Ex-steeplechaser bitting advice

Hi everybody, I’ve been eventing my ex-steeplechaser gelding in the lower levels for the past couple years. He steeplechased until he was 11. He is doing wonderfully on the flat and goes in a loose ring with a lozenge and has a very soft mouth. I use a flash with him in all phases. He is improving over fences and I have done a lot of gridwork, trot to fences, and placing poles, and halts after fences. I evented him in his dressage bit with a running martingale which helped a little, but no matter what, he is still extremely strong to the fences, and I’m a strong, large rider, but my arms are practically numb when we are done with a cross country course and we are almost always too fast for BN and N levels. We get good dressage scores and the height is not an issue and I’m sure his preferred speed would be more appropriate as we progress up the levels, but before I move him up I want to have better control and continue to work on straightness and technique over fences (especially show-jumping where he still sometimes drops rails because of jumping fast and flat). He tends to flip his head up in the air a lot also when I attempt to check him on-course. He’s up to date on dental btw. Bit recommendations? I tried him in my friend’s kimberwicke the other day jumping in the ring (he’s the same way in the show-jumping ring but not as bad xcountry) and really liked it for control, but he still flips his head a little bit when I have to half-halt him (FYI he does this with a couple pros that have ridden him as well). I know that running martingales are not supposed to be used with leverage bits- would it be inappropriate to use one with a kimberwick with the reins on the top slots? Thanks!!!

Does he get heavy, put his head to his chest, pull, or get really offended? The type of ‘forward’ he is can change the bit recommendations. My horse (who gets upset and sensitive) goes really well in a mullen mouth rubber pelham. If he gets heavy, an elevator might work. A gag might work on a horse that pulls.

He doesn’t put his head to his chest, if anything he tends to pull up and out and try to hollow. And he will basically try his hardest to pull the reins out of my hands/loosen the reins by tossing his head. Lol he knows his job is to jump, he just wants to do it his way! I don’t want to get him in too much bit because he is sensitive and I would rather have him stay forward than to back off my hand completely and go behind the bit. Tried him in a gag and it seemed to make him worse- he got heavier and was even more upset about half halts. It is possible that the gag might have been a 1/4 inch too small for him as it was the same size as his dressage bit…so might have been pinching?

You might try a kineton and keep working on those half halts but start at a walk.

When you start with the kineton let him pull and toss his head and learn what the kineton will do when he does that stuff. Keep your hands as light as possible except when you need to say NO, then say it once and lighten up.

Don’t put a running on a kimberwick…I wouldn’t use a running on a kimberwick or pelham or bit with a curb chain.

Have you tried a loose ring Cherry Roller? My mare who was bred to run over fences preferred it the best. She just got strong and would violently flip her head if she didn’t like the bit.

I also agree with SEPowell…a Kineton with your snaffle may help. And to make sure YOU are not pulling. With strong horses, it is our tendency to surf on them…pull on their mouth because they are pulling on us. You have to make sure you are giving half halts…which mean you have to RELEASE even if for a second before your next half halt. It takes two to pull :wink:

I don’t think the cherry roller would help…I tried eventing him in his loose ring aurigan with lozenge, which he LOVES on the flat, but he has the same head tossing problem/getting upset with half halts in xcountry and show jumping. Haha I’m sure that I did pull on him too much because that bit has no affect on him on the cross country course…which is why I’m asking for help for a different bit, so that I don’t have to constantly pull on him and can half halt as necessary lol. I will look into a kineton! Thanks!

[QUOTE=bornfreenowexpensive;7512190]Don’t put a running on a kimberwick…I wouldn’t use a running on a kimberwick or pelham or bit with a curb chain.

Have you tried a loose ring Cherry Roller? My mare who was bred to run over fences preferred it the best. She just got strong and would violently flip her head if she didn’t like the bit.

I also agree with SEPowell…a Kineton with your snaffle may help. And to make sure YOU are not pulling. With strong horses, it is our tendency to surf on them…pull on their mouth because they are pulling on us. You have to make sure you are giving half halts…which mean you have to RELEASE even if for a second before your next half halt. It takes two to pull ;)[/QUOTE]

You really have to try it before you know if it would work. My mare would completely blow off my half halts in a snaffle. It was like I had nothing…I could stop her but not rate her. The difference in the cherry roller was substantial. It wasn’t super reactive…but I got a response from my half halt…whereas in stronger bits, I got a violent head flinging over reaction. She accepted the cherry roller…and responded to it. They don’t lean on it like a normal bit.

So it is all what you want to try. For me…on that strong horse…it was enough…and I was surprised by that. This is what I have (not the gag one) http://www.bitofbritain.com/Loose_Ring_Cherry_Roller_Bit_p/732.htm

This one interests me…http://www.bitworld.co.uk/ourshop/prod_2696161-Pessoa-Cherry-Roller-with-Barrel-Loose-Ring.html

You could also try sharper–like a slow twist or cork screw.

