Pelham trouble

I have a 9 year old ottb and we have tried so many bits and we found one the works a Pelham bit and it is a single snaffle. Lately she has been seeming to not like it always mouthing at it when it is in her mouth when she is standing still and sometimes when trotting and walking and even after the canter to walk transition. I’m not sure what to do, any advice is needed!

Have you tried a pelham with a non jointed mouth? That used to be the go-to for horses that had trouble with other bits, and I still like it best. Jointed mouths are mobile, they move whenever the horse or rider makes any movement, and that can be confusing and/or annoying for the horse, especially a more sensitive horse.

Also be sure you have it adjusted properly, so the bit hangs in the right place in the horse’s mouth. I assume you’ve had the horse’s teeth checked, too.

Linda Tellington-Jones sells a pelham that’s balanced, which is what worked for my over- sensitive little Morgan.


I haven’t tried that yet, we have had her teeth checked, I can talk to my trainer about trying it, I have had a lot of people tell me the my horse doesn’t like her bit but we didn’t want to change it at first because it is the only one that has done good for both me and my horse.

That bit that I mentioned had a low port mouthpiece, which is supposed to provide relief for the tongue. For what that’s worth.

Are you using one rein or two. If you are using one rein it might be that you are constantly applying leverage.


Good point. If you’re using a bit converter with one rein, you don’t have the ability to adjust. With two reins, you can use just your pinky and that gives you top rein pressure without the bottom.


I use two reins.

Try keeping the bottom (curb) rein looser, so you’re not applying leverage with normal riding. I do that.

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that’s what i normally do, it is always a little looser than the top rein

Try switching from the single joint pelham to a mullen mouth one. TBs often have a low palate and there could be palate bruising that has developed.

Here’s a nice cost effective version

If you need more shaping for tongue pressure relief then something similar to the Sprenger Comfort Mouth or Bomber Happy Tongue pelhams are good options (pelham 55 models are the shorter shank) Example link

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Thank you!

This little Pelham saved us from selling a wonderful horse. I think the hard rubber is easier on their mouth as is the Mullen mouth. I see you go down the bit buying road…I have SO many bits and some are still in the package. Part of my toolbox I guess.
Shires Tom Thumb Rubber Mouth Pelham (Steel, 5)


A jointed mouthpiece is not a snaffle bit. A Pelham is a curb bit and may have a jointed mouthpiece or a solid one but always adds leverage via a shank, curb strap or chain and two reins, one, called the snaffle rein, attaches on the top ring and does not apply leverage. The curb rein attaches to the bottom rein and adds leverage if and when needed…

A snaffle bit may be jointed or solid but it never adds leverage and works with a single rein. There are some curbs that are used with just the single curb rein, primarily in Western where they are not ridden on contact but backup subtle body and weight cues.

Generally, we ride on contact with a snaffle and never with the curb. Too many forget the horse must be schooled to accept the contact of the snaffle and accept the addition of leverage. The riders hands must be educated enough to apply both independently. Thats why we see converter straps, either horse is not schooled up where it should be and does not understand, rider does not understand how the bit is supposed to work or hands are not educated enough . Or all of the above.

Often heard a horse is in a Pelham with a converter because its the only thing it will stop in and thats a shame.

Most bit issues are caused by lack of understanding how and why the bit works and not teaching the horse to accept it. Closely followed by fit and adjustment.

Most often the horse just does not understand and going back to basics helps greatly.


every other bit i have she takes advantage of and its like there is nothing in here mouth, she hated the kimberwick, takes advantage of a d ring rubber snaffle, and also a d ring dr. bristol slow twist, we have even tried a myler low port egg butt and that didnt even work. The pelham works amazing but it is like she is isn’t a big fan of the brakes when jumping lower things like you have to a lot of half halting an really the pelham, she loves jumping and jumps the bigger stuff nicely but nothing else works for her when jumping and sometimes even when just flatting.

Well, thats what you need to work on. Flatwork gets you from fence to fence and if its weak? You wont get the best spots, be able to find inside turns or get into and straight center to center in a combination. The higher you want to move up to, the worse that will get. Track wins more Jumper classes by finding the most efficient way around than flat speed and scope ever did. You must get around under the time allowed and thats the flatwork part.

Olympic jumper riders spend most of their time on serious, advanced flatwork. And when they teach clinics, they start with serious flatwork, sometimes spending well more then half the time on it depending on student proficiency. Don’t you think thats who you should emulate?

Nobody wants to hear it but that serious flatwork is basic dressage and and real qualified trainers working over jumps will have a decent knowledge these basics and routinely incorporate them in their lessons. Not Zeee Dresssage here, just solid basics.

Just think about it.


Also, invest in a pair of curb reins with a slider keeper at the end, or use braiding elastics for the same purpose. You can shorten up the rein with the slider to sit on the neck safely while you ride on the snaffle only. That lets you pick it up when you need and then put it down to keep from riding on it more than you should or want to.

Link for visual example.

None of this negates the need to continuously improve rideability on the flat, but this is still a fantastic tool for some horses. I’ve always found it good with mares so you could adjust and then get out of their way quickly and quietly. I love opinionated mares <3


Right here. This.

You have basic schooling issues with thus horse that are not going to be resolved with a magic bit.

You need to back down and fill in some basic holes in her training. Basic dressage.

How does she go for the trainer? Is this a horse that’s a bit too powerful for your current skillset (ie are you overhorsed?) in that case you need to work on your own skills.

You are not going to find a magic bit to solve basic problems in training. You need to solve those by training.


You are describing a training problem, not a bit problem. I know it’s a boring answer… But it’s the truth. Are you working with a trainer with excellent flat work skills?


Agreed with the other comments here stating that this sounds like a training issue more than a bit issue. I second good flatwork/basic dressage as well.