Wednesday, August 3, 2011


OMG I have 50 followers! You guys rock :)

So, to ask my fellow eventers (or anyone else!) out there, I have a teensy problem. I could delve into the whole ginormous story, but I will spare you 7 minutes and just say I am having issues with bitting on XC.

Yankee, as most know, is an OTTB, and is rather retarded in open spaces and jumping outside.

Over the past 6 years, I've tried him in several bits. All french link: 3 ring elevator with and without a curb chain, full cheek snaffle, waterford, D-ring, twisted D-ring and a kimberwick. Most work for a couple weeks, then he gets used to it and does what he always does...

...grabs the bit, leans into it and RUNS. Sticks his nose in the air or tucks it in so far I have no leverage. I don't think this is him misbehaving in an evil way...he just wants to run! Like he was born to do!

The most success I've had is with the 3 ring without the curb chain, but after 4 years he really started just using it to lean on and it didnt work.

I want something with a little bite, but not enough to be harsh. A little leverage, but not as much as a 3 ring, maybe some gag...I just dont know!! I was thinking maybe a gag with a waterford mouth, or a 2-ring with a waterford mouth?

OTTB owners...or any with horses like mine...what works for you!?

Yankee is well trained in that he is very rateable, but when he grabs that bit and holds on, nothing will stop him. I don't know if he really just needs retraining, but HONESTLY, i truly think it is just his breed. He NEVER just settles into his gallop...he fights the entire way and I am EXHAUSTED after a XC run.



  1. I have similar issues. I ran Gatsby in a full cheek snaffle for a long time but I switched to a kimberwick around the same time we moved up to training.

    However, when I moved to my new barn and started working with my current trainer he said he didn't think he needed that. We worked him with the kimberwick for a while retraining him to really respond to my position and aides and I worked on riding him more with my seat and asking him to slow down with my thigh rather than just my hand. Eventually we transitioned back to the full cheek and so far it has been successful. He is still pretty strong on XC and definitely wants to gallop but he's not unmanageable. I do think that if/when we move up to Prelim I might was something a bit stronger.

  2. What about something with nose pressure? A couple horses (all super amped on xc!) I know have done really well in a Myler Cradle bit which has the rope over the nose and a teensy amount of leverage. Or the Myler Combination which comes in two and three-ring versions. Another option is the Mikmar bits.

  3. No real answer about a bit from me. I do not have much experience with bitting. I am only going to offer my .02 cents on the issue at hand. I too have an OTTB. One that not only was bred to race but also raced for many years 9 to be exact and was also very good at racing and won about $350,000. So not only is running in his blood but it is a honed skill. All that to say that we having running problems too. I would say retraining is going to be the best and easiest thing to do to remedy the issue. The thing that I am trying to work on and it is effective is if he starts to run I kick and kick and kick until he is in my hands again. It is counter intuitive for me to kick and keep kicking when I already have a horse running away but it does seem to work better than fighting a bracing horse. Don't know if you already utilize bridging your reins but that is helpful with racers. But bottom line is I was told to go back to baby steps when he gets rushed. To the point of starting with walking a jump coarse then trotting a few strides out right back down to a walk. Lame right? yeah that is what I thought too but if it is what my horse needs then that is what we will do.

  4. I thought about that too but we have already gone from getting ready (like entry in the mail) prelim to falling and failing on a novice xc course....retraining while still working on current levels might work since I do not believ in gimmicks...bits being " gimmicks". Not really but they can be if you rely on them. Problem is, he is just not respecting my aids, body or hands at all....frustrating!

  5. Amber thinks she's a TB in open spaces. Sometimes she also likes to pretend to be a bronco too, then decides she's a nice, easy going QH again when I go work her butt off for it. ;)

    I have no cue though, I have no OTTB experience...

    Amber goes in an eggbutt snaffle, and I took her down from a corkscrew full cheek. I was told she can have a "hard mouth" and could "get fast". Well, they were going about it the wrong way. In truth, she has a very sensitive mouth and she "got fast" because she was trying to avoid that corkscrew. The getting fast has taken some work, because there is a part of her that does simply like to go fast. But generally she responds well to my seat. But that's Amber, and if he's not respecting your aids...

    Honestly, Amber didn't know what my aids were, it wasn't that she was trying to ignore them. So my training was reward-based by correct response to teach her what they meant, and that she would be uncomfortable doing anything but listening to them. Maybe you could try that...make it so it's uncomfortable for him to ignore you.

    Another thing that I used on Amber when she DID know what my aids were and wanted to ignore me and run off was, and it seems counterproductive, but I made her go faster and keep the pace. If she got fast, I made her go faster for longer than she wanted to. It didn't take too long for her to decide she didn't want to get fast with me, and it was easier to just go at the pace I suggested.

