Bit for bracey/forward horse

I’m trying to find some ideas for bits to try on my mare. She was previously used as rental horse for a fox hunting outfit and it’s obvious she was ridden by lots of heavy handed riders. She is extremely bracey with any pressure on the bit and when I trail ride with others she gets really competitive. If asking for speed on trail (even just a trot) she fights constantly when I’m asking her to slow or stop. I have tried various snaffles, worked on getting her to bend and flex and soften in the arena and she does ok but still not as soft as I would like and still it’s a constant battle on trail rides. I’m not usually one to bit up but a snaffle just isn’t cutting it and I need to find a bit that will keep her in check on trail rides since even with all the ground work and arena work she is still the same pushy, bracey horse when out on trail with others. I was thinking of a Pelham or Kimberwick/Kimblewick…any thoughts or suggestions? I know this comes down to a training issue but I’ve been working with her for five months with no improvement and I know it can take several months to years to recondition 8-10 years of bad riding habits by others and I’d really like to be able to enjoy her on trail in the meantime since that is primarily what I bought her for.

My pushy horse reacts very well to this bit:

http://www.statelinetack.com/item/myler-black-steel-7-shank-low-port-comfort-snaffle/E013062/?srccode=GPSLT&gclid=CPnB1cDBo84CFYKFaQodsckOwg&kwid=productads-adid^53091238428-device^c-plaid^109329564348-sku^445955-adType^PLA

It’s the best combination of mild when things are going well, and sensitive to a correction. I had sent my horse out for a month’s retraining due to some issues we were having (pushy and not gaiting well) and the trainer used this bit for the entire month after a bit of experimentation. It is like magic.

On trail he is mostly on a loose rein but can be a close follower and this bit really helps.

For the stop or slow cue it requires a curb chain with 2 fingers of space when at rest.

Have you tried bit less? If she’s bracey from people being heavy handed in a bit, sometimes they’ll be much lighter in a hackamore. You could try a side pull with rope noseband for a little oomph, or something like a little s hackamore if you want some leverage.

My mare can lean into bits. She goes great in her mechanical hackamore. It’s got some pretty long shanks on it, but I don’t use the reins much at all. When I do, it’s a very light cue then immediately back to loose rein.

I like the Myler Kimberwicks with the comfort snaffle mouthpiece, wide barrel. The comfortable mouthpiece and the curb action works well together. However, some horses do hate anythkng that sits ON the tongue. Myler has a Kimberwick that has a medium port wih a barrel. I had one mare that fussed over every thpe of snaffle that I tried, tongue constantly going over the bit hanging out of her mouth. I finally tried this port which gives the tongue room to fit under the port. Instantly happy mouth.

Put her in a plain snaffle and do lots of ground work. Your 1,000 lb horse will never meet a bit she can’t outpull. If you can’t get her to soften her mouth and head and give to a mild bit, she will always brace her mouth which means she will brace her body as well.

+1

Leather and iron are cheap and easy to use but ultimately will fail as “control mechanisms.” If you use enough you can, in fact, control a lot of equine behavior. But, like Xenophon once observed, it won’t be beautiful.

Training is hard, demanding on the human, and can be expensive. But ultimately will produce a beautiful result.

Clear choice, if not an easy one.

G.

Competitive horses with a past like hers have to be taught 'you’re ok, we’re good, listen to me’. Until you have that, and really, even after that, she’ll have competitive, rooty times when her native language (go go go I’ve got this, shut up rider :wink: ) takes over.

The sooner she’s taught to follow loosened reins down and out (AKA she’s taught to understand contact and seek it as a communication line) and also the sooner you learn to move her shoulders and ribs and mobilize her different parts so she can’t align them and brace, and instead is being ridden gymnastically and ‘healthily’ (I made up a word, sorry), the sooner she’ll need to think to listen and respond, and in thinking and responding, the braces gradually dissolve.

In other words, what G said. All else is bandaids and chickenwire.

