Bit/Training Suggestions

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Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2021
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Fort Worth, Texas
Breezy is running through the bit, it isn’t safe, and I need brakes!

Breezy hangs on and runs through the bit both on the ground and in the cart with his mouth gapping open. At times he does accept the bit and is quiet, just depends on his mood. I don’t think it is my hands as I have never had this problem before with any other horse. He is a 3yo and currently using a French Link Snaffle. I have also unsuccessfully tried a regular snaffle bit too.

Things I have tried:
*see-saw the bit in his mouth
*pull back on the reins, release and repeat
*circles, which I can’t always do depending on the terrain, trees, steep hills
*if I were riding him, I would bump him off the bit by pulling one hand straight up in the air, but I can’t do that in harness

Is this a training issue? If so, how would you correct it?

Is this a bit issue? Would you change his bit? If so, which bit would you try? There are limited mini bits on the market, it would be helpful if you could tell me which store to find the suggested bit. Someone has suggested a twisted snaffle. It is a harsh bit, but if one of you also suggest it then I will try it.

HELP! I need brakes!!!
I'm going to tell you I had exactly the same situation with my donkey and felt like I was doing everything wrong. We're quiet, effective and fair handlers and trainers. Well, my Phillippe would BULLY right through my hands and drag me wherever he felt he wanted to in a mullen or single broken snaffle. I took him to a clinic with some beautiful people who are very familiar with donkeys and mules. Best decision EVER!!

I've ended up putting him in a low, open port (big, fat tongue) slow twist copper liverpool and use it on the longest leverage with the curb chain.

Disclaimer - everything else, including my warmblood stallion, goes in a light snaffle and I'm looking forward to the day I can get Phillippe out of this yucky bit too!

The clinicians had me up the pressure, a lot! When I asked (fairly, politely) for a whoa and he decided to put his head down and pull me, I pulled back, HARD, and asked him to stand again. Think of it as asking with more volume as he wasn't clear on my request to start with. If he stood, I had no pressure. If he pulled, I'd pull again, HARD. By the end of a half hour, I had a little donkey who was in full harness, put to and standing quietly, on a loose rein in the middle of the arena.

I don't LIKE this technique, but I sure do LIKE being safe and knowing I have a tool to use if I need it.

There is no lack of understanding in him in what I'm asking. He understands very well how to give to pressure and what the bit is asking for. This donkey wins showmanship with me!!! But now he has some respect for what's in his mouth too.

I'm not suggesting that this is the be all, end all or that it is 100% guaranteed to work for you, I'm just sharing what I've experienced myself. There's obviously a reason these bits were made and why there's not a lot of restriction when it comes to bits and driving competition...

Regardless, I hope you find a way to communicate with your little dude that he can respect. I have no doubt you'll be as kind and fair as possible.
Thank you so much!!😍😍

Yes! All of my horses I’ve only used an easy snaffle bit on, that’s why I need suggestions. Breezy too knows exactly what I am asking of him. I was wondering how a low port or correction bit would do with him, that’s good info Standards, thank you so much! I will look for one of those bits, do you happen to remember where you got it from? I’ve looked on,, and I can’t find one made for minis.
@Kelly I would definitely change the bit. Is he grabbing it at all? If you would like, I can share my glossary of bits and their uses for different situations from the Boyd Exell clinic. Bits are his the first things he looks at. Practically every lesson session started with changing the bit and the driver immediately had a much improved horse. The difference was instant and very obvious. I took pages of notes on it and you are welcome to have them if you would like.
Yes, I would love to see your notes Edel! Thank you so much, that would be very helpful! Yes, I will be changing out his bit and I’m not opposed to buying a couple of different ones to try on him to see which one works best for him. I wonder if there is a miniature horse bit store, different type of bits seem so hard to find, maybe I am just looking in the wrong places. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I don’t think he is grabbing at it. He just opens his mouth, hangs on it/leans on it, pushes through it and keeps going with his mouth open. Maybe the hanging on it part is him grabbing it? I’m not exactly sure.
I agree with the recommendation for Chrysalis, I have gotten a couple of things from them (including the bit I'm currently using) and they are helpful. Chimacum also has some different bits in mini sizes as does Myler but you have to dig a bit for those and they are PRICEY. It seems like a lot of people recommend the "Glory" or "Victory" style bits as well, that would have been the next thing I tried if the one I have didn't work out - but I don't have the same issue as you. I think some of them might come in a leverage version though which could be an option for you if he doesn't like the regular ported mouthpiece.

