Bit for an OTTB

I have a 6 year old mare that rides like a gelding. We use her in the kids lessons and she rides english and western. We have been working on her bending and collecting in a sweet copper dee ring and she has been doing amazing! However when we get up into her faster speeds like a canter and gallop she completely ignores the bit, and is very hard to stop unless you really yank on her mouth. I was looking into a combo bit with a smooth dog bone but i am not sure if this is too harsh of a bit or not. I tried one like this but it was twisted and I felt it was too harsh for her. She has also been ridden in a waterford, tom thumb, french link, pelham and elevator bit. We have only gotten results with the sweet copper though. For the last nine months we have tried just about everything to get her to slow with the dee ring but she just ignored it. I know that her mouth is hard and she was raced. Her half halts are good and she is perfect for the walk-trot. Also does anyone have any other exercises for getting her to bend more? right now we’re doing a lot of circles, backing, massaging with the reins, and lifting with my legs to get her to drop her head. She’s mastered all of these even at the canter but its just very hard to get her to stop without yanking on the bit. She’s also very responsive to the rider and will pick up her trot when you inhale and walk when you exhale. I have tried the one-step method where you only allow them to get one step of trot and one step of canter but she then developed a bad habit where she would refuse the canter or trot because she thought it was not what you wanted and so I was told not to do this. I’m unsure of what to do bit wise because I have tried so many and the only ones where we have seen results was the combo bit. We do small jumps, nothing over 2 feet, barrels, pole bending, trail riding, equitation, and just whatever we feel like that day. Thank you!

Pelham with sweet copper mouthpiece and four reins. Keep the shank short.


If she is used in kids lessons, I don’t think four reins is going to work for most.

Perhaps not. But maybe this is not the horse that should be used with kids.


I think she needs to be more trained before lesson use could be considered. How long has she been off the track? She needs to be able to respond to seat/leg. Does she know voice commands? I taught my OTTB voice commands on the lunge line and it helped with the transition to riding. Remember at the track bit pressure means “go faster.” i think she needs consistency with someone who has worked with OTTBs. There are several good books on retraining OTTBs she sounds like a nice mare with lots of potential. Good luck.

Most OTTBs do understand seat and leg.

I suspect that by overbitting and then hanging onto the bit, you have encouraged her to think of her race training. Jockeys and exercise riders use their bodies to rate horses, not the reins. When they sit the horse comes back, when they go 1/2 up they are rating, when they crouch and go with with the upper body the horse goes.

She needs to be taught whoa. That has not been done yet. YOu don’t need a bit to stop the horse, it can be done with a halter.