Bitting Issues.  2017 Part One 

March 22, 2017

Going back about 6 years when I first brought Simon home, in love with my new pony, i had no idea what bitting trials I would go through with the beast.  He had been ridden in a Tom Thumb, which is what I tried him in.  He was ok.  I didn’t mess with his mouth much and was riding him along a road surrounded by ice in the Ohio mountains along the West Virginia boarder.  Not exactly ideal conditions.  Plus he was four years old, coming five with not much more than trail time under saddle although he had driving experience.  

I got home and began the bit trials.  I started with an egg butt.  Nope.  I tried happy mouths, Mullen mouths, jointed, French link, three rings and even Mullen happy three rings.  Nope nope and nope. 

He just did not like tongue and bar pressure.  

I settled with a three ring (and I honestly do not remember what the mouth piece was) as the leverage seemed to help.  I had a running martingale and a flash on him to make it at all functional.  I hated it. He hated it.  I was forcing him to accept something that very clearly made him uncomfortable.  

I was at a competition complaining about his stupid mouth and that I was out of ideas when a friend, Zoe, said hey, I have a Myler combination bit and it sounds like it will work for you.  It works on nose and pole pressure before tongue and bad pressure and the mouth piece is joined in a way so there is no “nutcracker” action.  So I shoved this supposed miracle bit on his face and climbed on.  

It was instant success.  He relaxed, dropped his head and I hardly had to touch his face for a response.  Happy pony, happy rider, I ordered this expensive piece of magic as soon as I got home.  

About a year later, his steering perfected, I moved him into a Little S hackamore and he has been one happy pony since.   I throw him back into the Myler combination bit on occasion when I don’t feel he is as responsive as I like, but generally we go about in his little blue hack and he is a dream.  

Flash forward to this spring.  I signed up to do a horsemanship trail challenge for this coming Saturday.  I am all excited and working on our flying change and dragging the dang log around (which is still proving to be the scariest part for this former driving pony).  On Monday I got an email with my ride time and the general info and rules.  I read through it all and realized that I can’t use his hackamore (no mechanical hackamores) and I cannot ride in my combination bit unless I choose to ride with one hand and not switch hands throughout the course.  (No shanked bits u less you ride one handed).  Well shucks, Simon neck reins just fine, but I am not skilled enough to do all this one handed (and not switch hands!). 

So I tried him in an egg butt on Tuesday.  It sucked.  I was on a trail ride so I wasn’t using much contact (or even holding my reins the whole time) but when I did touch his mouth he was so unhappy.  I needed to back up a few steps at one point and it was almost pointless trying. His tongue was out, his ears were back, and his head was twisted and in all the wrong directions.  

So I stopped at the amazing VTO on my way home. I took his Myler combination bit inside and one of the employees helped me pick out the closest possible bit without shanks.  I ended up with a level 2/3 loose ring.  Nearly the same mouth piece.  


Wednesday I tried the Myler loose ring.  And fail.   Simon bucked multiple times, ears pinned and tongue out.  He backed but it looked so sloppy.  He was unhappy and so was I.  I will say though it was better than he egg butt but still not a success. 


That night I took to Facebook and called on my horsey friends to help.  And my friends did not disappoint. So much amazing information and ideas were shared.  

I quick, Amazon Primed a jumping or hunter hackamore.  This is essentially a nose and with reins on the side.  Think riding in a fitted halter with a lead rope tied on. It comes tomorrow afternoon.  I have ridden Simon in one of these many years ago.  When I was ready to move him out of his Myler combination I borrowed one of these jumping hacks and an English mechanical hackamore from my friend Linda to try.  Simon liked the simple jumping hack but I get the English hack was a but better.  And in the end I ordered him the Little S that is his normal bit.  I am hoping to be able to ride him in it when it comes in the mail to see what I think.  


I was also offered to borrow my friend Dale’s Indian Hackamore. Unfortunately this particular hack is not allowed (no rope) for the even this weekend but I could see Simon liking it so I swung by his place and picked it up today and gave it a spin this evening.  


(Photo compliments of Dale) 

It has a mixed review.  I do think it is, at this point in the trials, the best option, although it’s not allowed.  But Simon was a little strong in it.  For walking and trotting we were good.  But when I had him pick up a canter he got a little excited and may have galloped away with me for a few strides.  He is super responsive to seat and legs so I tend to be very light with my hands with him but he still got me for a few strides.  Then he realized he could graze pretty easily and I started to feel like a little kid in need of grazing reins.  


I am going to ride in this again and I would like to take him on a trail ride with it.  And I actually wonder what Poe will think of it.

Also in retrospect I think I should try lowering it on his nose a little.  Looking at the photo above I think it might be a tad high.  

The Facebook post also got suggestions of the Dr Cook bitless bridle.  There were mixed reviews of these some people raving and some people less than impressed.   This morning I noticed a response in favor of these contraptions from Sam at the other semi local tack shop, Mad Tack.  Samantha has been super amazing and I totally value her opinions.  You may remember about two years ago I was having saddle fitting issues with Poe and she fitted him in a saddle and I love it and ride in it still.  She worked easily in my price range and was just amazing.  When I called to see what they had in stock she said, bring your pony here and we will get you sorted.  And she has been nothing short of amazing since then. 

So anyway, back to the topic, I called Samantha today and we talked and I am taking Simon in tomorrow to fit in him a bitless and give it a go.  Since they work on pole and nose pressure which I know he likes, it’s just if he is cool with the jaw pressure.   I am very hopeful that he will like this contraption and that it might be even more effective than his Little S.  

I’ll be reporting back with an update in part 2 soon!  

Leave a comment

2 Comments

  1. Frances Zaun

     /  March 24, 2017

    I understand all that you through with bits. We use the Ultimate Bitless Bridle. I like it better than the Dr. Cook and others out there that I have tried. Maddie games, trail rides, and foxhunts in hers and my other daughter, Hailey foxhunts, and does jumper shoes in hers. We love it!!! Jeff makes them in TN and you can get all kinds of pretty colors in addition to black and brown for the traditional look. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed!! You can see Maddie’s at MA 1 and try one as we have a few of them.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: