Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bits

In the hunter ring, only a select few bits are allowed to be used. In the jumpers, on the other hand, anything goes as long as it is humane.

Hunters

ARTICLE G202 TACK AND EQUIPMENT
2. Bitless bridles are not permitted in the hunter ring.
3. Bridle: The bridle may be double, pelham, single (snaffle) or kimberwick. It must be leather (not rubber covered), rolled or plain and may be buckled, sewn or studded (not snapped).
4. Bits: All bits must be humane in nature. Snaffle bits may be with or without cheeks. Wire snaffle bits, either single or double are permissible. It is permissible to use a snaffle with fixed slots for cheek pieces and/or reins. Bit guards are not permissible.
5. Gimmicks: Any gimmicks (e.g. nerve lines, tongue ties, gag bits, any bit that acts as a gag, tack nose bands etc.) are illegal. Nose nets are permissible.
6. Reins: entirely leather of any description, buckled, studded or sewn; single rein pelham and pelham converters are only allowed in junior and amateur classes in 3’ (0.90m) or below. In the case of bad weather, at the discretion of the judge, steward and/or competition committee, rubber reins may be allowed.

Snaffle

Snaffle bits provide the rider with no leverage. You can choose any humane mouthpiece to go with the various snaffle cheeks.  The most common snaffle bit in the hunter ring is the Dee-ring. It is an attractive bit while providing some help with turning with more of a loose-ring feel than you would get with a full cheek bit. Full cheek snaffles are also quite common; they provide the same guiding action as the Dee-ring but with less movement. Egg butt snaffles are sometimes seen but they are not as common as the Dee-ring or full cheek.  Loose ring snaffles are rarely seen in the hunter ring. This is partly due to style and partly because they can sometimes cause pinching (bit guards are not allowed in the hunter ring).



A single-jointed Dee-ring snaffle








A full cheek snaffle with a single-jointed, single twisted wire mouthpiece.






A double-jointed loose ring snaffle






Pelham

The pelham is the most common leverage bit in the hunter ring. The two reins provide the rider with the ability to vary the amount of snaffle pressure and curb pressure. The mouthpiece can be jointed or straight, and various shank lengths are available for different severities. You may only use a single set of reins (either attached directly to the bit or by using a pelham converter) if you are competing in junior or amateur hunter classes at or below 3' (0.90m) (check your local rules to be sure!). Double reins look much better while providing the ability to adjust the amount of curb used, which cannot be done with a single set of reins.





Kimberwick

The kimberwick is not commonly seen in the open hunter ring. It is a leverage bit that is used with a single set of reins. Having only the one set of reins means that there is no option of using snaffle pressure instead of curb pressure.








Double bridle

The double bridle is not commonly seen in the hunter ring, either. Having both the bradoon (snaffle bit) and the curb bit allows the rider to vary the amount of pressure applied to either.







Equitation

ARTICLE G1005 TACK AND EQUIPMENT
1. Only regular cavessons with snaffles, pelhams, double bridles or kimberwicks are permissible. Pelham converters allowed only in Junior "B" and "C" classes. Reins must be made entirely of leather.

The same bits that are allowed in the hunter ring are allowed in the equitation ring.  The only change in the rules concerns which riders are allowed to use pelham converters.


Jumpers

ARTICLE G502 TACK AND EQUIPMENT
c) Reins must be attached to the bit(s) or directly to the bridle. Gags and hackamores are allowed.

Jumpers allow any bit that is used humanely. Most jumpers go in some sort of snaffle, but there are also many that go in a gag bit or a pelham, or no bit at all (a hackamore).

24 comments:

  1. Are you allowed to use a boucher bit in hunters? happy mouths? full cheek french link? thanks.

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    1. You may absolutely use a happy mouth bit in the hunter ring, provided the cheek pieces are legal. A full cheek french link is also perfectly legal.

      The baucher bit is a bit (no pun intended) more complicated. As far as I know, it falls under the snaffle category, which is technically allowed, but it may be considered unconventional. If you would really like to compete in the hunter ring with one, I would ask the steward who will be present at the horse show to confirm that it is legal, but be aware that the judge might still decide that it is unconventional.

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  2. Is a Myler Level 1 snaffle with a (roller?) in the middle allowed in hunters and equitation? I ride in this bit on a daily basis but is it allowed in hunter shows? : http://www.smartpakequine.com/myler-level-1-dee-8408p.aspx?cm_vc=Search . Thanks.

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    1. Hi Alaina,
      Since there's no tack check at hunter/jumper shows, any mouthpiece is permitted as long as it's humane and the only restrictions are on unconventional cheeks/gags. Since the rings are just ordinary 'D's it's definitely allowed, and I have shown both hunters and equitation in one myself :)

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  4. I need some advice, My horse is in a French link D ring and he will often have his mouth open, we have tried him a few different Bits from a happy mouth to a Pelham and no matter what he always has his mouth open we get his teeth done every year but that doesn't change anything he even trys to open it with a flash on, But i have been finding that his lip where the end of the bit sits to be some times swollen could this be a cause of his open mouth? P.S His bits do fit him. do you have any ideas should i lower the bit in his mouth or try bit guards ?

