Choosing a bit for a young, green horse can be challenging. Below, our Team Rider Sanna has written an insight into her way of thinking when the time comes for her to start a youngster under the saddle.
The most important thing when starting a youngster under saddle and introducing the bit is to ensure the horse has a pleasurable experience. The horse will then grow to be trusting of the bit and appreciate it’s presence without over complicating matters and over-facing them.
John Baby Fulmer and Gustav Baby Fulmer are two bits which are ideal to start the process. They have a Sweet Iron coating which creates a sweet taste in the mouth, encouraging the horse to accept and trust the bit whilst learning to seek out the contact in the hand. The smooth joints create even pressure in the mouth, ensuring that the horse feels comfortable. The Baby Fulmer Shanks create a similar pressure on the side of the face to that of a halter and can assist with steering. They stabilize the bit, ensuring it lies still in the mouth.
I prefer to begin the process with a jointed bit, allowing the horse to find their own balance. If you start with a straight bit or a locking bit, the horse can learn to find its balance in the hand, instead of finding their own natural balance.
These bits are ideal to give horses a great start and promote trust and acceptance of the bit very well. Once horses have been ridden and educated in these bits for a period of time, you may reach a point where you feel that you need something more from the bit.
If you have a horse who requires more contact and stability, then Fager Martin, Anna or Billy are good choices They feature a locking mechanism which locks to create a straight mouthpiece which creates even more stability for them to trust and feel secure.
The sweet taste encourages the horse to seek out the bit and take up the contact. Once they have found the contact, the bit will lock to give them more stability, helping the horse to maintain the contact for longer.
If you have a horse than can become strong, feel heavy or has a delayed reaction to the reins, then Carl Baby Fulmer and Sally Baby Fulmer can prove helpful They give a lighter feeling in the hand, are tasteless in the mouth and help a horse who has a tendency to be heavy, stiff or slow in the hand. Carl would be the first choice, however if you find you need an even lighter feeling, then Sally will give you this.
It is so important to give the horse a fair start to their ridden life, taking the time to ensure they really understand your signals before you move to a stronger bit. A young horse who doesn’t understand what is being asked of them will be uncomfortable and possibly afraid; leading to miscommunication and being labelled as strong or stubborn. This is why it is absolutely crucial to the horse’s future wellbeing that they understand the aids and are comfortable before moving up to a stronger bit.”
Picture of team rider Sanna Forsell and her horse Little Martha.