HOW TO BIT A HORSE 463 completely exhausted.
This was a case render a curb-chain superfluous the of a heavy hand.
Double-ringed driving snaffle should be For trying a new horse in harness the first choice; it is superior in every there is perhaps no bit equal to the Eng- respect to the single-ringed, half-cheeked lish Liverpool, with a plain, straight snaffle, and may be bought with plain, mouthpiece, preferably sliding on the jointed, or rubber-covered mouthpiece, cheeks.
Elbowed cheeks are an advantage with a horse that is continually “lipping” the cheeks and trying to get the rein billets into his mouth.
This bit, while free from unnecessary encumbrance, gives such a wide range of power —as the reins can be placed in the cheek, bar, or lower bar—that, with a judiciously used curb-chain, it will generally meet all requirements in properly broken horses.
Should it fail to give sufficient control, a half-port may be used, or one of those chain mouthpieces covered with thick rubber, which have often successFULL-CHEEKED JOINTED RIDING fully cured pulling when all severe bits SNAFFLE.
For four-in-hands and pairs many the jointed pattern to be used only if the drivers prefer the Buxton to the Liver- others prove insufficiently powerful.
Pool, because the piece connecting the With these bits to choose from, there lower extremities of the cheeks prevents should be no difficulty in suiting any horse that is free from vice; if one has a vicious horse, it is best not to bit him, but to get rid of him.
Among riding bits the one par excellence is the Weymouth bit and bridoon; by using either snaffle or curb rein one gets a range of power corresponding to that given by the Liverpool, with this difference, that one has both extremities of the range in control at the same time.
The Pelham is at the best only a makeshift for the Weymouth, over which it has no advantage whatever.
For very light-mouthed riding horses the Newmarket snaffle, with a plain jointed mouthpiece, is the most comfortable and the most sporting in appearance.
I prefer it to the cheeked snaffle.
ENGLISH LIVERPOOL WITH SLIDING Having selected a bit, the next item MOUTHPIECE.
In importance is to apply it correctly; it should be wide enough to obviate any a horse from hooking one side of his bit pinching of the jaw, and yet should not over the rein of his companion.
There have any appreciable lateral play.
In is, however, one danger in these bits, if the horse the mouthpiece should rest just no bearing rein be worn, that must not above the “tush,” and should be large be overlooked, viz., that the bit itself enough to give a good bearing surface.
May get caught on the hook of the pole; In the mare there is no tush, but the I have known this to happen and cause same distance from the incisor teeth should be allowed.
An accident fatal to the horse.
For a horse so light-mouthed as to A bit should never pull up the cor- 464 THE OUTING MAGAZINE Although it is always advisable to drive a new horse, temporarily at least, with the bit to which he has been accustomed, providing that he goes satisfactorily in it, it is never safe to assume that it is the best possible one for him.
This assumption, which is general, is responsible for much trouble that might be obviated.
It is surprising to note how complete and radical a change of bit may be made, not only with impunity, but with advantage, if only the change be in the right direction.
There can scarcely be a greater contrast in bits than that between the savage semi-Spanish riding bit, with its rowel half way down the horse’s throat, that is almost universally used on Western ranches, and the mild half-port Weymouth; yet I have, when in the West, known a girl from New York— she was a first-class horsewoman, I admit—buy on a ranch half a dozen broncos that had worn nothing but the Mexican bit and proceed to try them with a Weymouth bridle.
To the unmitigated astonishment of the ranch hands, who took the first horse ners of the mouth.
The snaffle of the Weymouth bit should lie behind the curb, and the curb-chain should puss under the ends of the snaffle.
The rules for fitting driving bits are identical with those applying to riding bits, the only exception being where a bearing rein is used.
In regard to the latter I will mention only two points: ONE-HALF CHEEKED DRIVING SNAFFLE WITH RUBBER MOUTHPIECE. the bearing rein should always be attached to a light bridoon, never to the driving bit itself; it should always be slack and should never he used in ” g a g ” form.
The runaway horse in story books, as in most of the veracious and detailed accounts given in the daily press, invariably “takes the bit between his teeth” as a preliminary measure.
It would be interesting to know how he does this.
He obviously cannot get it between his molar teeth (grinders) unless both his cheeks are slit up from the corners of his mouth, and if the cheek-straps be the right length it is equally impossible for him to get it down to the level of his incisors (nippers), and there are no teeth in between! Thus perishes another hoary-headed superstition! What does happen is that through steady, unremitting tension on the reins the bars of his mouth become numbed and impervious to pain; this enables him to set his jaw firmly, put the whole weight of his head on the bit, and successfully resist anything short of onehorse power at the other end of the reins.
This is the reason why, when run away with, one should never try to recover control by steady pulling, but should always use short, sharp pulls with intervals of complete relaxation between them. WESTERN (SAN JUAN) RIDING BIT WITH HUGE PORT. behind the barn to saddle and bridle it so that the prospective purchaser should not see the “circus” that they expected would follow the girthing of the sidesaddle, the horse was as quiet as the proverbial lamb, and when the girl, quietly gathering up her reins, rode away with the horse entirely on the snaffle and with no signs of either kicking or bucking, a more astonished-looking group of men could not have been found west of BACKWOODS SURGERY AND MEDICINE the Rockies.
This incident confirmed a theory I have long cherished in secret, that even a “bronc” will respond promptly to proper—that is, gentle— handling.
In the foregoing directions for placing and fitting bits, it will be noticed that no mention has been made of fitting curb-chains; this requires separate and detailed treatment.
It is obvious that, excepting snaffles, no bit can be used to advantage without some form of curbchain or strap; even a light-mouthed horse driven in a Liverpool, with the reins in the cheek, must have a curb, which should, however, be as slack as is consistent with easy control.
The right tension of the chain may be ascertained by placing the forefinger between it and the jaw and pulling gently on the reins; if the horse does not yield to the pressure, the chain is not tight enough.
It should, nevertheless, not be tight enough to cause chafing and fretting, which not only spoil the horse’s mouth and temper, 465 but waste the energy which should be devoted to his work.
If a horse frets with even a slack chain, it should be padded, or a curb strap substituted for it.
Curb-chains should be wide, with close, well-fitting links.
When a bit has been found which suits the horse, further experiments are to be deprecated; the horse should be habitually ridden or driven in the same bit, uniformly applied.
In conclusion, let me urge on every horse owner the paramount importance of his knowing exactly the method used; then if, having left his groom at home, he puts up at a friend’s house or at an inn, he will escape the mortification of being unable to instruct his host’s groom as to correct adjustments, as well as the danger of setting out with a horse accustomed to be driven in the lower bar running wildly with the reins in the cheek, or vice versa, while he himself, being unconscious of the error, is unable to rectify it.
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