One thing I will add is that I know I at least have the tendency to be bothered when the horse opens their mouth, thinking that I am being too harsh (even though I noticed a couple of weeks ago when I was doing groundwork with Rowan in a HALTER that he actually opened his mouth when he got anxious!). So I will tend to sort of involuntarily give a little with my hands when the mouth opens which is the exact wrong thing to do if they are in the process of running through your hands. So...just be a wall and let them run into you. It may feel really harsh in the moment but they HAVE to stop when you ask.

Also - don't feel bad if you get a Liverpool or other leverage bit. These bits are actually often very comfortable for the horse when they aren't engaged and so it's not like they are inherently "nasty" bits. It may be more comfortable for the horse on average to use something that's technically "harsh" but that you only have to use with light pressure or the occasional reminder, vs. having to muscle them around in a bit that is supposedly gentle. Not to mention the safety implications when driving, of a horse that doesn't stop well.
Ok. So first you need to know how a bit works. 3 piece bits are the easiest thing in the mouth. They have no major effect on their direction. It all depends on what type of 3 piece (French link as you are using) and how they work.

The trainers I know, start a driver in a broken bit or (as know) snaffle half cheek bit. Believe it or not they are more severe than others. Since they do a nut cracker in the roof of their mouth and also come down on the lower bar of their mouth when you pull back. The Liverpool will provide 3 different levels of whoa. But it still depends on the mouth piece.

P.S. pulling and see sawing is hard on their mouth and might make the mouth sore. He doesn't know what you are asking. Try bumping the bit not a pull.

Next the trainers I know will move them on to a straight low port. The low port gives the tounge a little room. The stop is solely on the lower bars of the mouth which is the most sensitive. This bit gives relieve to the roof of their mouth but provides a good control. But the control comes with Training in the mind.

Now if your horse is running through the bit yes start with equipment. Does the bridle fit correctly, does the cavason fit correctly, and yes the bit. Time and training helps. If he is young then give him time. if he is older and you don't know his training background it might be impossible to fix but rather you can just control.

I am not a trainer by any means but know how most bits work as we have a tack store and customers have been training me for years.

I know everyone has an opinion so don't attack me if you don't agree.. just add thing to this post to give help. Take it all in and try what you feel comfortable with.


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@Abby P Yes! So I have been a wall to him in the snaffle bit. And then this week I was thinking I was being too harsh and started to give a little more with my hands, of course he still kept his mouth open and didn’t give any. So I will NOT do that anymore and I will continue to be a wall. Good advice! Thanks Abby! It is so AWESOME to have all of y’all to bounce ideas off of!!

That is so true, better to have a bit that works for him than have to “muscle them around in a bit that is supposedly gentle”. I like that way of thinking and it makes complete sense to me, thank you so much!!

I am thinking of this Liverpool bit. Any thoughts?


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@Becmar thanks for the info!! What kind of bits are those in the picture? And how do those work for my situation?

The broken snaffle, I think it is a half check, with the nut cracker effect that you are talking about is what I started him in and isn’t working for him. I know he is young, but I broke him to cart back in October and he has always had this issue. I have been trying to give him time, but I am not feeling safe out on trail. He has always been the kind of horse that I can’t even lounge without a bit in his mouth or I would be grass skiing 🤣 LOL I have always been able to lounge my 1200 pound biggie in just a halter.

