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Saw this at horse show last weekend

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RMH

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I have thought alot about whether I should even bring this up, but I need to know how many other people have seen this and how they feel about it.

At an AMHR show last weekend, I saw horses under harness that had rope cord in their mouths being used as an overcheck/sidecheck bit. It looked to be about a quarter inch thick (didn't get up close and look because I didn't want to cause any problems at the show). I was told at the show that this is considered legal and saw a horse with this "bit" place first in a class.

My concern is why rope cord is being considered an acceptable overcheck/sidecheck bit, and the effects of being driven with this "bit" on the horse.

The AMHR 2005 Rule Book, under the Pleasure and Country Pleasure driving sections, states

Check bits may be used but are not required.
I have always considered a bit to be made of metal or rubber (like the Happy Mouth bits). When did we start considering rope to be a bit?

As far as the horse goes, I cannot see how this rope cord "bit" attached to the overcheck or sidecheck can be humane. I realize that a separate bit can be used for the overcheck/sidecheck. I also know that there are a number of minis with small mouths that cannot hold both bits. But, a small diameter cord doesn't seem like a good solution. A rope can cause chafing and burns, especially if used on a horse that fusses with the overcheck/sidecheck alot or is checked tightly. Since the rope cord does not have a definate shape, like a traditional bit does, when the horse pulls on the overcheck/sidecheck, the "bit" pulls in on the upper lips and creates a squeezing effect on the upper jaw. In theory, this effect and pulling on the lips should be relieved when the horse relaxes the tension on the overcheck/sidecheck, but from what I saw it didn't happen.

I know there are many things done to horses that not everyone would agree is painfree or humane. But even AMHR tries to reduce their use at shows with rules, like the ones against using action devices on show grounds. I feel the use of the rope cord as an overcheck/sidecheck bit may fall in the same catergory.

I want to know how others feel about this. Has anyone else noticed this at shows they have gone to? Do you feel it should be allowed? If you use this type of "bit" or support its use, I would like to hear why. I am not trying to attack anyone here, I just want to get both sides of the issue.
 

nootka

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I have not noticed it....It does not sound as if it should be allowed.

Could you pm me about it?

Liz M.
 

disneyhorse

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I have seen this too... at Nationals nonetheless... I do not like separate check bits to begin with (either on side or overchecks) so I guess that doesn't help. Miniature mouths are just too small to fit two bits comfortably in my opinion.

Yes, I would agree that the cord is more severe... I'm not sure if it's allowed or not... you should just bring it up to your Steward and see what they say. It does not require a $50 complaint deposit to ask a question like that... I have questioned some "things" like that to the Steward at our AMHR shows locally here and they just go over to the exhibitor in question and set the record straight for them


Andrea
 

Fred

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I have used a shoestring check on my horse and it is less severe than a bit, if you know how to use it. It is for a horse that does not need much of a check. Plus my mare has a 3 inch mouth, that would be just too much metal in her mouth. Linda B PS She has a very soft mouth and if it was too harsh she would be up and over.
 
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maryann

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I am confused. Is this used as a second "bit" attached to the over or side check.? What purpose does it serve?I don't know that much about driving but our harness over check is attached to the metal bit. Would the rope cause the horse to check up easier or just make it more lax on his mouth??
 

hhpminis

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I have never personally used this method but have harnessed a horse that had this device. I know that the horse accepted it and did not fight it at all. What it did do is make him aware of his overcheck so he did not pull so hard on it.

I have seen metal bits in horses mouths that are extremely severe and no one is the wiser unless they see it come out of the mouth. Many years ago I acquired an older mare that had driven for years in AMHA with a very severe, illegal bit. I changed her over to a snaffle myler bit and she was very controllable and never gave me reason to believe she would have ever needed the bit she came with. She was 17 when I got her and had driven for many many years with that bit.

But, in answer to your question, yes it is legal.
 

Buckskin gal

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Thanks for bringing this up for I wold like to know more about it also. Hope someone in the "know" will tell us why this would be done. Mary
 

willowoodstables

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Ok...

I use this type of bit as a CHECK bit only. It is soft cotton that is attached to 2 key rings so it "look" like a check bit. A CHECK BIT SHOULD BE DECORATION. If the horse needs it to hold up his head, rope ain't gonna cut it..you would see hardware (as in steel etc). Proper harness horses should wear a "proper" looking harness. The check rein SHOULD NOT BE ATTACHED TO DRIVING BIT. How is the horse supposed to steer if he drops his head and you are pulling back on the lines?

