Wednesday 12 July 2017

Little Bits

I am hoping that Cisco does not turn out to be as selective about things he likes as Phantom (aka the Princess) is. The Princess insists that she must not be uncomfortable. So finding the right bit for her took some time.

My first ride on her was with a single jointed full cheek. And her nose never came away from her chest. I didn't own her at the time, so asked the owner on ride 3 if I could switch out the bit. I went to my Robart's french-link eggbutt. The french link on this bit is not fixed, but swivels, so the horse can place it at the angle they like on their tongue. Immediately better, but a long way to go. She had a lot of tension under saddle, and really wanted me to just hold her head in so she could use my hands for balance. So I spent the next year (of which I only rode maybe 5 months as she lived at her owners and no indoor and it's really cold here in winter!) riding with a longer rein and encouraging her to poke her nose out. I also switched into a Micklem bridle, which I was happy with.

Then one day I actually looked at the horse and realized she didn't actually close her lips around the bit. A bit of online research and I was pretty sure she had the low palate/thick tongue issue. So off I went to find a thin bit. I decided to try a Myler Low Port Comfort Snaffle (MB04). Again, better, but still left some room for improvement. She was very heavy on her right shoulder, and I would occasionally get head tossing when doing tight turns while jumping.

So, off to seek the wisdom of the internet once again. The Neue Schule bits were newish at this time (at least to me), and I was lucky to find the 12mm Verbindend in a local tack shop, and for $25 less than I thought it would be! And the Princess approved. No head flipping, I could take a light feel of her mouth, it all seemed good. So I used this bit happily for a couple of years, but always with the thought that there is probably something better out there.

When I started taking some dressage lessons a couple of years ago, the instructor said a few times that it is a sharp bit. Probably due to the thinness, but what I consider a standard thickness (probably 16mm) is too thick for her mouth. So over the winter I ordered the Neue Schule Tranz-Angled Lozenge Baucher. And yes - I was right - there was a better bit! In this one Phantom pushes into the contact, and I can take a feel of her mouth and she doesn't immediately shorten her neck. So at this point I am not looking for anything different for her.

The Neue Schule Tranz Angled Lozenge Baucher. Say that 3 times fast.

So when starting Cisco I was hoping to use my french-link. It was all going good with him just carrying the bit. But then I started to ask for him to start yielding to the bit. And he decided that this bit thing isn't so fun.  Now, he isn't a tall horse at about 14.3hh. But I am not a tall person. And I have small, child-sized hands. So trying to get a floppy bit into the mouth of a small giraffe wasn't working too well. I took a step back and dug out an old mullen mouth kimberwicke to use. I was hoping the solid bar would make it easier to guide into his mouth. I tried to remove the curb chain, but couldn't find any pliers that were skinny enough, so just wrapped the chain up into a ball with vetrap. And then I spent the next few days working on getting him to take the bit, instead of me trying to shove it in his mouth.

So when I was ready to start to work him again off the bit, I went to an old Sprenger eggbutt. This bit is over 30 years old, has bradoon rings, and I didn't know it was a Sprenger until last year. I think I paid about $20 for it back in 1987. He seems quite mouthy with a bit, but this is all still fairly new to him. Reality is that he is quite mouthy about everything. Lead shanks are his favourite. Taking his halter or bridle off is usually accompanied with "no, don't eat that" from me. But then I noticed that he was getting his tongue over the bit. Uh oh. And he was rooting down.

Google to the rescue once again. I found the Myler site, and they talked about how some horses feel that they can't move their tongue to swallow, so that's why they put their tongue over the bit. With this they tend to have a very wet mouth, which was something I had also noticed he had been having. So I dug out the Myler Low Port Comfort Snaffle and have been using that one, with the theory that the port allows his tongue to not feel so constricted. So far, better responses from him. The rooting down is much better, mouth is not nearly as wet, and I have seen him licking his lips a few times. It's not my favourite bit, as it's thinner than I would like, and well, it has a port, but it's not in my mouth so I really have no say in the matter.

Myler Low Port Comfort Snaffle. The current bit of the boy horse.

I will use the Myler for now, but am hoping to be able to move to a lozenge type snaffle maybe in a couple of months. Specifically the Sprenger KK Snaffle I ordered before I decided to try the Myler. I tried it once for a few minutes of groundwork, but wasn't happy with the response, so into the bit bag it went.

I don't sell my bits; they don't go bad, don't take up too much space, and you never know when you will want to try something different.

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