Bit recommendations for a fussy horse

Discussion in 'Tack & Equipment' started by StarPattern, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. StarPattern

    StarPattern Senior Member

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    Hello! I have a 22 year old Standardbred who can be extremely fussy about her tack. She likes what she likes, and she isn't very open to change. For example, if her girth isn't tightened the way SHE likes it, the ride will be full of fizz and fireworks.

    She currently rides in a mullen mouth o-ring snaffle, exactly like this one:
    [​IMG]
    For the most part, she likes this bit. She accepts it easily and she doesn't fuss with it. She responds to it well until we start going faster. Once she gets into her "race pace", she braces herself and runs through the bit. She turns decently (better to the left than to the right at the moment - massage next week is scheduled in case she has tight muscles) and she's getting more and more responsive to leg cues, but we seem to lose our brakes at the faster speeds.

    So I'm wondering... is there a bit with a similar solid mouth piece that might give me a little more leverage so I don't have to haul on her mouth? She doesn't neck rein, so anything with shanks is out. I tried a couple different bits on her, ranging from jointed snaffles all the way up to a junior cow horse with a soft chain mouth, just to see if she preferred one type of mouth piece over the others. She puts her tongue over the chain immediately and anything with a joint causes her to really fret. That said, I didn't ride in any of them because she was acting up enough on the ground that I knew a ride would be a bad idea with any of these bits. I don't want a harsh bit or something to use long term, just more something I can use in the interim while we work on her excitement at speed and the fact she still thinks she's a hot shot race horse.

    I've been trying to really work with her on responsiveness, and she IS good... it just seems she forgets about listening to the bit when she's going faster and it's hard to pull her up. I can do it by strong arming her around and gradually pulling her back... but I want to soften her mouth, not make it even harder.

    Or maybe someone has an idea on how to reset her brain from "OMG, I must win this race at all costs" to "Oh, okay. We're going faster, but I have to remember to listen to this human I'm packing around." Someone suggested letting her pace (and maybe she'd fall into a canter eventually) as fast as she wanted around the arena and not trying to interfere until she started trying to slow down. At that point, push her on some more and then cue her to slow down. If she didn't, move her back into a pace and try again. The goal is to make her realize it's a lot easier to listen than it is to ignore the cue. It makes sense to me and I think I might give it a whirl, but I'm also open to all other tips, tricks and tried-and-true advice.

    Thanks in advance, I really hope I don't regret posting this thread. Again, I don't want to jump immediately to using a really hard bit, but I also don't want to have to reef on her mouth with this current bit when she gets into race mode. There has to be a compromise somewhere.
     
  2. DelP

    DelP Senior Member

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    Have you tried double jointed or just single? What about lozenge or French link? Have you tried hacks/bitless or a kineton noseband? Just trying to get an idea on what you've used.

    As for resetting in an arena I like spirals. The horse gets going too fast I spiral in until the turns naturally slow them down and then spiral out when they slow to the speed I want. Eventually you should be able to ride the whole arena with throwing a spiral in if she gets too hot.

    I'm lucky that I have a pretty much unbroken straight trail for 50 miles so I let my horse go down it using my seat to slow them, and I soften my seat when they relax and slow to match me.
     
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  3. StarPattern

    StarPattern Senior Member

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    When I first "broke" her to saddle, we started in a hackamore and she HATED it. She wasn't bad in it, but you could tell she just wasn't happy. She just kept tossing her head and doing all she could to avoid any pressure at all. Even leading her around on the ground caused her agitation to the point where she would get nippy as soon as one touched the reins. That all went away with a mullen mouth. Today, we played with single and double jointed and a french link plus that chain mouth. She just wasn't happy, between trying to get her tongue over them, tossing her head around and even going so far as to actually lift her head away from me when I was trying to adjust and check. Thinking she was just having a bad day (it was crazy windy), I got her normal bit out and she took it without any hassle at all. She'll actually open her mouth and take the mullen mouth bit on her own.

    We were actually doing spirals and figure eights in the arena today, so I'm glad you suggested at. It means I'm on the right track.

    I came across these bits and I'm thinking one of them might be worth a try. Shop Myler Loose Ring with 14mm Forward Tilted Port MB36-14mm - Toklat Equestrian Equipment or Shop Myler Loose Ring with 14mm Mullen Low Port Barrel MB 06-14mm - Toklat Equestrian Equipment A corner deep in my mind says that a ported bit gives a horse more feel, with the low port being far more mild than a high port. I could be wrong though, since I'm not sure why my mind seems to know that. They both look relatively gentle though.

    And since I forgot to mention - her teeth were done mid June (or mid-May, one of the two).
     
  4. Faster Horses

    Faster Horses Senior Member

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    Clearly, because I have one OTSTB, I am a pro.... ;)

    But this is the bit we use. My gelding has a super narrow mouth and loves the curve.

    OvationĀ® Curve Hunter Dee with Copper Oval Mouth

    Does she stop and relax at the walk well? We had to do a lot of work to get a good whoa and stand from a walk before I even attempted a trot. Might make a difference that my gelding (also a pacer) hasn't really offered to pace under saddle.

