Unlimited access >

A bit for a lazy warmblood who gets strong in grass rings spontaneously

A need some bit advice, my usually very quiet and lazy warmblood regularly goes in a thick french ring loose ring. I struggle occasionally when I am out on grass or at show in the sense he is super quiet in the warm up but once he gets on a roll he steam rolls down lines and takes my arms with him. I would consider myself a quiet equitation type rider but I still don’t want to put an aggressive bit on him and risk over correcting and upsetting him. Does anyone have a recommendation for a bit that is slightly more aggressive then a french link and can help balance a big dude but not so aggressive to totally shut him down?

I’d try a pelham with the same mouthpiece as your snaffle. You can ride him off the snaffle rein 99% of the time but add a little leverage on the curb rein when he gets rolling.


I had a similar issue and my trainer put my horse in a soft rubber baby pelham. Worked great.


I agree - try a pelham. Unlike the olden days, pelhams are available now in a wide variety of mouth pieces in metal, rubber and happy mouth configurations. IMO, pelhams (these days) seem to have a somewhat negative connotation with some riders/trainers… which is puzzling to me. Back in the dark ages, everyone had one. It was used for fox hunting and riding off property for horses that typically were fine in a full check snaffle.


Thanks! it sounds like the pelham should be my first stop, I guess I was scared off the negative connotation and what people might think seeing my quiet broke dude going around with 2 set of reins on him but it does sound like the right option!

1 Like

You can use two sets of regular reins on a pelham, but I would encourage you to buy a set of curb reins. They are plain and thinner than regular reins and make holding two sets of reins easier (especially if you have smaller hands, like I do). It also makes it easy to tell the curb rein from the snaffle rein when you pick your reins up.


I rode a horse last summer who got like that at shows and I started riding him in a happy mouth elevator on the largest ring (or the “big bubble”, as we called it) or the next ring down, if needed. I just made sure to have SUPER soft contact and keep my half halts nice and quick.

Why not just school him more at home? Sounds like show and/or “out of element” nerves. See if you can get your trainer to give you lessons on grass or at new venues.

1 Like

Sometimes you can not replicate the behavior at home. OP may not have an outside field that is always available to school due to weather, doubling as a turn out etc to be able to adequately address the issue.

OP- I would ride in the new bit at home a few times before trying it at a show.


Waterfords do wonders for the heavy front end pullers.


That’s true… but hopefully a new venue would be an option if you can’t find a place at home. OP says he’s fine in warm-up which means it sounds more like nerves or training than a bit-fix.

If he’s good in warmup but then steamrolls down the line, that’s a training issue. Assuming the consecutive jumps makes him stronger and/or he goes faster since you can rarely “ride a course” in the warm up.

OP “struggles if she is out on grass or at a show”. Seems like a mileage issue?

I’m assuming if OP can trailer to a show, she might be able to trailer to a different venue to show.

1 Like

We do school him at home we have a large grass ring which is actually where the issue is most prevalent. He is very at ease on the grass and at shows and he is wonderful to hack and super quiet while we warm up, it’s just when he gets jumping that his stride starts to get away from me and he pulls. I don’t think it’s a nerves thing his body language is all very relaxed and hunter like I just get nervous when I half halt and sit up down lines and still end up eating strides or taking half the arena to trot after my last fence. I have actually tried a Waterford before and found I could warm him up in it, he didn’t want to pick up any contact at the trot or canter, I guess it was a little too sharp for him. I do actually have a happy mouth that fits him from a previous horse, I may try that in my next lesson as I don’t have a Pelham yet and none of my trainer’s bits fit him (he has a very large, wide face and mouth) hence why I’m on here asking for opinions before going to the tack store and buying something. My trainer does like the idea of a Pelham I just wanted some second opinions before spending 60 odd bucks on one and the happy mouth does sound like an option.

I am curious about the idea of training him not to pull when we string a few jumps together outside since I do like having him in a snaffle for my own peace of mind. Beowulf do you have any tips or tricks that you have used to balance a steam roller or get him to respect the half halt more when rolling down lines?

I agree, something with a soft mouth and leverage, like a pelham or nathe elevator (3 ring or similar). You can ride off the snaffle rein but you have the curb rein there for when he gets strong. I ride mine in a trust straight rubber loose ring 90% of the time, but when he gets tired and heavy I switch to the same mouth piece with a 3 ring and two reins ( I wrap the curb chain as well).

Training exercises to stop pulling/accelerating/lengthening down lines that I’ve found successful are:

  1. set a related distance line (say 4 strides). Jumpnin and then ask for a halt with in a stride or two of landing. Then trot out over the second. Idea is to teach them “hey! Just cause you see another jump down there doesn’t mean we need to get there as fast as possible!”

  2. Above can be altered to circle after the first jump instead of halting. Same idea though - they learn to listen to what you tell them about where they are going so they don’t anticipate and rush.

  3. use groundpoles between the two jumps to reinforce the desired striding if them lengthening their stride is an issue. Doesn’t always help if they maintain correct stride length and just quicken the pace - but depending on your horse sometimes having something to pay attention to in between fences will back them off. Though, I have had horses where ground poles fluster them and they speed up anyways. So - see if it works for your needs

So- I misread your first post- or it wasn’t clear.

Is it a jumping in general “get stronger” thing?

