Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bits

Opie has been living his best life since his event horse debut/finale. Actually it's been more like he's been living his hottest life. The summer humidity refuses to die and since show season has wrapped up I've seen no reason to grind through schooling rides in the ring. Instead all we've done is two easy trail rides with a whole lotta walking and a whole lotta snorkeling. I'm so impressed with how much just walking the fields after rides has helped this dude figure his feet out. Yesterday at the park he was navigating down steep, glorified deer trails with tree roots coming up in every direction on the buckle confidently and easily.

loves water even more than walking

Since we've got nothing real going on, it's time to reach into the drafts bin! Karen's post from a little while ago got me thinking about bits. First of all, I didn't even know there were such things as bitting clinics. Or that people would pay actual money for them. WUT. They could give that money to me instead. They clearly don't need a real reason to light it on fire and throw it in the air.

Opie raced in a rubber D. I didn't have one of those on hand (and I think they're ugly #veryscientific), so I started him off in what was already hanging on my Micklem from Bobby: a single jointed eggbutt. He's been in four-ish other bits since then.

remember when he was super dark and couldn't steer? i sure do.

French link eggbutt: Opie seemed pretty oblivious to the single jointed eggbutt. He wasn't offended by it, but in an effort to see if I could make him any happier I dug this one out of my box of literally ten thousand eggbutts. Seriously, if you guys ever need an eggbutt of any width let me know. I can probably find one for you. Maybe even two. There didn't really seem to be any difference in Opie's way of going between the french link and the single joint. He got more trained and progressed, but he was never fussy in the mouth with either of these.

a couple months of schooling and a custom saddle did him wonders.
the bit change had nothing to do with it.

Half moon loose ring: I switched to this bit from the eggbutt when his tongue started flopping out of his mouth like a dead fish. That was also when we discovered his shark teeth. The idea was that the tiny port might give him some tongue relief. In the end the tongue flopping proved to be nothing more than a sign of tension (that fortunately went away well before show season started!), and the loose ring seemed a bit too unstable for him for where he was at in his training. I went back to the french link after a few weeks in this one.

there was a reason i jumped him so little until lately: he really sucked at it!

Copper full cheek and slow twist D: The french link and the half moon were the two big every day bit experiments. In between, Opie used two other bits. I got the copper full cheek as a jumping bit to go on his figure eight. I subscribed to the idea that the full cheek would help with his very lackluster steering, but even today if he's not going to steer, nothing besides my leg keeps him on track. The full cheek doesn't help with that at all. Nevertheless it hung on his jumping bridle up until last month simply because I so rarely used it that I didn't bother putting anything else on it. The slow twist was used for three rides over the winter when Opie went from not being able to canter at all to cantering like a wild racehorse. The quick brush up on brakes, mother fucker served its purpose and it went back into the box until the jumping phases of his last show.

getting that neck long took forever, but it makes me so happy.

Happy Mouth mullen mouth: Opie has always been quick to shorten his neck way up and duck behind the vertical which has made him not the best about contact. Obviously I've done a lot to get him going honestly forward, but I figured a softer bit might make him more inclined to be in my hands a little weightier. Opie was awfully suspicious of this bit from the get-go. He didn't particularly like it whenever I first put his bridle on, but he wasn't outwardly fussy with it once we started riding. That only lasted a couple weeks however before he started clacking his teeth together in it. Two rides in a row of that and I replaced it with the french link eggbutt again.

french link for life

I'm not inclined to try anything else after those experiments. I'll get him another of the exact same bit to put on his figure eight so I don't have to use a black bridle with a brown jump saddle (the horrors!). He doesn't need anything with bigger brakes when schooling at home. Thank goodness he settled on such a cheap, easy choice!

Have you guys done a lot of experimenting with bits for your horse? Do they go significantly better in one bit than another, or are they basically the same across the board and it's more for fun to try new bits out? And most importantly, has anyone ever attended one of these bit clinics before?!

34 comments:

  1. We're in a french link egg butt too. Scout likes it the best of all the bits we've tried (loose ring regular snaffle, nathe, low port myler, mixed metal single jointed snaffle) -- he still gets a bit strong and heavy in it, and I think he'll need a little something more for xc, but he it the most quiet in it on the flat.

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    1. Hopefully he has equally cheap taste in xc bits!

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  2. My boss at work gives bitting clinics, so I hear about bits non-stop lol. (They're usually free, though.)

    I've tried a variety of bits on Moe and he really seems to prefer a single-joint fixed cheek. (I have him in a D-ring, but he likes eggbutts equally well.) Loose rings make him fussy.

    Gina goes the same in every bit- single joint, double joint, fixed cheek, loose ring, mullen mouth, 3 ring gag, kimberwicke. I've tried a lot of stuff on her for hunting and she's the same in everything!

    Candy is a mess in all bits, so she's in a Moe- rejected KK Ultra D-ring.

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    1. What goes on in these bitting clinics?? Is it just understanding the shape on the inside of the mouth? How bits work? I'm so intrigued now!

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  3. I am on the happy mouth mullen mouth train with both of my younger horses right now. Mystic was in a French link since the dawn of time and started to fuss with it a lot... she seems to like to rubbery/plastic vibes of the happy mouth. I have like three bits right now so my options are limited (I also am embarrassingly uneducated about bits so this post was cool for me!)

