Dressage legal bit for strong pony

I’ve recently signed my pony up for our first mini trial and I’m having issues figuring out what kind of bit to put him in.
We’re coming from doing the jumpers so this is definitely going to be new to both of us. Currently, he is ridden in a hackamore and shown in a rubber mullen mouth pelham, which we will be using for stadium and cross country. I have a single jointed rubber D that we’ve been using for the past couple days, but he mostly just ignores it and just runs through my hands.
Does anyone have an suggestions bit-wise that may work for us? He is about 12.2h and a Hafflinger/Hackney/Welsh/TB/Icelandic/etc mutt of some sort, so he is built super uphill and is incredibly strong. He naturally carries his head higher than most and does sometimes root on bits, so he goes in a figure 8. He wears a 4 1/2" bit so I will not be able to try any that tend to be a little bit more strange, and I am a really not wanting to spend a fortune if there’s a chance it won’t work. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Please don’t tell me I need lessons or an instructor- I have a good dressage instructor who is different from the instructor I had while focusing on the jumepers. Just looking for suggestions if anyone has or knows of someone who has a similar pony! It’s just very hard to try out bits because few people keep a lot of 4 1/2" bits lying around. I’m currently contemplating a sweet iron loose ring or a segunada so if anyone has any experience with those (if they’re even legal, I know nothing and my trainer is not currently answering me), I would love to hear it!

I would suggest you and your pony get some instruction from a good straight dressage instructor. It sounds as though neither of you understand the concept of the half halt.

I don’t mean to come across as rude. and you must realize that it won’t be a quick immediate one lesson fix, but it will help, and make your cross country portion a little steadier and safer. And in the long run improve your jumping.

I have bitted down strong horses before, but I’ve also spent a lot of time with a straight dressage instructor practicing the skills that ultimately let me bit down those horses. And she was always prompt with responding to my emails with questions between lessons. Don’t underestimate the value of a good dressage instructor, but it may behoove you to find one that is experienced with off-breeds or difficult rides. No use finding an instructor to help you bit down your horse only to have them compensate for the milder bit with harsher nosebands and auxiliary equipment.

As an aside, I like French link full cheeks and Bauchers.

I don’t think a Segunda would be dressage legal. I don’t find Bauchers “strong,” and use them because my last two horses have liked “quiet” bits and also had shallow palates, however, I have had people tell me horses that tended to pull did so less in a Baucher. Perhaps a matter of comfort rather than strength.

I also think a good dressage instructor could help, but in the interim, I THINK a Dr. Bristol is still dressage legal? If so, that might be a temporary fix. I know I used one for cross-country on my 16.3, extremely strong Appy eventer, so if it worked for him cross-country, it might work for a pony in dressage.

[QUOTE=merrygoround;8909306]I would suggest you and your pony get some instruction from a good straight dressage instructor. It sounds as though neither of you understand the concept of the half halt.

I don’t mean to come across as rude. and you must realize that it won’t be a quick immediate one lesson fix, but it will help, and make your cross country portion a little steadier and safer. And in the long run improve your jumping.[/QUOTE]

The trainer I am with is a straight dressage instructor, who has recently spent a few years in the eventing world, but always comes back to dressage. She is different form the one with whom I did the jumpers, and has already helped us tremendously on the flat and over fences. That being said, he is tiny and she refuses to get on because of that, so I sometimes have a hard time describing this issues I am having to her. He had absolutely zero mouth when I first got him as a barely broke 6 year old a few years, but has gotten softer over time. I’m really just looking for bit recommendations, not trainer recommendations.

I have tried him in a Baucher before, and he was not a fan, just grabbed it and bared down on it. I know segundas are legal in hunter land, so it didn’t even occur to me that they may not be legal in dressage! I will definitely add the Dr. Bristol to my list of things to try, thanks!

[QUOTE=Sandy M;8909416]I don’t think a Segunda would be dressage legal. I don’t find Bauchers “strong,” and use them because my last two horses have liked “quiet” bits and also had shallow palates, however, I have had people tell me horses that tended to pull did so less in a Baucher. Perhaps a matter of comfort rather than strength.

I also think a good dressage instructor could help, but in the interim, I THINK a Dr. Bristol is still dressage legal? If so, that might be a temporary fix. I know I used one for cross-country on my 16.3, extremely strong Appy eventer, so if it worked for him cross-country, it might work for a pony in dressage.[/QUOTE]

I have tried him in a Baucher before, and he was not a fan, just grabbed it and bared down on it. I know segundas are legal in hunter land, so it didn’t even occur to me that they may not be legal in dressage! I will definitely add the Dr. Bristol to my list of things to try, thanks!

Looked it up, Dr. Bristol bits are not legal, so Segundas are definitely not. Still can’t find anything about sweet iron, so if anyone knows…

Dr. Bristol is NOT dressage legal.

Hasn’t been for a number of years.

If you are in the US I suggest going to usef.org and look up DR121 for legal snaffles.

A low ported snaffle is now legal in addition to the usual snaffle mouthpieces. The dimensions are not as significant as a segunda but has a similar effect.

https://www.usef.org/documents/ruleBook/2016/08-DR.pdf

[QUOTE=mjhco;8909471]Dr. Bristol is NOT dressage legal.

Hasn’t been for a number of years.

[/QUOTE]

Okay. That’s why I made it a question. I believe it was legal at one time, but I only used it for cross-country. My last two horses (1989 to the present) have both gone in French link Bauchers, so I haven’t been keeping up on what else might be legal. LOL

I’ve known a few people who have used bauchers for a strong horse and that has helped. I agree it’s not really a bit problem though - this is why dressage bits tend to be relatively mild!

