There are a few questions that I get asked time and time again, so here’ s a series of “cheat sheets” for you to give you a place to start. Please keen in mind, that these suggestions are general, and do not take into account the details of your exact situation. Use them as a guide, read the product descriptions of the bits listed, and consider them as they might apply to your particular issues and training that you are also undertaking.
Cheat Sheet #1- Bits for Horses that Lean or Pull
Now of course the reasons for your horse leaning or pulling when working on the flat can be many and varied, so you need to take into account things like:
• Have I recently increased the workload or difficulty of work?
• Is my horse fit and strong enough for the work being asked?
• Is my horse pain free in both mouth and back?
• Is my horse educated enough to understand your rein aids clearly?
• Are you giving your “yes” or “reward” rein aids clearly and quickly to reinforce what you want?
Sometimes though, a change of bit can help you through a training bump. If you are using a fixed cheek snaffle, such as an eggbutt or full cheek, then the first thing for you to try is to change to a loose ring. The reasons for this I covered in an earlier blog post, which you can read here.
If you have tried that, not it’s not quite enough, here are a few specific styles of bits that I recommend to help the rider a little with a horse that tends to lean, fix or pull. These bits are all dressage legal, so you can use them on competition days as well.
The Neue Schule Verbindend
The Verbindend is one of Bit Bank’s top sellers- it’s available in the snaffle (as in the link above), as well as in pony sizes and as a bridoon. It’s a double jointed bit that is shaped to sit more like a single join in the mouth, applying more concentrated pressure at the bars, while being shaped to suit those horse with a fatter tongue. It has helped a lot of riders sit the horse a little lighter in the hand, from novice to the upper levels of training and competing in dressage, as well as for the less serious riders out there as well.
The Myler MB02 “Comfort Snaffle”
Yes, this is what they call a “level one” bit, but I have found that with the lots of movement this mouthpiece combined with the loose ring provides, plus the slightly finer than average mouthpiece this Myler bit can again give the rider a little advantage in their training.
The Verbindend Snaffle and Myler MB02 snaffle
The Sprenger WH Ultra
Some riders find this bit really helpful with horses with a fussy mouth or tongue, but others have found it helpful with horses that tend to lean and pull. The central lozenge has a roller built in, so the rider has more play and movement in the mouth.
The Neue Schule Team Up
This is a lovely training bit, and recommended for OTTB’s all the time by us. Sometimes, the reason for a horse leaning or pulling on the reins is because horses will push INTO pain and discomfort, so by putting in a softer, more generous mouthpiece and an ergonomic shape can help make the horse more comfy, and so less likely to lean.
The Sprenger WH Ultra and the NS Team Up.