A bit of a puzzle, please can someone help

Jul 19, 2019
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Merthyr Tydfil
This bit is a new one on me but a horse has been handed over to me and this is the owners preferred choice.
I apologise in advance for my ignorance but can anyone advise me is there a right way this bit should be fitted.
I had never seen this type of bit before due to many horse free years.
So many things look more like a status symbol than practical items that worked well enough back in the day.
I will not even attempt to fit this bit without prior knowledge so please if anyone can advise me I would be so very grateful.
This will do nothing for my credibility but I have spent hours looking for any obvious signs of the way it fits but I cannot see anything.
Many thanks in anticipation of clearing up this confusion
 

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Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Surrey Hills
I haven't a clue, but I have to say I don't like the look of it much.

There are some very wise and experienced peeps on here who I am sure will ride to the rescue!
 

carthorse

Super Moderator
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Jan 6, 2006
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It's a Waterford dutch gag. The Waterford mouthpiece should make it hard for a horse to lean or grab hold of the bit, the dutch gag sides give leverage & poll pressure. You attach the cheekpieces to the single small ring above the big ring. The reins go on either the big one or one of the small ones below it, the further away you go from the big ring the more leverage there is. Purists will say it should be ridden with two reins, one on the big ring and one on one of the lower rings, I would argue that for general work you should reschool! It's not dressage legal and I can't imagine it would be acceptable in showing classes. Even more than most bits do not use it with a sawing action as you'll create a very sore mouth. I assume you know the rubber bit guards go outside the mouth.
 

chunky monkey

Well-Known Member
May 2, 2007
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As for credibility. I think it makes you good. You have asked before putting it in the horses mouth. With regards to which way round as has been explained. I couldnt tell you about its severity.
My suggestion would be to get yourself an instructor and have some lesson. But retrain the horse to go in a kinder bit. Perhaps reserve this bit for when you need brakes on funrides or hunting.
 
Jul 19, 2019
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Merthyr Tydfil
Cheers for the valued info guys but the problem I’m battling with is trying to figure out if there is a right or wrong way to connect the bit. It’s obvious by the slight curve of a snaffle (for example) that you cannot put the bit on back to front, this Waterford has no obvious signs, its a worry for me that I may get it wrong. I hope that it makes sense, I’m rubbish at trying to explain myself.
Personally I’m old school when it comes to keeping the horse happy enough and in comfort but the owner has insisted that this Waterford job is the only way he has been able to control her habit of grabbing the bit and tanking off.
She is a lovely mare 16hh and very strong. I guess I don’t have the confidence I once had or I would have maybe changed the bit for something less demanding. At 58 and suffering with ever increasing arthritis I’m dubious about being over enthusiastic while hacking out with her and I have been told that I have a light touch on the rein so unless something drastic causes her to bolt I think we will get along just fine as a team.
I was trampled last weekend by her and two sectionD cobs (human error and no fault of the horses I must add)
Yeah I’m aware of the rubber guards but thanks for all your wise words.
I didn’t expect a response but big thank you all for taking time out to help.
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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I was going to say that if the bit bar is slightly curved then it needs to go round the correct way. But I looked at the picture and thought as its jointed it doesnt look like it makes a difference. Someone on here I'm sure will be able to advise.
 
Jul 19, 2019
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Merthyr Tydfil
I was going to say that if the bit bar is slightly curved then it needs to go round the correct way. But I looked at the picture and thought as its jointed it doesnt look like it makes a difference. Someone on here I'm sure will be able to advise.
Yeah well to be honest I’ve studied every aspect of the shape from every angle and I cannot see any signs that would convince me there is a right or wrong way, I think it’s a matter of hanging the bridle up and fitting the bit. Checking that the way it hangs will be a more accurate telling of how it will sit in the mares mouth.
Old school methods all the way in my opinion, not that my opinion really counts for much but life seemed so much more simple back in the day.
Many thanks for your reply. I appreciate all the help and advise offered.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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Since the Waterford is a loose chain there isn't a wrong or right way found, it will wrap itself over the tongue and lower jaw either way & there is no joint to lift into the palate or dig into the tongue.
 
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Jul 19, 2019
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Merthyr Tydfil
Since the Waterford is a loose chain there isn't a wrong or right way found, it will wrap itself over the tongue and lower jaw either way & there is no joint to lift into the palate or dig into the tongue.
Thank you so much for putting my mind to rest carthorse, I have taken onboard all your responses and I am always keen to learn more from knowledgeable people.
It’s onwards and upwards for both the mare and myself thanks
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I share your worries Buffy. An elderly woman used to snaffle bits but riding a horse that belongs to someone else and comes with a formidable bit. A big fit horse with a similar rows of rings (for more leverage) plus a curb chain.
I did not see what went inside the mouth.

