Bit Recommendations for Power Steering when Jumping a Strong TB

I’ve had my 9 year old OTTB gelding for almost two years and we have gone through lots of retraining, schooling basics, focus on the foundation, etc. He’s just a big, strong, powerful guy and when it comes to jumping we need some more power steering. Jumpers, not hunters.

He’s now in the Mikmar snaffle (double-jointed) and actually seems to like it more than any bit he’s ever had. He reaches for contact, works through his back, steps under himself, etc. Just seems like with jumping we need a little more, but we aren’t sure the best direction to go from here. I personally have never had a curb or shank bit on him. He’s very sensitive and I want to be cautious not to overdo it. We have thought about elevator bits but again try to focus on the basics and not just automatically go to more bit.

Think we’re ready to try another step to use at shows for jumping and are curious what has worked for others. Thanks!

If he likes that jointed bit, I would hesitate to go with any sort of Pelham because their action is completely pointless when jointed (well not completely, but it’s really not the way the bit is supposed to act). I’m not a fan of mikmars but if it works for you, then it’s fine. I don’t know if they make it, but perhaps a full cheek version of what you have now? That should help with turning and steering. How exactly do you need more steering? Does he budge out, or get low and pull? Or is he just not responsive? Just trying to figure out whether it’s a bit thing or whether he just needs more training. If he gets low and pulls you around, that’s more of a job for a gag or something to lift him up.

You may want to practice things that will help you with that. If he just isn’t responding, I would do stuff like the “circle of death” sort of exercise and figure eight jumping/cavalettis. If he’s getting low and pulling after jumps so you can’t lift him up to steer, then halting straight after jumps should help, as should turning the opposite way that he wants to go.

Does he handle face pressure or no? If he can’t handle face pressure, pelham won’t be a good idea.

From your description (and not seeing the horse go) I would try:
Two ring elevator with soft mouthpiece
Pelham (if too severe, cover chain with vetwrap)
Gag with leather cheek pieces
Full cheek snaffle with bit keepers

Just gotta try a bunch of stuff and what works today might not work tomorrow. Really working the flatwork over time will help as well. My little jumper mare started in some pretty harsh bits because she’d grab the bit and bolt when she got mad (which was frequent). Now she jumps in a rubber snaffle and regular caveson (we flat in a loose ring with a flash).

The type of noseband you use can make a difference in control. What specifically is the horse doing that makes you want to move to something more for steering? Sometimes a full cheek bit helps, as it cannot potentially be pulled through the mouth like a snaffle. If the horse is evading the bit, a different noseband might help.

I personally would not go for a Waterford on a sensitive horse, since that likely means you’re already having trouble with bit acceptance and contact. Waterford are great for horses that root and lean on to the bit, since they collaspe if grabbed, but you don’t want to teach him that getting into contact is bad.

Im also going to say I don’t think that adding more bit will help you steer especially on a OTTB they just learn to grab harsh bits and pull IME. Steering in a perfect world should come from the leg and be guided by the hand not the other way.

I have the same type of horse, strong TB over fences. We actually started using a full cheek waterford and it has been the magical bit for him. Its got just enough hat when I really need him to come back I can do a quick check and he immediately comes back without over powering him and pissing him off.

I will say that we tried a pelham before that and he flatted wonderfully in it and even did some small 2’ fences (warmup) but once the rails went up he started running out. This horse does not run out or refuse…we figured out it was the curb chain and he was so sensitive to it that he didn’t like the pinching on the other side. We only had it on the 4th hole. We backed it down to the 2nd hole, horse was happy to go over again, but I lost all my control if it was anything less than 3 holes. So I tried a curb guard and it was worthless, just wasnt strong enough but sensitive enough at the same time.

Def try a waterford. The full cheek is great for turning and I hope to eventually go to a loose ring, but we need the extra steering power at the moment too!