Bitting ideas for anxious jumper mare

Looking for some bitting thoughts for a sensitive, anxious WB mare who is fussy in the contact. Her go-to is to invert and rush, but occasionally she’ll duck behind the contact. A lot of this is just lack of confidence, a bit of it is lack of balance/strength.

The owner has her in a segunda dee. She jumps well in that for me but I feel it’s too much bit on the flat, and she’d be happier to move up toward the contact in a gentler mouthpiece, but one that still gives me enough control to bring her back when she gets quick.

I know the solution to consistent contact is more impulsion and the solution to the rushing is just flatwork, flatwork, flatwork and that is all on the agenda, but am curious to hear people’s thoughts on this. I think less bit might reduce her tension, but I don’t want to be without brakes.

I am going to try her in a loose ring on the flat and see if she relaxes, and also have a Beval bit on the way. Was also eyeballing the NS Universal (or, realistically, a cheaper version).

A segunda doesn’t make much sense to me from what you’ve described. I would start with a plain snaffle, either single or double jointed whichever she prefers. If you need more maybe a little twist. But not much more for a horse who hides behind the contact.

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Sounds somewhat like my mare. I LOVE the full-cheek waterford I have her in now. I CAN jump her over small fences (2’6") in it, but for competition I use a Swales which I think is very specific to my horse. I have tried SO many bits, so I understand this is a process :slight_smile: good luck.

My trainer did have my horse is a segunda and honestly I hate hate that bit. I think if theyre already evading and doing what you’re describing, it makes it worse.


Sometimes a horse who is fussy with contact and who inverts and rushes will actually settle down with a milder bit that encourages them to take contact. The rushing and inverting can be a response to the horse expecting their mouth to hurt.

My old mare went very well in a flexible leather bit, and when she decided that she didn’t like that anymore she went very well in an eggbutt Myler (to the point where my “crazy” mare was able to do the jumper medals and win).

Have you tried a hackamore? Some sensitive horses go quite well in those as well.


My thoughts exactly - I’m not sure why she’s in the segunda, I’m helping a friend with her who has more of a hunter background, which might be why she went to this bit. I think in a softer bit she would realize she can take a deep breath, relax and move up to the contact.

I have good hands but I just don’t like the segunda; pretty much everything I’ve ridden in the last few years has gone in a snaffle or in something with a bit of leverage - Pelham, 2-ring elevator - and a plain jointed or double jointed mouthpiece.

I have definitely thought about a full cheek and a slow twist. A Waterford is interesting but I think of it as more for horses who are strong or pull - she’s very light in the bridle, she just gets quick! I’m not sure anyone has tried a hackamore on her, that hadn’t occurred to me at all and could be interesting!

Sounds to me like this is a training issue, not a bit issue. My “go to” bit for a sensitive horse is some sort of happy mouth mullen straight bar, super soft and inviting. At least start there, and if that isn’t suitable, try a snaffle with one or two joints in it, until you find something that the horse is comfortable in. Then train the horse to hold it’s pace as you set it. It sounds like the horse also is not holding it’s balance and carriage either, if it is inverting and rushing. These things have to be achieved before the horse starts jumping, otherwise, the result is what you are seeing. Follow the classical training scale, as adapted for jumping training. It’s never the bit that controls the horse, it’s the training.


My go-to is an HS Duo dee. Literally doesn’t move at all. My horse doesn’t even like the loose ring version of it as well as the fixed cheek piece. Even better would be a Nathe. They are really flexible. I like that my horse (TB, little fussy in the mouth, but generally green and honest) will hold quite a lot of contact in it. No one wants to drive a Ferrari with no steering wheel. I ride out in the open a lot, so if you’re in an arena, worst case scenario, do an emergency stop or use a corner! Also, I like a Micklem for the stability, but a nice, friendly dropped noseband or PS Sweden pioneer type noseband is well-received by my horse, as well. I’m very amateur, but I found that this setup works really well for him.

I’d start first with a loose ring snaffle. If she still evades behind, then try softer like Duo. If you need more brakes, slow twist. From your description, a segunda is probably the last bit I’d use.

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That is exactly what I was going to suggest!

One wants a horse like this to reach into the contact, not continue escaping or evading. I love a duo for a sensitive horse. I’ve never tried the dee, everything I use is a loose ring, but both are worth trying to see if she wants more stability (the dee) or more play/freedom (loose ring).

If she’s unhappy with the bit, training isn’t going to progress (which I assume is why you are looking for options!)

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Had one very similar. Great success with dring HS KK Ultra for flatting and small jumps, and HS KK Ultra mouthpiece with loose ring gag for jumping bigger jumps.

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I’ve had good luck with the Bomber ported barrel mouth piece. If you call Tato’s mallets in FL, they carry tons of bombers and are very knowledgeable in recommending bits based on the horse’s specific issues.

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My horse is fairly light in the bridle but CAN grab the bit and run. But I’d say 90% of the time she does not. That’s why I love the waterford - it’s soft & lays comfortably over the tongue, but doesn’t let a horse grab it. She salivates so nicely within minutes & stays nice and upright versus getting behind the vertical like she used to in the segunda.

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Agreed, that being said, I have had good luck with a Nathe mullen mouth on horses who like to duck behind the contact.

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I agree with a lot of what has been posted here. I’d likely try a three-piece loose ring for flatting, consider a waterford for jumping. I’d likely try this horse in a hackamore to see if it changes anything. If those didn’t work out, I might consider something like the Acavallo sensitive bit. Good luck!

A hard rubber, Mullen mouthpiece, short shank Pelham; just might be the golden ticket.