Bitting Poe

October 28, 2013

As a kid it seemed like every pony I rode went in an eggbutt or a kimberwick. Done. Easy.

But it turns out that not all ponies mouths are created the same. And sometimes it takes a lot of trial to find the right bit for the job.

Simon was the first pony I have had that was truly complicated to bit. It took a while but eventually Simon was settled into a Mylar combination bit. And after a year he was ready to switch to a Little s hackamore.

Which is another good thing to remember when bitting; there is no reason to stick with the same bit for all riding for the pony’s life. Different disciplines and situations may be suited for different bits. And as a pony trains and matures, bits may be switched to better fit their changing needs.

I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say that their pony came with the bit they are using or the pony has “always been in that bit”, when clearly a bit change could really improve the riding experience.

I started Poe in a very simple single jointed D ring snaffle. I realized immediately that he was not too keen on the metal. So I switched him to a single jointed rubber D. This was a big improvement but it was still not the correct fit for him.

It seemed like he did not like things touching the roof of his mouth. And when sticking my finger on the roof of his mouth, he confirmed this.

So I tried an array of different bits to see how he reacted to them. I tried a low ported kimberwick. This did help teach him a games stop. But he did not like the bit at all. And he sure let me know with his attitude.

I tried a Mullen happy mouth loose ring and he seemed happy, but not completely. I tried a Mylar double jointed bit. This is the one that has a mild port with the joints on either side. This bit works on one side of the mouth at a time. He was not pleased at all. Particularly when the port bumped the roof of his mouth.

I planned to try a French link snaffle today but I either sold my French link or lent it out because it was no where to be found. So I decided to give the Little s hackamore a try. He is a sensitive pony and I figured he would either totally hate it and it would be a complete failure or he would love it and it would be a complete fit.

I am happy to say it was a total fit. He was much lighter and not nearly as heavy on his forehand as he has been in bits. He was pleased to pull up sharp with some wicked games stops. Let’s just say they were simon-esk stops. He was neck reining like a pro and rolled through 3 mug like an experienced games pony. And best of all, he seemed happier and more willing than ever.

I had the same instant “click” when I first tried simon in the Mylar combination bit. A friend, Zoe, suggested I try her bit during warm up at a competition. I popped it in his mouth, hopped on, and as soon as I picked up the reins, I could feel simon settle in. It was like he took a sigh of relief and his whole body relaxed.

I felt this again with simon last fall when I first put the Little s on him.

Simon has always been fantastic and willing, but it was like being on a whole new pony. That’s how Poe was today. His whole disposition just relaxed.

I am going to ride in it for the next two weeks or so and if things stay this good I’ll be ordering Poe his own hack.

Yea for happy ponies!

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