A cherry roller works well with my strong mare. I was really surprised that it did but she likes it and I have some control.

Have you someone you work with on the flat (dressage) and over fences.

The half halt should not depend on the bit, if so many more open jumpers would go hollow. A good instructor can explain to you how to handle, his pace problems, which as you say need to be addressed before you move to bigger more complicated courses.

I will look into the cherry roller, reason I was doubtful is that it is just hard for me to believe that it’s action would be that different from a lozenge snaffle that he would react differently to it? Why do you think it made such a big difference in your horses?

Merrygoround: Not sure I entirely understand your post…of course the bit has an affect on the half halt…I take lessons with an advanced level eventer, and a grand prix show jumper. Both have told me to get a stronger bit for jumping (without me prompting them/asking). I have evented several other horses and have been working with this horse long enough and feel experienced enough to say that training alone will not solve this problem, at least within a reasonable timeframe before he gets too old to show. I have noticed a tendency in these online forums for people to play the martyr and say it’s always a training issue, or a rider issue and that bits should never make a difference…well if this is the case than why is it that many of the BEST pros use a variety of bits to suit their needs. Sometimes it would be appreciated if you take what the original poster (me in this case) says at face value, and assume we aren’t complete idiots looking for an easy fix, and actually answer our original question instead of lecturing us. I’m not one to use a harsher bit lightly, and this would be the first time on any of the horses I’ve ridden that I’ve considered using anything other than a snaffle.

[QUOTE=merrygoround;7512849]Have you someone you work with on the flat (dressage) and over fences.

The half halt should not depend on the bit, if so many more open jumpers would go hollow. A good instructor can explain to you how to handle, his pace problems, which as you say need to be addressed before you move to bigger more complicated courses.[/QUOTE]

Just a general comment on OTTBs & bitting. Don’t forget that a lot of TBs don’t have much space in their mouths. My wife’s mare had real issues with any sort of double until it was realised that it was actually bruising her. Eventually got her a Kangaroo Bits Revolver that she loved - figured it was because she could place it inside her mouth as she wanted.

[QUOTE=ihearttbs;7513557]I will look into the cherry roller, reason I was doubtful is that it is just hard for me to believe that it’s action would be that different from a lozenge snaffle that he would react differently to it? Why do you think it made such a big difference in your horses?

[/QUOTE]

I think because of how it moves they just can’t lean on it…the rollers roll so it feels very different from a snaffle with a lozenge. I think it works best for horses that are sensitive but just take over on xc. My mare was a full TB…I discovered she LIKED a thicker bit. For the flat, she went in a KK Ultra (double jointed)…I could use it for stadium jumping most of the time…but on xc,…it didn’t work at all.

I didn’t use it on her until we were at Prelim. But I’ve ridden some former chase horses…It may NOT be enough, but is worth a try. You can also play with a pelham–I hate kimberwicks. Use two reins…and if he is a little too reactive to the curb, you can make it looser, or wrap it–there are lots of ways to reduce the curb action if it does generally work…also try a rubber v. metal mouth. He sounds like you just need a little reminder that you are in charge…and yes, he will likely get easier as you move up.

A lot of ex racers seem to like mullen mouths, for whatever reason! I would definitely go for something with two reins, so you can only use the shank if he gets strong. Probably a pelham?

I had a tough mare to hold (for me) on xc years ago. Her best bit solution was the Happy Mouth American style gag. http://www.equestriancollections.com/product.asp?groupcode=ER00733&mi=0QV-0PV-0AV&utm_medium=Channel&utm_source=GoogleShopping&utm_campaign=ER00733&gclid=CNHmm77Fyb0CFeRlOgodQGwAjQ

Now that was only on her for events and for last gallops before events. The rest of the time she went in a french link snaffle.

Later in life I got bored eventing her and one spring we did 3 point to points in a ring bit. She went into race training, galloped daily etc.

She was much more adjustable afterwards when we returned to eventing and for the last events I rode her in she was back in a french link.

Maybe it’s not so much that the horse wants to pull, maybe it needs to cross train with a bit more of a pace so it feels like it’s getting to run. In any case I don’t mind the Happy mouth or a ring bit. Ring bits have been great on xc as there’s very little harshness but lots of respect and still one rein.

Pic just in case you’re not familiar: http://www.bigdweb.com/Dexter-Ring-Bit-5in/productinfo/9542/

~Emily

Have you tried a running martingale with a bit (or a rein) that does not have leverage? I have a mare that will toss her head as you described and the running martingale really helped.

A thought

Old Macs Pee Wee Bit for All Disciplines Training - Standard (Small) - New

Imagine a thin mullem mouth with “springsteen” like cheeks