    I used a snacktime stop for grass as a bribe if he whoaed and stood for a minute. His stops went from freight train to immediate in one trail ride. :ROFLMAO:
     
  5. StarPattern

    StarPattern Senior Member

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    I'll see if I can find a similar bit to that to borrow, @Faster Horses . Thanks!

    She has a great whoa and relax at a walk and even a slower pace. She'll stand as long as I want her to, immediately relaxing one leg and closing her eyes. Any opportunity for a nap, I guess. It's just the faster pace that gets her excited and she seems to forget that she actually knows what Whoa means.

    On the trail, she knows better than to stop and grab grass, but has learned it's okay to grab the tall pieces and eat as she walks. If I ask her to stop, then grazing is fair game. I'm of the mind that trail riding should be relaxing for her as well as me, and allowing her to eat and walk has been a nice compromise. As long as she's moving in the direction I want, she can grab grass as she's able.
     
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  6. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    This doesn't sound like a bit issue issue to me. Sounds like she gets tense when you go faster & it seems like you're not able to keep her soft when you go faster.

    I'm also going to guess that she hasn't been educated to a bit for riding purposes. I would suggest finding a really good coach who can help teach you to educate her so that she learns to soften her jaw to the bit.
     
  7. StarPattern

    StarPattern Senior Member

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    She is very green broke, but like I said.. she is perfectly fine going at a walk and slow pace. She responds to the bit beautifully. As soon as she kicks into a fast pace, she stiffens her neck and doesn't want to stop. It was only recently that she felt comfortable enough to go faster than her slow pace, so it's entirely possible she's still tense about going faster with a rider up. Thank you.
     
  8. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    I would suggest not letting her get to the point of stiffening her neck. Ride the wave right before that happens as she flips in & out of stiffening. The more you play that line the further you'll push it, but don't let her get to the point of stiffening & rushing off.

    I also would not let her rush off thinking she'll eventually learn it's easier to slow down. Learning to work softly is WAY more work than stiffening and running.
     
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  9. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Do not change the bit. She probably raced in a Braden, so she is used to a straight bar bit.
    Now, I'ma gonna teach you how to think about what is going on here:

    Think about it. What way do STBs race?

    Counter clockwise in this hemisphere. ( Southern hemisphere they go clockwise), So, of course she is better turning what way?
    Left.

    If you take rein and make contact with the mouth, what is a race horse likely to do?

    Go faster.

    REeeeee~lax. Ask for her to go to the next gear WITHOUT tensing one muscle in your entire body. DO NOT adjust yourself to ride HER speed; keep riding, using YOUR body AS IF she WERE going the speed you want WITHOUT using rein. Balance yourself, keep your legs OFF her, do not pull on her. Use your body to slow her down AND, most importantly: ask for the next gear in an enclosed area and ONLY ask for short spurts of it.

    Ask for a little speed using ONLY your seat. Let her gait for five or six strides IN AN ARC, no straight lines. Do arcs to the right. She isn't good at that. She needs practice at that. Then, ask her to slow back down, stop and rest her. Rub her wither, let her stand there, don't hold her there. Don't jibber jabber at her. Be quiet, let her think about what the lesson is aboutt.

    Ask for whoa, give her her head so she can lower it and relax, you totally relax. Then repeat these exercises later in the ride.

    Once she starts to get it, you can help her maintain gait by resorting to the cue of the turn, the arc you are teaching. See, when you finish a mile with a STB, that's track lingo for finishing a traini g mile, ( or race) what happens?
    The horse is slowed down and then turned to go the other way, the way we go slow, the way we jog, which tells the horse, to turn RIGHT. Right is always for SLOW work. So, you always are going to turn the horse RIGHT to slow down.

    This just using the horse's training to teach it to gait slowly and to maintain gait. If she speeds up on the straight away you turn her right, and ask for a slow arc. Right turn and going back the other way means: go jogging speed.

    Now go do those exercises and report back here in a month.
     
  10. Puddincup

    Puddincup Full Member

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    Have you tried teaching her a one reined stop? I don't mean that in the traditional way of yanking a horses neck back to it's shoulder when it's mid flight. So I'll see if I can get this to come across correctly.

    When I have a horse that is no longer responding to the bit because of speed or lack of handle, I start them at a walk and ask them to make a circle by pulling on one rein. I put weight on the opposite stirrup and ask for a whoa. When they stop, all pressure is released. They may circle for a few minutes until the figure it out. If it seems she's not getting it, try a smaller circle but don't make it so tight she gets frustrated. Inside leg if the circle gets too tight. I continue to do this lighter and lighter until they can whoa with VERY little pressure and eventually none. And then I ask for the same at a trot and repeat all the steps. And so on.

    For me it lightens up a horses mouth, and it always seems to teach my horse that if I'm pulling too hard, they STOP. And it's a great reminder for me that my hands weren't light enough if I wasn't meaning for them to stop. I think your mare would like this once she got the hang of it if she likes to remind you where you are going wrong. And it allows you steps to training her mouth to be lighter.

    Any pressure on the mouth for my horses mouth means stop unless my legs are still on them. Legs coming off and seat weight shifting back is the first cue for slowing down.

    Please correct me if I got any of that wrong.
    ALSO OP, I do realize we work different types of horses. I just thought this might work for your mare since she like to give 'cues' back to you. :LOL:
     

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