I hope I'm not the only one who is totally confused on which bit to use for my horses!  My basic question here is this:  I have a large APHA who, for the last five years, has been used in a horse program at a children's ranch.  He has been ridden mostly by a gal who is a bit troubled and, unfortunately, takes her anger out on him.  He always has been a sweet horse, a little frisky at times, but I always enjoyed that about him.  I don't think she likes it.  I used to use a Wonder Bit on him with a curb chain.  It worked well for me, but since she's been riding him, he has gotten naughty and has attitude.  He is also trying to run through the bit and is very hard mouthed.  I have learned lately, after doing some research on Wonder Bits that it was probably not the best choice for my horse.

Now that his mount has left the program and is no longer riding him, I would like to take on a bit of "re" trainig with him.  I am wondering what would be the best bit to use on him for this and exactly how I should start out with him:  In the round pen, under saddle, on the trail?

I am definitely not a horse trainer, but he and I worked together in his early years of training with a qualified trainer, so I am comfortable with him.  I have noticed though that he does not respond to me as well as he used to anymore though.  I don't really have the funds to engage a trainer, so I would like to try to do what I can to bring him back to his old sweet self. 

I am attaching a few photos of him just because he is so adorable and sweet!

Please help!


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Hi, Kasey ... Check out this video which may help you with re-training your horse.  In the video, I'm working with a mare who also has issues about the bit due to her previous riding experience with a rider with rough hands.

After you watch the video, let me know if you have any questions.

Enjoy your journey.


Thanks, Anne, but I didn't get the website....can you repost for me, please so I can watch the video?


Which bit?

That's easy: none of them.

All bits work on the principle of inflicting pain and avoidance of that pain. So bits are just a commonly accepted form of abuse.

Personally, it's not the kind of coercive thing I want going on in my relationships, so I don't use a bit on my horse for much the same reason that I don't use handcuffs on a date.  If you "need" a bit to ride a given horse, it's the wrong horse or you're the wrong rider. Sorry if that sounds harsh. 

Most people aren't using the same phone technology they used 3 ears ago, or the same computer technology they used 5 years ago, but we're still using the same horse technology we use 3000 years ago?  What, you think humankind just happened to stumble on perfection just that one time?

Bits are a "shortcut" aimed at giving easy "control" of a horse to people who have no horsemanship skills. Any idiot can jerk a horse around with a bit.  Fine. As long as you don't care about the horse.  But don't tell me you use a bit, and then tell how much you "love" your horse.  I once listened to a guy tell me how much he "loved" his wife -- right after he'd beaten her to death.

If you take the time and effort to establish the right kind of relationship with your horse, one based on respect and trust, you'll need a bit like the Arabs need more sand.  And if you're NOT willing to put in that time and effort, then you should probably find another "hobby."

Just my opinion, of course, and just who the hell am I, right?

Check out www.bitlessbridle.com and read Dr. Cook's "Metal in the Mouth." You'll never use a it again.


It is the rider's HANDS that cause the abuse.  A rider with bad hands will irritate a horse just as much with a bitless bridle as with a bit.  I did not recommend a bitless bridle in this case because there is always the temptation to pull harder since it isn't hurting the horse's mouth.  THIS horse looks like he could win any and all pulling contests with any type of bridle, and probably more so with bitless.

I am currently riding three horses.  The mare in my avatar photo, Mia, 27 years old with the most sensitive mouth of any horse I have ever ridden PREFERS me riding her with a bit.  The lady who owns her (the barn owner/manager/intructor) will put a bitless bridle on for other riders (after I introduced Mia to it) since she knows that I am educating Mia's mouth to a more advanced level of response and most people just don't have my hands, but she tells them to ride Mia bitless with a loose rein, not on contact. 

In fact all three of the horses prefer me riding in a bit.  Why?  I don't know, maybe they prefer the connection with their tongue over the connection with their nasal bones.  It isn't that I'm the greatest rider in the world, I have Multiple sclerosis and the MS affects my whole body--hands, legs, balance, coordination, etc..  As bad as I am you would think, according to the bitless propaganda, that they would prefer me to use a bitless bridle whenever I ride them.  But I've tried 3 cross-unders (Nurtural, Dr. Cook and Spirit, my favorite of the three), LG bitless, Lite Rider bitless, all three bitless options of the Micklem Multi-bridle and my absolutely ancient jumping cavesson bridle and usually after a few rides (sometimes immediately) the horses start "telling" me they want to go back to the bit, and when I put the bit back on they ALL have relaxed.  I have a lot of experience bitless since I started using the jumping cavesson bridle over 40 years ago, got my first cross-under over 6 years ago and ride periodically in them to give the horses some variety.

The bit is NOT a shortcut for me.  I do everything I can (including dropping the reins) to not hurt the horse's mouth.  I do NOT train the horse's mouth through pain.  I do not use a noseband and if there is one on a bridle I make good and sure that it is loose.  If the horses tell me that my hands are just too bad to keep contact with the bit that day I listen to them and ride on loose/sagging reins.  When my MS gets too bad I will switch to bitless for a few months, and none of the horses have given me dirty looks when I go back to using a bit when I get more stable.

Riders HANDS cause problems with a bit.  Rider's hands cause problems usually because the rider does not have an independent seat and pulls on the reins to keep balanced.  Riders with bad hands can also cause the horses pain and problems with any bitless system but it is not as apparent to someone on the ground and this does not show up a dramatically in pictures.  Is the pain from a badly used bit sharper--yes.  But the horses I ride have "told" me that the slightly duller pain on the nasal bone or lower jaw bones can be just as distressing to them when a rider with bad hands insists on riding with contact in a bitless bridle. 

Some bits are too uncomfortable for a particular horse's mouth, for instance Mia HATED every Myler bit I tried on her, hated anything with a curb chain (past abuse?) and did not like the PeeWee bit either.  She seems to prefer my JP Dr. Bristol to everything else I've tried on her, bit or bitless so long as I am not in a MS attack, then she prefers the Mullen mouth snaffle.  On my worst days I will use bitless with loose or sagging reins, no contact and we just walk. 

However, saying all that, I do agree that BEGINNERS, who do not have an independent seat, should ride bitless to spare the horse, but then beginners have no business riding on contact.  When I used to be able to train horses to saddle I used my old jumping cavesson for the first three months or so, but when they learned the language of my hand aids I had minor problems getting them to go just as well with a bit.  But then, to me, a horse's mouth is SACRED, to be treated with lightness and sympathy.  I have light hands, therefore the horses I ride have light mouths.         

Thank you, everyone for your advice.  I think this is going to be a learning process and take a lot of patience.  I haven't ridden my horse for at least six months, nor has anyone else.  I am just letting him be a horse right now.  And I don't ride in the winter, as it is too cold here in Idaho for me.  So he will have some time to just hang out with his buddies in his 80 acre pasture and just be a horse for a while.  I will start slowly with him in the spring and take your adivce...first I will try riding him without a bit.  I, personally, consider myself NOT heavy handed.  I use as little pressure as possible on my horses.  This is how I always rode "Flag" and he responded quite well.  Unfortunatley, I let the ranch where I keep him allow an inexperienced troubled teen ride him, and she really screwed him up.  That is why I want to just let him be for now, give him time to enjoy life...I appreciate all of your suggestions, and I will keep you posted next spring on our progress!  

the bit thit i think would work is called the Stubben Steeltec EZ Control Loose Ring Bit 5.5


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