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bitting questions

Ok, I have just started riding my 4 yr old gelding.  A little history, prior
to me sending him to a trainer, I was riding him in very controlled
situations, but noticed that he would not really listen to the bit and kept
stretching his head to the ground.

I don't know enough about green horses to know if he was confused, evading
the bit, the bit didn't fit, was just being his goofball mouthy
neck-stretchy self or whatever.  I didn't fight him since I didn't want to
mess up his mouth not knowing what I was doing.

The trainer didn't notice any of that behavior.  I was using a fat eggbutt
snaffle and the trainer was using a full cheek snaffle.  The trainer worked
him in 2 environments - round pen and on trail.  I have found that the horse
goes beautifully on the trail and is getting much better in the arena.  But
he acts very confused in an open field with no trail.  He sticks his head up
in the air, down to the ground and just kind of fights me - and seems
nervous too.

The problem is most evident at a canter - head goes down with a little
crow-hopping.  It doesn't happen all the time - sometimes we canter quite a
distance very smoothly.

I have ridden him with a bitless bridle and he goes pretty well.  But as
he's gaining confidence, he's starting to resist me and want to have more
control over our speed.  So as he's started acting up a bit, I've been less
confident about going bitless.

I had his teeth checked in the spring, but haven't had them checked since,
so I can't rule out issues there until I get the dentist out.  But there
were no issues at the time and he has had his wolf teeth out.  I have no
idea what to look at to determine if there might be teeth issues, nor how to
look at a horses mouth to determine what kind of bits might work.

I've heard that there might be some good books out there, and I'd like to
know what they are.  But I'd also like to know if there are any immediate
things I can check to help determine the best bit.  I don't want to just
experiment without any thought.

The other bits I have available are a skinnier full cheek snaffle, a 3 piece
snaffle with a flat round center piece, a kimberwicke, and another 3 piece
with a round cylinder shape as the center but it's pretty skinny.  I
probably have a curb around somewhere that came with a bridle, but it's
cheap and light and I know nothing about curbs and really wouldn't think
that was something appropriate to a young horse anyhow.

I appreciate any ideas and I will be sticking to the arena until we have a
direction that seems to make sense.


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