Gag me

How I like to start my mornings.
How I like to start my mornings.

A few weeks ago, I bought a couple of bits from Hillary over at Equestrian at Hart. I bought them mostly out of curiosity- Gina has gone basically the same in every snaffle I’ve ever stuck in her mouth and isn’t so strong over fences or in the field that I truly need more stopping power.

I tried the Happy Mouth mullen mouth two ring elevator this morning while we did a little jumping. As I said, Gina isn’t so strong over fences that she really needs a bit that’s stronger than a snaffle, but she does get heavy and on her forehand, especially after the fence.

First of all, good luck finding any reliable information on this thing. It’s variously termed a 2-ring Dutch gag, 2-ring elevator, 2-ring bubble bit, and universal bit. Different people have different opinions on if you’re supposed to use one rein or two or use a curb strap. Some people insist the lowers the head, while others are adamant it raises the poll.

I used it with one rein which was fastened on the bottom ring, no curb strap, and a regular cavesson with no martingale. (A regular cavesson and no martingale is our usual setup for jumping.)

Giving the barn's baby goats a hard look.
Giving the barn’s baby goats a hard look.

I was impressed with how Gina responded to it on the flat. She was super soft and round with very little input from me. I felt like her hindquarters were really engaged- like she had totally shifted her weight back to her haunches.

Over fences, we were kind of a mess. Gina was having A Time and felt it necessary to stop and snort at each fence (all of which were exactly the same fences she jumped flawlessly last week) before jumping it. No amount of clucking or kicking could persuade her otherwise. She was rushed to every fence and all of our distances were disgustingly long. I was hesitant to give her any really firm half halts before the jumps, because I didn’t want her to think for one second that she shouldn’t go over them. (I guess this means we’ll be setting up a gymnastic next week…)

After landing from each jump, Gina tried her usual pull and run; I’d give her a half halt, and she’d respond by vigorous head shaking and then slowing to a trot or walk.

"I'll just see myself in. Oh, you wanted a picture? TOO BAD."
“I’ll just see myself in. Oh, you wanted a picture? TOO BAD.”

I’ll probably try this bit again to see if she was just having a weird day (as is so often the case), or if she really didn’t like the bit. Oh, Gina…

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

15 thoughts on “Gag me”

  1. Riley goes in a happy mouth mullen (full cheek) for flat works (which he LOVES) — but he got upgraded to a full cheek Dr. Bristol for jumping and hacking:)

    1. Gina seemed to like the Happy Mouth part of the bit- she was chewing on it and was definitely slobbery. I’d be curious to try a Happy Mouth loose ring or something.

  2. IMO (and GM’s, if you give a crap what he says) a gag is always a 2-rein bit with no curb chain. Mainly because if you only have one rein, the horse can never escape the gag action. Two reins require a little finesse, but it’s a lot more effective to be able to ride on the snaffle rein most of the time and only engage the gag action when you need it. With only one rein on the gag ring, you’re applying a good bit of leverage on the horse’s head with even the lightest bit of contact, so in a way they never escape the nutcracker effect of the leverage. Might have something to do with the headshaking. Or she was just have a DaaaaamnGina day.

    1. The only horses I have previous experience using gags on are polo ponies, which are an entirely different thing. I’ll have to grab an extra pair of reins and see if those make a difference.

  3. I’ve used this bit with a lot of success. I’ve found it helps to lift the front end. I had good luck with it on a very large draftcross that liked to go on his forehand and occasionally buck. I’ve never used one with 2 reins. I’ve found it to be a kinda severe. But, in this horses case it was him or me and….it wasn’t going to be me. It stopped his 1700lb ass out on the hunt field. So, i was happy!

    1. I definitely felt like it helped lift the front end! Like, I was super shocked at how G felt cantering around the outdoor. (Well, until we started going over SUPER DEATH TRAP SCARY JUMPS)

  4. I love the pic of her looking at the baby goats, what a pretty face.

    I have tried Klein in the three ring version in a french link and she just wasn’t comfortable in it and she was still able to freight train me out on xc with it. She’s a weirdo that just LOVES her low port Kimberwicke. Every time I’ve tried something different just for funsies we go right back to old faithful (for jumping, a french link boucher for dressage), her low port Kimberwicke. Actually, she does go well in a low port Pelham with double reins and I kept her in that for a little while just to change it up a little bit.

    1. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

      In Gina’s previous H/J life, she was ridden in a pelham with double reins, so I am sort of curious to try one of those on her.

  5. Yeah give it a few more rides, and a few set-ups (1 rein on the big bubble, 2 reins, add curb strap, etc). That’s a versatile bit and it sounded like she was having A Day.

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