When to Use Stronger Bits & Nosebands etc.

little_critter

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I use a drop noseband for flat work (done up loosely) because my horse likes the stability it provides. We tried a Micklem but he didn’t like it.
I do bit up for jumping. In theory we could get by in a snaffle for jumping but I would be fighting him a lot and I hate the idea of having a nearly constant strong hold on the reins. I’m also a bit more nervous jumping and I find that knowing the extra brakes are there if needed makes me ride more clearly and positively. I don’t often need them, and generally I can give a short gentle correction, then release straight away rather than get into a tug of war.
I hope that when we are more established at jumping and my confidence has improved, that we can return to jumping in a snaffle.
 

Elno

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I think Warwick Schiller said it very eloquently, "The bit doesn't control the horse, the horse needs to control themselves"


Personally I'm not a big fan of snaffles. They are contrary to popular belief not nice and gentle bits, especially not when people use them to haul on a horses mouth in the belief that doing so will stop the animal.
 

Squeak

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Update - I DID IT. I schooled and schooled and worked and worked with him and got him happily popping round - at home, arena hires and competitions (I think we had a win or top 3 at every show) in a snaffle. Genuinely I think one of the biggest horsey achievements of my life.

Sadly, the story does not go on as I had to sell him due to boring adult reasons but at least he was able to go to a good home as a good, rideable, albeit sensitive, horse.
 

nikkimariet

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Snaffles are not "kind" bits, they are blunt and rather unsophisticated tools used as an introduction to training and were never meant to be the end goal. I find a lot of horses don't go well in them, and the vast majority of riders are not taught how to use them properly. Use whatever (within reason) you and your horse need to feel comfortable and safe.
This in spades. And then some.

Horses don’t know about our human ‘ideals’ that we will like to apply to them, even in the knowledge that absolutely nothing we ask them to do is natural for them.

Whatever suits the horse, the rider and the discipline.
 

Squeak

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This in spades. And then some.

Horses don’t know about our human ‘ideals’ that we will like to apply to them, even in the knowledge that absolutely nothing we ask them to do is natural for them.

Whatever suits the horse, the rider and the discipline.
I agree, I do think there would have been a good case for using a different bit at times. We got there in the end but I think our journey could have potentially been a lot easier for both of us if we'd tried some different bit and noseband combinations and in the future I would give them a go.
 

MarvelVillis

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Firstly, if you're not making progress over a significant period of time either you've not got a trainer whose approach works for you, there's something wrong with the horse or you and the horse aren't a good match.

I have seen trainers take money time and again for horses that are just not quite sound - so rush or whatever as a result. The rider ends up thinking it's them, and the trainer can make the horse behave because they are bigger/stronger/more experienced. There have been some examples on this forum where horses have been only slightly off, trainers have thought they were ok - owners got them checked and found they were not.

I'm wonky physically and cannot find a trainer - I do what I can from books, videos, getting my riding on camera, training OH to yell as appropriate. Even without a trainer though, my horses steadily make progress. All except for the one with pssm who could only ever get so far... and did rush like you describe when jumping. We could get round 80/90cm with ease though even after she was more affected by the pssm, with appropriate schooling (if she wasn't fit enough, it was an issue, so any lay-offs from jumping took ages to come back from!).

Regarding stronger bits/nosebands: I don't use a noseband at all, but I do use stronger bits. The alternative out hacking is to lose control as my fingers are not strong enough to really stop an over-excited horse/pony in a snaffle. I need to be able to work and ride home, so pulling multiple ligaments just to stop once isn't an option! So at the first inkling of needing one (usually around age 5) I put something stronger in to hack. I also jumped the pssm pony in a stronger bit, as she had a tendency to rush and end up on her forehand. With the stronger bit, I always have a very light contact and they are happy in the bits I choose for them. Obviously we do dressage in a snaffle, but dressage isn't exciting! My son jumps in a stronger bit, as madam shetland gets over excited and just rushes off like an over-excited puppy doing laps of the school otherwise!
Out of interest, what bit do you move onto from a snaffle when needing something stronger when hacking? My gelding is approaching 5 and I feel like I need something stronger than a snaffle on his excitable days when hacking.
 
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