I have used this type of check for 25+ years and trust me, it is a whole lot nicer in the mouth than a pile of metal. The person that was using this check probably USES IT AS DECORATION. If the horse did drop it's head into the check bit (rope) it probably would break. Rope gets really soft when it is wet, and trust me, I have had many break just from "old age".

A lip rope is another whole story (like a war bridle) that I have seen on some harness horses because the driver couldn't hold them..cruel cruel. IMHO. I have seen some check bits that would curl your toes. I have seen some driving bits that would give you nightmares. My plain latex wrapped half-cheek and "fake" check bit are a site better IMHO.

Kim
 

Margo_C-T

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This is something I have yet to see at a show-but then, nothing much that humans think up to do to horses 'surprises' me anymore.

Kim(willowood), are you saying that the sole purpose of a "rope" check such as you describe is to fulfill the rulebook requirement that either an over-, or a side-check be used? If so, then it seems to me just one more argument AGAINST the pointless(IMO) requirement that a check be used, in the rulebooks...

A couple of other points--tying a "soft cotton" cord to a couple of rings would create a different, and almost surely, MILDER device than would having a loop of cord/rope, as such a loop would indeed act as the original poster described, I would think;on the other hand, tying a cord/rope to rings is going to create a couple of knots-and no matter how you tie them, they will be larger/rougher in surface than the cord/rope itself-just doesn't sound like a big improvement over a mild, light, well-constricted check bit, to me....?However, I DO believe that since the action of a check is mostly "straight up" towards the horse's poll, that a big potential for abrasive action on the corners of the horse's mouth exists with the use of ANY rope/cord used as a check "bit"-as opposed to that of a properly constructed, lightweight,check bit(I have one check bit, given to me when I bought several other bits from someone getting out of minis-have never used it,and likely, never will-however, it IS a well-constructed one-a slender ,lightweight,mullen mouth. )As a check bit properly sits above the 'regular'bit, I honestly don't see a properly-made one creating a "mouthful of metal". Also- it has always been my understanding that a check bit is for use with an overcheck, NOT with a sidecheck.

That said-I don't believe in having to use checks, nor in check bits. I would be interested in a further explanation of the precise reasons why one should 'never' attach the check to the driving bit. Now, I'm well-aware that it isn't considered "correct" among drivers of high-action horses(Saddlebreds, Hackneys, some Morgans, come to mind...)-but is this only because it has become "traditional" there? Or, because, as Kim has intimated, there is a potential for use of instruments of torture(my interpretation of what she suggested)in the horse's mouth? For those of us who have had to comply with the "must-have-a-check"requirement in driving minis, a reasonably loosely(it can't be TOO loose, or it is dangerous in other ways!)attached over-,or even better, side-check, snapped into the top of the driving bit ring, has proven the best compromise-and I have never noted a lack of steering or other control(this presumes the driver has good hands and knows what they are doing, I concede.)
 

willowoodstables

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Kim(willowood), are you saying that the sole purpose of a "rope" check such as you describe is to fulfill the rulebook requirement that either an over-, or a side-check be used? If so, then it seems to me just one more argument AGAINST the pointless(IMO) requirement that a check be used, in the rulebooks...
Bingo Margo..really they are not necessary. I can "lift" a horse's head with a couple wiggles of my fingers on the driving bit. If you have a horse that want's to put his nose down on the ground and kick etc then get him back to the ground work basis


on the other hand, tying a cord/rope to rings is going to create a couple of knots-and no matter how you tie them, they will be larger/rougher in surface than the cord/rope itself-just doesn't sound like a big improvement over a mild, light, well-constricted check bit, to me.
Actually.. it is a 3.5 inch long rope, not thin (that will cut for sure if too thin), and using heavy waxed thread you actually bend each end over the ring and then wrap the waxed thread a couple times to keep it there. Hard to explain but there are no knots..the check bit below is an example of it..I make it a little long to avoid pinching etc. It may be a little dark..



Also- it has always been my understanding that a check bit is for use with an overcheck, NOT with a sidecheck.
Hehe,..I thought the check bit was for any type of check rein.


