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Franklin Levinson's

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The proper and best bit

Hi Franklin:

Thank you for your advise in the past; it has really helped me with my horse. I do have a new question for you.

In the past my husband and I have experimented with bits to find the "perfect" one that our horses would accept and be relaxed in the poll.

Currently I am using a curve bit and she seems to be fairly relaxed with it. The horse I am riding is a seven year mare old that has been "off" for the past two years having colts and is also used for driving. (no professional training) I recently enrolled in riding lessons with her and before the instructor saw our capabilities she told me to change the bit to a twisted snaffle that she had.

Once I changed the bit my horse was not relaxed and was throwing her head etc. I asked the instructor why and she advised me because my horse was not completly trained in neck reining and that she liked to start off with a snaffle bit. I advised my instructor that this horse was a multi-use horse and was driven therefore more used to plow reining. She does neck rein fine but not perfectly.

My question is - is this normal for a riding instructor to change the bit on me because I have been reading the twisted snaffles exerts more pressure on the tongue than the curve bit that I was using. I enjoyed the lessons but was frustrated that all of sudden my horse was throwing her head and was not relaxed enough to accept my lead and was everywhere. I feel that some people's techniques or what they prefer may not always work for others. I have been reading about bits and the main thing that I have understood is that if your horses is resisting the bit; change to something sofer, reduce some of the pressure and especially the tongue pressure.

Would I be insulting if I rode at my next lesson with the bit that my horse is most comfortable with?

Thank you again, I appreciate your advise,

Hi Paula,

Unfortunately some folks are very attached to their beliefs and rush to their system without taking individual needs into consideration. However, it is true that generally a snaffle (not a twisted one) is one of the mildest bits you can use. Most horses are started out in looses ring snaffles (again not a twisted one). I would suggest you say to your instructor that the mare had no head tossing before and is now tossing her head and you are concerned.

You said the mare was 'off' doing other things for two years. I assume you did not ride her. How do you know how she was on a regular basis if she was off and not being ridden? You might have a veternarian check her mouth for possible dental problems (the most common cause of head tossing). Also, anytime you change something in a horse's environment there will be some sort of reaction or response in the horse. Just putting this horse into a lesson situation would prompt a nervous reaction. If your riding instructor has your and your horse's best interest in mind she will be open to hearing your concerns and address them. I would speak to her first before showing up in your original bit. Give her the benefit of a doubt first and see what happens.

Good luck and let me know what happens.

Sincerely, Franklin

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