Difficult Show Jumper

I have a very sensitive mouthed warmblood gelding. Every time contact is taken up he throws his head right in the air, and if stopped he will rear. He is a very keen jumper and would gallop at the jumps if he could, so I think you see my issue. If a steady, slightly firmer contact is maintained, he drops his head right down and in, and goes around on the forehand, where he is easily adjusted but drops rails. I have had him in a French link eggbut snaffle, in which he throws his head all over the place and is far too strong. He has also been tried in a pro-trainer, which seemed to be working strength wise, but he was still throwing his head and very unhappy. Recently I've ridden him in one of the bomber bits, a loose ring cherry roller happy mouth. He has been much steadier in this, but still far too strong, even working on the flat. On the flat he is very unsteady and either above or below the bit, very rarely on it, and if so only briefly. He also continuously plays with the bit. The corners of his mouth are very sensitive and get pinched very easily. Thank you for your time :)

Posted in Showjumping & Hunter, asked by Catharina Jefferson, 2 years ago. 697 hits.


Hi Catharina,

Both the bits you have previously tried, the French Link and the Pro Trainer use mainly tongue pressure. Your horse is showing signs of being tongue sensitive, which is why he throws his head so much with both those bits.

The Happy Tongue is definitely going in the right direction for him. There could be a few reasons why he wasn't completely settled in the Happy Tongue.

Firstly I believe the that Cherry Rollers may be too much for him, they will bump on the bars a little, and for a very sensitive horse, this can be upsetting.

Secondly he could be a horse with a narrow bottom jaw. We are finding horses with this conformation more and more. In the horse with a narrow jaw, the bars of the bottom jaw are too close together, this means that the standard ported bits don't sit properly on bars. Have a look in his mouth, if you can fit less than 3 fingers between the bars of his bottom jaw, then his is a narrow mouth. If this is the case, then he will need a narrow Happy Tongue.

Has he played continuously with the other bits you have tried? If so, then he probably doesn't like metal, in which case we would move to the Bomber Blue, which is very similar to the Happy Tongue, but made of a nylon composite.

I think that he may need a swivel mouth piece. I think a Racing Williams Swivel would work well for him, we make these bits with either the Happy Tongue or the Bomber Blue mouth piece. With this design, the mouth piece is able to rotate, which allows the horse to place the mouth piece at the angle that is most comfortable for him, and it doesn't move. This softens the bit up even more.

I know he comes across as a very strong horse, but a large part of that is because he is trying to get away from the pressure of a mouth piece he finds uncomfortable. With the correct bit, he will still be keen, but it will also be listening and not fighting.


Claire @ Bombers
2 years ago
Hi, He doesn't seem to have a narrow mouth, and has always played with his bits. Does this mean I should try the Racing Williams Bomber Blue? Also, if his current French link eggbut snaffle measures 13cm, what size would I go for? He's not too keen on me sticking things in his mouth so I thought it better to measure his current bit. And also, how would I purchase it and how much would it cost? Cheers, Catharina - Catharina Jefferson 2 years ago
Hi Catharina, Yes, I would go for the Bomber Blue over the Happy Tongue as it sounds as though he may not be a fan of metal. I would go for the Racing Williams Bomber Blue Swivel, it is very important to have swivel in the name of the bit, otherwise it will be a fixed mouth piece. It was a very good idea to measure his current bit, I agree that if he doesn't like a lot of fiddling, we should respect that. A 125mm should fit him well based on the size of his current bit. Where are you based? With this information, I can direct you to your nearest retailer. Regards, Claire@Bombers - Claire @ Bombers 2 years ago
Hi, I'm based in central Otago - Catharina Jefferson 2 years ago
Hi Catharina, We have a distributor in New Zealand, please would you contact Dee, I have copied in all her details below: Bombers Equestrian New Zealand Brendon and Dee Stirling +64 (0)21 726 356 (Dee) +64 (0)21 726 357 (Brendon) +64 (0)9 263 6881 (Office) dee@apinz.com Regards, Claire@Bombers - Claire @ Bombers 2 years ago
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