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Ask Sharon

Equipment

Chris from Oregon, writes:

Dear Sharon,

I need some help with bit selection. My gelding is very soft-mouthed and will over-bend very easily. I run him in your chain bit. I have tried him in the polo bit and it’s just too much bridle. What would you suggest I use to help stiffen him up? I use my outside rein a lot, but sometimes he over-bends in the turns and I loose his shoulder.

Dear Chris,

Over-bending can be a by-product of the bridle, but remember, it can also be caused by the overuse of the inside rein. Sometimes the horse misses his rate and that causes the rider to pull excessively on the inside rein, creating the over-flexing from nose to shoulder and the "popping out" of the outside shoulder.

The general rule is, the fewer moving parts in the bit, the stiffer it is. Lifters provide shoulder control. The true lifter has an equal purchase and shank. If you haven't tried the Short Lifter or the Long Lifter I would consider these two bits as options.

My sense is that your horse could use some work in being able to easily lengthen and shorten his strides. Over and above his bit selection, I suggest working on exercises that will create adjustability in his strides. I like to build the horse's skill level to the point that I can work the exercises with some speed and create that “easy adjustability” before applying it to the pattern.

Have a great year of competition,

Sharon