ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

One Hander Bit
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
iceryder
Member
 

Joined: Sat Aug 18th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 8
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 17th, 2008 01:57 am
 Quote  Reply 
Any input on a bit that has shanks that come together at the bottom so that there is one ring for both reins to attach?

I'm wondering about the mechanics of this type of bit.  The mouthpiece is solid with a port, with loose joints on the sides for the shanks.

Thanks!

Judy


DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3307
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 17th, 2008 07:56 am
 Quote  Reply 
Iceryder, you are I think describing some kind of Chifney or modified Chifney. These are nonleverage or mild-leverage bits that can be hooked either to a bridle or to a halter. They're often used on young horses and also as an adjunct to a plain halter with a stallion.

You can ride them one-handed or two-handed. It's the connection below the horse's chin that is single, but that doesn't dictate whether the reins might be held in one or two hands.

Photo of Chifney bit attached for clarity. -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: chiffney bit.jpg (Downloaded 343 times)

Tammy 2
Member


Joined: Sun Feb 3rd, 2008
Location: Redland, Alberta Canada
Posts: 129
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 17th, 2008 10:15 pm
 Quote  Reply 
I have heard/read that these bits are mostly for leading and not riding at all.  Some say it is an "anti-rearing" gadget.  I also have read that this was used on a horse that was hard to load in a trailer and would rear, this bit was used and they ended up breaking the horses jaw.  Yikes.

I would think avoiding one of these would be best.

 

Brenton Ross Matthews
Member


Joined: Sat Oct 27th, 2007
Location: Harrogate South Australia, Australia
Posts: 57
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 17th, 2008 11:54 pm
 Quote  Reply 
When I was a teenager I had a job leading TB yearlings into the salering for Coles Brothers ,the Agent who held their annual sale at the Adelaide Showgrounds.

  This ANTI REARING bit had to be used on ALL yearlings whether they were used to it or not as it was considered that the handler had more control of the horse.

 Another example of STUPID traditional procedures enforced by some who ,probably ,never ever led a yearling.

  Another handler and I ,most times never hooked the lead strap to the bit as the EXPERTS would not notice and we had less problems !!!

Some thought too that this bit caused problems later with the mouthing methods used back then.

Brenton

Callie
Member
 

Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 53
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jul 18th, 2008 02:54 pm
 Quote  Reply 
I think the OP is talking about this http://www.onehander.com/2012481.html

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3307
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Jul 20th, 2008 06:35 am
 Quote  Reply 
Dear people -- this question sort of begs a discussion of ring-type bits in general. I find that many people, particularly those in the British Commonwealth countries, are terrified of these things, and I used to be too -- until Dave Elliott educated me better about it. Let me share what he taught me.

First, Brenton's comment about the Chifney is something worth listening to. If the Chifney is snapped to a halter, it would be loose and slopping around on the horse's head. One of the most important points that Dave E. brings up on our "Anatomy of Bitting" videotape is that adjustments of the bridle are just as big a factor in whether a bit is going to fit, be comfortable, and/or be effective, as the selection of the type of bit in the first place.

Second, even if the Chifneys that they used at the auction-barn where Brenton worked were put on bridles instead of on halters, it appears that the 'boss' expected the handlers down in the pit to just have a couple of Chifneys on hand and switch them from one horse to another. This is hardly like being able to custom-fit each horse, which any private owner should certainly try to do.

Third, you can see from the photo of the Chifney that the mouthpiece is a straight bar. This means that 100% of whatever pressure is exerted will fall upon the horse's tongue -- the first point of contact of any mouthpiece is the tongue. If you-all remember the previous thread where we were advising someone whose young horse wasn't accepting the bit real well, to tie the bit up -- relieving downward pressure on the tongue by redistributing some of the contact to the bridge of the nose. Many young horses, when first bitted, feel "suffocated" by the bit -- or more accurate to say, by their own reaction to the bit, which is to retract the tongue, which then partially occludes their airway. So for all three of these reasons, it doesn't surprise me that Brenton had better luck just putting the Chifney in his pocket.

Now as to the 'one hander' bit -- again, if you've looked at the photo by following the link supplied, you see that it's nothing more than an ordinary curb bit with the shanks bent inward and welded. The mouthpiece itself is not shown in the photo I saw, but it looks like it would probably have some tongue-relief, i.e. it has a bend in it like a wide, shallow, upside-down 'U'. The butts are short cylinders with some up-and-down play. Let us then ask -- what particularly could this bit do that a traditional curb bit does not do?

