Talk About Tack: Bit For Runaway Horse Logo

Question Category: Talk about Tack

Question: I stumbled onto your Dear Julie site while looking for info. Let me explain what I’m trying to do. I recently bought an 8-year-old Standardbred gelding that has been racing all of his trained life. He is what is known by the racing people as a “Puller”. He grabs the bit and is virtually uncontrollable. Their solution was to rig him with a Simpson controller bit and a lip cord. I am in the process of retraining him with the help of a trainer (natural horsemanship) to a saddle. Any suggestions as to what type of bit would be effective to keep him from repeating his track record?

Louise Johnson

Answer: When I was riding on the track, we used a bit for pullers that was very effective in keeping control. I do not know what it is called but it is a regular snaffle that has a big ring that goes in the horse’s mouth and back behind his jaw. When the horse is not running off, the bit acts like a normal snaffle. But if he runs off, the ring gives you a little extra control.

I recommend using a snaffle and working on better control through a one-rein stop. By picking up one rein toward your opposite shoulder, it will cause a disengagement of the hindquarters which will cause the horse to lose his power and stop. The key is to only use one rein. Practice the one-rein stop at slow speeds until the horse is very responsive. Then when you feel him getting strong, you can pick up one rein.

If that does not stop him, you need to know how to use the “pulley rein.” When a horse is running off at full speed, it is not a good time to circle him (which a one-rein stop will cause) because he may fall down. Instead use the pulley rein to apply leverage to the horse’s mouth. If you know how to use the pulley rein correctly, you can stop any horse on its nose. There is a Q&A on my website about the pulley rein and how to use it. Good luck!

Julie Goodnight, Clinician and Trainer

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