Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back to the KK Bit

At one time I used to have a huge collection of bits - I was a bit junkie. Now that I pretty much only ride in snaffles, and in snaffles with smooth mouthpieces or at most a roller, a lot of those bits are gone - the ones I wouldn't want anyone using on a horse went in the trash and the others were passed on or sold. But I still have a pretty extensive collection.

I've found that horses often have very strong preferences for one type of bit over another. When I first got Maisie, she made it clear that she hated a single-jointed snaffle - I think her mouth is shaped in a way which means that a single joint is just uncomfortable, even when used correctly. For a long time I rode her in a KK Ultra - the double joint seemed to make her very comfortable:

In a search for more precision, and to help her with her softening work, we've been working for a while in the Rockin' S snaffle - it hangs in a fixed position and Maisie's softening work progressed well:


But since it's a single-jointed bit, I think we may have reached the limits of what the Rockin' S could do for us - lately Maisie tends to want to avoid contact with the bit, and will even suck back or curl up, particularly if she really wants to move forward. This results in her hindquarters coming up and losing engagement, which throws her on the forehand - even though she's not lugging on the bit.

So today we switched back into the KK Ultra full cheek. She did a lot of chewing and mouthing - this bit really moves around a lot, which is both a strength and weakness, depending on the horse and situation. There was a lot more horse in my hand, and some occasional pushing against the bit. Oddly enough, I was happy with this - I think she was somewhat afraid of the Rockin' S due to its single joint - and if she can take up some contact comfortably in the KK, I think the curling up evasion should disappear. In fact on the trail today, when she started to get a bit antsy - this is when she would suck back from the Rockin' S - I could take up some contact and use a bit of leg to ask her to soften and relax, and that worked pretty well.

When I first got Maisie, she only knew how to move around on the forehand, treating the bit as a "fifth leg". This was both a matter of training (or lack thereof) and also some soundness issues that had to be fixed. Maisie now is able physically to engage behind, and knows how to do this. So strangely enough, I want more horse in my hand rather than less at this point, in order to be able to have a connection through the bit. We'll have to see how that goes, but signs are encouraging.

11 comments:

  1. Bits... I find confusing... very confusing. Currently Bonnie is in an Frenc-link egg butt snaffle - but I think it's time for a thinner type. She's now not afraid of the contact now and is engaging nicely off the hind.

    Rosie I have in a egg butt single joint snaffle. Talk about a lot of horse in my hands LOL ! I'd like to try her with a french link too, but draft size bits are expensive.

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  2. Both my Thoroughbreds go best in the KK mouthpiece, but I use eggbutt rings because the bit moves around a lot less.

    Having a "lot of horse" in your hand is fine as long as it is active horse and not a stiff board. Good contact usually means the horse is working from behind to the bit.

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  3. Bit's are a science of their own, and I also find them confusing. Hoping to learn more, any suggestions?

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  4. Have you ever tried a double-jointed boucher on her? The boucher is very similar to that Rockin S bit, in that is hangs in a fixed position in the horse's mouth and is very stable.
    I found that Salem went the best on a Happy Mouth double-jointed boucher -- great bit! I also tried him in a Stubben double-jointed copper mouth boucher (which is similair to a KK), but he wasn't such a fan, so back to the HM we went. He responded very well to that bit.

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  5. I have several KK ultras and am currently riding 2 of my 3 in some version of the KK ultra, I find that many horses seem to like them. I do wish they were cheaper though!

    As Frizzle mentioned I have a boucher as well and had good success with is on a couple of horses.

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  6. This is an area I have just enough knowledge to be completely at a loss. I'm hoping to learn more this week about what bit might work best with Cibolo. He noses out a good deal and I'm not confident the bit I have him in is the right one.

    It's a solid bit and can be too much, I think...

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  7. I haven't tried very many different bits with Panama, so it's always interesting to hear what other people have to say -- and what their horses prefer. Panama started out with a flexible rubber bit -- just a rubber bar through his mouth, essentially -- but I went to a loose ring snaffle when he stopped responding as well to the training bit. It also turned out that it was too thick for his little mouth -- he preferred the thinner snaffle much more. I also have a eggbutt snaffle that is more curved, but we haven't ridden in that one as much. He seems to really like the loose ring snaffle -- he will even grab for it when I go to give it to him -- so it seems like I shouldn't mess with what works.

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  8. If I remember correctly you did a post on bits a long time ago. I find the subject of bits both fascinating and confusing. Each horse is different and each bit works differently. There are so many variables.

    Apache used to ride in a Tom Thumb and I was told he reared with it, so she was strapped into a tie down instead or finding out that she was in desperate need of a float for hooks that were over an inch long in the front of her mouth.

    She could probably be ridden in a single jointed snaffle now, but I chose to go with the French Link snaffle instead (double jointed of course) but with a D-Ring.
    She went well in the double jointed bit with short shanks at my friend's house and was very easy to 'steer', but I've noticed with the D-Ring she's heavier and her breaks aren't so great.
    Now I'm wondering if I should have looked around more for a double jointed bit with little shanks?

    Bits....so confusing.

    Thanks for sharing the story about how you're working to find the right bit for Maisie.

    ~Lisa

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  9. Sounds like the KK bit is a comfortable one for both you and Maisie. I wiould suggest ,if its not broke ,don't fix it

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  10. Have your tried a pinchless? Like this? http://www.horsetackinternational.com/Robart-pinchless-full-cheek-snaffle-bit.html?zenid=97e5afc90e52697b99017aa4c515907c
    It has the center that rotates. My trainer has some and they are really interesting, may be she would feel more comfortable.

    I have also used a boucher and really like it. I use it with my big girl.

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  11. Loved seeing the bits and reading the discussion. Most of the horses I ride can be ridden in any of the basic snaffles, but prefer the KK lozenge jointed in some form, whether loose ring or full check.

    I've always been leery of loose rings, because of the potential for pinching. A mistaken idea, as it turns out. I have a Sprenger loose ring KK Ultra, and not only are there zero pinching issues, I feel like I have custom steering. I talked to a bit buyer for a retail store, and she said the loose ring bits tend to encourage the horse to "choose" to carry the bit: they feel they have some say in how the bit lays in their mouth, and reach for it, a boon for sending the horse forward into contact. That said, not all loose rings are the same, and some do pinch.

    I'd been using an appropriately fitted eggbutt D ring snaffle, or eggbutt D ring french link snaffle. I find the jointed mouth pieces gives me so much more subtlety in communication.

    Still have the other bits, but most of the horses I get to use my own bridle on definitely prefer the loose ring that looks like your full cheek.

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