Tim Johnson Cutting Horse
Our 7 favorite bits to use at home- when and why!
We've created a quick guide to our favorite bits to use at home when we're working horses, and why we choose those bits based on issues a horse may be having or the stage the horse is in. Don't get me wrong, the tack room is stocked full with every bit you can think of, we may have a bit hoarding problem ... BUT, we find ourselves more often than not reaching for these 7 at home and we'll tell you why.
1. Heavy Loping Hack
Tim loves to use one of our loping hacks with heavy thick reins on everything from an aged event horse to an older weekend horse.
This works great to relax the horse and lets them free up in the mouth and neck and get comfortable working a cow, they’re worried about being pulled on.
Tim likes it because they still respect the noseband, and the heavy reins have a lot of feel on their neck, yet it’s soft on their mouth and won’t make them rigid.
This will help you a lot if you have a horse that’s getting pretty rigid in a bridle you use regularly. Use it a few times to free them up and trying going back to your regular bridle and you’ll see a difference just after a few days!
2. Custom Quickstop
This piece was custom made by a client. This works on aged event aged horses and also on older weekend horses.
This little device is mainly one-dimensional, but extremely effective.
We use the quickstop on a horse that is dropping their front end and getting a little sloppy through the turn, one pull on this and they immediately start to stiffen up their shoulders and get smarter with their front end.
This works great on some of our older geldings a few days before a show because it creates a kind of intensity and ultra focus that they need to tune into.
It should only take a few days of this device to fix your issue and you should be able to go back to your regular bridles again, since this device is one-dimensional, Tim doesn’t use it consistently for longer than a few days on the same horse, until they need it again.
3. Twisted Wire Snaffle Bit
Very similar to the smooth snaffle above, this variation has a thin twisted wire, and Tim uses on any aged horses from colts to an older show horse.
This bit can be as gentle or severe as the hands that are using it, which is why it’s so great for any age. Tim is able to ride colts in it and they aren’t offended by it, and also use it on an older weekend horse and it still gets their attention.
As with the smooth snaffle, this is great for bringing your horse back to basics and working on something where you need to get a lot of handle on your horse.
Tim uses this often when a horse is losing respect for all of the other bridles, in a few rides with a twisted wire, he can get them back to respecting the bridle.
We also love to prepare horses in these!
4. Smooth Snaffle Bit
You’ve heard of it before and probably already know it’s ideal to start colts in, but we also love to prepare horses in it before they show, and often use it on an older horse to soften them up and bring them back to basics when they start to get away from us.
Tim uses on everything from the first ride on a colt to an older weekend horses.
This is great to go back to if you feel like your horse is getting away from you and you need to bring him back to the basic left and right action of riding him two-handed.
One benefit of using this to sharpen up an older horse is you have lots of control and can use it to be very hands-on and place their skeleton exactly where it should be.
5. Regular Correction Bit
This is probably our most used bit, a go-to everyday bit that works great on almost any horse to work or just ride in. This is also the bit Tim will transition a young horse out of a snaffle with, it is a soft step up from a snaffle bit and won't shock them.
This bit is soft enough to be ridden in everyday, yet our horses respect it enough that we can have very productive works with it still.
There are many different styles of corrections, and makers, but Tim prefers a Kerry Kelly or Bill Freeman style correction, they last forever and we love the feel.
You can’t go wrong with trying out a correction, we promise you'll find some use for it, one way or another.
6. Ball Prong Correction Bit
Tim uses a ball prong correction on a lot of our Derby and Classic Challenge aged horses.
Very similar to a regular correction, this variation has a little more bite with the extended “prong” aspect, and is a slight step up from the regular correction.
Tim steps up to this bit when the horse needs something a little more intense than a regular correction, but this bit is still soft enough that you can use it quite a lot without horses getting uncomfortable.
This bit is great to get ahold of a horses mouth and control them from there, rather than at their neck or poll.
Note: Tim prefers to work in a shorter shanked version, and show in a longer shanked version, but only with a bit hobble so you maintain some solidity in the bit while you’re showing to make sure you can still maneuver your horse properly.
5. Smooth Heavy Solid Bit
This is one of the only solid bits Tim regularly works a horse in at home, he likes to use on horses mainly aged four and older, but will use on the odd three year old who’s quite mature and far enough along in the process.
This bit is great for getting control of your horse right at their jaw, as oppose to their neck or poll.
Tim uses this if he’s got a horse that isn’t finishing up that turn and isn’t getting all the way across the cow, you can get ahold of their mouth and guide them exactly where they’re supposed to be finishing through the full turn.
With no prong aspect or sharp port, this solid bit is safe to use often, but the weight of it gives some leverage, so keep that in mind when pulling on this one! With that weight also comes some intensity and we find our horses really pay attention in this one.