FROM THE LATEST ISSUE OF POLO TIMES!
Stephen Biddlecombe of Equine Management Ltd answers a reader’s question on bitting.
Q. I’m an amateur player and our ex-racer has a mild parrot mouth, confirmed this week by the equine dental technician; although nothing too severe. He tends throws his head in the air so much that he just ‘flattens’ at speed; he’s ridden in a gag. My wife and daughter also jump him and use a Pee-wee bit, and he’s quite strong here too, ‘flattening’ over the jumps. Any advice? RD, Hants
Q. The mild parrot mouth conformation means we will need to keep his bit on the thinner side, as he won’t have a lot of room in his mouth. Your horse is seemingly showing signs of not liking pressure on his tongue. Incidentally the Pee-Wee is quite a strong bit in my opinion, however it doesn’t create a pressure point on the tongue, due to its thin, curved bar mouthpiece, which is why some ‘tongue-sensitive’ horses will go better in it. It’s not actually relieving any tongue pressure though, which is probably why he has decided that he’s had enough of it when he jumps!
I am unsure what type of gag bit you currently play him in, however I have some suggestions. We do offer a McHardy mouthpiece, which is a combination of a jointed Happy Tongue with a Buster Roller, which allows space for the tongue. It comes in a Big Ring Gag style which you may prefer for polo, as it introduces poll pressure. The 2.5 ring version is a softer version of ring bit, as the half ring softens the leverage on the mouthpiece and poll; this would perhaps also suit the family to jump the horse in, as the horse should relax more into the contact, and his jump will likely become rounder instead of flattening out when the family rides him.
Generally speaking, a Happy Tongue mouthpiece should also work – the shaped mouthpiece removes the pressure from the tongue, which will hopefully stop him throwing up his head. There are various cheekpieces available, including big ring, three ring (gag) and Pelham.
Bombers Bits include hundreds of off the shelf bitting solutions, and customers can even design their own bespoke bit from a selection of mouth pieces, cheek pieces and widths, using a ‘design your own bit’ service. Bombers bits are made from blue sweet iron – the metal oxidises easily, creating a warm, sweet taste in the horse’s mouth. This encourages the horse to salivate. Visit www.worldwidetack.com