Sample Our Newsletter From "Snaffle Bits vs Shank or Leverage Bits," Issue 2, part 2 of our FREE monthly newsletter
Re: types of horse bits
The leverage (or shanked) bit doesn't give me any more control than any other bit. If I have to pull 5 pounds to stop my horse on that bit, I still have to put 5 pounds on this bit. Except I'm only pulling about a pound's worth, because a pound from me feels like ten down there because of the leverage this bit creates. It makes me feel like I have more control. It makes me feel like the horse is softer and more responsive, but pretty soon the horse will start pulling on this bit, if I allow him to, just like he does on the snaffle bit.
"A leverage bit will allow me to teach him to keep his head straight and break at the poll - but that's about all I'm going to be doing. I do use a leverage bit, if I want to work on keeping horse's head in position or to keep him square between the reins. But while the bit might be keeping his head correct, it's my body, my seat that's telling him where to go. For instance, if I were riding toward you and I tell the horse to take his hips to the left and his shoulders to the right or the left, then it's my body that's telling the horse how to move, not the bit. The bit is just keeping him "in frame."
"The reason then that I don't train in a curb or leverage bit is...
A good bit fits your horse's mouth and facilitates a productive "riding dialogue" between you and your horse. But there are so many types and styles of bits available that making a selection can be a daunting task, particularly if you don't know what to look for.
Jessica Jahiel demystifies the bit-selection process by emphasizing that the best bit is the mildest one suitable for the horse and the job. She then discusses conformation of the horse's head and mouth, how a bit works, bit types and materials, quality, price, and accessories. She explains how to position a bit in a horse's mouth and the best way to handle the bit when riding. With proper bit selection and the "good hands" that come with experience, you will soon find that communication with your horse - and, thus, your ride - is vastly improved.
JESSICA JAHIEL is a noted clinician, lecturer, and author whose Holistic Horsemanship training method seeks to develop balanced, willing, forward horses and thoughtful, tactful riders. Jahiel conducts international clinics and seminars on topics ranging from horse management to hands-on horse care.
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