- Clare Long
Discussing Dressage Bits in General
(Dressage Bridles and Bits): "Now, if you're a dressage person, by the time you get to the FEI levels to Prix St Georges, you have to be in a double bridle. So let's talk about dressage bits. Dressage bits, as best as you can, try to stay with the German training snaffles. This is a German training snaffle with a loose ring, meaning the ring slips. This is standard dressage equipment. They're wonderful. When they created this, we called it a walnut. In the middle, it's really fantastic because you can see how it sits on the horse’s pallet. It sits on the horse's pallet and tongue really, really nicely. It's very, very comfortable. This is our most standard, wonderful dressage bit. So dressage 101, this is probably the bit you're going to want to end up using until you go to a double bridle, which happens as you're approaching Prix St Georges; most people never get there. That's the FEI levels. That's the international levels. German training snaffle. Here's another one, see this one, this is another standard German training snaffle with a loose ring. Here's another one, standard German training snaffle with a loose ring. Love it. If you are going to evolve into having a dressage type of horse, you'll probably want to go to a German training snaffle. While we're talking about the dressage, if you are fortunate enough to be able to work up through all the levels: so pre-training level, training, first, second, third, fourth, look at about a year for each level. Look at the fact that there's all sorts of things that will prevent you and your horse from going up the next level, the next level. But if you're able to keep going up the levels, you're going to get into the FEI levels, at the Prix St Georges level, you have to wear a double bridle. It's tradition, you have to wear a double bridle. Once you get into the FEI levels, you have to wear a double bridle. Here's my double bridle. Okay, so it's dusty because I don't have any horses that I'm riding a double bridle in. With an FEI horse, if you can ride them in a simple snaffle all the way up through and do your piaffe and your passage and your canter pirouettes and your one-tempis and the whole dang thing in a snaffle, rock on, more power to you. But if you're going to compete, you have to be in a double. This is our standard double. This is a dressage double bridle. Both bits go in the horse's mouth. Very bizarre I know, but it's true. This is called a bradoon. It's a snaffle, but you call it a bradoon because the ring is smaller, because you have all this equipment. The ring on a bradoon is smaller than the ring on a regular loose ring snaffle. It doesn't have to be a loose ring, but I think this is the most traditional one. I like it the most. This is called a bradoon. Now, if you have a pony or a smaller horse, you can use the bradoon as their snaffle and it looks really nice because the rings are smaller. Then this is the curb part. So they call this a Weymouth, if you want the fancy name for it, or you can call it a curb. This section's going to take a few minutes so if you're not a dressage person, fast forward, but if you are a dressage person, this is going to take a moment because I want to talk about the curbs or the Weymouths. So you use a regular cavesson with the double bridle, just a regular noseband. This is called the Weymouth, and it has a chain. This is the “severe” part of the double bridle. I'm not going to put the double on anybody, because none of my horses right now are wearing doubles. But it's a standard dressage bridle and the double bit meaning the bradoon with the Weymouth and double reins, so you're riding with four reins, two reins on each side. I'm not going to show you how to carry them, it's not important right now. It's not important for my training program, so I'm not going to talk about that. If we end up with an upper-level horse that's in a double, I'll talk about holding four reins." (Dover's Dressage Bridle):
"This is a dressage bridle. This is a very traditional dressage bridle. This dressage bridle is also a cob, it also came from Dover. We love it. It's the equivalent of the hunter bridle. It's made by Dover. I think they're called a Suffolk. It's going to be somewhere around $80. This is the hunter one we had on pony, comes with the braided reins, hunter reins, fabulous bridle. We love it. This is the equivalent in a dressage bridle. Dressage bridles are usually black, dressage tack is usually black, hunter tack is usually brown, jumper tack is usually brown, working Western tack is usually brown. The dressage tack is usually black padded, so we have the padded browband, the padded cavesson. This is actually a flash noseband, so you see this little deal here? This is called a flash noseband and it has a strap that goes around below as well and helps to hold the horse's mouth closed. I rarely will use what I call the bottom part of the flash. I usually just pull it off. If you know you're never going to use it again, you can always cut off. If you know you're never going to use the bottom part of the flash, you can cut that little guy off, you can cut this little ring off. It's totally fine. Or you can leave it on there and that's totally fine as well. If you ever need help keeping the horse's mouth closed, you can always use the bottom part of the flash. I try not to. We talked about this with Dom in the Dom video that in the olden days, not in the olden days, but a bit ago, there was a fad where everybody was trying to crank the horse's mouths closed and that's out of favor now, I think, I hope. So we're really not using the bottom part of the flash as much but the bottom part of the flash is standard dressage equipment. So if you see a horse going around in a German training snaffle and the bottom part of the flash is on there, it's totally okay. It's very traditionally dressage. If you go to a dressage show you're going to see that. Absolutely positively." (Crank Nosebands):
"Very quickly, let's talk about this particular noseband, because remember I told you it's a crank. Dom came to me with this crank noseband, they are all the rage right now or at least they were for the dressage bridles. You can find a dressage bridle that just has a regular cavesson or a flash noseband, and then you can take the bottom part of the flash off. I don't like the cranks because look at all this extra leather, it's just a pain in the [watoozy 58:56]. In addition, the point of the crank is so that you can crank the noseband closed to keep the horse's mouth closed, but we don't really do that anymore, or at least we prefer not to. There's just a lot of extra moving parts. This has to go through a little ring, you don't have to look at it, then it has to come around here, then it has to buckle through this. I would've been long done with my other noseband by now. Then we tuck this in, but you have all this extra stuff going on and most likely what's going to happen is that's going to shift and it's going to end up like that, and it's kind of ugly. So no reason to use a crank. You don't need a crank, get a regular noseband. Because the bridle came with the crank, I left it on." (Reins):
"This dressage bridle comes with my favorite dressage reins. These are canvas and I love them. I love that there are stoppers, so you know if your reins are even, because you know you on both reins, you're on the second keeper, you're on the second stopper. I much prefer these to the braided reins. I much, much prefer the dressage reins. Now, you can get these, these ones are canvas, these are canvas, leather, you can get them in leather. These are also dressage reins. You see how these are leather with the little keepers, these are canvas with the little keepers? You can also get ones that are rubber mostly for cross country, for when you know your horse is going to get wet. They have rubber ones. I don't use the rubber ones because I am not riding cross country. But you can see for Dom's bridle, he has the leather ones. It's up to you. Do you prefer to carry the canvas, or do you prefer to carry the leather? I like the canvas because it's stickier. You can really lock into it better."