I announced on Facebook earlier today that I was trying out a new bit on Orion; one that had more leverage and a slightly higher port, which required a well trained horse and a rider with light hands.

I was asked by several people why I was doing this. Most seemed to think I was doing something wrong. ;>

Since some many lovely ladies are asking I will explain my reasons here for trying this bit with Orion.

“Doesn’t he go fine in the bit he has now?” I am not sure we mean the same thing when we say “go fine” in the bit he has now.

“The lightest bit needed, is what I say.” The lightest bit needed to do what?

“Other ways to do collecting…” Yes, there are many number of ways to achieve collection, and as many opinions as to the best way to get there. ;>

I may be wrong, but what I am detecting here is a shared opinion that I am moving to this new bit because I am trying to correct something and feel I need more force for this. It is commonly believed that is why bits with longer shanks or cub chains or ports are use… to gain more power over the horse, to combat an unwanted behavior or to get a result the rider is unable to achieve with a “lighter” bit.

I view the choice of bits differently from many in that I think one does not move away from the simple snaffle until the horse is “going fine” with it. You do not move to a “harsher” bit to fix a problem.

The Bit

Myler Ported Barrel Bit

When I say this is a level 3 bit, (actually it is a level 2-3) bit, I mean it is designed for a horse well on its way to being finished, if not completely finished. It is in fact not a harsh bit at all, but not intended for a green horse or any horse not already completely comfortable with the use of a level 1 or training bit.  The horse must have basic training established, relaxed at the poll; holds position when rein is released and possesses more complex skills such as bending, collection, side passes and lead changes, etc.

This bit has a “comfort snaffle” barrel, this provides tongue relief, that double as a port effectively and it is made so as to allow each side of the bit to move independently when the shank is moved, allowing the rider to pick up each shoulder of the horse independently. Yes, the curved shank design does provide more leverage IF I use the bit that way, but it also provides a very clear input on the barrel with very little movement of my hand. The combination of the barrel design, the shank design and the curb chain allow me to ask Orion to set his head very clearly, without a lot of force being applied and to do it with a loose rein, in one hand.

Riding with one hand, while wielding a weapon in the other, maintaining a head set, flex and collection, with a minimum of force is the goal here.

Some say “Given enough time and “proper” training you can get a horse to bend and the poll, flex laterally, stop, back and wheel, all with just the lightest touch on the reins in a side pull, so why use such a harsh bit?”


Barrel Front and Top Views

I reply first, again this is not a harsh bit if used at the right point in the training of the horse by someone with sufficiently light hands and secondly, this is part of the training process, not the end goal.  This bit is just another tool to help Orion to develop the physical abilities I want him to have and to understand what I am asking him to do with the least amount of input. I have no intention of using the bit exclusively during his continued training nor is it it likely to be the bit we finish with. I just believe it might be the right bit for this point in Orion’s training. Judging by today’s ride, I think I am right. He responded quickly and easily to every request, held his head set and flexation, turned with a thought and stopped with next to no use of the reins. Only time will how long I continue to use this particular bit, but now it seems a good choice.

Thanks everyone for your concern for Orion’s well being. As many of my friend know well, you are unlikely to go broke betting Troy is making the wrong decision.  Way to keep an eye on me. 😉