Changing Ziggy's bit

Jane&Ziggy

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Apr 30, 2010
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Sorry if this is long!

Ziggy currently goes in a Neue Schule 5.25" hanging cheek baucher.

In general he is very happy in it, accepts contact (when I give any :redface:), is still and easy in his mouth. My RI and I chose it for him early on because we felt that the small amount of poll pressure it offers might help to correct his ridiculously high driving-pony head carriage.

These days I can fairly reliably get him to lower his head through my seat. I have noticed, and the instructor yesterday commented, that when I apply strong pressure to brake (i.e. pull) he will open his mouth really wide. She asked me why I didn't use a noseband and I said, "Because it makes no difference to how he goes". She commented on the open mouth and I said that if it was open and shouldn't be I'd rather change the bit than strap his mouth shut, and she agreed and suggested that for fast work or jumping I change to an even milder bit, as in her experience stronger ones don't really help the brakes.

She suggested a simple NS french link loose ring snaffle. I mentioned the success that peeps on here have had with the Verbindend and she said, "That's a very technical bit, I would go as simple as possible."

So what would you suggest for a pony with braking problems when excited and no idea of outline?

Fresh wild porcini mushrooms to those who got to the end!
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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You ask for suggestions.
I wrote something this morning and deleted it - as may be not what you wanted. As you want a new strong bit. You know, I too ride a grey with no brakes and over the years have had to cajole her to calmness - Was always encouraged to do it with not too much rein - Now she has sort of frightened some staff with her waywardness. Nerves on edge.

Things altered this summer for me thanks to a lesson I had last year on riding half halt in the proper way. I am not sure how this would integrate with Mary Wannless style riding - because you are already using your body in a powerful way which I am not.

But this is my story in case it is of use to you in braking Ziggy. I was reading Charles Harris in summer 2012 and I realised his description of half-halt was quite foreign to me. So I asked our second RI (we get on better if I request a topic) to give me a lesson on half halt -which till then I knew as a slight touch on one rein!
She taught me the half halt which uses the whole of one's body from top to toe and I was very disheartened and could not imagine ever having any use for such a thing. I did not shine in the lesson.
Then Maisie came back into work and was completely out of order when heading home - so we started just walking. But she will jitter with excitement even in walk. I soon discovered I could use the half halt (proper one) to steady her in any gait. Walk trot or canter. It had a more immediate effect than just relaxing and hoping she would relax too -
A lot of the time I was riding out with a girl who didnt like to canter homewards on any horse - but hacking with other holiday staff, I soon discovered that my newly acquired half halt worked well -
My doing something positive, makes her accept that she is being ridden by someone in authority.
I am not sure it would work on Ziggy if you are already exercising authority through your seat? Or if she is rushing over poles.
But I would agree with your RI. Because our RI too goes for less technical and anyway it is a principle of mine to go along with the RI one has employed.
As far as I know no one suggested putting Maisie into a stronger bit. If people "cant manage her" or she scares them, they just dont ride her. She is in a single ring snaffle. Cant remember if a link or not.
I have also spent some time this last year persuading an over eager cross country RS pony to go with his head lower - using my hands. In other words Jane I think there are things one can do to alter the head positon favoured by a pony just with the riding - but I dont know how applicable that is to a mary wanless rider like yourself. You do stuff I couldnt manage at all.
 

Joyscarer

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Go with what your RI suggested. She knows you and Ziggy and is suggesting less is more. All those things add up to making that your first step i think.
 

notpoodle

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think i'm with your RI in terms of keeping it simple and quite mild (but then you know your horse best!). When ANgel came to me she was in a single-jointed gag and described as 'very strong' etc.

turns out she HATED the poll pressure and wasn't too hot on the single joint either - she'd set her neck, crossed her jaw, pulled like a train and did her own thing :redface:

changed to simple French link snaffle - much better brakes and a happier pony :) don't think the VErbindend is massively technical, it looks like a good shape for eg cobs with not much room in their mouth.
 

TBminx

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I dont do mushrooms.....cheese instead :giggle:

I agree with the above in sayin go with your RI's advice as know you and your horse plus agree stronger does not mean better brakes and best to keep it simple with a variation on what already works for you both.

I found a milder bit helped my horse relax and settle whereas a stronger one made her pull and fight against me more. I now ride her in a loose ring KK Sprenger ultra with a lozenge centre piece.
 

Laura_107

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Oct 15, 2010
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No help unfortunately, Kev's in a verbindend (relatively successfully). It would be ineresting to know why your RI thinks it's technical though, I chose it due to not having much room n his mouth and him being a bit fussy. I've heard a few people rate NS universal bits, not sure if they would be too strong for you though.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I should have said a hanging cheek French link, durr.

Skib, thank you, I know what you mean about the half halt applied through the whole body: I can feel it as I write! My problem (and it's mine, not his) is probably that when he gets strong after a jump, I am pulled forward, out of contact with his back, and can't apply any halt or half halt as effectively as I should with my body. I know I have a lot of work to do on this. The instructor yesterday agreed with my Mary Wanless RI about absolutely everything relating to my riding: keeping a more upright body position, not being pulled forward, keeping my lower leg stable and centred rather than back, plugging in to the horse, etc etc. So I do know what I have to work on (lots :redface:)!

The only issue with the bit is that it seems to trouble Ziggy when braking. So I want a gentler bit, not a strong one. He already has a gentle mouthpiece - a fairly narrow, Salox lozenge French link - but the hanging cheek is hard when I brake. So I am looking for advice on what cheek piece to try - loose ring, fixed, or what?