There are a few exercises you can do that will help pretty much immediately. Just try trotting around the arena and every 10 strides bring your trot as SLOW as possible. It doesn’t need to be pretty, but it needs to be slow, even if you feel like the horse is being strong and leaning. As soon as pony responds to the half halt and slows down, relax your reins, do a few strides at that speed then push on again. I promise after about 10 repeats you will have a very noticeable difference.

With riding exercises that others will list here (circles, serpentine, half halt, low level lateral work if your pony will tolerate shoulder in without running off), I would suggest a thinner mouthpiece–a level 1 Myler or double jointed version of a Neue Schule.

An exercise I always use for a horse that ignores the bit is periodic halting at various, random points around the ring. If the horse ignores the cue, the cue gets much harsher (and if it is safe to do so and the horse is being disrespectful, we end up backing several steps once stopped). Then we stand for as long as I want, and repeat. It’s not something I learned to do while learning Dressage (better used in Jumpers and Western) but very effective and the horse will absolutely learn to respect your hand.

Better yet, at the trot, stopping your body first, bring him to an abrupt rude halt. Repeat at every other letter around the arena, change rein and repeat. You should find that after several rude halts from you, when you stop your body, he will slow. Pat enormously and “Good boy” him to death.

The key is instantly releasing bit pressure when he slows, and frequent reminders, as in making that a daily exercise. You should be able to shift down to a milder bit as he improves, but it does mean that you will need constant awareness of how much you need to use your body to control his pace, and that frequent refresher courses may be needed for him.

[QUOTE=Pipkin;8909519] I agree it’s not really a bit problem though - this is why dressage bits tend to be relatively mild!
[/QUOTE]

BINGO!

Long story short - my very strong horse, once he learned what the outside rein was and how to use himself correctly - goes in a relatively thick HS double jointed snaffle. The key for us - proper engagement and working through.

Besides a Dr. Bristol the best thing you can do is to find something he wants to be soft in and then motorbike your way around a few dressage tests until the lessons with your new dressage instructor kick in. You’ll be virtually unnoticeable at a spring horse trial where everyone is on their brand new horse or their fresh off winter turnout horse.

Really honestly, nobody will care as long as you are safe over fences. Your score and placing will affect it, but keep working on that dressage and your score will improve!

Eventers recognize that things don’t progress at an even pace and you will be fine!

As of 2016 USEA rule book for national level HTs, Dr. Bristol bits are dressage legal (USEA 2016, p. 88). They are not legal for FEI competition in the dressage phase. I watched a girl get eliminated at a CCI for that mistake.

Check the rule book which is FREE to access online and on pages 86 to 89 have illustrated diagrams and named legal bits and nosebands. Also if you have a question or concern, email the USEF about the bit legality in question.

I bought a welsh pony and when I tried him out he was already bridled. He was very high headed. When I untacked I was shocked to see the bit…it was a segunda. I asked at a tack shop when that bit is used and the woman said it should never be used…lol! My thoughts exactly. My pony goes in a french link and I went to a baucher and he goes bet in it best. It was a hard to find 4 3/4". He is a very forward ride but doesn’t respond to half halts. I do often given him an rude halt and ride figure and make him work. I fine when he is really working hard bending and staying round he does get fatigues and starts to behave more. It will take time with repetitive riding with corrections in the moment.

This thread is positively useless without pictures of said pony! He must be adorable!!!

If you have a full cheek snaffle that will fit him, consider using bit keepers. Conversely, if he does root, consider a ring cheek snaffle as the rings will slide a bit if he attempts to set into your hand. D-rings, in my opinion, invite a horse to take hold.

If you can find it in your size, a fulmer might be just the ticket as it merges both full cheek and ring. I am not sure about its dressage-legalness but as its used at the SRS I’d imagine its likely that it is.

Also, consider a ported mullen type mouth for him. If he goes well in a hackamore, he might object to tongue pressure. See if you can find a mullen that is arched. Glory Bits are uniquely wonderful in that they arch both above the tongue and towards the mouth - arched in two directions. They’re designed for horses with small mouths and thick tongues. They employ two types of metal however, so may not be dressage legal.

Sweet iron is a favorite mouthpiece metal of mine, but again, it may not be dressage legal.

Finally, the other posters are correct in saying that this is an issue that is ultimately overcome by training - as dressage tests really are to exemplify just that.

[QUOTE=FLeventer;8909654]As of 2016 USEA rule book for national level HTs, Dr. Bristol bits are dressage legal (USEA 2016, p. 88). They are not legal for FEI competition in the dressage phase. I watched a girl get eliminated at a CCI for that mistake.

Check the rule book which is FREE to access online and on pages 86 to 89 have illustrated diagrams and named legal bits and nosebands. Also if you have a question or concern, email the USEF about the bit legality in question.[/QUOTE]

They are legal for eventing dressage in the US (I’m assuming OP is American) but not straight dressage, which is why you are getting different answers. A figure eight or drop might help too, but as everyone has said it is not so much a bit issue.

Are you looking for Dressage-Legal bits?

Or Eventing-Dressage-Legal bits?

The rules are quite different.

Since you refer to a mini-trial, I suspect you may need an Eventing-Dressage-legal bits.

In particular, Dr Bristols ARE legal for Eventing Dressage, but are NOT legal for straight dressage.

There are other bits that are straight Dressage-legal, but NOT Eventing-Dressage legal (rollers, butterfly Bauchers).

The Eventing Dressage rules are at
https://www.usef.org/documents/ruleBook/2016/13-EV.pdf

(EV-115 and Appendix 4)

My first horse was very strong in his mouth (he was a school horse ridden in a six inch Pelham!). What worked for him after much trial and error (and several instructors) was a loose ring double jointed snaffle. And lots of circles and transitions! Good luck and definitely need pictures :slight_smile:
Becky