Leverage Bits- Lift me ups part 3 March 30, 2015 07:30

3 & 4 Rings

3 & 4 Rings are great for horses that like to put their head down and pull you and your hand down with them while they have their way with you. They are also great for horses that are built downhill. These bits should be used with two reins: one rein on the snaffle ring and one on the middle or lower ring. When used with two reins the rider is able to access more leverage and control when necessary. Depending on the curb ring you choose to use, the bit will have more or less leverage. The lower the ring from the mouth, the more leverage.


Gag bits look similar to a snaffle but have additional horizontal rings built into the top and bottom of each bit ring. Gag rounds (rope or leather) are passed through the gag holes then passed through a stainless steel ring, which is looped back through the rope and to which the rein is attached. Leather gag rounds are often dismantled via the buckle instead of the rein loop with a screw eye type fixture. When the rider pulls the reins, the bit activates by rotating and traveling up the gag rounds putting pressure on the horse’s poll and the sides of the mouth. This action causes the horse to lift and bend at the poll simultaneously. Gags should be used with two reins, the main reins on the snaffle and the curb rein on the gag round ring used only when necessary. Riders often use gags with only one rein. This works for many rider and horse combinations but often you see an over bent horse because of too much gag, not enough leg or a combination of both.



Leverage Bits- Lift me ups part 2 March 23, 2015 07:52

Swales Pelham

Experienced riders should use the Swales Pelham on strong horses. This bit is not recommended for less advanced riders. The Swales Pelham is a great bit in the correct rider’s hands. This bit actually lifts the horse’s head instead of putting pressure on the poll like regular Pelhams. This bit provides this action because the bit rings are connected and move along the mouthpiece. When the bit is activated, it pulls up and puts pressure on the curb chain thus lifting the horse’s head. Swales Pelhams usually have a low port on their mouthpiece. This small port makes room for the horse’s tongue. This bit is very effective in the Equitation division as well as for a strong horse in the jumper division.




Universal Bit (called many different names such as a two ring or a three ring)

This is a great bit with a hefty price tag. Before disqualifying it based purely on price lets go over its uses. It is unbelievably versatile because it has many rein configuration options (four options). It can be used as a Loose Ring with one rein, a Pelham with two reins, as a Gag or as a Pelham with converters. This bit can also be used with a curb strap or chain. It is a strong bit but at the same time a kind, soft bit. This bit is gentle but offers control when needed. Horses generally accept this bit and yield to it. 



Leverage Bits- Lift me ups part 1 March 9, 2015 07:31


The Pelham applies pressure to the poll, which encourages the horse to bend into a frame. When used with two reins, Pelhams have leverage. The longer the shank of a Pelham, the more strong and severe the bit. Pelhams are available in many lengths. The Pelham with the shortest shank (about four inches) is known as a Tom Thumb or a Baby Pelham. The longer shanks are usually five to six inches in length. The Pelham also applies pressure to the horse’s lower jaw in their curb groves and the mouth.

The Pelham works well with either one or two reins. Many would argue this bit should only be used with two reins but it would be very dangerous to make an inexperienced rider use two reins if they were not comfortable doing so. Pelham straps, otherwise known as Pelham convertors, have been used successfully by both professional and beginner riders for several years. When activated the top rein works similar to a snaffle by applying pressure to the horse’s mouth (differently depending on the mouth-piece of the Pelham). The lower rein, when activated, rotates and applies downward pressure.


Kimberwicke also called Kimblewicke

The Kimberwicke works similar to a Pelham but is significantly less severe. The Kimberwicke’s cheek is shaped like a Dee bit but with slots in the cheeks. The slots put the reins in a fixed position so they cannot move around the bit ring. When the reins are fixed, they engage the curb action of the bit. If the cheek slots of the curb rein were not used to fix the rein, the Kimberwicke would work as a Dee Snaffle. 


Weymouth Sets (Double Bridles)

Weymouth Sets should only be used by advanced riders and on horses that have been trained to understand a simple snaffle bit and a Pelham. Using a double bridle allows you to get extremely clear reins instructions to your horse because you are able to give directions using two bits. This bit set gives an advanced rider the tools to engage their horse’s entire body, especially the horse’s back end.

The Bradoon bit is fixed to your top rein. The Bradoon acts as a snaffle by applying pressure to the mouth, tongue and bars (depending on which type of Bradoon you use). The Bradoon gives your horse a lift but does not give your horse directions to bend into a frame or to stop.

Your Curb rein (bottom rein) is attached to the Weymouth bit. The Weymouth, when activated, applies pressure to the horse’s poll, encouraging the horse to lower their head into a frame. The Weymouth is also used to stop and slow the horse. The Weymouth also applies pressure to the lower jaw (chin groves) by activating the curb chain. The Weymouth should fit your horse’s mouth snuggly. The Bradoon will be slightly wider (by a quarter inch) than the Weymouth.



Curb Chains and Curb Straps

If a steel curb chain is too much pressure for your horse and your horse starts backing off, try wrapping the curb chain. There are many curb chain pads on the market such as gel or memory foam pads. To wrap the curb chain more economically, you can cut cotton gauze (Gamgee), wrap it around the middle of your curb chain and cover this with black vet wrap. You can also try using different curb chains; they are available in leather, nylon and elastic, etc.


The curb chain must be smooth, flat and adjusted correctly for the Pelham to work properly. Pelham and Weymouth bits often have a small lip strap ring above the curb ring.  The lip strap is a small leather strap, which prevents the horse from grabbing the shank of the bit with his lips. A lip strap is not usually necessary for most Pelham bits. The lip strap is useful when using a Weymouth set.


*Curb Chain details apply to the three types of bits described above: The Pelham, The Kimberwicke and Weymouth Sets Although they weren’t mentioned in the sections about these bits.