I’m a huge fan of smooth, ‘soft’, snaffle bits and think that if you cannot control your horse in a snaffle bit then you may consider getting your horse re-trained or even taking more drastic measures ie. Ride a different horse you can control in a snaffle bit.

I have always ridden Baxter in a snaffle, even when he had finished racing and his mouth was like concrete, we rode in a snaffle bit.

I find that Baxter keeps his mouth open and shines his teeth to everyone when I ride, so today I tried a different snaffle bit to see if it would make any improvement to how he holds his mouth.

I swapped to a loose ring, thin, curved sweet iron snaffle bit in comparison to my usual 3 link, curved, medium weight, aurigan (similar to sweet iron) D-snaffle bit.

From this:
To this:

I am yet to work out why Baxter keeps his mouth slightly open, his teeth are up to date (last done in January 2012) and as far as I can tell there is no reason why he holds his mouth open when I ride. I ride with steady, soft hands and the contact on his mouth is now minimal as we have progressed with our training.

I have heard that ex-racehorses like to play with the bit in their mouth, though I still want to get to the bottom of it.

I noticed a little less chewing with the new bit, though still an open mouth. Time will tell if we have much of an improvement. I’ll keep you posted.

Regardless of the shining teeth, I am amazed how much the contact has improved to now, being such a tiny weight in my hand compared to the old days of holding on for dear life and resistance to any movement of the bit.

With our improvement on contact, Baxter is also finally moving forward through his hindquarters, listening to my legs and maintaining roundness with minimal contact on the reins.

I was able to take away the contact altogether in trot and canter and Baxter maintained roundness!!! A huge milestone in our training!

Patience, persistence, consistency and an enthusiasm to learn are the key to our progress.

Images courtesy of Horseland and Bit of Britain