VCBH: Bit It Up.

I feel like those of you who know me and have been around for a little while should expect no less than for me to add this preface, in all my beautiful language:

Y'all put some serious fucking metal in your horses' mouths.


Eight Nine years ago, when I took my little then-eight year old OTTB out of the pasture where he had been sitting for two years, the bridle my trainer had given me to use on him came with...
A d-ring snaffle.

There was a very brief period in which I rode him in a full-cheek snaffle, primarily because it fit the dressage bridle better.

And then, I don't know when, 2 or 3 years ago?, I switched to this:
Happy mouth double-jointed D ring.

I wanted the absolutely most mild and friendly bit I could find.  I wanted a double-joint to alleviate the nutcracker effect caused by single-jointed bits.  I wanted soft.  If anyone has any suggestions of anything that might be friendlier than this, I'm open to it.  I'd go for a hackamore, but he doesn't seem to like the nasal bone pressure too much either (and is using the nasal bone for direction really that much friendlier?).

And then, you know, sometimes I just say "fuck the bit" (because I have a hard time with the concept to begin with) (obv) and we play with our new rope bridle.  

This was Saturday, when I had about twenty minutes to ride.  It's not perfect and he's lazy, but it was also his second time in the side-pull.  

And if anyone wants to give me a Micklem to try bitless, I'm game.  :)

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  1. Mine goes bitless! But in a leather sidepull... we're so not fancy enough for a Micklem.

    1. I just read about your leather sidepull! Really, like seconds ago! I like the concept of the Micklem, but they are pretty damn ugly. And expensive!

    2. Yeah, and I've heard mixed reviews. Tough to shell out that much dough for something I'm not pretty convinced will work. The leather sidepull was a whopping $30, so I was ok with that. ;)

  2. I think Micklems are attractive :) And yes, some of the bits that people utilize can be a bit daunting to those of us who don't have need for them, but circumstances differ from rider to rider and horse to horse so I try not to judge. I also have the same concern with hackamores. The only reason I am considering one is because Fiction's tongue is so messed up/swollen that when bits take up the only space in his mouth/squash his tongue over his teeth, he ends up biting his tongue and bleeding from time to time. Not a pleasant thing to deal with!

    1. As I've gotten older, I've learned to practice a bit more the fine art of keeping my mouth shut. My rant was mostly.. people not riding effectively and overbitting to compensate. I think "less is more" in the situation of putting pieces of metal in an animal's mouth, bracing against parts of their jaw bone. Maybe I've just had too much dental work myself.

      It's a bummer about Fiction's tongue! I like the concept of sidepulls (that's what the rope halter is), though it doesn't translate as well as a bit does. He just can't feel little nuances, but that's where a better seat (I wish) would come in and speak for my hands.

      And... I started h/j. My brain likes simple, lightly leathered raised bridles. No figure-8s, no flashes, just.. simple. I'm sure I could learn to love the Micklem. :)

  3. Oh thank god. Someone sane. Thank you Beka. I've been reading these posts purely for the jaw-dropping factor. So. Much. Metal. Yay double jointed snaffles all the way!

    Mine go in my homemade bitless Indian bosals most of the time. When I bit my two its in snaffles, double jointed. With Q's manic freight training of late, I put her in a kimberwicke last night just to see...but omg, the guilt I felt about it. The only justice to doing it though is that I (at least after the first performance) was able to be SO MUCH LIGHTER with my aids whereas in her double jointed snaffle she was RUNNING THROUGH IT and it was all my strength to get her to slow...and that killed me, too. But I mean, apply heavy pressure on her mouth or ride/fall off a run away, yeah, sorry Qbert. Still...bit o' guilt. But happier to have some control and a horse who was quieter that listened to much softer aids.

    1. :) Thanks for commenting! I was starting to think that I was an island unto myself. People can justify it all they want to themselves, but when you see professionals able to do so much with so little, it can't be justified to me.

      I think Q will come around with her responses! In the video of Mike yesterday, she just seems really, really enthusiastic. :)

  4. Different bits for different horses. Though even I who has experimented with all kinda bits think some of them are absurd. I wouldn't even know where to begin with putting some of them on. I'm happy to have hue in a happy mouth now.

    1. I bet Huey is happy in a happy mouth, too! (har har har)

      Yeah, some of the things I've see are completely out of my spectrum and things that I've never seen in any of the tack rooms I've been in. I think a lot of my close-mindedness about bits is a result of those who trained me, but I'm happy to be this way.

  5. I tend to be on the "less" side of things, but then again, I don't have a horse that needs more. And IMHO it's all about how the equipment is used :-)

  6. I've definitely seen bits I've never even heard of before through this blog hop.

  7. I don't think every rider who puts a "lot of metal" in their horse's mouth is overcompensating.

  8. Frankly, I wouldn't have you any other way and I love you anyways lol

  9. I go with what my trainer tells me to use :) All the bits we have used have been for season of training, not a means to live by :)

  10. THIS.
    I seriously don't think people realize what exactly they are putting in their horse's mouth.

    I don't even like single jointed bits, as I think they are even too much.

