Massachusetts 3 1/2 Year old  TWH. Ridden mostly a side pull, with stubben all purpose saddle in ring and trails by  intermediate rider.

 Question: I started my horse last year in a side pull, after some rearing issues when in a rubber snaffle. That solved  the problem and she rides well in it. She also ride in the
 snaffle but seems at times to sort of go on her forehand can  I do my training completely in the sidepull? She is well  behaved in it even when she is excited out in the open

What would be the next step up bit? 

From Panelist Nancy

Until she is soft and supple in the snaffle you shouldn't go to another bit.  You want her to give to the bit softly; to not be afraid of the bit and stiffen up when she feels the action of the bit.  She should be willing to go onto the bit and accept it when asked to, while 
softly flexing to it.  The reason for her original rearing was that she was stiff and when she felt the bit nothing gave (no flexing - no suppleness) - so she reared.  She must be made supple and have an "educated" mouth and then the rearing in response to the action of the bit won't happen. 

If she is supple, all joints will bend instead of "tipping over" due to stiffness (rearing).  In order to lighten her when she is heavy in front, the action of your hands should be to take when she takes and give when she gives.  Do halts and backs and then immediately forward (all of this very smoothly blended into one movement).  No jerking.  Shoulder-in is a good movement to do if you and your horse know how to do it.  Pirouettes at a walk will also require her to lighten her forehand. 

Only when she is working nicely in the plain snaffle (no leverage bit) should you consider going into something else.  When and if you do move her into another bit, be sure it is a mild and comfortable one.  I like to use a snaffle mouthpiece with short, loose shanks.  The loose shanks add a measure of softness to the action of the bit on the horse's mouth.  Hope this helps you and is the info you were asking for.

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Liz


If you are comfortable with a side pull and are getting the kind of horse you want by all means stay with it. Unless you show, going in a bit is not necessary. I use side- pulls a lot and like them too. If you really want your horse work in a bit as well then stick with a
snaffle that you find she is happy with.

For me I have found when one is getting heavy on the forehand with a snaffle and I can't get them to engage the hind quarters like I want to bring them off the forehand I will go with a either mullen mouth piece of Billy Allen type mouth piece in my snaffle . I also have
found the Myler snaffles work well to as they do not collapse completely and fold up only so far giving a horse much more support in the mouth rather than pushing though a bit, thus keeping them off the forehand.


From Panelist Jonathan

Yes a side pull is fine . I have a preferance for a mechanicle hackamore with a wide flat leather nose band . You may find after using one you won't need to got to a "next step up".


From Panelist Bob

You might want to find the reason behind her problem with the bit. I would guess there to be a dental problem of some sort. Many gaited horses need light contact with the bit in order to gait properly. 

I trained a filly last year with only a sidepull, she had suffered mouth damage from a botched wolf tooth pulling. This filly gaited perfectly and responded completely in a sidepull. Since she belongs to a CTR rider who was happy not to have to train her to eat and drink in a bit this was a win, win situation.

Bob Blackwell

From Panelist Stella

If she is responding well to the sidepull, you may certainly continue using it through much of her training, in place of a snaffle - obviously her head position is better with the sidepull to stay more balanced. Its not unusual for many gaited horses to get more heavy on the forehand in a snaffle, depending on their neck shape and set, and the limited action of the bit. 

When you are ready to finish her more, a Kimberwicke would be about the mildest form of curb bit, which helps more to keep the head and neck positioned better to retain lightness to the forehand.


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