- Clare Long
Discussing Shanked/Ported/Curb/Weymouth Bits
(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." (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."
(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."