Pelham to Waterford bit


New Member
Mar 12, 2017
Looking for advice on bits, I brought a new horse in October and I am struggling to find the right bit for her. She came with a Mullen rubber covered Pelham, however she would fight for room for her tongue so I changed to a thin Mullen happy mouth Pelham however when contact is increased sometimes she puts her tongue over the bit - this would particularly happen if I was asking her to slow down. She is also always leaning and fighting me for the bit, and can be really heavy in my hands. she's also a bit of a tank and can be very strong particularly with others she can also be very rude when am asking her to stop and I really have to fight with her. I know schooling, my riding and confidence are key but I feel like having the right bit is also really important so thought about a Waterford bit because they are meant to be good for strong horse So? However am not sure which to go for loose ring, cheek, hanging cheek etc. Please help!


Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
I always sound like a stuck record on these sort of posts, but you really do need someone knowledgeable to watch the two of you to assess what's best. Can you get some lessons with a decent instructor, ideallyl one who'll pop on her to see how she feels? I assume she wasn't like this when you bought her so can you think of anything you've changed in terms of workload or how she's kept?

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
Perthshire, Scotland
I was in a similar situation to you - VERY strong horse and despite him being a saint the majority of the time, he had a few moments when he'd spook and run and I had no control at all. I was recommended a Pelham and the dentist confirmed this thinking but said since my horse had such a thick tongue, a Waterford would probably be a good shout. I got a loose ring Waterford and have never looked back. I sorted his spooking issues and now ride with no contact ever so I decided to try other less severe bits and my horse hated them so we went back to the Waterford. It suits his mouth confirmation, I am not hard on him at all. He has the odd moment where he will try and open his mouth to evade - on the way home from a hack at a road. I got told to strap his mouth shut but I thought that was overkill and then @Jessey suggested a lip strap which keeps the bit from sliding through his mouth and I've used that ever since (plus my horse has a big head and I couldn't find a grackle or drop off the rack!)
I'd get some advice and I'd be loathe to ride in a Waterford for proper schooling but then I'm just a happy hacker and am inexperienced at schooling so that's probably just me being paranoid.
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Learning all the time
Jul 18, 2005
North west
As above, you need some help - advice around conformation and to identify reasons for evasion (back pain, nappy, etc etc).

There is also a difference in being strong sideways and forwards. For example my little monster is strong sideways so when she tanks off I am unable to turn. She is in a full cheek French link because it gives us steering and now if she tanks off I can turn her to break the speed.

Cheeks and mouthpieces all hold different roles - so this is why the evasion needs to be broken down and pain explored first.

Loose rings help prevent leaning, as do copper rollers or a French link, cheeks aid steering, hanging bits hold it higher in the mouth etc etc


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
I am in a similar considering bit change place, but I agree with the above posts you need to have an instructor access your partnership. I wouldn't want to say to a total stranger yes change to that because I don't know you, your horse or where you ride.
You do sound like you have horse that is different cantering solo to company? I have one of these.

A rubber covered bit suggests a sensitive soft mouth. If you are taking up more of contact than they are used to feeling, that could create an evasion. Mine has a light contact with a natural outline, anything more and yes she will feel heavy in your hand. It can give you the impression she is pulling but less contact removes that "fight"
Why are they currently in a Pelham? how were they described in the advert? Excitable in company?

If you have only had them short time it could be a change in turnout, exercise and feed that is a contribution as well.
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