The elevator bit might look a litt le odd, but it’s a tool I developed several years ago, and I really like what it can do for some horses. If a horse has learned to get away with things in a smooth snaﬄ e it makes riding them a lot of work. If this is your situation, and the horse is ready, that is, he’s picked up everything we’ve worked on so far, you might want to try the elevator bit.
Now here’s the way that an elevator bit works. Since the curb is so loose, the bit will stretch the horse’s mouth upon contact, just like a regular snaffle does, but at a certain point, he’s going to feel the chain too.
On the elevator, the chain eases into action, and since the elevator bit has no leverage, the pressure your horse feels under his chin is exactly equal to the pressure you pull back with. Now if you were your horse, would you wait to feel the chain every time? I hope not. Since the bit has so far to go before the chain comes into play, your horse has plenty of time to respond before he feels the chain. This is more than fair to him, and it also makes the rider’s life easier. He learns that there will be repercussions if he ignores this snaffle, so he might better respond to it!
I adjust the elevator bit the same way that I do the regular snaffle – low if I want to drop the horse’s head, higher if I want to lift his shoulders.
Can we go back to a ring snaffle after the elevator? Sure. But certain horses may never get really light in one if they’ve been too spoiled. You might be able to go to a twisted snaffle, but only go to the smooth if you can really get a thrilling feeling in it again. If your horse just won’t give you the respect you deserve with the smooth, don’t feel bad about going with a twisted snaffle. It’s his choice, not yours.
If you have a real green horse that just won’t quit leaning on a smooth snaffle, you might want to go to a twisted with him right away. If a horse hasn’t really learned how accept training for what ever reason, and then you complicate things even more for him, like by combining the effect of the mouthpiece and the chain on an elevator bit, he may just panic and think he has to fight for his life. Further along, when he’s been handled more, he’ll know there’s a right answer or action that will get him the release he wants, and he’ll look for it. He’ll have developed a lot more tolerance and faith that you’re not threatening his life. But a real green one might just panic, and that’s not what we want.
More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaﬄe Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit the Web site: www.lesvogt.com. You can also read previous More with Les columns at: news.horsetrader.com.
After looking at collection and rating speed the last couple of columns, Les takes a break to look at bits.