Question: I’m a little confused about the timing for changing bits. I have been using an O ring snaffle for almost 2 years. My gelding is 5. He knows basic stuff – stop, forward, turns and I can ride him on the road and trails. I may want to show him some day and I know I can’t ride him in a snaffle for western. How do I transition into a harder bit? When do I do that?
Answer from April Reeves: Thanks for the good question. I suspect lots of riders are at this crossroad.
If you never plan to show your horse, I see no real reason to move into any bit with shanks.
Question: I just recently bought a 5 year old buckskin mare. All she has ever known is a hackamore and i tried to use a combo hackamore with snaffle but she puts her tongue over the bit. I have tried to let her graze with it and also tightened it up on her. She still figures out a way to put her tongue over it. I know the saying if it works why change it but my purpose for this horse is to make it into a barrel and pole bending horse for my daughter and i want her to have control.
Answer by April Reeves: This is a problem you don’t want to turn into a habit, so if you are still trying to bit her, stop right away. We need to look at a few possible problems first and then rule them out. If she is allowed to put her tongue over for too long a time, it will become a habit that may be very hard to break.
Question: We just bought a 6 year old gelding that is really gentle but won’t take a bit. We tried a split and a straight bit but he slings his head everywhere and dances his feet. Please help we have know idea what to do next. It really tires us out trying to fight with him.
April Reeves, Clinician, Instructor and Trainer
Answer from April Reeves: The first thing I do when examining a problem is to look for the source. A horse that dances around when you are trying to do anything is doing so out of fear or conditioned response. With fear, the horse will always defend himself (rearing, striking), but your horse sounds as if he is typical of the latter.