Is the issue he is strong at home in the grass ring?
Can you clarify- he is NOT strong jumping at shows?

So- I agree w/ BW in that more training at home is needed- for both him AND you. Half halt isn’t just w/ the reins blah blah.

I am assuming you realize that generally speaking- that nice hack canter is not generally the canter needed for a lot of horses to be able to jump (realizing there are some that can). [ yes- some can canter-crawl to jumps- esp the big old WB (my BWP can do it) but general population needs a bit more impulsion than that “I"m in a field hacking” canter]. JMO

I have another one that is dead quiet. I’d put anyone on him he is so safe (he’s actually a schoolmaster for a program right now). If the rider totally blanks out or freezes- he will take over. For that level rider- it feels like he is zooming about because it isn’t that “go for a hack” canter. But 1. he needs pace and impulsion to jump 2. He will take over if he thinks it is needed.

So- yeah. I don’t know if a bit will solve your issues.

1 Like

I’ve ridden and showed a lot of lazy, big strided horses in a pelham. It’s a perfectly acceptable bit, and it’s quite easy these days to find a kind, shorter shanked pelham with the same mouthpiece as your usual schooling snaffle.


There’s obviously always the chance that something else is the issue (i.e., things that need to be fixed through training, not a miracle bit), but I used to ride a warmblood mare who was, quite simply, an absolute tank, and she went just fine in a rubber single-joint pelham. She was built downhill and consequently had more difficulty rocking back on her hind end, and she was a horse who 100% needed a bit that gave her a little bit of “lift” when needed, because otherwise she’d just grab the bit, wrench your arms out of their sockets, and barrel down the lines, whether we were at home or at a show (she was also one who was lazy on the flat and it took a lot of work to get the impulsion and then subsequently package it to get her on the bit instead of on her forehand).

The trainer I had at the time wanted me to try riding her in a D-ring segunda to keep the look of a snaffle - I did it once and said never again, because she went fine in a pelham if you were knew what you were doing and I don’t believe in bitting up unless it’s necessary (and doing it for looks is 100% not necessary). As long as I didn’t do anything stupid, like throwing away my contact, the pelham was plenty and didn’t require much more than the occasional engagement of the curb rein to say “Hey, pay attention” whenever she started to pick up steam down the lines. You never entirely escape the curb action with a pelham when it’s engaged since it’s a single bit, but I’ve found it to be a good compromise between a snaffle and a full leverage bit. Based on what you’ve said your horse sounds a lot like this mare, so I definitely think a pelham might be worth a try.

1 Like

Mmmm…with more information, this doesn’t sound like a bitting problem as much as a training and effectiveness issue.

He needs to understand that he can’t pull through you. There’s a million exercises to work on this. I’d personally reach for the pelham after you’ve tried a number of them.

Taking half the arena to trot after the last fence is not acceptable from either of you. From your description of yourself (and it’s impossible to know for sure so forgive me if I’m wrong), my guess is that you aren’t being strong and proactive enough. You need to practice jumping and then halting within 5-6 strides. You need to do whatever it takes to make that happen and be as strong as you need to be to make that happen. Sitting up and half-halting isn’t gonna cut it. You need to sit up and HALT.

If he lands in a line and eats up the stride and doesn’t listen? HALT. If you can’t stop or do a downward transition at any point on course? HALT.

He must respect your hand. I’d practice a ton of transitions and work them into the jumping. Jump two jumps and trot. Back to canter and jump a jump and halt. Back to trot and trot a jump. Back to canter and do a line, but transition to trot in the middle and trot the out.

This may be so ingrained that you need the pelham to help you out, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix the underlying issues.

Any slight step up bit-wise should do the trick and you may have to play around with a few to see what he likes. A slow twist is a mild step up. Even a thinner french link or adding a figure eight could be enough. I do love a pelham because you can ride off the snaffle rein until you need the curb rein…but you do need to understand and be able to use both reins properly. A plain gag could work - use a second rein and ride off the snaffle until you need the gag rein. I tend to go towards a bit like the gag or pelham because I can use a super soft mouthpiece (they all come in various rubber mouthpieces these days) and the second rein is there only for when I need it. You can also wrap the curb chain in vetwrap if you need to tone the pelham down more.

1 Like

This is very interesting thread I guess it highlights my issue with the Pelham, people see it on a horse and assume it’s a rider/trainer problem, which I don’t entirely disagree with I feel like a lot of people bit up their horse because they aren’t prepared to put in work to establish good balanced canter with impulsion. I guess where I get frustrated is I would love to cruise around a big grass ring at a show or the one we have at home with the same control and ridabilty I can achieve in smaller rings or inside. I guess a bit more background might further define the issue, it’s not specifically a show issue but show grounds usually have larger rings and the equation seems to be big horse + big ring = big canter - adjustability. So I can replicate it home (our grass ring is pretty large) but I still struggle with it in the home ring the same way I do in the larger show rings. I do wonder about the concept of just halting mid course, I have never had much luck with any of my horses especially this guy as it kills the concept of impulsion, which I find so important on course. sudden halts are also sort of a punishment for them and going forward is a good thing so a full blown halt on the way down a line would lead to even worse problems such as stopping or a drop in confidence. So I guess the magic equation I’m looking for is Big arena+ big horse = strong canter + adjustability

1 Like