Bit suggestions for the strong horse

Hi everyone.

My 6 year old OTTB, whom i bought/rescued emaciated, gained 200 pounds these past 3 months i’ve had her. This is great, and while she is still considered “underweight,” (her goal weight is 1200, she’s 1050 right now), she’s now gone from quiet, obedient little mare to a muscle-filled powerhouse.

She has begun this habit of tanking me to jumps. While the half-halt is installed on the flat, it completely gets thrown out the window when we jump. She is a launcher, not a chipper, so what I need is for her to listen to my hands so we can make the distance. Currently, because she moves up too fast, we make early distances and it is a struggle because she leaps from a takeoff spot we could have corrected had she listened to my “advice” to slow down and be patient.

This only began developing maybe 2 weeks ago. Currently she rides in a loose ring snaffle. I put her in a D-ring corkscrew and while that had wonderful breaks on the flat, she only got faster in jumping, and began throwing her head. So that bit is out.

I do understand this is a TRAINING ISSUE, as her loose ring worked for us for the longest time. HOWEVER, i have some limitations in how I can fix this issue:

a) I cannot move any of the jumps in my barn’s ring. They are set up specifically by one of the trainers for her students, and therefore I cannot create gymnastics or grids, which puts me in a tough position to school her.

b) I don’t want to inhibit her jumping enthusiasm. I don’t mind her fast because I trust her 100%, but it would be nice not to have to launch before every jump. I know her habit can go from bad to worse really fast, and would like to nip it in the butt before it gets too bad.

If you feel there is another solution besides a bit, I’d love to hear it. This is my first time taking a horse from “zero to hero,” if you will :winkgrin:

[QUOTE=thecolorcoal;8840126]Hi everyone.

My 6 year old OTTB, whom i bought/rescued emaciated, gained 200 pounds these past 3 months i’ve had her. This is great, and while she is still considered “underweight,” (her goal weight is 1200, she’s 1050 right now), she’s now gone from quiet, obedient little mare to a muscle-filled powerhouse.

She has begun this habit of tanking me to jumps. While the half-halt is installed on the flat, it completely gets thrown out the window when we jump. She is a launcher, not a chipper, so what I need is for her to listen to my hands so we can make the distance. Currently, because she moves up too fast, we make early distances and it is a struggle because she leaps from a takeoff spot we could have corrected had she listened to my “advice” to slow down and be patient.

This only began developing maybe 2 weeks ago. Currently she rides in a loose ring snaffle. I put her in a D-ring corkscrew and while that had wonderful breaks on the flat, she only got faster in jumping, and began throwing her head. So that bit is out.

I do understand this is a TRAINING ISSUE, as her loose ring worked for us for the longest time. HOWEVER, i have some limitations in how I can fix this issue:

a) I cannot move any of the jumps in my barn’s ring. They are set up specifically by one of the trainers for her students, and therefore I cannot create gymnastics or grids, which puts me in a tough position to school her.

b) I don’t want to inhibit her jumping enthusiasm. I don’t mind her fast because I trust her 100%, but it would be nice not to have to launch before every jump. I know her habit can go from bad to worse really fast, and would like to nip it in the butt before it gets too bad.

If you feel there is another solution besides a bit, I’d love to hear it. This is my first time taking a horse from “zero to hero,” if you will :winkgrin:[/QUOTE]

Sometimes bits will help but it sounds by your description she needs good, consistent experienced training.

Not saying you are not capable… I have been riding horses since I was 8. From 16 to 25 years old I rode OTTB’s and schooled ponies for the barn… I still ride today and I am over 50.

I bought a cute WB with a bit of fire a few years ago. He was 3 and had a lot of growing to do so I haven’t done a great deal with him. He can get nervous and quick. Especially to the jump. I bought him with the idea of being an A Hunter. Fast forward to his 6 year old year… with an amazing trainer at the reins he has come so far in the last three months. She has offered him consistency to the jump in a quiet soft way. He really has blossomed. I still ride him but having the trainers expertise has given my horse so much confidence that he is learning his job in a positive way.

Without seeing you and your horse; an option could be if you have a good trainer available to you to spend a few days a week on your mare may be the trick.

Bit ideas I couldn’t say because not sure if you need stopping power or just to help your mare relax and learn her new job?

Edited to add - when I used to work with OTTB’s when I was younger one of the things I had to work on is teaching them not to pull on the bit and go forward. Many OTTB’s are trained on the track to take the bit, pull and gallop…

I have a little powerhouse OTTB that gets excited over fences. Overall he’s pretty chill but can build and when he gets excited its just a lot of horse to stop, quickly.

I tried various bits with him. We used a pelham for a bit and while on the flat it was great over fences he wasn’t keen on the curb chain and it was loose. He started refusing fences. So we switched to a waterford which worked for a while but just not enough.

We are now using a gag and its perfect. He likes the poll pressure and responds very quickly to my half-halts. We had him in a plain full cheek gag but recently changed him to a loose ring like gag with rollers and its been amazing. He is still strong and I have to use a lot of body to help halt him, but it helps me immensely.

simiar to this one:
https://cdn.horseloverz.com/468626.jpg

Any change in her turnout ? Maybe more turnout and less grain… More trotting over small fences in no predictable pattern, less cantering lines or courses.

Rushing over fences is not a sign of enthusiasm; it’s a sign of tension.

