Still, one problem the bit was unable to address was the same problem most traditional snaffle bits have. That is, it didn’t allow enough room in the mouth for those horses that had low pallets or thick tongues. For these horses, there are very few bits on the market that are of much use, or that they are comfortable in.
I had been having some success with these types of horses with a snaffle bit I had picked up years ago which had a relatively solid mouth piece and a medium port for tongue relief. In mid 2007 I contacted Mark Sulan, the fellow that came up with the original design for the Rocking S Snaffle, and talked with him about the possibility of using his cheek pieces on a mouthpiece similar to the mouthpiece that had been helpful to the horses in question.
My original idea for the mouthpiece was for it to have a port for tongue relief for thick tongued horses, and for the port to lay back in the horse’s mouth so it wouldn’t interfere with horses with low pallets. This idea was kicked around for a while between Mark and I and a couple other folks. A mouthpiece was designed but quickly discarded due to too many moving parts.
Eventually, a design was settled on, and prototypes of the bit were built. The bit was tried on a large number of horses, some with low pallets, some with thick tongues and some who simply seemed troubled by having a bit in their mouth. In each case there was a notable positive difference within minutes of the bit going in the horse’s mouth. In one case, one of our student instructors had been riding a horse for over a year and was unable to get the horse to settle. The mare was extremely agitated all the time, and it didn’t matter if she was in a bit (of any kind) a bosal, halter or whatever. We tried the prototype of the Raised Snaffle on her and she immediately dropped her head, relaxed and went to work as if there had never been an issue in the first place.
This is pretty typical of the response we are seeing with the vast majority of horses we have tried the bit on to date.
Snaffle bits all operate relatively the same way in a horse’s mouth. In short, the mouthpiece usually points toward the top (roof) of the horse’s mouth and slightly forward, toward the horse’s front teeth. When pressure is applied to the reins, the mouthpiece “breaks”, creating a sort of nutcracker effect in the horse’s mouth and exaggerates the upward/forward movement of the mouthpiece.
The Rocking S Raised snaffle operates in a completely opposite manner inside the horse’s mouth. As mentioned earlier, the three-piece mouthpiece, is ported. It also lies back in the horse’s mouth, toward the molars, instead of forward, toward the horse’s front teeth. In addition the mouthpiece lies relatively flat on the tongue. With this design, instead of the bit closing down and acting like a nutcracker when pressure is applied to the reins, the mouthpiece actually opens up in the horse’s mouth relieving pressure on the inside. It seems to be this part of the design that is popular with the horse’s we’ve tried it on. The vast majority of horses we’ve tried the bit on are immediately softer, quieter and more willing. Another benefit we’ve noticed is this allows the softness in the rider to come out as well.
The only downside to this bit that we’ve seen so far is most horses do mouth it more than normal for the first 15 minutes to an hour or so before they quiet down. I attribute this to the fact that the bit sits in the mouth in a completely different way than any other bit on the market. As such it has a different feel in the mouth, which I don’t necessarily see as bad thing. Part of what training is about is breaking old patterns, and that is something this bit appears to do in a very quick manner.
To date we have tried this bit on about 100 horses and have seen dramatically positive differences in all but about three. Of those three, two showed only a slight difference and in one there was no difference at all.
So again, we are not touting this bit as an end all to training issues, and we are not saying it will work as described on every horse. However, it does seem to be helpful to the vast majority we have tried it on so far.
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