~ a 9 minute read 🙂
Hi and welcome back to my blog!🤗
As you have correctly guessed from the title, this latest post will focus on BITS and more specifically on my experience with Neue Schule bits!
A couple of weeks ago I sent a DM to NS on Instagram raving about their products and to my delight they decided to include me in their blog!
NS bits have the two key ingredients that would make me fall in love with any brand: Great products + Amazing Customer service!
Since the mission of my blog is to share my experiences, tips and tricks – I feel it is imperative that I talk about the NS bits that have literally changed my life!
I was initially introduced to this brand by Lisa White when discussing my contact issues with Sansoucie in one of our lessons.
Sansoucie is very sensitive, temperamental and strong. Thus finding a bit that she felt comfortable in while addressing the numerous contact issues we had was very important.
She had the tendency to lean on the bit, blocking her neck and pole as well as getting the tongue over.
Switching her double broken bit into a NS Verbidend was the first step in the right direction!
The Verbindend (a bit also used by Cathrine Dufour and many other international riders) aims to clarify and emphasize the signals through the reins. It helps improve self carriage, throughness and encourages relaxation.
The change I felt in Sansoucie was instantaneous! Better communication, a more relaxed neck and pole and a lifted forehand.
After making this change, our rides on the snaffle were forever changed for the better!
However, I still faced issued with her double.
It was clear that Weymouth bit that she came with from Germany was not comfortable for her anymore – whenever she would see the double bridle she would put her ears back, lift her head so that I couldn’t reach her… Basically saying “I DON’T LIKE THIS THING”.
Don’t get me wrong, the bit she had on was a perfectly good Sprenger KK which other horses might respond very well to! Sansoucie however despised it. I tried other bits as well but they all seemed bulky and uncomfortable.
When riden she would pull against the bits, open her mouth and be very stressed and upset.
In turn, I was miserable because seeing her like that was the last thing any rider would want.
I had almost given up hope when I found out that NS has an online questionnaire which you fill and they suggest bits based on your needs and issues!
The Transform Weymouth did exactly what the name suggests! Once again, the change was immediate! I had a softer, suppler and – most importantly – a happier horse!
I never got around to trying the Turtle Tilt because I was so happy with the feeling I had one the Transform!
Only within a month, the change in Sansoucie was so massive that we jumped from 64% to a 69% in the Prix St. George in our first competition after the summer!
While this percent increase is the product of a lot of hard work over the past couple of years, I do believe that finding the right Weymouth was the connecting block that put everything in place!
As I mentioned earlier, NS initially suggested I also try the Turtle Tactio snaffle with the Turtle Tilt Weymouth.
The Turtle Tactio is a bit created to accommodate larger or sensitive tongues and diverts the pressure away from the sensitive regions.
While it wasn’t the best fit for Sansoucie, it made me wonder what Quanderas’ reaction would be to this snaffle!
I’d always ridden Quandi in a double broken snaffle. Sometimes he could get a little strong but nothing I couldn’t handle.
Since the lockdown though he had started to become a little fussy with his tongue which is one of the reasons why I decided to try the Tactio.
His reaction was once again very rewarding as he has become softer and more relaxed in the mouth – the tension that I sometimes felt in the past was replaced by a quiet mouth.
Terpsichore (aka TT)
TT is a large 8yo mare with impressive shoulders, big neck and head. Yet she has a delicate, sensitive and over active mouth.
She would block the pole, holding on to the rein for balance and instead of softening, she would back off the contact, coming behind the vertical.
To solve this, I initially started riding her in the Turtle Top snaffle.
This bit is aimed to help the horses with active mouths and aims to re-focus the horse on the rein aids in order to achieve a soft consistent contact.
The Turtle Top helped her to trust me and to create a steadier, more consistent contact.
After almost 1.5 years, I recently decided that I needed some extra help in lifting her shoulders and to clarify the aids. So this past week I have switched her to a Verbindend.
It was a big change as I also chose to use a thinner piece but it is a great first step towards the double bridle and to more grown-up training.
I consulted with NS and plan to trial the Aachen Weymouth as it also helps with peacocking (i.e. when the horse gets over the bit, but behind the vertical while inverting the back – an issue I often face during shows).
Exploring New Bits & Trialing
I feel that exploring what bits best suit each horse and rider combination is a crucial step in building a strong duet.
However, since it is a process of trial and error, it is easy to end up with a collection of bits while searching for ‘The One’. That is why I prefer to trial bits instead of buying them straight away.
Bit trialing unfortunately does not exist here is Greece but thankfully, even during the pandemic, the UK based Horse Bit Bank delivers to many countries (Greece included) with an option for trialing bits for 30 days.
In conclusion I believe that riding comes down to correct communication between horse and rider and bits are a crucial tool. Thus, it is our responsibility as equestrians to educate ourselves around the topic.
While our trainers are always there to advise us, by reading and exploring ourselves we become more mature and thoughtful in our riding.
Paying attention and decoding the feedback we get from the reins enables us to improve our contact and understand why each action get a particular reaction.
While the internet offers large amounts of information, I admire brands that chose to offer learning resources and personal advice to anyone who seeks it.
I will keep you posted with the progress of Sansoucie, Quandi and TT but until then remember:
Chin up, Heels down and enjoy the ride!
What is your experience with bits and tack in general? Are there any pieces of equipment that you swear by? Drop me a message on Facebook, slide 😜into my DM’s on Instagram or an email though the contact form!