• Clare Long

A "bit" of advice to Western Riders


(Western Shanked Bits, how to choose the least severe): "Western people please pay attention. A lot of the Western riders do ride in shanked bits. A lot of the Western disciplines require a shanked bit to compete, you got to have it. A lot of Western riders feel like you can't really ride a horse one handed properly unless you're riding them in what I call a full bridle or a shanked bit. I try not to. The shorter the shank, the less severe, the longer the shank, the more severe. There you go, you have it. Across the board, the lower the port, the less severe, the shorter the shank, the less severe, and it does have a curb chain, and it's just part of riding with a curb bit."

(Shanked bits, how to choose the least severe):

"Anytime you have a shank, it's much more influential and much more “severe.” That's why none of my bits are shanked bits. If you have to ride in a double, I choose the Weymouth, the curb that is the least severe. Let me tell you how you know. This is called the port. You want as low a port as possible, the higher the port, the more severe. There you go. How easy is that? So in the Western bridles or in the double bridles, the port sometimes go way up to here. They're just monsters. The higher the port, the more severe. Stick with the low port, if you can. The longer the shank, the more severe. Stick with the shortest shank you can find. Those are hard and fast rules across the board."

(My new tack room, and Bridles and Bits in general):

"This is my new tack room. I love it, love it, love it. I just wanted to point out some of the bridles and some of the bits. This will be really helpful to you guys. Anna, if you can pan down on the bits, you're going to see everything I have is a snaffle. Everything I have is a very simple snaffle, a very comfortable snaffle, bits that feel really, really comfortable in the horse's mouth. I want to talk a little about this, guys. I know in the hunter tack rooms and the jumper tack rooms, you're going to have much harder bits, and some of them are twists and some of them are pelhams or Kimberwicks or bridles that give you a lot more power and strength. I know for the jumping horses, sometimes that's necessary because your seat is out of the saddle and so you might need more strength for your bit, because your seat is out of the saddle so you can't really slow of the horse down with your seat so much. I know a lot of the Western people use harsher bits. I know a lot of them will use twists. They'll use double wires. They'll use all sorts of stronger... I’m trying to pick and choose my adjectives so I'm politically correct, they use stronger bits. I get that. In the hunter jumper world, I get that, in the Western world, I get that. I would really, really, really, really, really like it if the Western trainers only used bits like this. That would make me so happy if we could eliminate any of the twists and any of the tougher bits, that would make me really happy. Also the shanked bits, I don't have any. As you can see, I don't have any shanked bits."