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    1. It does seem like some horses really dig the plastic and some horses are metal lovers.

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  4. I tried to 'evolve' from my mullen happy mouth d ring and spice said no thanks so... we just have that. and he loves it. I'm just glad it's one I already had and thought to toss him in!

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  5. I literally own 4 bits. Four. Irish goes in an egg butt broken snaffle with the peanut in the middle. He needs the broken snaffle because the standard snaffle bugged his palate.

    Carmen had a loose ring broken snaffle with a peanut but I now ride her in the stubben golden wing. That works perfect for her. I have this D-ring snaffle hanging on my wall for some reason. I wish I knew you had a box of bits when I was looking for one.....

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    1. To be fair, it's basically just a box of eggbutts with a couple loose rings thrown in. Snaffles for life.

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  6. charlie hardly seems to care, to be honest. esp not about mouth pieces -- he goes about the same in everything i've tried, and nothing really backs him off (except for that crazy ass myler correction bit).

    for him, the cheek pieces seem to matter more than the mouth pieces. he'll lean on a bit and isn't backed off easily, so i tend to like him in loose rings (with leverage for jumping) and bits with more breaks in them.

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    1. Opie is the first horse that I noticed the cheek pieces mattering to!

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  7. Rio went in a single jointed rubber loose ring when he was a big fancy a/o jumper. I swapped him to a D when he did the hunters and Eq. After the EPM the fat rubber bit was too much in his mouth, as in too fat, not as in too much bit, so I got him a thin leather one from Etsy. He really loved it, but also loved being bitless. Such a hard mouth he has... Ha.
    Jamp on the other hand, has gone through all kinds of bits. But I like him best in a three ring happy mouth dr bristol. He doesn't need a harsh mouthpiece at all, but I do benefit greatly from some extra leverage.

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    1. Rio just wanted that fancy hackamore that looks like it has a bit from the outside. Because he's a fancy dude!

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  8. The tack store here let's you rent bits to figure out whats right for you which I think is pretty cool.

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  9. Gemmie went in a French link d ring for years. I switched her to a baucher and it really didn’t do anything much but I felt better in it. Cruze started in a thick single jointed eggbut and was fussy to an extreme. Put him in a myler comfort snaffle and he is super happy so I guess we will stay there for now

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  10. I started Spring in a nathe because she had a very soft mouth and it was the softest bit I owned. Also it was $$$. She was fine in it, but as our work got more technical it became clear that she didn't listen to it at all. Half halts meant nothing and we had very little contact. Switched to a French link loose gag that was a disaster - she'd bury her head and brace/run. Switched to a happy mouth double jointed baucher that we used forever, but it was my trainer's bit and she needed it back eventually, so I ordered a copper mouth double jointed baucher from Amazon for cheap and we've both been happy with that ever since!

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  11. I have a ridiculous bit collection that is 90% every double-jointed snaffle you can imagine 🤣 but thankfully my horses don't seem to care much. My old mare went better in a $15 korsteel than she did in the identical $150 Herm Sprenger version lol. I just like having multiples of the same so I can keep 10 bridles ready to go without having to fuss with bit swapping #tackho4lyfe

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    1. Every bridle definitely needs their own bit! It's just a sad, lonely piece of leather otherwise!

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  12. We have tried so many bits lol. Jetta's three favorites are her loose ring Myler, loose ring HS ported correction mullen, and a D-ring waterford. Occasionally I ride her in a D-ring segunda or a Neue Schule verbindend loose ring that are tolerable but not her favorite. I once tried a French link snaffle after several clinicians thought the myler was too thin of a bit and Jetta thought I was trying to kill her 🙄

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  13. Annie has been in the same bit since the day I first rode her. I imagine it would be worth it to switch it up to see, but if it works, why mess with it?

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    1. I like sampling a couple with a brand new horse to see if there's a magic button somewhere, but it seems like they usually just end up with the original.

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    2. I actually went back and looked, and I have moved around a bit with bits, but all of them have relatively been the same "make" and kind.

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  14. Twister can go fine in 1 bit at home and need a bigger bit for the open field galloping (why I kept getting run off with last month....I forgot he has no galloping manners...) But he HATES single jointed anything. He's gone in just about every bit ever over the last few years for me to know this. Curtis trained in a loose ring French link with copper bean and usually raced in a ring bit. I had a copper French link on my Micklem so I used I've used that the whole time and he seems to like it. I figure if it ain't broke don't fix it...

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    1. The fact that you can take him out in the open now without a giant western bit is a big deal though!

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    2. The dragon bit. That's now a decoration. Never to be put in a horses mouth ever again.

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  15. I've ridden Gav in about 4 different bits and I'll continue to use the last two. He rides consistently in his boucher, but I'm hanging on to my frenchlink eggbutt just for funsies.

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    1. Never bad to have a backup french link on hand!

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  16. I've only done a tiny bit (hahahahaa) of experimenting with Niko -- he likes his current bit but it kind of drives me crazy because he really needs a 4.75" and no one makes it that small (so sad).

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