Too-strong mare heavy in the hand – Stephen Biddlecombe discusses the Polo 3-Ring Happy Tongue from Bombers Bits
October 11th, 2018
Stephen Biddlecombe of Equine Management Ltd recently offered a reader of Polo Times magazine bitting advice…
Q.I play polo on a mare that is currently in a McHardy Polo Pelham. She is generally good in it during schooling sessions at all gaits. During play, when she is put under pressure and the speeds increase, she becomes very strong and checking or fully stopping her becomes a real challenge – she leans on the bit, and becomes incredibly ‘heavy’. She has a fairly neutral head carriage with this bit. Is there another bit that you would recommend I try with her?
The McHardy is a marvellous bit – it is essentially a combination of a jointed Happy Tongue bit, with a Buster Roller mouthpiece. For polo, it is generally great when more control is required, allowing some space for the tongue thanks to the port, which relieves pressure in this area.
Actually, it can often help with leaning, in the case of a horse with a sensitive tongue. The roller in the middle also increases bar pressure and as a result lifts the pony’s head, giving more control.
However in this mare’s case, despite the reduction in tongue pressure, she still seems to be objecting to it (perhaps to the central roller, and its associated bar pressure), by leaning.
The leaning is often a pony’s way of trying to ‘numb’ or blank out the pressure, thereby creating some relief. It could be that as you have the Pelham version, the curb is also playing a part in her leaning.
This isn’t uncommon in polo ponies.
There’s a lot going on here to I recommend a simpler, Polo 3-Ring Happy Tongue from Bombers Bits. It’s also useful for reducing tongue pressure with its medium port that has no roller, creating space for the tongue, relieving pressure and hopefully allowing the horse to relax.
The 3-ring cheekpiece adds some poll pressure as well, creating the leverage on the mouthpiece that you may seek for control.
Bombers Bits include hundreds of off the shelf bitting solutions, and customers can even design their own bespoke bit from a selection of mouth pieces, cheek pieces and widths, using a ‘design your own bit’ service.
Bombers bits are made from blue sweet iron – the metal oxidises easily, creating a warm, sweet taste in the pony’s mouth and encouraging the pony to salivate.
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