Especially if this is a new behavior, the best possible thing you can do is go back to the work that your horse can do comfortably and without speeding up and launching themselves. If that means going back to trotting over poles, so be it. Do it until your horse is so calm about things that both of you are bored and can do it on a loopy rein. Then, and only then, add a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of difficulty. Perhaps you trot “in” over a pole and then canter “out” over another one. Again, lather, rinse & repeat until both of you are so calm and cool about it that you are a little bored. Then, and only then, perhaps the rail on the ground becomes a cross rail, and so on. Also, it’s a good practice to intersperse “jumps” with flatwork so that the horse does not automatically assume that every time they see a line, they will jump through the whole thing. So, you can trot or canter in, do a transition downward, or circle, or bend away to a different jump or no jump at all, etc.

I understand you can’t change the arrangement of jumps in your ring but surely you can change the height (and put them back afterwards if needed.) Your horse is telling you that you are going too fast with her training and need to slow down and let her brain catch up a bit. It is not a problem you will solve with a bit, and in fact, although it is possible to “control” a rushing horse with a harsher bit - you aren’t going to create true confidence and relaxation that way, particularly with a green horse.

For the record, I am not suggesting that a stronger bit is never needed on any hunter or jumper. However it is not the go to solution for a green horse exhibiting this behavior - as you’ve seen, the stronger bit only makes the problem worse. Good luck!

When a straight snaffle isn’t enough, I like to add a bit of leverage. The idea that “all horses should go in snaffles” is just absurd at best. Is it partially a training issue? Of course. But there’s absolutely no reason to keep plugging away with something that’s not working. Only caveat, of course, is that you have quiet enough hands to use a stronger bit.

My preference is to move to a bit with leverage once a snaffle isn’t enough. If you have a mouthpiece the horse likes on the flat, the first thing I would try is a gag bit with the same mouthpiece. That gives you the ability to ride only (or primarily) the snaffle rein with the same feel as your usual bit, but pick up the gag rein when you need a little more whoa.

My personal favorite bit is a ported Myler bit (MB43LP is my go-to). And I’ve found many horses that react to that bit more favorably than a regular jointed or even double jointed snaffle. If I need a little bit “more,” I’ll add a curb chain to the bit. Once my GP horse got “broke” enough to move away from our slow twist gag in the show ring, I started showing him in that set-up. Gives me a much softer contact between the fences, but still allows me to half halt on the way to a jump.

For a real puller a waterford may help as well, and I’ve certainly tried that as a temporary bit on a few pullers. But I much prefer a bit that I can carry a snaffle-like connection with and then add in the “more” when I really feel like I need it.

She is 6 years old, off the track, been fed up with a lot of food, and gained a lot of weight in three months - sounds like to be jumping her is a bit early in the program.

Securing her reliability on the flat, with effective and working half halts, and thinking ‘hunter’ in all paces. It may not be the bit, but a mild stronger bit will get the message to her. Lighten up at every opportunity…I don’t like plain snaffles too much, although grew up being indoctrinated that all a horseman needs is a snaffle.

TB’s have bony jaws and are sensitive - the pinching action may cause more rushing.

You could probably put out small trot exercises, a small grid, and then put it all back at the end of you session? Or as suggested, lower the fences to a level that is unchallenging.

[QUOTE=Lucassb;8840478]Rushing over fences is not a sign of enthusiasm; it’s a sign of tension.

Especially if this is a new behavior, the best possible thing you can do is go back to the work that your horse can do comfortably and without speeding up and launching themselves. If that means going back to trotting over poles, so be it. Do it until your horse is so calm about things that both of you are bored and can do it on a loopy rein. Then, and only then, add a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of difficulty. Perhaps you trot “in” over a pole and then canter “out” over another one. Again, lather, rinse & repeat until both of you are so calm and cool about it that you are a little bored. Then, and only then, perhaps the rail on the ground becomes a cross rail, and so on. Also, it’s a good practice to intersperse “jumps” with flatwork so that the horse does not automatically assume that every time they see a line, they will jump through the whole thing. So, you can trot or canter in, do a transition downward, or circle, or bend away to a different jump or no jump at all, etc.

I understand you can’t change the arrangement of jumps in your ring but surely you can change the height (and put them back afterwards if needed.) Your horse is telling you that you are going too fast with her training and need to slow down and let her brain catch up a bit. It is not a problem you will solve with a bit, and in fact, although it is possible to “control” a rushing horse with a harsher bit - you aren’t going to create true confidence and relaxation that way, particularly with a green horse.

For the record, I am not suggesting that a stronger bit is never needed on any hunter or jumper. However it is not the go to solution for a green horse exhibiting this behavior - as you’ve seen, the stronger bit only makes the problem worse. Good luck![/QUOTE]

THIS!

And if you can, set poles. Get the half halt mastered over all sorts of patterns of ground poles. Then progress to the trot jumps and exercises suggested above ^^.

It is your floatwork that has major holes in it.
“She is a launcher, not a chipper, so what I need is for her to listen to my hands so we can make the distance.”

It is not your hands to which she should be listening. It is your body. A true half halt starts with the stabilizing effect of your seat and legs, even in two point.

Add to that the fact that you have had her only three months, and have her on a high feed schedule, you are as others have suggested, really rushing her. Horses that lauch are fearful horses, wanting to get it over with as fast as possibly.

Instead of looking for bigger bits, back up and recheck your flat work.

Strongly agree with LucassB above.

Loose ring snaffle

Set up a gymnastic for yourself and put the jumps back where they were when you’re done. Or go to a different barn. And more flat work. Trot some jumps. Stop in the corners.

Don’t ruin your horse’s mouth. Especially if this has only been going on for two weeks.
Overbitting a horse is a fantastic way to ruin their enthusiasm for jumping

Also If you think she’s strong now wait until she gets hard to every bit you try lolz