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Re: snaffles, kimberwicks and curbs

Karen Sullivan wrote:

>>It's amazing what can be done over time with a young horse; to get them to
go nicely in a snaffle, rope halter, or sidepull, even in big, group events.
What bugs me, though, is those that tell you how awful certain bits are, and
all the "nevers", like never use a curb with a running martingale, never use
a Tom Thumb, etc, etc.

I don't believe I called the KW or RM "awful" or said I'd "never" use one
(In fact, I said I'd tried the KW on my own horse and I used to do XC in a

What I did, was state the effect of a KW and RM on a horse's way of going.
And I stand by that assertion.

The problem with advocating the use of a curb bit or a RM over the internet
is that one doesn't know how developed the other person's feel is.  And if
that feel is not sufficiently developed, then the person might erroneously
think that the only effect the KW has is to give the horse "brakes" without
looking at the effect it has on the horse's way of going.   This is both
dangerous and, in the long-term, a step backwards for both.

>I'm sorry, but all horses are different and have different backgrounds.
Nobody has the right to judge what someone is using of their horse, or what
they try!

I'm sorry, I have to disagree.  Firstly, the people asked for advice (and,
by implication, judgement on what they were using), and secondly, if
somebody doesn't point out what the effect of these gadgets / bits are, how
will the user learn?

>>Personally, I dislike the action of a simple snaffle-I do not like the
idea of the joint in the middle-seems like a bad idea, and I cannot tell you
the number of people I see with horses that stick their noses up the air to
avoid that bit.

I agree with you, I prefer double- or multi-jointed snaffles, or mullen

>>A snaffle is a mild bit, and it is lovely to see a well-trained horse
going well in one, with a rider with a light hand....

The snaffle is a mild bit in the right hands....I enjoy watching a
well-trained horse going well with a sympathetic rider, in a snaffle or in a
double bridle.  But then, I judge how well a horse is going by watching its
body, not its head....

>BUT, some horses just to not do well with this in big group situations,
like endurance rides.

Agreed.  And I didn't state that one shouldn't use another bit if the
situation called for it.  However, if you are GOING to use another bit, then
you had better be damn sure that you understand it's action, and that you
can feel what your horse's body is doing in response to that bit.  Because
I've seen riders, in the "excitement of the ride" become totally numb to
what their horse is telling them.

And when you consider that distance horses will have that bit in their
mouths for a lot longer than those doing any other discipline, this becomes
doubly important.  Especially towards the end of the ride, when horse and
rider are tiring.

>I would be happy to hand this mare over to any trainer that claims they can
get her going well in a snaffle, or sidepull or milder bit, and then send
them out on an endurance ride!

My difficulty with your description of your mare is that it sounds to me as
if she has become controllable because of the bit and not because she has
been trained to be obedient in those situations.  I had a horse who was
extremely excited at the beginning of the XC or showjumping, and had to be
jumped in an elevator for a while.  Then he was jumped in a snaffle with a
RM.  But I didn't say "okay, that's the answer".  I regarded each event as
another step towards training him to become more and more obedient, until he
could be compete in a snaffle and cavesson noseband, sans RM.  Not because
I'm a "snaffle purist" but because I regard training as an on-going process,
and dislike the idea of "control" coming from the bit, and not from my horse
being attentive to me.  If I need a curb bit to get his attention, I am
doing something wrong.

>Every horse is different, and every rider approaches things differently.

I agree.  And all I'm stating is my approach to the training process, and
the various "tools" in my toolbox to help in that process.  The most
valuable to me are still groundwork exercises, patient, correct under-saddle
work, and consistent, kind, firm handling.


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