I have a strong horse and I can’t figure out what bit is right for him. I have tried the Tender Touch, but it cut into his mouth and the Combo is too strong for him. I was thinking of a Beetle, but I am not sure. I have had him since February 2007. I am trying to train him on my own and he has made progress, but I can’t run barrels with a bit that he is running through. I’m about to break down because I have no idea what to do. Please help!
Thank you for writing. Congratulations on your training accomplishments. The question you ask sounds like that it is just one part of the puzzle. It would be a pleasure to work directly with you and your horse at one of my Eastern clinics to help you formulate a plan.
What could have happened with the Tender Touch is that it is a very mild bit. It offers very little leverage and the slip in the mouthpiece is forgiving. It is considered a "transition" bit. I refer to a transition bit as one used when a horse is first taken from a snaffle to a shank bit. Your horse was strong and he pulled through the bit. When a horse pulls and applies constant pressure to the corners of the mouth, it could be possible to cause a sore. The other consideration is your horse’s dental health. If you haven’t had his teeth checked, I would encourage you to have a vet with an equine dentistry specialty look at the horse too make sure he doesn’t have any sharp spots.
The Combination offers nose, jaw, tongue, bar and lip pressure. There is quite a gap between the control that the Tender Touch offers and the control of the solid noseband Combination. The difference in control would be in line with your evaluation that the bit was too much.
In the clinic setting, I remind riders that selecting a competitive bit is only a piece of the puzzle. The ability to have good communication during your run is built on the training that you do in various skill- building exercises and the use of direct control snaffle equipment and martingales. This is an entire training program.
What I can offer is a review of the bits that assist with rate. In my Reinsman bit collection it would be my Chain Bit, Hackamore or Polo Bit. Generally at clinics, horses similar to yours like the Chain bit. Remember, it is very important to give the horse an opportunity to adjust to new equipment.
The selecting of a bit is complicated only because without seeing the horse it is difficult to know exactly what the issues are.
You indicated that you have to ride and train by yourself. I believe that you would find my Books helpful as you create your training program. Allow yourself time to re-structure this horse.
Ride with purpose, patience and passion. I hope to see you at a clinic soon,