I agree with more ring work etc, but… in the meantime, I would look at something that takes some of the pressure out of the mouth. I really, really like the Myler combo bits that use nose and poll pressure. My mare hates snaffles (it seems like a lot of Morgans have mouths that just don’t fit a snaffle right) but she is very happy in the combo. I use it about 50% of the time, the other 50% I use a little S hack- depending on what I’m doing.
I also use to have a big, strong gelding who was 100% go 100% of the time. He ate cross country courses for breakfast lol. Anyway, I rode him in a gag snaffle with 2 sets of reins- one set on the gag part, one set on the snaffle. 95% of the time he rode just fine on the snaffle but I sure was glad of that gag rein the other 5 % of the time

Bits don’t solve problems, training does. I’d recommend that you get some lessons/professional training.

When I transitioned my hot and heavy mare from eventing to endurance I re-trained her in with the way western horses are trained knowing “Woah” and “Go”. I took some lessons from a reining trainer on reining horses and gave myself some inspiration. Out on the trail with absolutely no additional arena training, my hot mare knows that a soft hand means go forward and a pull on the reins means slow or woah. She picked this up really quick, I know it’s so simple but when your horse has a background in english disciplines there are so many in-betweens (collection, connection, bending, suppling etc).
I use this western gag bit:
http://www.ridethebrand.com/Catalog/ItemContent.aspx?ItemNumber=4915&CatalogId=EC&CatalogDetailId=90&NSM=Y

She’s super happy in that bit and responds incredibly well.

I know it is usual to preach the “hours of retraining no tack fixes” mantra, and maybe it works for some people, but honestly I think it drives a lot of people to sell horses on or get out of horses altogether.

A good bit which sends a clear signal is no sin to use. I’m not talking about cruel tack or abrupt corrections, but if you have a well-started horse who is taking over, considering a clearer signal system is not a training failure.

[QUOTE=thoroughbred21;8783845]I know it is usual to preach the “hours of retraining no tack fixes” mantra, and maybe it works for some people, but honestly I think it drives a lot of people to sell horses on or get out of horses altogether.

A good bit which sends a clear signal is no sin to use. I’m not talking about cruel tack or abrupt corrections, but if you have a well-started horse who is taking over, considering a clearer signal system is not a training failure.[/QUOTE]

Concur in theory. In practice, however, it’s only a small step to go from a simple but clear bit that doesn’t work to a 9" shank Walking Horse bit that will work, at least for a while.

Using enough bit to achieve safe control while working to achieve said control without so much bit, as a “bridge,” can be a Good Thing. But when a temporary bridge becomes permanent then what?

G.

[QUOTE=thoroughbred21;8783845]I know it is usual to preach the “hours of retraining no tack fixes” mantra, and maybe it works for some people, but honestly I think it drives a lot of people to sell horses on or get out of horses altogether.

A good bit which sends a clear signal is no sin to use. I’m not talking about cruel tack or abrupt corrections, but if you have a well-started horse who is taking over, considering a clearer signal system is not a training failure.[/QUOTE]

If the horse is taking over, the horse is not well started. When you run into a problem with a horse, it should be a clear signal to the trainer that the horse does not understand something or did not learn something. If you continue on without fixing the problem it’s just going to show up over and over and over. It has nothing to do with equipment, it’s pure horsemanship. And yes, training is a long process. There are no short cuts.

I have seen many such magisterial pronouncements. The fact remains that there are better and worse ways to tack up, there are bits that help and bits that harm and bits that aggravate the horse. Exploring options is not antithetical to keeping an eye on the horse’s long-term improvement.

So it is not the case, and certainly not helpful to claim, that horses’ behavior “has nothing to do with the equipment”.

I would also suggest trying a hackamore or combo bit. Sometimes, paired with re-training a different kind of pressure can be helpful in helping the horse learn not to lean/pull.