No attacking here, I just need help and ideas 😍😍 I know I will get this figured out, it is really good to be able to bounce ideas off of all y’all!!
I am very happy with the low port butterfly. I use it on the longest leverage. Iowa carriage was very helpful. She suggested the french link I was using had too much movement. Dapper Dan is still using french link; I tried using the butterfly on him but he is used to his french link and wasn't happy with a change.
The nutcracker thing is actually a bit (haha) of a myth - it CAN happen but usually only if the horse's head is being held very high or the bit is made wrong. When it's inside their mouth being held there by the bridle, the joint actually bends forward when you pull back on both reins; you'd have to pull almost straight down on the bit rings to have it poke upwards (like when leading a big horse by the bit).

IME it ends up being really personal for the horse what bit they prefer. Some have fatter tongues and might want a bigger port. Some hate pressure on the bars and want everything on the tongue. Some have a really narrow space between the bars and want a thinner bit. Some prefer jointed mouthpieces and things that move around, some prefer a solid mouthpiece or one that is a very specific shape. So unfortunately you may just have to try a bunch and see what works for you!

Kelly, since you mention that Breezy bulls through a halter as well, I'll just tell you that Rowan is extremely responsive to the bit, as in I can easily stop him dead in his tracks from a full-on bolt without putting in much effort at all. However, he was terrible in the halter when I first got him, like he would have happily pulled the cart with his face. 🤣 I had to put in a lot of hours of groundwork to make him feel that the halter was important to him and that I wasn't just going to drag him around by it, he had the option of keeping pressure off the halter for himself. So maybe you have to do the same with the bit, just set it up so that he feels it's important and useful for him to yield to it.
@Abby P i can stop him dead in his tracks as long as I am on the ground, he has a bit in his mouth, I am a complete wall and I hold on tight 🤣🤣

I went ahead and ordered that curved jointed barrel rolled Liverpool that I posted above. I have to start somewhere and it sounds like I will be going through a bunch of bits before I find one that works. I am not opposed to trying different ones on him, I just want to find the right one that works for him. I would still like to see if I can find the one that @Standards Equine mentioned above but I can’t seem to find it in my searches.

Once I get the Liverpool I will post pics and keep y’all updated. I drove him today around the neighborhood and no issues. It seems to be mostly when we are out on trail away from home that he runs through with gapping mouth and when I lounge him. Otherwise he is respectful in halter.

This is so Breezy LOL LOL
Oh and yeah, I compared his mouth to my other two and it seems normal, not too thick or overly thin…. But I’m no mouth expert 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤣🤣
1680531482311.pngfirst this is NOT a driving bit, second there is NO cavason to help hold the mouth closed and keep the bit in place, and third with this bit it could use a chin strap for placement also. Plus bumping the bit for stop is more understandable to the horse unless you have a run away. In which case run aways don't drive they are an accident waiting to happen. I sold one who did it after he flipped the cart and i broke my ankle. It fries their brain for driving. Good luck.
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Sorry it's taken me so long to get back @Kelly. I've been looking for another of the same bit that I bought and I've struck out. I wonder if it was originally a custom bit. I'd purchased it used on ebay. Unfortunately on use #3, the shanks bent out and it's no longer useable or safe. That's what I get for taking a chance on something cheap... However, he's been a DELIGHT to drive!!!!

I want to thank everyone on your thread, in this conversation, who has not come from judgement. I've encountered TWO professionals, one who knows me and my training very well, who have been highly critical to my use of a more "severe" bit on Phillippe. It's so easy to judge when it's not your hands on the lines - being pulled on wherever the animal would like...

I have a second bit coming, again ordered through ebay but this one was not cheap and is brand new. It's a fixed cheek mullen mouth liverpool with a very low arch for tongue relief. Again, it's got long shanks and a curb chain but this one only has a little bit of texturing on the mouth piece. No edges.


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