    The Mares goes very happily in a French link and is much happier for it!

  11. After reading through everyone's blog hop posts yesterday, I was putting together my own and thought- "this is dull"- a whole bunch of D-Rings and a few loose rings thrown in.
    People posts pictures of bits I never even knew existed!

    I go in what my trainer recommends and like that she works to address problems without adding "stuff" to fix.

  12. Agreed! You're more than welcome to try one of my leather bits--absolutely the mildest bit out there, other than the Nathe (got one of those, too, if you want to try it). I've had to put Johnny in an elevator once or twice to remind him to listen, but I use a second rein (like a pelham), and then it's back to the double-jointed snaffles that I use for every day schooling AND showing. He's been schooling Training level XC in a plain old double-jointed snaffle, so I'm not sure why so many others need strong bits from the get-go. However, I can definitely relate to needing the insurance of a stronger bit on XC in a competition--knowing it's there IF you need to use it...problem is, most people just go ahead and use it..with heavy hands. How about a rant on 'neck-stretchers' (are you KIDDING ME??!!), draw reins, too-tight standing martingales, etc?? Oh, and then those IN CONJUNCTION with harsh bits!! //end rant//

  13. I see major metal in mouths all over the place around here by riders that really seem to be relying on metal to compensate for other things. Like confidence or in some cases ability. Its not just in the blogosphere. My horses are in the easiest bits i can find (french links) thats how i was taught, use the least that you have to. No leverage bit for me at this time and i hope never. I see people on pokies with huge hunks of metal raging and their mouths...elevation and curb shanks WTF! I find it sad and i though you deleted the rant i wish you left it. Its one of those whispered things because theres always some Mfin rationalization if you try to say anything not in a hushed tone about how much freaking metal janie is using on her 18 year old quarter horse. There i ranted for you. :)

  14. I agree - less is better in most cases!

  15. I both agree and disagree -- yes, Encore and I both LOVE the Micklem (it mattered to his sensitive face, Solo doesn't give a crap) with his HS Duo. Ten years ago (oh dear cod, are my mid-20's that far gone???!) I also was lot quicker to react and judge than I am now.

    But most (I will agree that I don't give a damn, there is NEVER reason for sharpened bicycle chains, spikes, tacks, or 6" shanks) bits are tools like anything else and as I get older and learn more and particularly as I've been immersed in a group of horsepeople with collective CENTURIES of experience...

    (1) No one can be useful with one tool in their toolbox.

    (2) Horses are weird. They didn't read the rulebooks. They like and hate things for reasons unbeknownst to us. Sometimes I think just to torture us.

    (3) Crappy horsemanship is crappy horsemanship. I've seen riders make a horse's mouth bleed...with a D-ring snaffle. All the difference in the world is an educated thinking rider. I will be happy to help you stone the willfully unfair, however!

    Now owning and having brought along two COMPLETELY different horses though, I've come to some astonishing (to me at the time) revelations (and you know I'm a 'less is more' person!):

    -Not every horse is going to go in a snaffle. Period. There are horses who just prefer the shape/weight/aid of a Kimberwicke or Pelham or a short shank mullen mouth. *shrug* They just do. They also have different histories, different minds, and different comfort zones.

    -Different horses have different shaped mouths. Both of mine have low palates, so everything is double-jointed or mullen mouthed, but Encore has a big tongue, so also likes a mild port. And Solo's mouth is quite small, so a fat snaffle is NOT kind to him.

    -BOTH my horses HATE HATE HATE the DQ's hailed KK Ultra loose ring. It's too "noisy" in their mouth; in fact, they hate anything that has a loose ring and is all metal due to all the motion. They want a stabilized bit that is steady until a cue is needed; hence Solo's Baucher and Encore's Duo with the Micklem to stabilize it.

    -I will make myself stop after just one more: When I run XC, I have a choice to spend 5 1/2 minutes wrestling in a snaffle or adjusting with a light touch on an elevator (Solo) or Pelham (Encore). All of us are happier with the latter. They love their jobs and YOU try telling the strongest redhead ever that it's not a race, haha! And I truly believe in thoughtful, practical training -- why should I spend months making my horse and myself miserable to prove some ethereal principle when I have a tool that I know how to use softly and in the manner for which it was designed to clearly show him the correct answer in one or two rides???? He's got a good work ethic -- once he knows what I am looking for, we can switch back to our Duo and carry on. :)

    TL;DR -- feel free to rant, it's your blog! :D I definitely see situations in all disciplines in our area which just make me *facepalm*! But I also see those which surprise me in a good way, which is why I am drifting away from blanket statements. Because I've learned if you are around horses long enough, they will make sure to prove you wrong in every way possible, LOL!