Advice on bits please(30 Posts)
Hi, I've no idea if a stronger bit would be a good thing or not, but I bet these people do. It says on the left-hand side at the top that they give advice on re-educating ex-racers. HTH
yes to pic, we should make that a Rule really
What does she do when she runs off? does she open her mouth? does the head go up or down? Sounds like she needs schooling. You could maybe keep her in a snaffle for schooling but if your hacking out/going on grass put her in something stronger for extra control. what sort of noseband does she have?
What a beautiful colour! That's exactly the colour I was looking for when I ended up with a chestnut...
I'm riding in a pelham right now because I think it's a mild bit, BUT you've got the curb rein if you need it and of course you can still put the snaffle reins through the running martingale.
That's a gag. Not a fan myself but I think butkin uses one on one of the ponies for his children so he'd know about that.
Sorry, I thought you said you used a martingale - so right now with the snaffle you've got the reins through the martingale loops right? So with a Pelham you'd have preferably 2 sets of reins, you must absolutely not put the curb (lower) reins through the martingale (running, not standing!) but you can use a running martingale with the snaffle reins of the pelham. Phew!
You can of course get rubber pelhams - I don't like rubber bits because I feel they don't aid salivation - a good stainless steel bit should encourage your horse to play with the bit and salivate - you don't want a "dry" bit pinching.
OK, well from my pov with a pelham you have a rein acting on the snaffle and one acting on the curb. So for me I tend to ride with the curb rein loose UNTIL I feel I need it, at which point I'll shorten my rein but until that point I'm using only the snaffle.
With a gag you get more of a curb action with a lesser option to use a snaffle - but others will have much more knowledge about this and will be able to help you. I'm not sure that it's overly harsh at all in the right hands! It's just that as with so many of these things they come in to fashion and people whack them on without ever thinking about it. E.g., people use grackle nosebands because they "look nice".
I know that we're "supposed" to be able to do all this stuff with a snaffle only and there's no doubt your girl will need some schooling to teach her to be a "riding horse" as opposed to a racehorse - but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution - so don't beat yourself up about it. I had exactly the same conversation a couple of weeks ago with westwhippet - I'd like to be able to do everything with a snaffle, but I do not have endless time to school and school and school - so for me a Pelham is a nice compromise. (Westwhippet and I are very old school though... )
Hopefully others will be along soon to give some words of advice - but everyone has a different opinion so don't be surprised at all if you get 10 completely different suggestions - you just have to try and work out what you personally want to do.
I think there's a website somewhere that you can rent/trial bits rather than forking out for them and finding they don't work for you.
I think the fact you're aware of the risks means you won't "ruin" her mouth - you're already thinking about it!
www.horsebitbank.com/ - here's one, if you search for "bit bank" you'll find a few more.
PS No point "saving" her mouth if it means you end up on a dual-carriageway! You need to take a pragmatic approach here.
I'm not sure a pelham would help you TBH - because it has a curb chain or strap the bit should be stable in the mouth and so the leverage action tends to be on the poll, which is asking the horse to lower its head. Whilst I'm not a great fan of gags in general, they do ask the horse to raise their head and that would be addressing the problem you seem to have.
- the bit you've been lent sounds like a dutch gag to me. Does it have the same mouthpiece as your snaffe? If its significantly different I'd be wary of using it.
- do you need a martingale? If your mare never lifts her head to evade the bit then the martingale won't be doing anything other than potentially putting noise onto the reins.
- you can use a dutch gag with two reins, so most of the time you ride off the large ring and the bit acts very much like a snaffle, but you have a 2nd rein on a lower ring as a "get your head up" signal if you need it (I've heard others recommend leaving that rein knotted on the horse's neck until you need it, but not sure I'd be happy doing that - not sure I'd be happy riding with two reins, either, though...).
- its quite informative to play with a bit in your horse's mouth from the ground. I did this with a dutch gag and was quite shocked at how little weight you needed in the rein before the bit started to move c/w a snaffle. You also get a chance to see how the bit acts with different amounts of pressure at different angles - from playing like this my view is that a dutch gag acts firstly as a gag and you don't get any poll pressure until the bit is lifted in the mouth (as there's no curb chain to stop the bit lifting and make it rotate about the mouthpiece as their is in a pelham or kimblewick), but a lot of people consider it to act primarily on the poll. Maybe its different for different horse's and the one I was riding was unusual - I don't know!
You can't beat an experienced body on the ground to help you, but if you can't get hold of your instructor then a lot of the bit banks and larger saddleries will work with you to try and find a solution, and they have the experience to suggest bits that should help with your specific problems.
At the end of the day, as skihorse says, you're unlikely to ruin her mouth as you're aware of the issue - and you need a bitting solution that will keep you both safe. If you can go back to the snaffle as her schooling improves then great, but in the meantime you need something that gives you a smidgeon more control.
Oh - and she looks lovely
Hi have you considered a pelham with roundings instead of two reins? This is much easier, and still effective without having to worry about putting too much pressure on the curb rein. Also try a flash noseband with this - it will make a difference if you can close their mouth its much easier to stop!
Also I agree with whoever said the 3 ring gag will only encourage the horse to bring their head down more and can be a bit sharp in the wrong hands. Stick to the snaffle for schooling though. I am an instructor by the way (not wanting to brag )
If your horse puts her head down, you might actually find that a gag type bit is more suitable as pelhams and other curb bits have a head lowering effect.
Personally I would try something like a continental gag on the second ring (the three ring gag others have mentioned) in your case. Although I generally don't like them, I think they might help in your situation. A cheltenham (rope) gag might work but you need to use two reins for this. Idealy you should have two reins with the continental gag - one on the 'snaffle' ring and one on one of the lower rings but lots of people don't do this and if you're only using it for hacking on grass whilst you reschool it will probably do the job for you.
You could also try instead a drop noseband which might just give you more control if she is fixing her mouth against the bit.
There are other gag type bits which can be helpful, American Gags have a fairly severe poll action, there is a bit called a Tom Thumb available in the UK which is mildish sort of gag that many find very effective.
Finnally the loop ring snaffle can be a good bit to give a try as it is quite mild but gives a similar but reduced action to that of the continental.
Just a few thoughts - however I would say with an ex-racer that you really do need to go down the route of reschooling as often they simply don't understand that grass does not = gallop and may become more and more frustrated and resistent if you persist with stronger bits or more kit.
Hi Dogchewson... I can't see pics of your new girl! I'd love to see her?
I think it makes sense that the bit seems lower because it should come higher up her face, so just shorten the cheek straps. We were always told that there should be a couple of crinkles at the side of the mouth but we don't want "smiling" horses! A bit which is too low down (loose) will bang against her teeth which must be horrid.
I'm sure she was a little less than impressed - perhaps it's all new for her this sensation of someone asking her to "stop" I mean. I'm glad you felt more in control though. Btw, big, young horses not liking working in the school is nothing ground-breaking - they don't like to bend because it's hard work on their muscles - so she's not spitting the dummy out for anything any other big horse wouldn't complain about!
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