I’ll tell you how to do it in only three rides per week, and I’ll also tell you the secret you need to know to make sure you’re doing in your riding to accelerate your results and get you to the next level. I’d love to hear from you how you go and what strategies you used on how to keep your horse’s head down.
Thinking of going from a Dutch gag to a loose ring snaffle, but just wondered which bits lowered the head as he often holds it quite high. A hanging cheek snaffle has poll action and some argue it is effectively a gag.
I would make him work properly out hacking if he starts chucking his head round, into a consistent contact. It is also strongly encouraged to speak with someone that understands your riding style and horse (trainer, fellow rider, etc) for additional personal feedback on your bit needs.
Purchasing a high quality bit requires the best educated decision possible; as it is an investment that will often last a lifetime. Our trial bit service is offered to those that would like to try a mouthpiece before purchasing, to ensure they are comfortable with the function in relation to their riding style.
Because information is dynamic, we encourage you to share your experience and thoughts in the comment form below. House Snaffle Mouthpiece: Noticeable Mullen for wraparound pressure on the bars and increased tongue relief.
Slick 50 Mouthpiece: This ingenious design gives the independent lateral control of the Hinged Port, but breaks in the middle (roller) like a balanced snaffle. It causes a horse to bend in the ribs while keeping the shoulder and the head in the correct position.
Used alternately it softens the mouth making the horse more responsive to their regular bit. Billy Allen Mouthpiece: Independent lateral control for great lift and tongue pressure for responsive stops.
Double Cross Mouthpiece: Many trainers favor this bit over a snaffle for young horses. Hinge Port Mouthpiece: Independent lateral control gives improved results in lifting a shoulder and positioning the horse.
Correction Mouthpiece: Good transition from a long shank snaffle to a port. Promotes correct head carriage and super rear end collection.
Equalizer Mouthpiece: Flat concave port with comfortable copper rollers offer a gentle delay before making contact. Sweetwater Mouthpiece: Allows tongue relief yet maintains pressure for correct headset and body positioning.
Also, popular with Western Pleasure for promoting upright body position, collection, and correct head carriage. Fixed offset rings give light pressure on the bars and lips.
This bit is small, lightweight, and perfect for the young horse with a sensitive mouth. Full Cheek Snaffle: A favorite choice for putting the final polish on a developing horse.
This stylish bit is a good choice for crossover riders, delivering a traditional “hunter” look. Improving a horse’s longitudinal suppleness will allow for smoother transitions because he will have a better back-to-front connection.
I start out each ride by walking my off-the-track Thoroughbred for several minutes until his legs are stepping underneath him, and he’s stretching and taking a light contact. A: This problem is a common symptom of a lack of thoroughness, or longitudinal and lateral suppleness.
As you correctly describe, to achieve thoroughness your horse must create energy in his hindquarters and transfer it over his back, withers, neck and poll into an elastic, yielding rein contact. Or you may be holding him in a frame that appears round, but his head comes up the moment you relax the contact.
First, you ask your horse to yield in his jaw, lengthening along the crest of his neck and shortening his under neck. He then needs to make the connection through his entire towline from back to front.
To make that glue stronger, you must communicate with a correct position and appropriate aids. If you tip your upper body forward during a transition, you’ll throw his balance onto his forehand.
So be sure to maintain the vertical alignment of your shoulders, hips and heels during transitions. Similarly, squeezing your legs makes him feel constricted, causing him to drop his back, stiffen his shoulders and raise his head.
Sit on its edge, first with a relaxed, vertical pelvis and upper body (neutral seat). Then advance your hips by rotating them forward until the stool tips onto its front legs.
In the saddle, use these seat aids to make transitions and regulate your horse’s stride length. This will encourage your horse to accept your hand without bracing against you, being more likely to keep his towline shape while comfortably transitioning down.
Next, imagine you’re making an Oreo cookie, and the transitions within the gaits are the chocolate wafers. Next, apply a sending seat to ask for bigger steps, following the motion forward with your hands.
Once in the trot, use your seat to request bigger and shorter steps, encouraging him to continue yielding in his jaw and poll as he adjusts his stride. Gradually, as his suppleness improves within the gaits, you can work up to maintaining it during the transitions between them.
Mary Flood has spent more than 40 years refining her dressage techniques, incorporating her experience in eventing, show jumping, hunters, competitive trail riding and Western riding. An FEI trainer and competitor and USAF national-level certified instructor and bronze, silver and gold medalist, she has earned awards such as the Grands Prix at Dressage at Devon and the Festival of Champions in 1990.
There are however some conformational pointers you can look for that help to suggest what type of bit may suit your horse and narrow the search. Certain breeds of horse can be prone to certain mouth shapes for example cob types often have large tongues which leave little room for a thick bit to sit comfortably in.
Often, a flash will then be used to stop this behavior, but a bi like cough mixture this reliefs the symptoms but is not actually solving the problem! The table below outlines some common observations in a horses mouth, the batting implications and possible solutions.
This means the horse potentially does not have a lot of space to comfortably hold a bit and restriction in swallowing could be a problem. The horses front teeth don’t meet properly, meaning the molars do not end squarely either.
A single joint should be avoided as this can jab the roof of the mouth causing the horse to toss their head to try and escape the action. A double joint (ideally a lozenge center if the horse also has a large tongue) or gentle Mullen mouth and definitely on the thinner side will be the most suitable.
The bar of the horses jaw (where the bit sits) is sore, bruised or puffy. Mullen mouthpieces, or combination style bits that help to remove pressure from the bars are kindest.
In extreme cases it may even be necessary to use a witless (sycamore) bridle for a time until the horse is less sensitive. Fleshy lips are common particularly with heavier breeds, and can be prone to damage from tight bits.
Any bit is potentially suitable for a horse with fleshy lips, but generally a thinner bi is less likely to cause a split in the corner (as long as the rider is competent) as it will not stretch the skin as much. A sore tongue can cause problems for the horse as contact with the bit can be very uncomfortable.
In extreme cases it may even be necessary to use a witless (sycamore) bridle for a time until the horse is less sensitive. Bits made from stainless steel are often responsible for spoil lips if TH horse does not salivate in them.
Also, suitable: Thinner, double-jointed (French link) style bits that do not cause tongue pressure. Refusal to soften down onto the bit, poking the nose Usually seen in young or lazy horses.
Usually a thinner, either double-jointed style bit with a hanging cheek works well. The Tyler combination bits, especially the 30 04 can be invaluable for education horses in the right hands with correct schooling.
Traditionally Waterford bits have been used to help prevent leaning and pulling but do need to be used with sympathetic hands. Once this has been established, move the horse into a sympathetic bit such as a Springer OK ultra 16 mm to keep his confidence but further his training.
The Waterford is the most well known a bit for this type of evasion, and can help to prevent leaning but should be used sympathetically. Tyler combination bits often work well, the 30 04 being popular or the 30 42 if the horse puts his head down whilst pulling.
Once a sore back and saddle fit have been eliminated, the Tyler narrow ported barrel high is ideally suited to this problem. The 33 43 combination bites has great success at encouraging a more rounded outline and preventing a high head carriage and helps to school horses out of the habit.
Traditionally, curbed bits such as a Kimblewick or Pelham can be used, but these can sometime lead to the horse bearing down instead.