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    1. That's a difficult question to answer without seeing the horse in person. I have a horse who can't wear a bit for every ride unless it's combined with a hackamore because the corners of her mouth are so sensitive that the action of even the softest bit will cause rubs. Try to thoroughly examine not just the outside but the interior surfaces of the mouth as well for any rubs or cuts. If you are occasionally seeing swelling, there could very well be some reaction to the bit or an unrelated problem that the bit is making worse.

      Have you tried any ported bits? Perhaps this horse has a thick tongue and feels the need to relieve pressure on the tongue by opening the mouth.

      Have you tried riding with different degrees of contact to see if the mouth is always open or only open with a certain amount of contact (indicating that the hands are too strong or that the bit is causing pain of some sort)?

      It can't hurt to try changing the height of the bit, as long as it's still in the range of not hitting any teeth, if nothing is working. Bit guards tend to prevent rubbing on the outside of the mouth and aren't likely to help much with anything else as far as I am aware.

      I assume that this horse is a hunter. If it is a jumper, you could try a hackamore as well.

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  5. So a kimberwick is permitted ? My 7 yr old daughter rides in one with several joints in it on her pony. He seems to respond very well in it. Do most judges frown on a Kimber ? They ride in mini stirrup.

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    1. Yes, technically a kimberwick is permitted according to EC rules. They're often frowned-upon for older children and adults (many judges would rather see a pelham instead) but they're quite common for the ponies and short stirrups.

      Breed shows are a different story, but for a regular hunter show, they're best kept for those ponies that need them and then have the rider graduate to something else later on.

      Also keep in mind that the USEF does not explicitly permit kimberwickes and I haven't had any pony hunters show in the US to know what's typical as far as bitting goes in the pony ring there.

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    2. When I was doing Short Stirrup on the A-circuit my pony wore a kimberwick. They are certainly unconventional, but it was what my pony needed and no one really cared too much since it wasn't a rated division.

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  6. i have a high port snaffle with fixed pieces for bridle and reins - is this allowed in a show ring?

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    1. The mouthpiece won't matter as long as it's humane, so you're fine there. Those fixed pieces are called slots and are allowed under Equine Canada rules (Article G202.4 "It is permissible to use a snaffle with fixed slots for cheek pieces and/or reins"). In the US, as far as I know, slots aren't specifically addressed so it would be up to the judge to determine whether or not they're "conventional". I don't know myself how the US judges tend to treat them.

      That's all assuming that you're asking for hunter or equitation classes. If it's for a jumper, you won't have any problems with it.

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  7. Are cowboy shanks permissible in a Jumper ring?

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    1. Is there a specific bit that you have in mind? Jumpers can show in western bits, provided that they are humane.

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  8. Why are bit guards not allowed in the hunter ring?

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    1. Good question! I suspect the rule is in place to prevent people from using bit burrs disguised as bit guards, but I can't say for sure. They aren't allowed for dressage, either.

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  9. Hi,

    Would a Swales (3-in-1 Pelham) be permitted in the hunters with double reins?
    Essentially it's just a Pelham without the poll pressure.

    Thanks,
    Jessica.

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    1. Hi Jessica,

      There is a good chance that it would be considered unconventional by the judge. Not only does it look a bit different but they do have a reputation for being very strong bits thanks to the increased curb action. You might get away with it or you might not, depending on who you're showing in front of.

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  10. Can I do working hunter in a Myler cradle bit? Never seen anyone in them so I don't know if I'm allowed them or not, thanks.

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    1. Hi Grace Ritchie,

      I would not enter a hunter class with that bit. Always check the rules of your particular show organization before showing, but that bit would surely be considered unconventional (try instead for a snaffle cheek, pelham, etc.).

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  11. Hello,

    Thank you very much for the article. :) I'm looking for some advice. I do dressage, equitation, jumper and eventing with my mare. I used to ride her in a Pelham in any class with jumps, but as our training went on, she doesn't need it as much. Now she goes under the vertical with it, even if I only hold the snaffle rein. I might be able to get away with a Dee ring in equitation, but not in the jumper ring. Would you suggest I try a kimberwick, for jumper and equitation? It seems to be less severe than a Pelham. I've tried riding her in a gag in jumper, but she doesn't seem to love it. Thank you for any advice you can give me.

    P.S.: Are ported bits allowed in every discipline? I also have a problem with her opening her mouth, even with just a bit of pressure. I've been told to try a hackamore also.

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    1. Your trainer would be in the best place to provide bitting advice as every horse is different and you may need to try a few different types to find something that works for you and your horse.

      Kimberwickes are not very popular bits in the hunter ring (even if they are allowed in your federation's rules their use is usually limited to short stirrup/novice classes) so I would try to find a snaffle or a tom thumb pelham that would work instead. You can play with the mouthpiece of the snaffle as the rules usually concern only the cheekpiece and not the mouthpiece.

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  12. Would I be able to use a snaffle shank bit in a show jumping competition?

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    1. I'm not sure which bit specifically you have in mind, but you should check the rules associated with your show circuit to be sure of any bit choice. Generally, for the jumpers, any bit is permitted as long as it is humane. If you plan on showing in the hunters then in most cases you'll be limited to a snaffle or a pelham.

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