Bomber Blue 3-Ring Gag for an Ex-racehorse
July 18th, 2018
Our MD Stephen Biddlecombe writes a column for Polo Times magazine offering readers bitting advice – here he discusses a suitable bit for an ex racer:
Q.My ex-racehorse is very sensitive in her mouth but can be extremely strong. I believe she doesn’t like tongue pressure as she puts her head up and out and head tosses. We’ve tried various bits including the Bomber Happy Tongue Pelham but she didn’t get on with it at all. She still pulls a lot in little jerks, like a ‘tic’. Any tips?
A.Racehorses are often started in Chifneys, which are used for leading in hand, and at Thoroughbred sales. They’re sometimes ridden in ring bits with two mouthpieces; a jointed snaffle mouthpiece and a larger ring that encircles the horse’s lower jaw. (Although many are raced in jointed loose-ring snaffles). In any case, your mare probably isn’t used to a ported bit, despite the fact it may well help her if she has a sensitive tongue, as you suspect! She may be acting defensively, pre-empting the discomfort.
Incidentally, what we are seeing lately within the bitting industry is a lot of horses and ponies that have a narrow bottom jaw, as well as bars of the jaw that are asymmetrical. This combination means the equine is frequently sensitive to tongue pressure, and it is increasingly creating bit fitting issues. It’s important to ensure that the bit sits correctly on the bars of the mouth; but when the bottom jaw is narrow, which happens with some finer breeds, this means having to have a narrower port, which means we are sacrificing some tongue relief!
You have already tried a Happy Tongue Pelham, presumably to relieve the tongue pressure; this mouthpiece has a nice port, creating space for the tongue. However, perhaps your mare wasn’t comfortable with the curb groove action; or maybe she objects to the metal, after a career being ridden in a metal bit?
I’d recommend a Bomber Blue bit; we’re increasingly recommending these mouthpieces for polo ponies. The mouthpiece is ported for tongue relief, but importantly, the bit material is very light; it is made from a strong, rubber-nylon compound that’s moulded around a stainless steel core, so it’s ideal for horses and ponies with sensitive tongues, or those that are sensitive to metal compositions. The Bomber Blue mouthpiece eliminates squeezing pressure on the bars, as well as tongue pressure.
Specifically you could try the Bomber Blue 3-Ring Gag from the Bomber Blue range, which creates poll pressure and also some mouthpiece leverage, but of course won’t create the curb groove action that the Pelham does. (For reference it is also available as a Pelham, Gag or a Curbgag).
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 pony’s mouth and encouraging the pony to salivate.
Tweet us at @WorldwideTack with your bitting question relating to Polo for future inclusion in the mag.