Carthorse please - Is the Waterford the same as a Dutch gag?
Are the cheek pieces a separate definition from the part of the bit that goes in the mouth?

To comfort you Buffy - I felt 100% safe on this horse out in the open. had a wonderful hack. But had no idea if that was due to the bit or horse being extremely safe and law abiding.
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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That bit is essentially two bits that have been combined. The Waterford part is the mouthpiece. It's made of small links and is supposed to work in that the horse can't "take hold of the bit in its mouth and run".

The shanks are the Dutch Gag part.... some people call them a Bubble Bit (in case you've heard that) because of the rein rings looking like bubbles. You can get other styles of bubble bits that only have one ring below the bit ring (can't remember the name off the top of my head). The DG has two rings below the bit ring and one small one above that the cheek piece buckles through. This keeps the bit stable but then you decide which ring/bubble to attach the reins to. The further down, the more poll pressure will come into action. Correctly, as Carthorse has said, you should use two reins.... one always on the bit ring and the other on the 1st or 2nd bubble, depending on how much severity you need/require, but a lot of people don't bother.

The rubber guards will stop metal pinching the corners of the mouth.... but by definition unless you use a bit slightly bigger than usual, using bit rubbers can cause a bit to pinch more.
 
Jul 19, 2019
11
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Merthyr Tydfil
Why can’t things just be as simple as they used to be
I have ridden many ponies when I was a child and in my teens that would regularly take off, bucking and cavorting around but you had two choices, hang on or fall off.
The most horrendous bit I was aware of had a curb chain attached and I always wondered if that was why the pony acted so badly, I figured that they were fighting to escape the very thing that riders used to stop them from tanking off. I never quite understood the concept but I wish I had asked more questions then so maybe now it would make sense‍♀
I have no intentions to compete or hunt with the mare so I’m thinking maybe get used to her and discover what makes her tick then hopefully I can try something that doesn’t include confusing paraphernalia or as I believe in a lot of cases on trend or status symbols.
Thanks to you all, I have learned something new again today and that has to be a good thing.


I
 
Jul 19, 2019
11
0
1
60
Merthyr Tydfil
That bit is essentially two bits that have been combined. The Waterford part is the mouthpiece. It's made of small links and is supposed to work in that the horse can't "take hold of the bit in its mouth and run".

The shanks are the Dutch Gag part.... some people call them a Bubble Bit (in case you've heard that) because of the rein rings looking like bubbles. You can get other styles of bubble bits that only have one ring below the bit ring (can't remember the name off the top of my head). The DG has two rings below the bit ring and one small one above that the cheek piece buckles through. This keeps the bit stable but then you decide which ring/bubble to attach the reins to. The further down, the more poll pressure will come into action. Correctly, as Carthorse has said, you should use two reins.... one always on the bit ring and the other on the 1st or 2nd bubble, depending on how much severity you need/require, but a lot of people don't bother.

The rubber guards will stop metal pinching the corners of the mouth.... but by definition unless you use a bit slightly bigger than usual, using bit rubbers can cause a bit to pinch more.
I am astounded that it’s possible to get the rubber guards onto the bit, it’s hard enough getting them to stretch over a single ring bit!! I don’t find them helpful when you are fitting the bridle correctly either. I have seen rubbers with Velcro openings but the reviews I’ve read have not been favourable.
I make it a habit to check her mouth after we have been riding and they don’t appear to be causing her any problems but thank you for mentioning it.
 

carthorse

Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
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Why can’t things just be as simple as they used to be
I have ridden many ponies when I was a child and in my teens that would regularly take off, bucking and cavorting around but you had two choices, hang on or fall off.
The most horrendous bit I was aware of had a curb chain attached and I always wondered if that was why the pony acted so badly, I figured that they were fighting to escape the very thing that riders used to stop them from tanking off. I never quite understood the concept but I wish I had asked more questions then so maybe now it would make sense‍♀
I have no intentions to compete or hunt with the mare so I’m thinking maybe get used to her and discover what makes her tick then hopefully I can try something that doesn’t include confusing paraphernalia or as I believe in a lot of cases on trend or status symbols.
Thanks to you all, I have learned something new again today and that has to be a good thing.


I

I think that nowadays people tend to overhorse themselves more, then resort to increasing amounts of tack to try and replace ability. In fairness I think there's also less off road hacking in many places and the roads are busier so it is potentially more dangerous to more people if things go wrong too, but that's all the more reason to ride horses you can manage.

If the horse isn't yours I wouldn't change the bit unless the owner agrees, I know I'd be livid if I had a horse in a bit and came up to find someone had changed it without asking me. Remember it is often better to use a strong bit lightly & get an instant reaction than to be heavy with a milder one that the horse ignores.