My friend Catherine says we should go bitless. I'm tempted but... brakes.... :unsure::help:
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I found a milder bit helped my horse relax and settle whereas a stronger one made her pull and fight against me more. I now ride her in a loose ring KK Sprenger ultra with a lozenge centre piece.

This is what I feel may be going on. I am interested in the Sprenger, do you use the standard or the Aurigan version? Which thickness?

Jees, this is complicated! :help:
 

TBminx

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Augerian and she loves the sweet metal. I also use same bit only the newer style with a fixed ring for our gelding and he goes great in it.

I used a french link for her then tried the lozenge and it helped with her accepting the contact and softening in her shape and to my hand.

Bits are a minefield so now we have found what works we are sticking to it :smile:
 

sjp1

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Sep 14, 2009
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Well, if you want milder, just go for the same mouthpiece in a loose ring I would have thought. The hanging cheek/baucher exerts a small amount of poll pressure, maybe that's what he doesn't like?

Bitting is a minefield, what looks on paper to be perfect often isn't, and vice versa.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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Jane, I am not taught to anything but sit on my bum and I dont jump. I am not in your class.
However when it comes to bits, Mark Rashid suggests Rockin' S Snaffle - I would have bought the one with the dog bone in for my share, but Mark said I probably wouldnt need it. So he didnt sell me one! And he was right - I didnt. I gave one to my Texas friend when she had a bit problem with her mare some years ago, and she told me she loved it.
If you are looking something very simple, but very stable, it might suit you?

I have found them on a UK site (you need to scroll down) :
http://www.western-saddler.co.uk/markrashid.shtml
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Jane, I am not taught to anything but sit on my bum and I dont jump. I am not in your class.
However when it comes to bits, Mark Rashid suggests Rockin' S Snaffle - I would have bought the one with the dog bone in for my share, but Mark said I probably wouldnt need it. So he didnt sell me one! And he was right - I didnt. I gave one to my Texas friend when she had a bit problem with her mare some years ago, and she told me she loved it.
If you are looking something very simple, but very stable, it might suit you?

I have found them on a UK site (you need to scroll down) :
http://www.western-saddler.co.uk/markrashid.shtml

Thank you for reminding me about this bit, Skib. I am very interested in it. But as always I feel so ignorant - do I need a ported bit? A simple snaffle? A link (what the US charmingly call a "dogbone")? :unsure:

Before I make any more decisions I will talk to my permanent RI and also have a good look at Ziggy's mouth to see if I can assess its conformation.
 

sjp1

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During the very long (and expensive!) bit finding trial for Tobes, I did buy the Mark Rashid 'ported' bit.

It was OK, but for us, the Verbindend worked better - it was thinner and more curved, and with a big tongued, low palate horse, it has helped us a lot.

I think the ethos behind the Rockin S bit (which is the bit Skib is talking about) is good - however, for us, it did not cure the mouth opening, and the Verbindend causes him to open his mouth for the bit which for us, (a very opinionated appy!), is the answer to the question.

Edited to add, you really do have to get your fingers into his mouth and find out what the mouth conformation is - or you will be striking in the dark, trying every manner of bit!!!
 

Jane&Ziggy

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For what it's worth, Ziggy was anxious and reluctant about taking the bit when I got him, as he was about being saddles etc - he had clearly been treated insensitively.

He has got better and better and now dips his head and opens his mouth willingly to take in the bit. I don't think it hurts him or causes him discomfort. He's got even easier since I changed him to a thinner mouthpiece (a 14mm). But when he won't stop, and I have to take a pull, he opens his mouth as wide as a yawn, which can't be right.

I know the real answer is to ride him better and get him to respond to my seat, but as he is at the moment even my RI has to take a pull from time to time. We don't want to hurt him but it's the only way. And I'd like him to respond to the pull with slowing up, not setting his neck and gaping :hot:

ETA sjp1, thanks for responding about the Rockin S. I remember you were very keen on it when you first got it, it's interesting that you prefer the Verbindend now.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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My understanding of the Rocking S snaffle is that it is stabilised central in the mouth - this is done by the hinged side pieces so that a heavier handed rider or a rider whose hands are unsteady, does not upset the horse with constant movement to the bit.
So if a horse is troubled by the bit - head shaking or a rider is unsteady, things get better.
My problem was a little different. I had allowed my elderly share mare to graze under saddle - started it while I was chatting to OH who came with me as foot soldier one day, and then the rot set in. She would even snatch food when I cantered! Once she got her head down to graze up on the common, I couldnt pull it up again and when I tugged with one hand, the bit pulled sideways and the cheek piece caught under her noseband.

I wont go into details as it isnt relevant to Jane who doesnt use a noseband anyway - We removed the noseband and I absorbed Mark's teaching at the clinic on using the reins as a major channel of communication -

The problem of slowing a horse after a jump isnt one I have had to face. But I do know that out hacking the worst thing to do is pull on both reins. By collecting the horse you bring the hind legs under and he has something to push against. A firm tug on just one rein is better, or first one and then the other - which means the bit could be pulled sideways, I suppose.
But I think it is different jumping - as horses like Ziggy are taught to go round against the clock. I once heard William Funnel explain at Windsor that after the first three jumps, he just had to let the mare get on with it - there was no controlling her nor holding her back.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I once heard William Funnel explain at Windsor that after the first three jumps, he just had to let the mare get on with it - there was no controlling her nor holding her back.

Wow! That's certainly how it feels after one plank on the ground!
 
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