The big lesson here is to realize that ALL bits that make use of a curb strap or chain work by encircling the horse's lower jaw + tongue. You can do the same thing with a leather thong, and then tie a pair of reins on below the animal's chin, or tie two reins on by tying one to each side. A snaffle bit set up with a 'bit hobble', i.e. a curb strap that prevents the bit from turning or coming clear through the mouth if one rein is pulled hard, is also a ring around the horse's jaw + tongue. In other words, the ring around the jaw + tongue does not have to involve shanks or leverage; that is a separate factor. But the first point to notice is that all these kinds of bits encircle the lower jaw + tongue, and it is this that we are 'talking to' with the reins.

Notice that when this is the set-up, if our horse has a stiff neck -- which most horses that have been ridden at all do -- then in order for us to 'talk to' the neck with the reins and any techniques that we do with our hands, we have to go through TWO joints: first, the jaw joints, where the jaws hinge onto the skull; and second the poll joint, where the skull hinges onto the neck. Only if we can get the muscles that surround all these joints to totally relax and release are we going to be able to penetrate back into the neck. Hence the emphasis placed on getting the horse to lick and work his jaws: an emphasis started by Baucher in the early 19th century and carried through to today in the schools of Ray Hunt and his teachers. We can also mention a third set of joints that are important, the hyoid apparatus which supports the root of the tongue, the pharynx, and the larynx; again, unless all the muscles that invest these structures are released, the rider will not be able to penetrate back into the neck to get it to release. When the horse licks and chews, he's showing us that there's no excess tension in the hyoid chain.

So much for the 'ring around the horse's jaw'. Now, in ancient North Africa, someone invented the actual 'ring bit', which is today called a Morisco or Moorish Bit in Spain, a Chileno in Mexico and South America, and a 'mule bit' by most Americans. The ring bit has BOTH a mouthpiece and an iron ring (see photo of one of these bits from my collection, attached). The mouthpiece has a port that is too narrow, except at the base, to function as a tongue-relief, but is high enough that, if the shanks of the bit are pulled back, the port will rotate forward and touch the horse on the roof of the mouth. For this reason, the Morisco is the oldest type of a class of bits called 'palate pressure bits'. This class also includes Spade bits, which are a further development, as I will explain below.

The Morisco itself looks a fearsome sight to anyone who doesn't understand how it works. Like the Chifney, it does exert quite a bit of effect on the tongue, so before it can be used, the horse has to be introduced to it in such a manner that he can accept it fully, without retracting his tongue. This is often done by first bitting him in a snaffle, then switching to the Morisco when he's cool first with a jointed snaffle and then with a mullen-mouth or bar-bit.

The first thing that bothers people about the Morisco (and also the various types of Spade bits) is the high port. The photo I supply is of an old, beat-up, but originally well-made, hand-forged bit. It's missing some parts, particularly the rein-chains and possibly a barba or 'bit beard', which it might originally have had. It's also missing the spoonlike cap that would have covered the upper surface of the top half of the port. The spoon makes it so that contact with the palate is smooth and more comfortable. My Morisco is also missing the little roller or 'cricket' that would have spun on the partial axis you see still remaining. The spoon would have covered the cricket, so that the cricket would have been on the tongue-side of the port, where the horse could play with it (stroke it with his tongue) if he liked.

We speak of the 'height' of the port, and this is misleading. So another fact about the Morisco that's important to realize is that the port was never vertical and was not designed to ever come into a vertical orientation, or in fact anything close to vertical. When you bit a horse with a Morisco or Spade, you insert the port parallel to the tongue. The port lies flat upon the length of the tongue, sandwiched between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.

Now, if there were NO 'ring around the jaw' with this design, the poor horse would be in very serious jeopardy, and it is when people who don't understand that the curb chain (on a Spade) and the iron ring (on the Morisco) MUST BE ADJUSTED SNUG that we do see horses get hurt in these bits. Why? What is the function of the iron ring, that looks as if it could break the horse's jaw? Notice that in the Morisco, the iron ring passes through a loop fixed to the top of the port. When you bit the horse, you slide the port + ring into his mouth, parallel to the tongue, but you are sliding the ring on so that it goes around the tongue + lower jaw.

When you pull back on the shanks of the Morisco, the port is pivoted so that it rises off the tongue and starts to push against the roof of the mouth. If there were no ring that went snugly around the outside of the lower jaw, the port could in fact become vertical and you could seriously wound the palate. What, then, does the iron ring do? It hobbles the top of the port down so that it can't pry the animal's mouth open or wound the palate.