But I agree..the check is just a decoration..so why have one??? If the horse needs that to hold up his head, then he is not going to be any prettier in harness with him "laying" into the check. Eek that is the most awful picture..a horse lugging itself around the arena with the ears back and the lips all pinched and the backpad lifted an inch off it's back because it is just hanging there off that check rein. I've seen them pop cruppers they have leaned so hard...

Or, because, as Kim has intimated, there is a potential for use of instruments of torture(my interpretation of what she suggested)in the horse's mouth
Heavens yes..can you imagine someone either inexperienced or just plain (fill in the blank) thinks the horse needs it's head higher and uses a mule type bit, or twisted Dr. Bristol, or wire wrapped etc etc etc??? Talk about ripped mouths/tongues. Poor Black Beauty said it all..it's only for the sake of fashion we have checks IMHO. We the breeder are breeding better necks on ANY breed of horse which makes the natural high headed horse so much prettier!!!

Kim
 

RMH

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I am glad to see both sides are being posted here.

Kim, what diameter do you use for your rope? And what type of rope? Is it one designed to have less risk of abrasion or burning?

I also saw the horse HHP spoke of, and that particular horse did seem to handle it well. But I have also seen one where the check was tight and the rope was constantly pulling up on the mouth. That horse seemed uncomfortable and unhappy.

There are many bits out there that can be used to cause pain in the wrong hands, or by someone intending to cause discomfort. Again, as HHP said, you can't tell unless the bit is out of the horse's mouth. But, this check is definately visible, and I am concerned that novice drivers may see this as a short cut to a desirable head carriage and use it incorrectly. Maybe what is needed is some education in its use, as with any peice of tack. I have not been able to find them for sale when I searched the net, so I don't think it is a very accesible item.
 

wildoak

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Interesting discussion. I have not seen rope or cord used as a check, but then haven't been looking for it. I have looked for an overcheck bit and not found a great variety- what I'm looking for is one with slightly offset rings, looks to me much more comfortable in the horse's mouth than a regular snaffle appearance.

Jan
 

willowoodstables

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RMH..

It is specifically "boat" rope, as in I get it at the Chandlery (boat store). It is very soft cotton that is braided. It is about half the size of my little finger (actually the size of my mouse cord). There is no nylon or rayon in it so it doesn't burn. the "chrome" rings are nice smooth key rings. I get in various diameters for various uses. A little thicker for my long lines, a little narrower for tieing stuff up in the barn etc. Love the stuff....

But you are right, it is not the bit that makes the horse or head. It is the natural ability of the horse and the talent of the proper trainer. Education comes free in the horse business if you ask the right people. But I agree sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous.

Kim
 

Margo_C-T

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To revisit this discussion---Kim, I understand your description of how the "mouthpiece" is assembled into your "rope"bits. I would bet that such items are mostly, if not always, "homemade", and therefore no surprise that one wouldn't find them available for sale...

I very much agree that checks are unnecessary-,and, that it is the trainer/driver's skill, knowledge, good hands and kind but firm training techniques, as well as the horse's natural conformation and bred-in movement, which should shape the "finished product"-a horse that goes in style, but is happy and comfortable in its job!(AND, that going 'back to the basics' in any training issue can never hurt-IF the basics are correctly implemented.) I have seen and heard it stated, by serious and lifelong driving people, that the check(as clearly described in"Black Beauty"-
)was for "looks"-"fashionable", if you will-and NOT of any benefit to the horse.(A moderate exception might be to prevent unwanted attempts to graze while hitched-I have a horse or two that I DO use a MODERATELY-it does NOT need to be tight!-adjusted side check on when driving out in the "real world", to prevent trying to graze the moment we stop-otherwise, I drive without a check.)

It is my position that it is time(in fact, PAST time!)that the miniature registries "grow up", and recognize that it is 'behind the times' to REQUIRE checks when showing(perhaps the same might be true of other breed registries??) Also, for the horses' benefit, perhaps it is also time for dropping the bit(s)to be a part of 'keeping' a class placing, at least at National level shows....am reasonably sure this is often done in other organizations, to help guard against abuse.

It would be interesting to me to know the position of either miniature horse registry on what constitutes a "bit"-not sure I would consider a piece of rope/cord a "bit",by accepted definition....???
 

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