How do you decide what bradoon to use with your Weymouth? Eggbut or loose ring? Thickness? Single or double joint? Bit material?
All I can give you is my experience and what the horses told me about the bradoons with MY hands, with a hand tremor and bad proprioceptive sense from my Multiple sclerosis. Sorry for the long post.
I started off with stainless steel bits, curb and bradoon. I got satisfactory results, or so I thought, then I got into the titanium bits. My first bits this time were a Weymouth curb, 5" shanks with a regular Cambridge ported mouthpiece and a French link loose ring bradoon. When I finally found titanium double bridle bits I could afford the horses improved their contact and “faced” the bits better.
The titanium Weymouth curb I finally found has a Mullen mouth. The horses are quite happy with this curb, I can keep contact with just the curb at a walk with the horse reaching out to the bit gently and not ducking back behind the vertical. I could do the same (keeping contact with only the curb at a walk) with the stainless steel Weymouth but I had to use a bit more leg to get the initial contact. (Note, I do not ride with contact with the curb bit all the time, I only do it for a short while to show the horse that they need not fear the curb bit, then I ride with a sagging curb rein.)
The bradoons were an exploration. I learned that with MY hands that the horses did not like the regular French link or lozenge bradoons (the horses would suck back a little from contact.) While contact was a little bit better with the single jointed bradoon the horses had some difficulties because I had problems with keeping my hands properly positioned with the single jointed bradoon (my bad proprioceptive sense). The horses would keep contact but I missed the higher level conversation I could have with a double jointed bit.
Fager bits made the Mullen mouth titanium curb (now discontinued, but Horse Bits Ireland sells a titanium Mullen mouth Weymouth curb if you want the Mullen mouth Weymouth). I tried the Fager titanium double jointed bradoon because the center lozenge is not as wide (side to side) as the normal double jointed bradoons. The horses preferred the Fager double jointed bradoon to the Fager single jointed bradoon, and for me the horses rule. The horses also prefer the Fager double jointed bradoon to every other double jointed bradoon I’ve tried.
I choose eggbutt sides because of my hand tremor. The horses I ride do not like jangling bits and my connection is much better with the eggbutt snaffles over the loose ring snaffles.
I have a LOT of double bridle bits now. Whatever objection the horse may come up with I probably have the bit that the horse will consent to obeying my hand aids.
My search was for double bridle bits that the horses would willingly keep contact with and willingly reach out for the bit from my driving leg aids. I will not accept the horses I ride going behind the vertical. If the horse all of a sudden breaks out into head flipping, constant gaping, going behind the vertical, or refusing to accept contact I realize this is because of MY hands and I search for the bits that the horse will happily accept, which is why I ended up with the Fager bits, for the double bridle bits and for the double jointed snaffles. They just work better for my hands and the horses are happier.
Recently I reread “Bits, Their History, Use and Misuse” by Louis Taylor. He thoroughly discusses riding in the double bridle (not dressage). He also states that for snaffle bits the rider has to find the one that works best for that rider’s hands, and that the rider will find that many different horses will accept that bit so long as it fits their mouths. Another good book with discussions about double bridle riding, this time from a dressage perspective, is “The Bit and the Reins–Developing Good Contact and Sensitive Hands” by Gerhard Kapitzke.
I have introduced six or seven horses to the double bridle. None of these horses freaked out, in fact they tended to settle down even though my curb rein is always sagging. The horses just seem to find a feeling of security from having two bits in their mouth even on loose reins. My riding teacher was not to sure about me using a double bridle at first, now she is willing for me to use it and enjoys seeing how the horses react to it.
I usually start with the same mouthpiece and cheek style they have on their snaffle. By the time we’re thinking about a double, I’ve probably put some thought into what snaffles work best and which ones don’t.
For the horses I’ve ridden in a double - one absolutely hated the titanium bits. In addition, stainless and titanium are what they call neutral in taste, so if your horse tends to be pretty dry in the mouth, the bit is not going to encourage salivation. That horse much preferred Aurigan over stainless or titanium. Since the titanium bits tend to be expensive, I’d probably make sure that my horse liked them before shelling out for them.
Honestly - most of the issues I see is finding a combination that your horse will find comfortable. The extra hardware takes awhile for any horse to get used to.
In addition, the titanium bits are very light. Which is great for some horses, but others I’ve tried them with have gotten a little unsure in the connection without the weight of a heavier bit.
Just my admittedly not professional, personal experience. Take it with a grain or two of salt.
Just for reference I have used the titanium bits–snaffles Kimberwicks and double bridles, on horses from 14 hands to 15.3 hands, Arabians, a TB, QHs. Arab/Welsh pony, and a TWH. I have not used them on any large warm bloods. All of them are lesson horses or the BO/teacher wants them to become lesson horses, and their other riders are beginners/intermediate riders, usually girls, teenage girls or adult women (we need more male riders).
Some of these lesson horses “went on strike” (stopped obeying the hand aids of their riders without fussing) after I introduced them to the titanium bit when they were changed back to the previously acceptable stainless steel bit (Kimberwick, 20mm single jointed snaffle). If I have a titanium/titanium coated version of the stainless steel bit they go best in, they have gone better in the titanium bits. These are not very large horses and their mouths tend to be smallish.
One thing that I personally appreciate the lightness for is that I am quite weak and sometimes it was hard for me to lift the double bridle with stainless steel bits up to the horse’s mouth (especially when the horse morphs into a giraffe.) With the titanium bits I have no problems holding the bridle up high if I need to.
I’ve been itching to try a titanium bit and finally found a good price on the right one. Really curious to see what my horse thinks.
I’ll keep his double set up the way it is for now, but it is a lot of heavy metal in his small mouth.
As for the bradoon, I’ve always just used the same type that his regular snaffle bridle has. So in this case a double jointed Sprenger eggbutt (RS dynamic I think).
Which bit did you purchase, out of curiosity?
As others have stated, I aim for a bradoon similar to the snaffle that worked for the horse. The mechanics in the mouth aren’t very different from what they have come to know.
What @Jackie_Cochran said.
I’m another that thinks you should at lease start with something similar to what they’re used to in a snaffle, but a little thinner, the same thickness of the snaffle plus another bit is a lot of metal in their mouths! And don’t forget there’s a variety within the Weymouths too. They have to like the combination of them.
I apprenticed for a dressage master in Europe for several years. His idea was to use a bradoon on a young horse for the first years. Then just add a Weymouth when your horse is ready for the double.
As an example, I did this with my 8 yo mare. I started her with several borrowed bits which could all be used as bradoons. Some I rented.
One thing I learned was that this mare did not like bits laying on her tongue. She preferred single links to French link type bits.
She settled on the Sprenger single link Dynamic RS Aurigan Bradoon. She was just comfortable in it with lots of “lipstick”.
Fast forward 4 years. A month ago I began introducing Weymouth. Same story, borrowed and rented. She settled on the Bombers forward port with a 7cm shank. (Again a low port rather than a “mors l’hotte” style). She just felt comfortable in the in hand work and later in the ridden work.
In summary, if you are knowledgeable enough in your riding and in hand work, to feel small differences, try everything you can, your horse will answer the question.