From Endurance to Dressage
More Than a "Bit" Better
I have never had a bit issue before. Yes, I've changed out a horse's bit in the hopes of getting better quality work, or in the case of my best endurance mare, getting brakes. But with Izzy, he was becoming unrideable in this snaffle.
The thing with training horses is that when they do the "wrong" thing, it can be hard to know why. Are they expressing an opinion? Do they not understand? Are they in pain? And when they make the wrong choice rather suddenly, after having agreed with you for many months, their choice becomes even more of a mystery.
I've been using that same snaffle since day one - about a year and a half. A month or so ago, maybe six weeks, Izzy started to be a bit of a stinker about taking the bit when bridling. Gradually, it got to the point where he flat out refused to open his mouth at all.
That should have been a huge red flag for me, but he had taken that bit eagerly for so long that I assumed he was just trying to get the upper hand in a power struggle. I was wrong.
For the first few days that I used the new bit, he was still reluctant to open his mouth, but over the course of a week, he gradually relaxed his jaw and allowed me to slip it in. Now he slurps it up all by himself.
I still haven't made the switch to the double bridle. There's a problem with the bradoon hanger which is a long story and completely my fault. Either way, I can't show with either bit set up. The correction bit is definitely not show legal, and I can't show below Third Level with the double. I'm going to need to find a snaffle that works if we are to get back in the show ring this spring.
When I compared the two bits, the first thing I noticed was that the correction bit allows tongue relief while the snaffle does not. It restricts the tongue and collapses on the bars of his mouth. The center lozenge puts concentrated pressure on the tongue. Is that what bothered him with the lozenge snaffle, the lack of tongue relief?
According to the 2016 USEF rule book, a double jointed bit or snaffle with rotating mouthpiece may be shaped to allow tongue relief. The maximum height of the deviation is 30mm from the lower part of tongue side to the highest part of the deviation. The widest part of the deviation must be where the mouthpiece contacts the tongue and must have a minimum width of 30 mm.
I love the Myler bitting system because their bits address so many issues. When I studied the bits in their book A Whole Bit Better, I came up with a few options. The best choice seems to be the low ported barrel which offers tongue relief and releases when the horse relaxes at the poll (MB43LP). The height of the port satisfies the rule just fine at 1 inch/25.4 mm. While the measurement of the width of the tongue relief isn't listed, I know it's at least an inch wide. I have several other Myler bits, including the correction bit, and they all satisfy the width requirement.
This particular bit comes with "hooks," an opening in the cheekpiece to attach the bridle and or reins to make them stationary. Those are definitely not legal, but I don't have to use them. I am going to keep looking for this bit without hooks, but this bit might be acceptable to Izzy.
If you have one for sale, let me know!
11/29/2016 05:26:35 pm
We all need a bit box for sure. You just never know! :0)
I would also probably be guilty of thinking that a bit must work if it worked for the same horse before. That's really interesting that something has changed for Izzy so dramatically. It's making me wonder if I need to do some bit experimentation with my horse as well...
11/29/2016 05:27:30 pm
Go figure. I am not sure why it happened so suddenly, but maybe it's been brewing for a while. Either way, he finally let me know that he hates it. :0)
Look at you deciphering the rule book! I've tried it and it sucks. I've just taken my questions with me to horse shows and asked to talk to the TD when they have free time. I got to chat with one TD for a while and learned a ton. Good luck finding that bit! I would make sure you have a copy of the rule on hand if you use that bit at a recognized show. The TD should know the rules, but your bit check person might flounder a bit.
11/29/2016 05:31:59 pm
I love reading the rule book, actually, and I will definitely bring a copy if I end up with a less than common bit choice.
11/29/2016 03:13:55 pm
A snaffle that is not an eggbutt but a loose ring would allow the bit to be lifted up off the tongue. There are also mullen mouth snaffles that allow for more tongue room as the myler bit does. Those myler bits are great but expensive.
11/29/2016 05:32:36 pm
My trainer will be here this weekend, so we will definitely be talking about it. :0)
11/30/2016 03:55:31 am
I have been having similar problems with my 4yo mare. She wants to brace her neck and rush forward on her forehand and totally ignore my half halts. When she started sticking her tongue out I contacted the equine dentist (who had done her teeth 3 weeks prior). The dentist suggested that the type of evasions I was seeing come from too much tongue pressure and to ride her in a milder bit. I had been riding in a French link, which I always considered a mild bit, but they work mostly on tongue pressure.
12/1/2016 06:52:24 am
I actually have/had that mouthpiece. If I don't still have it, I have one similar. I am going to be talking to my trainer this weekend about which snaffle she thinks he'll be happiest in.
Comments are closed.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: