View Full Version : Bit Crisis!

take a break
02-06-07, 09:04 AM
I am looking in to getting a new bit for my rising 8 year old thoroughbred mare. The one I'm using now is a Tom thumb training bit. It is good to use in the arena but out on trails she has a tendancy to get excited and bolt. Most times I can get her to slow down but there is the occasion where she doesn't respond to aids and she won't listen to the bit at all.
I compete and go to PC with her and I don't want this becoming a habit and I am not comfortable going out when she could do this to me when I am around small children and other horses. I am looking for a new bit that she will respond promptly to and also sometihng that might encourage her to go on the bit. Any suggestions? I do a bit of everything on her so it would have to suit most discplines.

Thanks, Take A Break

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

02-06-07, 10:19 AM
Basically, moving to a stronger bit should be your last option. It can make the horse insensitive to softer bits and you might find yourself buying stronger and stronger bits in an attempt to control her.

Firstly, I'd look into getting lessons on her to improve your control and work on her obedience.

You could also try a martingale which will prevent her raising her head to avoid the bit.

A noseband eg. hanoverian or drop (if you're not already using one) will make sure she's not opening her mouth to avoid the bit as well.

You say you're using a tom thumb training bit. By training do you mean double jointed or made from rubber? If so, you could try a single jointed/stainless steel bit which will give you more control without being overly harsh.

take a break
02-06-07, 10:34 AM
Hi Kia,
Thank you for the advice yes she does wear a running martingale. It does make some difference but she still can take the bit if she wants. I will definatly get a hanovarian.

My tom thumb is a jointed/stainless steel one and as for lessons it was my instructor who suggested a new bit. Like I said she is an angel in the arena but on trails she can get hard to handle. I do have control of her most times but for those rare occaisions I want to be sure.

Thanks again :)

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

02-06-07, 10:52 AM
A stronger bit won't help her to come onto the bit, only acceptance and good riding will.

It may be that she doesn't really like the single joint. Can you borrow some bits otherwise it might get expensive. You could try a double jointed snaffle or even a single joint with a different shape like the JP snaffles. A KK is a nice bit but I had one horse who loved him French snaffle.

What's she like jumping? Sometimes a mullen mouth pelham can work wonders but only use it occasionally and depending on why she is running away with you it won't ultimately make any difference.

Try just walking when you take her out then introduce trotting. Make sure she is listening to you 100% before you try anything more exciting and then only canter for a few strides before bringing her back. It might be enough to break the habit, worked on my reprobate who used to bolt everytime we got near a hill. Bolting horses are my pet peeve.

take a break
02-06-07, 11:13 AM
Thats great advice turtle thanks I'll look into them! She does rush into jumps at times but not to the point where shes out of control. Shes just been introduced to jumping 6 months ago and is doing good at 80cm.

I'm sorry I should have rephrased I meant that I heard there is something called saliva rollers (???) not sure of the name but it encourages the horse to play with the bit. Apparantly there are different flavor?? Could be wrong. My girl does go on the bit at a walk and trott though she is finding it a tad difficult grasping it at a canter. Just thought it might have been something to look into helping her.

I do try those exercises on the trails. They do help I guess the key is to just keep working on in at gradually she will start responding better. Lets hope that next time we go out shes not in a mad rush to get home!


The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

02-06-07, 11:41 AM
Rushing home can be a really bad habit, I know how you feel. If she is starting to get it at walk and trot then canter is on the horizon!The bit you refer to has copper rollers, they can help them to salivate more, so can a sweet iron but they can be hard to get in a thicker mouthpiece that would be more suitable for jumping. You could try a mouthpiece with copper inlays.

You could also try a Kimberwick, not as heavy on the curb as a Pelham, but a step up from a snaffle. Sometimes they prefer a mullen mouth anyway, esp for jumping as it doesn't pull up in the mouth as much and doensn't pinch.



02-06-07, 01:26 PM
My big horse is very similar. Very soft in the mouth but tends to get a little excited on the road and can rush the jumps. I ended up discovering, through 2 years of trial and error, that he actually doesn't like metal bits :) He now has an apple mouth snaffle with cheeks for all training and dressage and when we ride out by ourselves or in known company. When we go out in company unknown company and we compete, he wears his applemouth 3 ring dutch gag. I use it with double reins so as I only really need to use the severe poll action when I can't stop him. :)

Good luck :)

Our ability to dream is what sets us apart ~ Our ability to achieve those dreams is what makes each of us extraordinary :)

take a break
02-06-07, 02:12 PM
Thanks for all your help guys its given me a lot of good ideas for what I am looking for now.:) Gotta love CH

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

03-06-07, 02:53 AM
just remember 1 rein stops work well on a bolting horse. Wish I'd known about them 15yrs ago before I got bolted on very badly. Most bolting horses will listen to a sharp turning aid but not a direct stop aid.

Have you ever tried a hackamore. I find it very effective on my galloway who can pull really badly in company. Saves pulling on his mouth too.

take a break
03-06-07, 03:03 AM
Zampari- I do the one rein stops and sharp turning aids and they do help. No I have not tried a hackmore that could be good to look into. Next time I go on a trail I am going to a local oval that is closed off so that will be a perfect oppurtunity to practice with her bolting issues.


The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

old mac
05-06-07, 05:36 AM
I suggest you try the new Pee Wee bit. It works a treat

take a break
06-06-07, 10:20 AM
Hi guys just giving you an update. I went to Horseland and bought a hanovarian noseband. I also ordered in a Kimberwick bit. Anyone had any experience with this before?

I chose this one because it is the next level up from the tom thumb. I can change the level of pressure applied. So if Kitty is being an angel I can put it through the softest hole or if she is being naughty I will be able to make the bit more effecive . It also has a curved chain which goes under the chin groove. I really don't want to be hard on her but until she learns not to bolt I will have to make sure she is under control when we go out.

I still haven't bought the bit, only ordered it so if anyone has had any experience with the kimberwick please give me a review! I really want to make sure I know what I am buying!


The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

06-06-07, 12:23 PM
ahh! no no! no kimberwick! at least not with the chain that will be terrible.

first of all check her teeth. first priority. if they havent been done in the last 12 months then its time for them to get done.

second of all talk to your instructor about what bit you should try. but i wouldn't go for 'harsher bits' and definately nothing with a chain on it Kitty will hate that! i would go for something with a different action like a 'loose-ring french snaffle', or even a 'sweet iron' bit.

remember the most important piece of equipment on a bridle.... is the hands that hold the reins! its better to train her at home to stop promptly and practice your one-rein stop at home in the arena (not too much though or else she'll get stressed). preperation at home helps when you go out on trails. chances are she's learned that she can rush through the reins, so lots and lots of half halts and 'checking' by holding and releasing pressure on the rein to slow her down. practice slowing her down and speeding her up in walk, trot and canter until you can make her go as slow or as fast as you want hen you want.

06-06-07, 01:15 PM
Make sure you can fit 2 fingers in the chain but most important make sure it is laying flat. I have always used a rubber chain cover as well. Curbs are not always the villains they are made out to be. Personally I would prefer to use a curb than a mechanical hackamore which is by far and away a worse device.

I have one horse who was relaxed, yes properly relaxed in a pelham, he'd get a foamy mouth. In a snaffle, french or single joint he had the driest mouth in creation. I will admit he was happier in the french but he physically relaxed in the curb for flat & jumping.

I would be inclined to keep the kimberwick for special occasions or if she needs a reminder.

take a break
06-06-07, 02:31 PM
Sweet Savannah- Yes Kitty is due we have an appointment with the dentist next week. Although she has been bolting since our first trail ride together last year which was in June (Her teeth were done in January last year so that wasn't the issue)I will also look into the two bits you suggested. Like I said before I have not bought the kimberwick I was just looking into it, but so far that has been the best option. As for the chain it is removable and I wasn't planning to use it anyway.
I would only be using the kimberwick on trails and maybe jumping shows at Northside. She is perfectly fine in the arena its just on trails she needs a bit more to get her attention. And the kimberwick is only "harsh" if I was to set in on the harshest level which I WILL NOT do unless it is really really nessacary (sp?) I have gotten advice about bit choices from several informative sources including Horseland (spent half an hour going through every bit in the shop! :)) I definatly agree with you that hands are most important. I do a lot of excercises ( half halting, one-rein stops, speed changes etc.) in the arena, all the ones you listed and I believe the combination of a more effective bit and keep practicing she should be a lot safer to ride in future :)

I have done a lot of research into it becuase I definalty want to get in right the first time for Kittys sake and mine. I don't want to make her uncomfortable I want to feel safe riding my horse and being able to enjoy a pleasurable ride without worrying that if she decides to bolt I am going to have no control.

Turtle- If I ever decide to use the chain I will definatly get a rubber cover. I want to make riding as comfy as I can for my girl:)

Thanks for the advice guys!!!

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

08-06-07, 01:27 PM
yeah definately noooo chain!

what did your instructor suggest to buy?

my friend just got a 2 ring snaffle for her pony.... its sort of like a dutch gag but it only has two rings instead of three. she said it was very helpful when she jumped/hacked him out. you can get a 'rounding' for the two rings which is a piece of leather that hooks onto both the top and bottom rings of that bit so you only need one rein to ride in it.

i dont know if that will be suitable or not. in my experience simpler is always better and turning their head around till it touches their shoulder has always been my most effective way of stopping savannah when she charges off hooves flying. but then again she hates any harshness on her mouth so it was useless putting a stronger bit in her mouth cos she'd just end up bucking to avoid the pressure!!!!

i would really talk to your intructor about what bit to use. either that or talk to Lex on the cyberhorse forum. she knows her gear very very well and has had lots of experience with naughty horses.

09-06-07, 02:12 AM
Sweet_Savannah is that friend me by any chance?


Yeah the bit is ok, it does put pressure on their poll though and in some cases makes the horse just lower it's head. Pony gets over excited and switches off to rider. We tried a few different bits. A thin sweet iron is what we use for riding at home and for road walking / walking trails. Cross country he has the many ringed bit but even that is not that effective.

Always seek an instructors opinion if you are unsure.

I only use a KK training bit or a thick light snaffle on Regal, i would never use anything else as he does not need it.


09-06-07, 02:39 AM
The Knimblewick/Spanish Snaffle is a great bit! The amount of leverage applied (compared to say a Dutch gag 3 ringed bit) is minimal and I have found they work quite well. If you fit the curb chain properly and use a leather chain guard I think you should get good results.
If you are worried, get a copy of Tom Roberts book, Horse Control and the Bit. It explains how a short levered bit with a curb chain can actually be softer on the horse than a normal jointed snaffle if the rider's hands are unsteady.

09-06-07, 03:11 AM
I agree with LindaH. The spanish snaffle is a fantastic bit. I was show jumping my galloway on the weekend(just pony club lesson) and I too found I needed some adjustment in the braking department. I was using his normal snaffle bit with a hannovarian noseband. I was thinking of trying a spanish snaffle on him next time. I've had a lot of success using that bit before. Just make sure if you use the curb chain you untwist it so it is flat and use a chain guard too. There are heaps available leather, rubber, gel etc. Don't fit your curb chain too loose though as you won't get any reaction from it if it won't come into play when you apply the bit. Genrerally you want a chain to come into play when the bit reaches a 45 degree angle to the mouth. Just remember soft hands on landing as you don't want to catch him in the mouth. Same with any bit though.

take a break
18-06-07, 12:26 PM
Hi guys update on bit choices. I have ridden her in the flash with the tom thumb. I feel I have a bit more control. My Kimberwick still hasn't arrived yet (no hurry though as my arena is a damn at the moment due to buckets of rainfall) I have also decided to start playing the 7 parelli games with her. This I believe help her to grasp the concept with one rein stops. Plus I have been readng up on why horses bolt and one reason was disrespect. I have done a few sessions with her and she is loving it! We are going really well as well I am surprised she is learning so fast (shes kind of dopey :)) I am going to see if this makes any effect on the bolting and if it does I might reconsider getting a new bit. Well I have a three week holiday coming up (yes!) So I'll have plenty of time for practice and make my descision, no hurry I want to make a good choice. Thanks for all your help. Keep you updated.

Georgia :)

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

18-06-07, 02:59 PM
Hi everyone!

This is where I get screamed down by everybody, but that's ok. Why is it that I ride ALL of my horses in a featherweight training bit (even the stallion), have NO stuff hanging off them (eg. martingales), and I'm a firm NON believer in natural horsemanship and Parelli???? I had my horses following me around LONG before it was called join-up, and was gallopping my ponies over jumps in a halter before I could speak or read English!

The MOST important part of riding/training a horse is love and patience. You don't need to pay a fortune on natural horsemanship classes for that. I'm a straight down the line, classical dressage person, in fact. When it's time to perform, my boy gets TWO bits AND a chain, AND a crank noseband...and I don't really use any of them - it's tradition, it's what's required, and he and I happily do our own thing without it :).

You need to learn to love your horse and more importantly, your horse needs to learn to love you... and it won't if you keep restricting it and inflicting pain on it. Fancy bits, martingales, etc. are a fashion you go through in pony club. If you need help (and we ALL do from time to time) find yourself a kind, EXPERIENCED coach who is at the top level, where they realise (like in cooking) that the fancy garnishes are all crap!

19-06-07, 02:23 AM
Have you thought about trying a bitless bridle. I have ridden my horses bitless for years. One is an ex race horse who I was told would never be able to be ridden in anything but a Norton bit. These are apparently very harsh. I did heaps of groundwork with him and lots of work at the walk and trot trasistioning up and down. Lots of one rein stops, lots of time and lots of patience. Although he still gets a bit goey he has never bolted and is very responsive. When I put a bit back in his mouth he gets very uptight and starts playing with the bit and pulling against it.

Have a look at the NoBit bridles and read the imformation. Here's the link http://www.nobitbridles.com/ There's a section on the website about competing. I think the only thing you can't use a bitless bridle in is dressage.

The mouth is the most sensitive part of a horse and we horse people insist on putting big chunks of metal in it and then proceed to pull on it. You do not get control from a bit. Your horse will not stop bolting by moving to a harsher bit unless you are applying PAIN!!! Do you really want to do that?

You seem to really care for your horse so please don't inflict more pain because he has a problem you can't fix. If you have patience and time you will be able to work through these problems without causing pain. Although I'm not a huge fan of Parelli the 7 games are a great way to start. You would be amazed at how much groundwork can imporve your horse under saddle.

19-06-07, 03:15 AM
Hi, this is firenne's daughter

My friend's horse used to poke her tongue out when ridden so they proceeded to put on a tight hanoverian noseband (which I disagreed with and I made that clear to them). They were using a stainless steel, jointed, tom thumb snaffle. This horse then started to bolt and shy unexpectedly, and she was very difficult to stop.

Finally the people decided to do something. They found out about the nutcracker action caused by single-jointed bits and as this horse is very sensitive, they decided on a softer bit and tried a double-jointed egg butt snaffle, and loosened off the noseband.
This worked really well and the horse now relaxes under saddle and very rarely bolts or shies, and even if she does, she slows down easily.

I don't know much about harsher bits so I wont comment on them. Just thought I'd share this experience.

I also recommend Tom Roberts book Horse Control and the Bit.

19-06-07, 05:00 AM
I have to disagree with Fernloch_girl on what the most important part of riding/training a horse is (and I'm sure there's many out there that would disagree with me). IMO its all well and good to be patient and loving towards your horse but if you do not know what you are doing you can still cause serious problems. The most important thing is timing/feel and respect.

Fernloch_girl although you seem to be very anti "natural horsemanship" I'll bet you are using the same principals. Pressure/release, feel/timing and most importantly respect. You obviously have good realtionships with your horses and I think its great that you can see that all the gear is "garnishing" and not really needed.

It's not about the label we use (natural horsemanship/good horsemanship ect) its about the prinicpals. I wish more people could realise that going to harsher bits, martingales, chins straps, spurs (the list could go on) will not solve the problems they are having but only mask them and cause more pain for their horses. We have to see things from the horses point of view and get our horses to do things for us because they WANT to not because they are FORCED to.

take a break
20-06-07, 09:01 AM
Fernloch_girl- I definatly agree with you on the love and patience. That has a major effect on the way a horse responds to you. I love my horse A LOT otherwise I wouldn't be looking at every option I could take towards her bolting problem. The one thing I will make sure of is not causing her pain (I would hate myself for that!). I will never blame her for this habit. I don't know why she is doing it but I am trying everything I can do to figure that out. I have had my horse for just over a year and one thing I have learnt is that she does these types of things for a reason, never becuase she is just being naughty.

I don't usually do a lot of natural horsemanship but I believe that the 7 games will help a lot wiht our groundwork and will give me a better understanding of her and what she is feeling. I am not looking for anything "fancy" just practical. And doing all this research about bits and why horses bolt/rush, my views have swayed a bit. Maybe she doesn't need a different bit. Maybe I need to spend more time doing groundwork and getting to know her. Maybe I need more practice at emergency stops. Everybody has had very good advice, there has been a lot of different views on this matter and has given me a lot to think about. I have a few options now

1. Get a new bit either more effective (kimberwick) or maybe something softer (sweet iron, french loose ring)
2. Keep tom thumb and use a hanovarian
3. Bitless Bridle ( I will definatly look into this maybe after I get this bolting issue sorted and I trust her more the bitless bridle could be good at looking at)

What I am certain of is that I need to seek some expert advice and get a few lessons in the holidays! I have some instructors in mind. I will also admit I have lost a lot of confidence in her since she has started bolting so I really want to establish a stong and trusting bond with her.

Fore now not much I can do with her riding wise (weather is not that good) but she is getting a very nice, sleek coat with all the grooming I am giving her :P

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

20-06-07, 09:39 AM
Hi there,

Sounds to me like you horse needs some ground work and improvment in his manners, It sounds to me like he doesnt have much respect for his aides and essentially for his rider.

While I understand that a few horses have bolting issues which cannot be fixed without a bit, I think most people are just too 'bit happy'.

People, far too often resort to a harsher bit instead of taking the time to work with their horse first.I think most problems can be fixed by simply spending more time training your horse.


20-06-07, 09:43 AM
I really like the loose ring sweet iron snaffles, just make sure it has the big rings so that it can't be pulled sideways through the mouth. The sweet iron is very good for getting a horse to salivate, and it is a bit thinner than a normal snaffle and is a nice light bit. I find they are very good with thoroughbreds, especially those who have raced and are used to leaning on the bit rather than softening to the bit. In the old days John Pinnell who was a horse trainer at Duffys Forest recommended them which is when I started using them on horses who locked in a normal snaffle.

take a break
20-06-07, 09:45 AM
I agree. Before Christmas last year when she was in full work she was very respectful and didn't make a fuss about anything. Then she got a leg injury put her out for 12 weeks. After that when I put her into work she has been a bit disrespectful. On the ground when I am grooming/massaging/hoof picking she in an angel. Most of the problem is on trails and jumping. Hopefully if I continue the 7 games and just spend some quallty time with her she will come back to her old self. I will just have to wait and see.

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

take a break
28-06-07, 05:27 AM
Hi guys just an update. I have been focusing on the first 3 games of parelli with her and she has caught onto them surprisingly fast. She has mastered backing up with me just waving my hand in front of her face and is yeilding to pressure on the slightest touch. He behaviour has improved immensily. No more bolting out of stall in the morning, no moving around while grooming her and when we are walking together she stays right at my side not to far behind or in front. She is showing a lot more respect. Such a surprise on how a few simple games can change a horses manners! Haven't been able to do a lot of riding due to weather but if it is nice this Saturday my sister and I are going on a trail ride to an enclosed oval where we will practice transitions and one rein stops. It is nice to spend some time grooming and playing with her. Sometimes I think we forget about how important it is just to have fun with our horses and that its not all about work and improvement.

As for bits... I have decided that going harsher is not the idea. I am looking at more softer bits that are for younger horses. Sweet iron or a loose ring french snaffle. Even maybe a bitless bridle. I'll tell you how our trail goes on Saturday.

Cheers. Take A Break

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

28-06-07, 06:09 AM
Hi Takeabreak,

I have a TB mare and she was a nightmare for a while, she figured out that she was stronger than me!

I ride her on the flat in a sweet iron loose ring snaffle and that works really well, these are NOT hard bits in an experience persons hands, and you sound like you're experience enough not to be tugging on the mouth contstantly.

I then use a straight bar mullen mouth kimblewick for going out on the trails and jumping/x country. As you said some few posts back - these are NOT hard bits, you can put the reins through the top hole for very little curb action, or if the horse needs more you can put through the bottom hole.

The thing is with all of this - YOU have to feel SAFE in knowing that you have the stopping power when you're out and about. Ofcourse the ultimate goal is to have your horse trained perfectly so that you can ride in a nice soft bit on the buckle and the horse will do whatever for you - but in reality not everyone or everyhorse has got that training ability within them and so you have to work with what you've got.

If I were you I'd definately buy the kimblewick, give it a try, what do you have to loose???? If you don't like it, nothing changes, then try something else.


Cheers & good luck


28-06-07, 06:12 AM
Hi Guys,

I think at the end of the day it all depends on the horse and rider.

I think you should go with what you feel comfortable with and that can only come from trial and sometimes error...

I know some of you guys don't agree, but i have a STB well at least thats his pedigree (doesn't think he is... lol)he use to pull like a steam train, he would put his head up and off he went.... Since then (2yrs ago) i have use rings, quite short at first whilst on trail rides and none when doing circle work... he developed great top line and now carries him self beautiful, but I also used the slotted kimblewick for 3 weeks whilst out and then changed back to normal snaffle and the rotation went on for about 1 yr.... he is now ridden in normal eggbutt and stopping beautiful...

I was luck this worked as more of a training aid because otherwise i am afraid i would have no arms left lol

This is my experience and it worked out great..

But each to their own i spose...


28-06-07, 06:15 AM
I just want to say to you "WELL DONE" What a great horse owner
you are to check all of the possible options and try and find the best one possible for you and your horse. And be willing to learn to help the problem.

I am sure Kitty knows just how lucky she is to have you as an owner.

28-06-07, 06:25 AM

While I am sue everybody would love to be able to ride every horse they have in a snaffle, sometimes it just isn't possible.

All bar 1 of my horses is ridden in a snaffle - and the other one only wears his apple mouh gag when he jumps.

The horses that wear the snaffles all the time are the ones I have trained from babies and they have never known harshness to their mouths.

Sometimes, we cannot help what we buy. Any horse you buy that is already trained or going comes with baggage and most of the time that baggage is that they are a little strong in the head.

I applaud the original poster for doing all her homework before sticking a harder bit in her horses mouth.

Good luck with your pony. :)

***** Angel....with horns }> *****

take a break
01-07-07, 09:54 AM
Hi Guys,
I just wanted to let you know that I went on the trail ride today........................SHE WAS BRILLIANT! I am seriously happy at the moment. Its one of those moments where you feel like all your work has paid off!!! I ended up buying a sweet iron double jointed bit, that combined with the hanovarian I got was the key to one settled horse and one happy owner. I thought I was riding a different horse she was so perfect I felt completely safe. I was with 2 other horses and when they galloped off I was able to keep her at a controlled trot. I just want to say thanks on everyones advice couldn't have done it without you guys :). I also bought a bitless bridle which I will try out with an instructors help. I am so glad I thought it over before I jumped in I think I have made the right choice. Kitty seems to respond better to the sweet iron and also plays with it in her mouth a lot more then the tom thumb.

Thanks again you have made my day!

Cheers, Georgia

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...

01-07-07, 11:08 AM
All good advice etc, and happy to hear that Kitty now appears to be under control - but I just wouldn't go out trail riding with other people who "gallop off" and I suspect any horse with a bit of life in it would like to go and join them!

I spent years as a kid riding around the northern suburbs trails, and mostly it went well. I had a pony who was very good at bolting, and went to a pony club where if you didn't ride in a fat eggbutt or FM (with a loose drop noseband or cavesson, and no martingales thank you very much), you were frozen out. Several times I had terrifying experiences when people I was riding with galloped off, and unlike open countryside, these trails are quite narrow and usually rocky, so sharp turns and serious one-rein stops are hard to achieve (at least psychologically). So, I reckon better training, appropriate bitting and NO riding with idiots is probably the key to preventing Kitty bolting!

As for bits? Love a good running gag. They sound awful, but they are great in that the mouthpeice can be a regular snaffle, and the release is instant. They are great for horses that resent a curb, and you CAN give a good solid tug or one rein stop without hurting the horse.

When a horse is getting strong and feisty, you need to be able to take a contact without fussing about having a thin bit (like a sweet iron) or a curb action. You need for the horse to be able to pull against your solid seat and NOT succeed. A harsh bit will distract and hurt, and add to the horse's stress. But if the horse is pulling you out of the saddle, you do need a bit of leverage.

Of course, your arena/safeplace training needs to be way ahead of the issues you're dealing with on an adrenalised horse out on the trail. So it sounds like you're doing the right things anyway.

01-07-07, 11:20 AM

I'm one of the riders who went "galloping off" -- to clarify, we were in an enclosed area, the ring where gymkhanas are held next to Lionel Watts at Davidson. I was galloping my boy around the very edge of the ring, as was the other rider, while Georgia (take a break) was walking and trotting Kitkat. We are always very conscious of whether or not Georgia feels comfortable with us going any faster than a trot, and we only did so after a very vigorous uphill workout for them all.

I have ridden Kitkat myself on trail rides and had no problems with her bolting. Georgia has come off her a few times, jumping and whatnot, of her own accord, and not because Kitkat is nasty and bucking her off, etc. Her confidence has been visibly shaken and myself and our other riding friend agree that the issue with Kitkat bolting has been out of her testing Georgia, a lack of respect and her opening her mouth to lock her jaw and go bolting off.

However, Georgia has been progressing excellently with her groundwork and, as a result, it was very plain to see today on the trail ride that Kitty now respects and works with Georgia. Her new bit, combined with a flash noseband, has significantly reduced her tendency to bolt -- she only usually does this on the way home, or going up hills. Today, she was a pleasure to watch and obviously to ride, as Kitty was dead calm whilst my own TB was prancing around after his gallop.

01-07-07, 01:14 PM
Sorry Han! I jumped to the comclusion that Georgia was with people who were galloping away from her inappropriately. (Sometimes people DO think that horses (and riders) should be able to tolerate this, when in fact it is kind of nice to all agrree "shall we trot now?" and " OK, here's a good place to gallop. No, I insist, you go first, I just love eating chunks of Sydney Sandstone!". ) So it's good she has supportive friends who understand the situation.

take a break
02-07-07, 02:40 AM
Sorry! I should have been more specific! No, on the actual trail to the oval the others trotted ahead and I worked on transitions with Kitty behind them so if she did want to bolt they were blocking her way, then at the oval Kitkat had no problems with them galloping around becuase she goes to PC and Northside regularly so she was used to all the mayhem. Sorry CM and sister!

Georgia :)

The one thing that doesn't cost anything but is priceless is the trust that your horse has in you...