  6. My horse sounds exactly like yours! And it took a whole 6 weeks of reintroducing how to be bold and polite on cross country.(Not that long I guess.) Durring an entire xc course she would grab the bit and not listen at all. It was just too much fun for her I guess. It took me a while to find the right bit, the typical 3 ring elevator. And I use it on the 2nd ring. Now she is great xc and is very rideable and fun! But along with the new bit I decided to also start from scratch on xc. Starting with baby jumps up to normal (Training). With lots of canter work. I don't know if it will work for you, but it sure worked for me! :D

  7. Oh, the bit question. Well, this is coming from a track person, but you can't always blame the horses mouth by saying 'it's an ottb', meaning it has a bad mouth. Yes, I know some barns that have bad riders, but I know some barns that have good riders, i'd like to think i'm one of them, coniering my horses retire and go stright to showing. All mine are broke in an egg butt snaffle. They race in a snaffle. Even the toughest of pullers go in a snaffle. I never know how to answer the bit question, I ride my dressage horses in a loose ring, most my hunt horses in a D ring, and for the ones that need just that little bit of help, the full cheek. But they are all plain snaffles, and they are all ottbs. Even the ones I didn't break out and gallop I ride in a snaffle.

    I will say this though, if you have to go to anything, the 3 ring rocks! hehe

    And congrtas on 50!!!! I hope I get there someday :)

  8. YAY FOR 50!!!

    While I've never worked with OTTBs, Greta likes to rush jumps. So I figured I would nip in the bud while we're still learning crossrails. It's partly my fault because my form is still quite noobish, and she also just gets excited about jumping. My trainer told me what she has always been telling me when we learn new things, and that was to "exaggerate everything". We walked up to a few paces before the jump, maybe stop, and then trotted over it. She learned half-halts (not just for dressage, as I'm sure you know!) by completely going down a gait for a couple of steps and then back up. I applied the same concept to galloping, also adding in all kinds of large circles and such so she had to constantly focus on me. I had to be unpredictable, which works with a pleaser like Greta. If we gallop, I "check" on her every now and then by giving the starting aids to make a large circle or a half-halt, so she is constantly paying attention to me and does not get so much into the run that she runs away. I pick a pace and then start "checking" from there. I agree with you on bits, while they can be useful, they can very easily and frequently turn into "gimmicks" as well and cause even more problems haha!

    I'm surprised a figure 8 has not worked to keep him from grabbing the bit. Maybe it doesn't work they way I thought they worked.

  9. Congrats on fifty followers!!

    I don't have a lot of OTTB/bit knowledge, but I agree with what some of the others are saying. I think retraining is the best option. Using harsher bits (I know the ones you're using aren't harsh, I just couldn't think of a different word) doesn't solve the problem it just teaches him to ignore more discomfort to get what he wants. Sorry it's probably not what you want to hear. I hope you can figure it all out.

  10. When I used to retrain OTTBs, many were trained to lean on the bit. So when you pull... THEY pull more and go faster. That is how they are trained on the track to run. There were many a horse that I couldn't stop or slow because 'slow down' just meant 'grab the bit and run!'

    I don't think he needs a different bit, I think he needs to be re-educated to galloping. I would put him in a decent bit (not super mild, just something that can get his attention), and work him out in spaces, maybe with little x-rails. When he grabs and runs or when ever he doesn't listen to the slow down cue, park his butt. If you can pull back to stop him, circle him tight until you can get enough control to stop him. Obviously don't be harsh, but he needs to learn that pulling doesn't mean running (it also doesn't mean ignoring you). It means he MUST listen, and if you stop him (and stop all his fun!) he will be more apt to listen to you.

    I never took the OTTBs on cross country courses, but did take them over baby jumps and out in wide open fields only a week or two after them being off the track, so take my advice for what it's worth!! lol

  11. 'If you *can't* pull back to stop him'

    I love when I make stupid typos... :P

  12. I've actually done that before dressageinjeans, he just gets worse. Rearing, skittering, going sideways....almost dangerous sometimes. He just wants to run too badly, thus my issue. I have literally done everything I can think of, but he just gets progressively worse and works himself into a lather.
    I feel like the only thing I haven't tried is what ambers mom said, LET him run. And keep running. Because forcing him to stop that freight train only makes him more frantic and retarded...ugh :/
    I will be doing some sort of retraining this winter though, sometimes I just get so frustrated because he never gets tired and is the hyperest horse to gallop...just.never.settles. That's all I want!

  13. Omg i had the same problem until i got this It is amazing! my horse is an appendix mare but she acts like a total tb and she likes to grab and run on xc too and i tried all the bits you mentioned and more. Then my friend told me about the myler hacamore! it uses bit pressure and applies pressure to the nose and it honestly works so so so SO well! i cannot say enough good things about this bit! You should def try this thing!

  14. OMG this is exactly what I was thinking after much research! Except, I cant afford a $140 biy so I am going with the off-brand Bit-of-Britian bit :)

  15. yeah i have the same one i wasnt gonna shell out 140 for a bit lol! i think you can get them on ebay too (i know of your obsession lol) thats where my friend got hers for 75