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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 26, 2011
    Posts
    93

    Default Transitioning a horse from a twisted wire snaffle

    Hi all,

    I recently bought an ex-barrel horse I would like to do trails & lower-level dressage on. We've only ridden him in the bit he came with, a twisted-wire snaffle. I've tried the only other bit I own in his size (a simple D-ring) on him and he seemed a little obsessed with getting his tongue over it and it was hard to get his attention (although, admittedly, the bridle I was trying it with was too large for him and I couldn't make it quite small enough by going up holes).

    He doesn't SEEM hard-mouthed, at least not in his harsh bit. He's very responsive. I always ride in the gentlest bit possible and have no experience with harsher bits like that one. I am in the process of buying all new tack for him and wonder what bit you would suggest that I try on him?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 4, 2003
    Location
    Hurdle Mills, NC
    Posts
    4,106

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KiraSophia View Post
    Hi all,

    I recently bought an ex-barrel horse I would like to do trails & lower-level dressage on. We've only ridden him in the bit he came with, a twisted-wire snaffle. I've tried the only other bit I own in his size (a simple D-ring) on him and he seemed a little obsessed with getting his tongue over it and it was hard to get his attention (although, admittedly, the bridle I was trying it with was too large for him and I couldn't make it quite small enough by going up holes).

    He doesn't SEEM hard-mouthed, at least not in his harsh bit. He's very responsive. I always ride in the gentlest bit possible and have no experience with harsher bits like that one. I am in the process of buying all new tack for him and wonder what bit you would suggest that I try on him?
    Classic dressage bit would be a loose ring or egbbutt KK snaffle-- a double jointed one with a peanut-shaped central link. The double joint should discourage the tongue from going over-- though a bridle that fits well enough to prevent the bit from hanging too low should have the same effect. I wouldn't bother trying a bit if I didn't have a bridle that would put it where it belongs.

    As for the harsh bit, I'm glad you're moving away from it. A horse should whoa in response to weight aids, not hands pulling on a harsh bit.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2009
    Location
    Montreal, Qc
    Posts
    2,937

    Default

    Please don't do a too quick transition!

    You need to understand why this horse was ridden with this bit and take your time trying new bits that would suit both of you.

    Ask gradually for walk-trot-canter in a new less harsh bit in an enclosed arena/round pen. When you are sure of your horse's reaction, then you can go ride on the trails with the new bit.

    I would start transitioning with a small size canon french link loose ring or a slow twist loose ring and then later switch again to a bigger (depending on the horse's mouth) size french link or any regular loose ring.
    French link
    Slow twist

    As for the harsh bit, I'm glad you're moving away from it. A horse should whoa in response to weight aids, not hands pulling on a harsh bit.
    Lots of people riding with harsher bits don't have to pull on them much. I see more of the opposite ie - lots of pulling with too mild bits...which is certainly not better.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 1, 2003
    Location
    Cocoa, Fla
    Posts
    4,101

    Default

    The D ring is just fine - I have started several babies using that bit - but would ride in an enclosed area to start in case he lacks brakes.

    Getting the tongue over the bit is caused by the bridle not fitting - correct that and see how he goes in your D ring (as long as it doesn't pinch the corners of his mouth, before wasting money on a new bit.

    transitioning from the twisted wire snaffle IS a good thing, but ensuring you have brakes is also important - hence my suggestion for riding him in new bit inside an arena before venturing out in a new bit.

    Good luck.
    Sandy in Fla.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 11, 2007
    Location
    Andover, MA
    Posts
    5,540

    Default

    Agree with others... from personal (dumb) experience. Leased a quick little Morgan mare who went in a full cheek twisted wire bit and immediately switched her over to a smooth, single joint boucher (recommended by my then-trainer). I more or less had control in the arena, but took her out on the trail one day and got run away with at the walk! oooops.

    I didn't keep her, for all sorts of reasons, but that sure was one of them.
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

    Proudly owned by Mythic Feronia, 1998 Morgan mare; G-dspeed Trump & Minnie; welcome 2014 Morgan filly MtnTop FlyWithMeJosephine



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 10, 2007
    Location
    down south
    Posts
    5,060

    Default

    When i saw your title first thing I thought was x barrel horse. Very common bit used in barrel racing. Some will transition just fine. Depends on how the horse was trained. Get a bridle that fits, this is probably why he was playing with it and not responding well. Got with the d ring if that's what you have and it fits him. Start in the arena, slow because this is where I'm sure he was taught to run. Walk and trot and work on sit and leg and see how he responds. I would do this for a few rides then move to the canter if he responds well.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
    Location
    NW Louisiana
    Posts
    5,197

    Default

    You may find you need 2 bits if you ride outside of the arena, and if the horse is hot, you might end up with lack of steering or brakes at first. Not terribly common in my experience, but you might.

    If you feel confident you can handle anything that might happen, and the D ring was fine, I would first try something curved for the mouth, gentle, and inexpensive like the Ovation Curve loose ring with the bean in the middle, or their D or full cheek of they have one with a bean or link in the middle. Retraining a horse used to a harsh bit can be complicated, and sometimes they will learn to lean as you start asking them to move correctly. It can be done with the right techniques though. It took me many years, lots of lessons, and even more trial and error, but I finally managed to retrain my hot freight-train of a mare into a nice, soft ride in just a fat loose ring snaffle.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Posts
    12,964

    Default

    If your horse continues to get his tongue over the bit you might want to try a Myler Low Port Comfort Snaffle. Without slots they are now dressage legal. Many online tack shops offer rental or trial programs.

    The one with slots, though not legal can be used as a Kimberwick type bit. You could put a second set of reins on it and maybe have an emergency brake if you wanted to use it trail riding
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,891

    Default

    My newest horse came to me as a stargazer, ridden in a twisted wire snaffle. I re-started him in a french link and a runningmartingale until he learned to trust the hand again. After a month or two I got rid of the martingale and now (a year later) he's moved on to a baucher snaffle and goes very nicely.

    The biggest thing I find when working with a remedial horse is to work on my own body position (especially with a sensitive horse) and concentrate on working off the body and legs and try to use as little hand as possible to start (other than keeping elastic, comforting contact).



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