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Bit advice for a speedy pony?

I own a green large pony and I’m completely stumped on a bit for him. He’s pretty lazy and slow on the flat (I wear spurs) but when you start jumping he’s suddenly racing around. At first he was just “kinda quick” but our past few lessons have moved to scary fast. Jump size doesn’t matter and we’ve been through five bits already trying to find that “happy medium” pace.
I need an idea for a bit that he might like that’ll help me keep him slow but also soft (which our last few courses definitely haven’t been). I don’t want something super duper strong though cause he doesn’t need it on the flat. Im willing to try any kind of link or rollers or material or whatever but I don’t want to buy the whole tack store so i thought I’d ask for y’alls opinion. I’m trying a Pelham next but I’m not sure what kind and my trainers pretty picky about Pelhams in the pony hunters so I probably won’t be allowed to show in it.
Thanks for any help!

Putting a stronger bit on him doesn’t solve the problem. Distracting him is better. When heading toward the jump (but before he is committed to it), circle, and circle. And circle some more. Not just until he slows down, but until he relaxes. You might never take the jump in the whole lesson ---- if you give into him you have taught him that it’s OK to rush.

If/when you take the jump, quietly bring him to a walk. And walk until he relaxes. Then trot an X , etc. etc.

The is no easy way to do this.

Many years ago I was told: You cannot MAKE someone calm. You have to LET them become calm.

With a bit, you are trying to make him calm/obedient. In the long run, the patient way will get you better results.


You haven’t told us exactly hoe much time was spent on flat work. You say he is green. A horse that rushes fences is frequently and over-faced horse. I would put more emphasis on flat work, and reducing the size and variety of fences, rather than a bit.


If he’s green he most likely needs to get more rideable on the flat. More flatwork & getting him engaged in his work so he’s not “lazy & slow” when you’re hacking. Do you practice your “jumping” canter? How adjustable is he at that canter? When you are moving up to a long spot or collecting for the shorter one is that when he’s getting fast? Practice that during your flatwork.

He also may need a jumping bit & flatting bit. Many horses do. My green horses did so for awhile (months/years/however long it takes) I was swapping bits around to find the right combo. Couple days in this, jump in that, flat for a few days in this, etc… I had a few bits in rotation. I was fortunate to borrow from friends or my trainer to test them out so I didn’t have to keep buying until I found what worked.

Hello fellow green large pony owner!
I ride my young gelding in a loose ring snaffle. I personally have never changed my bit from when I’ve broken my boy in because the bit won’t fix the problem. Green ponies haven’t learned it all yet, and if a green pony wants to get speedy, the type of bit in his mouth won’t matter to him. He just needs some more training to learn his paces, just be patient :slight_smile:


In regards to saying he needs more flatwork training: he actually has had a lot. We’ve done extensive flatwork training with him. He’s naturally pretty slow/lazy- some ponies are, but he does flat very well and is super adjustable on poles and such at the canter. It’s only actual jumps that are a problem. We jumped cross rails for weeks to see if lowering the height helped and it didn’t. He trots through jumps without a problem too, it’s really just cantering that’s fast.
I asked for help with bits because I can tell he hates the one he’s in and I was hoping someone else would have a suggestion for a new one to try. He’s currently in a corkscrew with a full cheek (but he’s been in a happy mouth and plain Dee before and acted the same way so he’s not running cause of the bit). I’m pretty sure he is going to end up having a flat bit and a jump bit, I just don’t know what to do for the jump bit.

If he only gets excited over fences, maybe his saddle isn’t a proper fit. After you ride for awhile and jump a few, hop off and press down on his back right where the cantle sits. Watch the reaction. What size is your saddle?

Please dont get defensive and say its it’s a perfect fit. Most Adult size saddles, say 16.5 or more, are too long for a Pony back and every time the rider sits into the saddle, it digs right over the loin area. In a larger horse with a longer back, it wouldn’t be back that far.

Probably don’t want to hear this but your riding could be contributing, especially if you open up your hip angle too soon on landing bringing your weigh down right on the back of that saddle that might be too long for his back. Even if it’s not too long, you may be sitting too heavily into him landing and that hurts. He may have some hock issues or conformation that makes it uncomfortable to rock back and jump too.

Nothing personal, trust me, if ones going to take off with me in landing, I’m opening up too early too, it’s self defense. But it sets of a vicious cycle he speeds up, you sit down which hurts his back, so you sit more and he tries to run off away from the pain. Run and be done so it stops.

NO BIT is going to slow down a green horse or Pony. Don’t see how perfect his flatwork can be if he runs off over fences in a fenced ring. How are your basic laterals and leg yields? Can you control his haunches and shoulders individually? Often a slight leg yield will keep one focused on you and straight down the lines. Betting he makes like a motorcycle around the corners too, probably leaning in jumping each fence crooked which make an even bigger mess. I learned all that the hard way.

Can your trainer give you some Dressage lessons? Skip the jumps until you can control pace better? Most good H/J trainers have enough background in that to properly get a Pony and rider started in CORRECT flatwork. Dont blame the Pony here, look to riding and training, they are what we teach them to be. He needs teaching, not more metal in his mouth.

His saddle is a pony size saddle that got fitted to him, and he has been checked by trainer, vet, and chiropractor. I can try checking it anyway though just in case. I can ask my trainer if I’m being too quick to sit on landing, but I know he is just as fast with my trainer and other two friends and we all ride very differently. The reason I’m so stumped with this pony is the fact that he actually does flat very well, for real. We’ve done time with no jumping and just flat work, but when we went back to jumping he was even faster. He actually isn’t strong and leaning on your hand through the corners, and he stays straight and not wiggly through the lines.
I don’t want “more metal” or something super harsh and strong in his mouth. I was simply hoping someone would know something I hadn’t thought of that he might like better or respond to better. There’s a lot of bits out there I’m sure I haven’t heard of all of them. I really appreciate everyones comments, but I can promise you we’re working on solving the speed and he does plenty of flatwork training. But for training to be done he needs a bit, and I’m just trying to find one he might like.

Trot jumps, bounces, gymnastics, take off and landing poles, etc. This doesn’t sound like a bit issue.

I would drill him in grid work for a while. The jumps will force him to slow down and rock back. Trot in canter out. There are lots of different gymnastic grids you can look up online. It could very well be a strength issue. Everything is easier faster. I would maybe try more frequent but shorter jumping sessions. 2-3 times a week go through the grid 2-3 times.
Different bits you could try are double twisted wire, segunda, or waterford. I love the waterford because its soft when I’m soft but I have brakes if I suddenly need them.

What does your trainer recommend for him for a bit? If she’s picky about pelhams it sounds like she has opinions on bits, so it might be best to ask her what she thinks the best bit would be for him for jumping.

My daughter had one recently that rushed the jumps badly. An exercise that helped was setting up a course then placing a cavaletti at the ends of the ring. My daughter would jump him over the cavaletti on a circle, really working on balance and getting him to be slow and soft. Once he was jumping the cavaletti slowly and softly she would leave the circle and go and do the course, or as much of the course as she could get done without him rushing. As soon as he started rushing, it was back to jumping on the circle to rebalance etc. This method worked pretty well and teaching him not to be anxious about the jumps and trying to get it “over and done with”.