Re the curb chin comment, fitted correctly they aren't barbaric & many horses will soften and relax the jaw when wearing one. Horses do have preferences on bit style and shape, sometimes it's trial and error to find what they go best in.
 
Jul 19, 2019
11
0
1
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Merthyr Tydfil
I think that nowadays people tend to overhorse themselves more, then resort to increasing amounts of tack to try and replace ability. In fairness I think there's also less off road hacking in many places and the roads are busier so it is potentially more dangerous to more people if things go wrong too, but that's all the more reason to ride horses you can manage.

If the horse isn't yours I wouldn't change the bit unless the owner agrees, I know I'd be livid if I had a horse in a bit and came up to find someone had changed it without asking me. Remember it is often better to use a strong bit lightly & get an instant reaction than to be heavy with a milder one that the horse ignores.

Re the curb chin comment, fitted correctly they aren't barbaric & many horses will soften and relax the jaw when wearing one. Horses do have preferences on bit style and shape, sometimes it's trial and error to find what they go best in.
 
Jul 19, 2019
11
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Merthyr Tydfil
I totally agree with you regarding making any kind of decision about a horse that doesn’t belong to you as I once loaned out a horse to a “well knowledgeable family” he was a big powerful horse that I kept on non heating mix which I could not stress enough to the wife how changing his food was not an option.
Of course they disregarded Everything I said.
I was so angry and I learned a very valuable lesson.
The situation of letting him go out on loan was sadly unavoidable due to my becoming unwell. Within six weeks he had lost a fair amount of weight and his behaviour was becoming appalling.
I took him back pretty quickly and had to sell him, bad manners and in not so great condition. It broke my heart but I knew my financial situation No longer allowed for the upkeep of a big fella like him.
The owner of this mare has practically given her to me, I’ve asked him if she really needed the grackle and the bit in question as we wouldn’t be doing anything more than hacking out three or four times a week, we rarely canter and we won’t be following a set regime to get fighting fit. He explained that the grackle and bit had been a recommendation as he was hunting her and some show jumping but she was cocking her jaw, grabbing the bit and tanking off in all directions. (I have to say That she has not yet shown me any of that behaviour) hence my reason for asking him if such a lot of hard tack was necessary, he has given me freedom of choice but it’s obviously at my own risk which I completely understand and respect. But whatever I decide to try I will always speak to him beforehand.
I recall seeing the curb for the first time, I now know it had not been fitted correctly but at the time I just remember thinking how uncomfortable and horrible it looked. It was clear to see that the pony was agitated and I would think also in pain. It’s one of those memories that have a lasting impact. (another lesson learned.)
Thanks for the advice it’s all good and very much appreciated
 

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Do you have access to a school? Or enclosed area?
Regardless of the bit of choice, I expect anything I ride to be schooled and mannerly enough to be in a simple snaffle with no bells or whistles for flatwork, to a point hacking.

It's possible that this horse is running away from pain and my first thoughts are if you are thinking of having it, get it throughly checked over.
The set up for sj and hunting might be the case as an essential.I don't see why someone would suggest it as the day to day tack. What mine would wear hunting would be completely different to her everyday loose ring snaffle.
 
Jul 19, 2019
11
0
1
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Merthyr Tydfil
Do you have access to a school? Or enclosed area?
Regardless of the bit of choice, I expect anything I ride to be schooled and mannerly enough to be in a simple snaffle with no bells or whistles for flatwork, to a point hacking.

It's possible that this horse is running away from pain and my first thoughts are if you are thinking of having it, get it throughly checked over.
The set up for sj and hunting might be the case as an essential.I don't see why someone would suggest it as the day to day tack. What mine would wear hunting would be completely different to her everyday loose ring snaffle.
To date the mare has behaved as well as I could wish for, I can only speak as I find, however I have to be mindful of the information I have been given and common sense tells me to expect the unexpected.
I don’t get the impression that she is in anyway objecting to the bit in fact it seems to bother me more than it does her.
I have no plans to take ownership of her and I’m aware that her owner may sell her at any point in time. I just want both her and myself to enjoy the time we have together.
My original concern was to be sure I had positioned the bit correctly as I had never seen this type of bit before. I now know that there isn’t a right or wrong way to attach it which has put my mind at ease. The last thing I want is to use something I am unfamiliar with, my priority has to be the horse and her well being.
It’s not nice to have to use so many restrictive devices on a horse that is simply hacking out three or four times a week but until we build a solid connection I have to Respect the wishes of her owner.
Thank you for your response, again I appreciate that you have taking time to offer useful advice.
 
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