[QUOTE=thoroughbred21;8785670]I have seen many such magisterial pronouncements. The fact remains that there are better and worse ways to tack up, there are bits that help and bits that harm and bits that aggravate the horse. Exploring options is not antithetical to keeping an eye on the horse’s long-term improvement.

So it is not the case, and certainly not helpful to claim, that horses’ behavior “has nothing to do with the equipment”.[/QUOTE]

No one is suggesting that “exploring options is antithetical” to anything. Noting that problematical behavior is likely the result of prior training deficiencies is not makeing a “magisterial pronouncement.” If you’ve got a horse with holes in it’s training you have at choices, at least two of which are go back and fill in the holes or just “cover them over” with leather and iron. The choice is up to the owner. One, IMO, is clearly superior to the other and I’ve so stated. YMMV.

G.

[QUOTE=thoroughbred21;8785670]I have seen many such magisterial pronouncements. The fact remains that there are better and worse ways to tack up, there are bits that help and bits that harm and bits that aggravate the horse. Exploring options is not antithetical to keeping an eye on the horse’s long-term improvement.

So it is not the case, and certainly not helpful to claim, that horses’ behavior “has nothing to do with the equipment”.[/QUOTE]

I would agree with you if the OP was being guided by a reputable trainer.
I’ve seen too many people doing it on their own without the necessary knowledge. And in the end the horse loses.

It’s the bold bit at the end that is troubling:

[QUOTE=Mnlooney22;8776366]I’m trying to find some ideas for bits to try on my mare.
She was previously used as rental horse for a fox hunting outfit and it’s obvious she was ridden by lots of heavy handed riders.
She is extremely bracey with any pressure on the bit and when I trail ride with others she gets really competitive.
If asking for speed on trail (even just a trot) she fights constantly when I’m asking her to slow or stop.
I have tried various snaffles, worked on getting her to bend and flex and soften in the arena and she does ok but still not as soft as I would like and still it’s a constant battle on trail rides.
I’m not usually one to bit up but a snaffle just isn’t cutting it and I need to find a bit that will keep her in check on trail rides since even with all the ground work and arena work she is still the same pushy, bracey horse when out on trail with others. I was thinking of a Pelham or Kimberwick/Kimblewick…any thoughts or suggestions?
I know this comes down to a training issue but I’ve been working with her for five months with no improvement and I know it can take several months to years to recondition 8-10 years of bad riding habits by others and I’d really like to be able to enjoy her on trail in the meantime since that is primarily what I bought her for.[/QUOTE]

I’ve always found that less is more. When I run into a problem or issue, I usually go back to a plain snaffle and work it out at a slower gait.

A foundation is so important.
If the foundation is crumbly, whatever you put on top of it will be unstable at best.
It makes me so sad when I see people not willing to build or rebuild the foundation the horse has/needs. Horses are hard, training them is harder. And whatever faults the horse has, it is never their fault.

Believe it or not, some horses are happier in something a bit stronger. I bought an 18 year old horse who had been owned by a young person for 8 or 9 years. A young person who did a lot of galloping. I had tried her in an arena so didn’t get to see the race brain side of this horse until after I bought her and took her for a trail ride.

I literally spent 2 years doing nothing but walk with a little trot. It took that long to get her to relax and not feel like she was going to take off.

Once she would walk and trot nice and relaxed, I introduced a little canter. She was doing so well l, I started riding her in a hackamore. She did good for a while. Then one day I’m cantering along with another rider (something we had done before) and she decided she wanted to go. She put her head between her knees and ran. I did get her pulled up but she spent the rest of the ride fighting me to go.

After that, we were back to square one. It was like the previous years of work were completely forgotten. The next couple of rides were miserable because she wanted to run. I would spend the entire ride fighting her. She would not settle down. So, I bought a Pelham. She responds to that and doesn’t fight it the way she will a sniffle or a hackamore. I can walk, trot or even gallop and not spend the ride fighting her.

By the way, she 27 years old now and still a spit fire.