The Worst Bit For Your Horse!
Dear Friend and Horseman,
Larry Trocha here.
Welcome to another "Horse Training Tips Insider".
You know, I occasionally hold reining and cutting horse clinics here at the ranch. And there's usually a wide array of horse people who attend these clinics.
Some are rank beginners and some are seasoned horsemen.
No matter how many clinics or lessons I give, I'm always surprised by the choice of bits people use on their horse.
It's so common to see bits which are some of the worst the rider could use on his horse. I'm talking about bits which cause more problems than they solve.
One of the most important things you need (if you expect to do a decent job of training your horse) is a good bit… a well-designed bit!
A bit that HELPS your horse learn a good response, instead of HINDERING it.
And to tell you the truth, "BITS" are one of the most mis-understood aspects of horsemanship.
For the sake of clarity, let me say… 80% of your "foundation training" should be done in some type of loose-ring snaffle bit. And it should be a design which doesn't pinch the corners of the horse's lips.
Start with a standard 7/16 inch loose-ring snaffle and if needed, graduate up to a thin, smooth-wire snaffle to advance and lighten your horse up.
Once the horse is well trained in the snaffle, it's time to graduate up to a CURB bit.
More accurately, it should be called a TRANSITIONAL bit… The bit to use before you put your horse into a straight-up, traditional curb bit.
The choice of that first transitional curb bit is of utmost importance.
It needs to have good feel. It needs to be designed to have a "positive effect" on the horse that encourages him to respond correctly. A feel which encourages a horse to flex at the poll and "give" to the rider's hands.
It also needs to have that fine balance of not "scaring" a horse yet not encouraging him to "lug" on the bit. Get this wrong… and you can really screw a horse up.
NOTE: I have a horse in training right now which has this exact problem.
When you handle the reins, he'll either raise his head straight up in the air… or he'll push his nose straight out and lug on the rider's hands… or he'll open his mouth, drop his nose and try to "evade" the bit.
If he's ever going to make it as a performance horse, all these things need to be corrected.
One Of The Worst Bits You Can Choose!
Unfortunately, the vast majority of riders choose a bit called a "Tom Thumb" snaffle.
What a mistake!
This bit is not a snaffle. It's a curb bit with short, "straight-up and down" shanks and a snaffle mouthpiece. The design is terrible!
This bit won't scare your horse but it will do two undesirable things to most horses.
#1. It will either cause a horse to lug on the bit… or #2. It will cause the horse to raise his head up high and go through the rider's hands. Either one is bad… Really bad.
If I were to label a bit the "worst designed bit" in the world… the Tom Thumb snaffle would be high on the list.
So why do horse owners choose this bit?
They choose it because they don't understand what a well-designed bit is. Plus, the name, "Tom Thumb" sounds friendly and harmless. Goes to show what marketing a product with an appealing name can do for sales.
And third, there are several horse training videos on the internet which promote this bit. And yes, I'm using the term "training video" loosely here.
Those "trainers" are mostly part-time, backyard instructors who have never trained any kind of performance horse. I'm not criticizing them for what they are (they mean well and are trying to help people)… I'm just clarifying the facts.
And the fact is… even though they mean well… they simply don't know.
When it's time to transition a horse from a snaffle bit to a curb bit…
Here's The Bit I Highly Recommend.
It's a bit which has a "Billy Allen" mouthpiece with 8 inch “Bob Loomis” loose-shanks… which attach to the mouthpiece at the correct angle… and has the right ratio of "purchase length" to "shank length".
Most horses love this bit!
I've never seen an exception. Here's why…
This Billy Allen bit has a snaffle mouthpiece with a “roller” molded over the middle joint. This roller “limits” the movement of the mouthpiece. What’s great about this, is the horse gets the feel of a mouthpiece that is almost “solid” but still has some “flex” to it.
This semi-solid mouthpiece gives you a lot of control without scaring or worrying the horse. The shanks are "loose" so it works well with either "direct rein" or "indirect rein" pressure.
Just as important, the "purchase length" (this is the portion of the shank ABOVE the mouthpiece) is the right ratio in relation to the bottom part of the shank. Plus the bottom part of the shank is the correct angle to encourage a good response from the horse.
All these design features combined, produces a bit which delivers good results. There's a good photo of this bit on my website. Click here to check it out.
Attach a pair of the professional quality reins I recommend and you'll have a set-up which is hard to beat.
Hope this information helps.
That’s all for now, take care.
Larry Trocha Training Stable