Using two different bits

I’m not actually an eventer but I felt this might be the most useful forum to post this in! To make a long story short; can I use a loose ring on the flat and something like a full cheek/eggbutt when jumping? Trying to make the horse and trainers happy.

I am mostly a Dressage rider but plan on dabbling in some light (small) jumping. I have a young horse and I have two trainers. One is a silver medalist dressage trainer. The other is an experienced Eventer for the pole work/jumping stuff(I think up to the one * level but that isn’t my discipline. Lol)

Lately I’ve been wondering about experimenting with different bits as I’m just not sure if my horse is thrilled with what he’s in. He is in a Happy Mouth double jointed full cheek. This was at the Eventers recommendation, as he previously was in a D ring single jointed snaffle but was starting to go BTV with that. He has been in the happy mouth full cheek for a few months. He went decently enough but now there is occasionally some head tossing. And he just acts pretty upset during bridling, which he only started with the happy mouth.

Now the Dressage trainer agrees that she’s not sure if he’s thrilled with that bit. She wants me to try a loose ring double herm sprenger, which I own already. But I know the Eventer really likes full cheeks (and happy mouths) because it helps guide the young horses for steering.

Would it be crazy to ride in two different bits? Herm sprenger for my flat work and a full cheek for the jump days? I still want to experiment with a different type of full cheek though. Maybe just a steel one.

I will add that he had his teeth done in April and did have some sharp points. I also tried a different Happy Mouth, a D ring single jointed snaffle. He was very heavy in that again. I think he does prefer a double jointed bit. Not sure what cheek piece is best!

Another few points to add, the full cheek Happy Mouth is a bit on the smaller side. Both trainers didn’t think it was too small but that it was on the verge of him needing a slightly bigger size. When I tried the D ring, which I believe is the same size, it did seem roomier. But again I think he hated the single jointedness of it.

It’s pretty common to use different bits for flatwork vs jumping and even for xc vs showjumping. And even sometimes hacking vs flatwork or showjumping on grass vs in a ring. Use whatever works best!

6 Likes

Absolutely you can use two different bits for Dressage vs Jumping.

Just make sure the dressage bit is legal. There aren’t too many restrictions in the bits over fences. Lots of folks use something a little stronger for their horses that know that XC means fun/run.

1 Like

We definitely don’t plan on doing x country lol but I can certainly keep him in a full cheek or something over jumps.

And for Dressage just using a simple loose ring snaffle so definitely legal. We shall start experimenting!

I use two different bits even at the baby levels I participate in. I like to keep my horse soft in the loose ring we use for dressage. It’s not that she’s tough in the bridle over fences or anything, but I’m more apt to have to give her a reminder or mess up myself if we are jumping a lot in a lesson or at a show. I don’t want her to associate her dressage bit with any of that.

1 Like

Absolutely. I even used three different bits for my guy as my SJ bit needed two reins, and there was no way on Dog’s green earth that I could ride with two on XC… but my XC bit was too much for SJ (either a minute port Myler with hooks or a happy mouth running gag), so I just made do. Fortunately I had the world’s most patient horse who would let me swap bridles next to the warmup ring after SJ was complete. :rofl:

I even would ride with a loose ring with bit guards on the flat at home, but unfortunately it would irritate him when I took them off to be show legal… so I ended up using a D ring to keep him happy.

1 Like

Double check the happy mouth to make sure you don’t have any spurs in the plastic. My guy is a bit chomper, and it wouldn’t take long for him to develop sharp points in the bit surface. If they are small they can be filed down, but at the rate that I was replacing bits, we signally found someone less that works for us

1 Like

You can absolutely do 2 different bits! It’s quite common.

That said, if you horse isn’t a fan of the full cheek bit currently, I’d try the loose ring jumping just to see. My horses all are started in the Herm Sprenger double-jointed with the sweet metal. My current horse has never had anything else and likely never will. It’s just a really good bit, but mine are not the loose ring. I show in the D and school in an eggbutt.

1 Like

I actually have a French link Herm Sprenger That is also an eggbutt or a d-ring. So that could potentially be our jumping bit too. The other is a loose ring lozenge.

I have used Herm sprengers for years with success on other horses so I guess it’s time to try the old faithful again.

It’s my favorite bit for a reason!

1 Like

Has the steering been a problem for your horse in particular? If not, you’d probably be fine just sticking to the one bit. My tactic would be to work first to figure out what he likes on the flat, then try a couple jumping lessons with the same bit. He may be perfectly fine- I know plenty of hunters that spend their whole careers going in a loose ring. If you find he does really need the extra direction, then I vote keep the exact same mouthpiece but with a fullcheek. I think a lot of horses are more particular about what parts are actually in their mouth than just outside it.

1 Like

Not on the flat. Although she has mentioned that sometimes he acts like he forgets how to steer jumping, although I think it’s just exciting and new still so that might just go away with time too. I will see if we can try to loose ring. I just can’t imagine him being that hard to turn, but he’s a 5-year-old horse and he has opinions sometimes ha ha!

I love the Turtle Tactio bit by Neue Schule, really can’t fault it. You could try addingsmooth rubber bit guards to your jumping bit if you need a bit of extra “guidance”. Or even try a Baucher cheek.

2 Likes

I’ve heard good things about that bit! I’m pretty sure I have bit guards somewhere. That’s a good idea. I definitely will do some experimenting to see how we can make him happiest in all rings :slight_smile:

I don’t event, but my jumper goes in 2-3 bits. She has one for the flatting, another for jumping, and a third my trainer rides her in. In the past I rotated what I used, but landed on two (flat and jumping) that work well for me. Instead of flat rubber bit guards, I have switched to the gel ones on my jumping bridle and LOVE them. I have a set for my flat bridle but am dreading pulling off the rubber ones.

1 Like