no one in my area knows that stuff. Here is some interesting reading about "transitioning" to a curb bit.





            • #7
              I would just put it on and give it a try. Especially if the horse is used to a curb chain or knows the word "whoa". A low port plain old curb might be very comfortable for him - some horses prefer them to snaffles. Adjust it so there is no wrinkle at the corner of the mouth..


              • #8
                Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post
                I was considering one of these, just because they look simple. I have a sweet iron snaffle that my gelding seems to really like, and he works well in a copper mouthpiece too. Plus, these are both pretty cheap and the shanks seems relative short compared to a lot that is out there. Good idea? Are there better options?


                I like the grazing bit, use one all the time. My horse loves it.

                This is the one I am using. http://www.shopatron.com/products/pr...25-5804/1207.0

                Here's a few others.

                Attached Files
                The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post

                  So, do I just put the the curb bit in, and hack around the pasture to give it a shot? Is there a "best" kid of curb bit to use?
                  Thanks in advance everyone!
                  first thing you do is to make CERTAIN he understands how to WHOA from the seat alone before you ride in an solid curb shanked bit.

                  it will be an exercise in failure for him and you otherwise

                  Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                  I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                  • #10
                    Details...if the bit is jointed it can be a curb OR a snaffle. A snaffle is defined, simplistically, as a bit that does not use leverage and have a curb strap/chain. Has nothing to do with the jointed mouth, has to do with the shank and curb strap/chain and the leverage they create.

                    So a jointed bit with shanks and a curb strap/chain using leverage is a curb not a snaffle.

                    For OP, since you are going to be transitioning from a snaffle that just works with direct pressure to the curb that adds leverage? If you look at the BROKEN MOUTH CURBS (as there are properly called) you will see quite a few with slots/rings for 2 sets of reins, one for the snaffle and one for the curb.

                    I used that kind of set up on mine long before I ever rode English. You start just using the snaffle rein and gradually start picking up the curb rein. Horse needs to be pretty broke to that point so it should not take you long to ride completely on the curb and the horse to perfect working without the more constant contact of the snaffle. Used to take me about a month.

                    You can also just start with a tom thumb curb with either broken or solid mouth, real short shank.

                    Very old traditional way starts them in the snaffle then they carry a snaffle AND a bosal transitioning to just the bosal. Then they carry the curb and the bosal and gradually transition to the curb. Nobody does that anymore though, it was a 4 year project it's all rush rush rush these days and 2 sets of reins is too technical, I guess. Pity. Those were FINISHED horses.

                    Best to have some help there with you, this is one training point where you can do more harm then good and it is worth it. And do NOT rush.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by findeight View Post
                      Very old traditional way starts them in the snaffle then they carry a snaffle AND a bosal transitioning to just the bosal. Then they carry the curb and the bosal and gradually transition to the curb. Nobody does that anymore though, it was a 4 year project it's all rush rush rush these days and 2 sets of reins is too technical, I guess. Pity. Those were FINISHED horses.

                      There are still a few that train this way (I posted some links to articles on this subject a few posts up). Mike Bridges is one, and there are others that still train this way. Just have to search for them. I think the tradition is making a comeback, which might be good or bad depending on if it stays true to tradition and nobody starts adding in gimmicks and gadgets.


                      And you still see this training method in some of the buckaroos in Nevada and eastern Oregon. Sorry, don't mean to hijack this thread, I just find the bridle horse training fascinating!


                      • Original Poster

                        This is all very interesting and informative. Thanks!

                        OK, so I think this will be my revised game plan. Horse is old, been there done that and knows steering and whoa very well.

                        I think I am going to leave the halter on under the bridle and attach reins to it, then also add the curb bit (probably mullen mouth with short shanks) headstall on top. Initially I will ride mostly off the noseband of the halter, and I'll gradually decrease that until I'm riding off a very light curb rein. I think he will get that very easily as I have ridden him in just a halter in the past.

                        This horse despised a jointed pelham and a wonder bit, which is an english jointed leverage bit, so I am going to opt for the mullen mouth unless he tells me otherwise.

                        I would love to try a bosal, after reading the linked article from BabyGoose and the reference to that training technique by findeight, but that is a sizeable investment just to tinker. But I definitely see a great advantage to that type of training. I own a half-breed sidepull, which is a sidepull/bit combo and I have found it extremely useful in the past when a horse starts ignoring the snaffle. Rather than going to a harsher bit, the combo of that nose pressure really does seem to tune them up. It's certainly not as precise as the vaquero's bosal and bit combo, but it's probably a good alternative for folks like me who aren't quite that dexterous!

                        I am so glad I asked here, great info!


                        • Original Poster

                          Oh, and P.S., can all you helpful people go to the "western saddle fitting for a TB" thread and help me find an inexpensive option to fit my broad-shouldered, shark-fin withered old man who has hollows on either side of his withers that flare into bulldog shoulders? I had so much fun trying to fit him with an english saddle, I can hardly wait to try it western!


                          • #14
                            Yeah, I think the vaquero training would be a big investment in time and money. And probably a lot of fun!

                            I wish I had more practical info to give you, but others have given you good advice and it sounds like you have a good game plan started. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!