by John O'Leary

There is an extreme problem with Bits and their adverse effect upon Horses in Dressage and of course these are the type of things that I notice a lot. Especially with the use of the double Bridle. Lot's of Horses scream out for relief from them, no doubt due to many things, including teeth not done but also for Veterinary reasons and particularly Mouth conformation.

There is no doubt in my mind that the F.E.I. have it dead wrong when it comes to the rules surrounding the use of Double Bridles, made up by the "Bradoon' and the "Weymouth" Without me researching the subject, just the sound of these terms conjure up images of Generals on Horse back in the Bore War and he Bits are a carryover from at least that era and most probably before.

I know for a fact, that such Bits cannot fit all Horses and lot's of Horses simply cannot be fitted at all. Hence the reason why so many poor souls are exhibiting unsettled Mouths at the Dressage and of course with the resultant lower scores from the Judges. Not the fault of the Rider, the Horse or the Training, simply the Bit. Not to mention of course the torment those that we are supposed to love and nurture the most, the Horse.

The FEI Bit Rules belong in the dark ages imho and I have enough evidence to back this up. You know that Horses never lie and many a Horse tells me that they simply cannot stand such Bits and are simply not physically equipped to even be able to carry them. The level of stress that I see in Horses and the resultant resistance, hollowing and evasion is immense.

Who's looking after the Horses?
You may know that Mrs. HP and I are sponsored by Myler and I note that they have just attempted to make the lives of F.E.I. Horses a little better and a Bit has been approved that will actually swivel in the Mouth of the Horse, BUT there is much more work to be done imho and I have been conducting studies and experiments to put a case to the Myler Brothers, to make a real difference to the Poor Horses. Incidentally, I am told that optional snaffle F.E.I. Classes a not being conducted in EU. Where are they here? The well trained Horse should be able to do any of the movements, in a snaffle.

These Bits come from the era of the "Big Fat Bits" Big Fat everything. I call them 'Gob Stoppers" or "All day Suckers" that we used to buy at School. There is no room in the Mouths of Horses for them and therefore, they are cruel. The Ethics Scientists should concentrate on such issues rather than "Rein Gauges" for that would be a most admirable pursuit of their time.

Quote taken from the Net.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with "bridoon", and need a little more information on it. Here it is:

A bridoon is a snaffle bit which has small rings, and is used in conjunction with a Weymouth (curb) bit or a pelham bit in a double bridle.

The U.S calvary used a "bridoon" bridle and was standard issue before 1812, although it was common for some to use just a single bit. The 1841 bridoon bridles have a separate strap or "holder" for fastening the "snaffle' to, which give the appearance that the bridle has 2 throat straps. This style changed in the early 1900s, so the 1841 is a rare find. During the U.S. civil war very few used a bridoon bridle, a snaffle was most often the bit of choice.
bridoon - Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

Bridoon \Bri*doon"\, n. [F. bridon, from bride; of German
origin. See Bridle, n.] (Mil.)
The snaffle and rein of a military bridle, which acts
independently of the bit, at the pleasure of the rider. It is
used in connection with a curb bit, which has its own rein.
June 21st, 2009

More time tonight so I can be more rational :) Let's examine this subject further:
Not all mouths of Horses are shaped the same, therefore......
* The same Bit cannot fit or suit every Horse.
If those points are accepted as fact, then the following must also be:
* That those Horses with Mouths that happen to be formed to handle such Bits have an unfair advantage over the others.
* Those that have Mouths that cannot handle the size, thickness or shape are unfairly penalized
* It is completely unfair on those that cannot. Both Horses and Riders'. It is also arguably cruel to those Horses that don't fit the Bits.
* Therefore the playing field in the Sport of high level Dressage is not level and so, unfair and ill designed. It cannot give a true result.

But it is the need for such a Mouth full of metal that I must admit I am against.

There are two Bits put into the Mouth of a Horse for from the middle levels of Dressage to the top level. A snaffle (bridoon) and a Curb Bit (weymouth) Why do people need two? If the Judges see the bottom rein tight, they penalize the Rider. If they even see the shank of the Curb being pulled back at all, whereby is appears to e heading parallel to the ground, the Rider is penalized. So what gives with the fact that the double Bridle is optional at the 4th level (medium) and compulsory in Advanced. The 5th Level. Incidentally, these are the further levels. Advanced, Prix St. Georges, Intermediate One, Intermediate Two and Grand Prix (Olympic Level)

So do you agree it is all a farce???? I think it is. It is just a matter of the Law being an Ass and the Horse Industry being stuck in the dark ages and not lifting out of it. Pony Club, Dressage and others, all stuck in the Military Times with Military Rules. If Horsemen were so rigid, we would still be choking them down and bucking them out.

Then there is the cruelty. I recently investigated the case of a F.E.I. Horse that was at Intermediate 2 Level. The Horse was being difficult to bridle which is why it came to me. Upon investigation....."Listening to the Horse" in other words, I found that it had been choking......for two years yet :( The tongue was being trapped behind the big thick Bit and was trying to bulge over the top of the Bit as it couldn't fit below.

So how many of you are Riding Horses at Medium Level or above and find that your Horse often lifts it's head 'above the Bit" momentarily???? There are plenty of you because I see you at the Dressage. Your Horses are having a gulp of air every now and again. How does that make you all feel????

So for just those reasons (but there are more) the matter of Bits has to be looked at urgently. The Horses are relying upon you all.