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Bit suggestions

This may not be an answerable question in this format but I’ll ask anyway.

Back in the day I rode in a french link so that is what I defaulted to with my gelding.

They became verboten so I paid an arm and a leg for a high end bit (whose name totally escapes me) with a round lozenge. This horse didn’t know what contact was and resisted it so when I understood the downside of the french link I hoped this would be kinder/encourage him to be accepting.

He’s come a long way with the contact (old western horse) but he’ll still curl, get behind the bit etc. Now, I KNOW the riding has a lot to do with it, it’s not the bit it’s the rider etc etc but I’m wondering if I should be trying a different bit. He’s just coming back after a lengthy time off due to my own personal injuries, so we’re at square one.

Any suggestions, if any can be offered without seeing the horse? I’m just wondering if a fat old snaffle might be in order, but I know embarrasingly little about bits.

I’m no bit expert, but my curler likes a low port Mullen mouth. He also seems to appreciate poll relief, so a full cheek with keepers or a Boucher seems to help.

Honestly he goes best in a Mullen happy mouth 3 ring elevator or a side pull :woman_shrugging:t3: good thing we don’t do dressage with that one!

oh tell me more about poll relief? What in a “normal” bridle set up would cause poll pressure? And can that cause the curling?

I know I just need to ride him forward and in to the contact and blah blah, but he’s a sensitive old man and was only ever cowboyed around on with a loose rein and a half-sober rider :smiley: So I would really like to make sure I’m not riding him “forward in to contact” that kind of hurts, if that makes sense.

Something like this?

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Yep! I have a full cheek Myler that’s like that. He appreciates it.

There’s a study done on poll pressure, leverage, all that. I’d have to go dig for it but basically a leverage bit has + poll pressure, a regular snaffle (like a D or eggbutt or loose ring) has neutral pressure, a Boucher has negative pressure/relief when engaged. A full cheek with keepers has a similar effect as the Boucher.

Most likely you’re dealing with an education issue, but a really stable bit might help. I wouldn’t invest in anything expensive, and see what you can borrow. If you can find a mouthpiece he likes, then you can play with cheekpieces.

I think this is why my curler like the Mullen elevator - it’s really stable in the mouth and the Happy Mouth is soft - but when I say lift your darn head, he responds. He’s also one that’s been seat trained and basically left alone in the face entirely.

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Thank you!! I’m going to give it a try. The way he sometimes chomps at the bit when he’s frustrated - maybe it really is tongue relief he’s looking for.

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You might also try a Herm Sprenger Duo mullen mouth or a Nathe mullen mouth (they’re similar to each other). These are soft plastic mullen mouth bits, unlike the hard plastic of the Happy Mouth bits. The Duo and Nathe are way more flexible and somewhat thinner (they’re reinforced with a steel cable inside the plastic, so they’re not just plastic).

They’re pricey bits, and, because they’re soft, if the horse chews at all, they’re not going to last more than a year or two. But, for a horse that’s afraid to take any kind of contact and who routinely curls behind the bit, they are way more inviting. A horse can learn that it feels okay to trust the bit (and the rider’s hands).

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Thank you for jogging my memory - that is what I replaced the french link with, Sprenger KK Ultra, at the advice of the person I was riding with at the time.

I’m interested to know if he is a chewer, or he just chews because he’s not comfortable. I’m ok with investing some money to find out.

Thank you!

The KK Ultra is not the same as the Duo–very different bits.

Here’s a pic:

HS Duo bit

Yes - sorry, I just meant that it’s a Sprenger bit. That was the part I was trying to remember. I quite like the quality of it.

I’ve never used a solid mouthpiece before but the more I read about it, the more I’m intrigued.

My western convert QH loves the HS Nathe bit. He doesn’t chew it just holds it, it’s the only bit he will not curl from and seems comfortable for him. He has a tiny mouth and huge fat lips.

Every horse is different and the things that work for some will never work for others. For example my mare loved the NS demi-anky but hated, hated, hated, the NS verbindend, whilst my gelding loves the verbindend and was meh about the demi-anky.

It took me at least half a dozen bits to find out what each of them liked, fortunately I have access to decent bit banks which allow for trials.

What I would suggest is to talk to / email (links below). NS, or the the Horse Bit Bank, or the Horse bit shop, to describe his way of going and see what they recommend.


The alternative is to be canny with buying, scour ebay to find potential bits and be prepared to resell if they don’t suit. Also look for the knockoffs on ebay, I’ve gone that route before and then bought the real thing once I decided the horse liked it, selling on or retaining the knockoff as an emergency spare as necessary.

(And if you don’t think you need an emergency spare then you’ve never had a horse that could ruin a bit in the seconds when you turn your back to grab your riding gloves :laughing:. Mea culpa it happened twice, once when she hooked the bit over the horsebox partition latch and then pulled back, and the second time when she hooked the bit onto the stable door bolt. It was the reason why the saddle always went on first and the bridle last with that particular horse).

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my googling has me realizing our local tack shops don’t have sprenger bits… I can’t for the life of me remember where I got the kk ultra.

Maybe I’ll just try a happy mouth first to see if there’s any improvement. I don’t really have a huge network to borrow bits from. A bit bank sounds like a dream!!