The Morisco bit is designed as a rocker-device requiring almost no rein pressure: when well made and well fitted, the animal needs only lift his nose for the counterweight of the rein-chains to act to swivel the port forward -- just enough to "tap" on the palate. The tapping of the spoon on the palate induces the horse to raise the base of its neck -- in other words to arch its neck -- and, as a side effect of that most essential re-posturing, to bring its head into a vertical or near-vertical orientation.

If the Morisco is made correctly and fitted correctly so that the jaw-ring is snug, a crude operator hauling away at the reins could crush or cut the edges of the tongue, because the action of the HOBBLED bit is not to have the port come up -- it can't -- but to focus the pressure downward as the tongue and bars are caught between the upward motion of the iron ring and the downward motion of the outer reaches of the mouthpiece. Ultimately if you pulled on it hard enough, you could break the horse's jaw. But this is no different from the action, or the danger inherent, in any curb bit whatsoever, be it Western style or Weymouth, and it is the ineptness or brutishness of the operator that is to blame.

The Spade bit is a modification or development of the Morisco. In the Spade bit, the iron jaw-ring has disappeared and been replaced by a curb chain or strap, which, as I mentioned above, needs to be adjusted SNUGLY so as to fulfill its function of hobbling the port (which the curb chain can only do indirectly, by limiting the traverse of the upper shanks) in order to prevent injury to the horse's palate.

I'm not posting this in hopes that a lot of people will take up the Morisco or Spade, but rather so as to induce our correspondents to think clearly about how any type of bit works. The big revelations here are: (1) that a snaffle bit without bit-hobble is a half-ring, (2) a snaffle bit with bit-hobble is a full ring, (3) the main function of the iron ring in a Morisco or the curb chain in a Spade is to hobble the port.

A fourth important point is that the curb chain or ring in the Morisco and Spade are not really there because they're needed to guide the horse as if we had taken ahold of him by the jaw. Instead, when using these bits, the skillful rider is 'talking' directly to the horse's skull in a way that no snaffle or ordinary curb bit does. The whole object, then, in riding in a Morisco or Spade is to have a horse before he is bitted that is so OK with the situation and himself that there's no question as to whether his jaws are loose, and we can then use the bit to talk directly to the skull and not have to worry about going through the jaw joints. Moreover, the spade or long port in these bits, once it's accepted by the horse, make it highly unlikely that he will retract the tongue or carry tension in the tongue, so we don't have to worry about tension through the hyoid chain either, but can focus directly upon getting the neck mobilized and after that, the loins, ribcage, and the joints of the hind limbs. To get the horse totally OK before being put in one of these bits requires a period of preliminary training which is normally given either in the snaffle (a half-ring), or else in the hackamore/bosal, which is the only other way to skip the jaw joints and hyoids and talk directly to the poll joint and neck.

Cheers to everyone who wants to learn more about how bits really work. -- Dr. Deb

 

Attachment: Morisco with labels.jpg (Downloaded 243 times)

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 01:28 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Dr. Deb:

I'd be interested in your take on the ring bit in the picture below.  It is from my collection, and dates to the 1860s.

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3307
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 08:04 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Joe, your contribution here is a great comment on what happened when Anglo-Americans met Mexicans.

Upon every point where my Mexican bit is kind, your 'mule bit' is unforgiving. I mean here not merely the big shank length, which multiplies the leverage by which the tongue and bars could be crushed, but the angular contour of the tongue-relief -- there IS no tongue relief in the mule bit.

This stuff happens when a group of people, a culture, a society, get into a hurry. I state in "Conquerors" how Stephen Austin's colonists, when they came to Texas, rejected the Mexican work-concept -- Mexicans like to work in teams, so that man and horse can expect a little relief every so often; Anglo-Texans prided themselves on being able to do the whole job alone. This work ethic affected everything from saddle design to the choice of rope and the way the rope was used.

The Anglo colonists also preferred a different type of horse than the Mexicans. Whereas the Mexicans rode horses of Iberian descent, i.e. tamed mustangs, Austin's colonists and everybody who came from the East after them, until just before the Civil War, brought Morgans and TB-Morgan crosses. The Easterners expected their horses to be in work between four and six years of age. They were not at all interested in learning traditional Mexican and Spanish training techniques that not only involved a long preparatory period in the bosal, but might mean the horse wouldn't be bitted until he was six years old or more. The Anglos wanted control, and thought that the bit was the primary tool for control.

Hence we get bits like the one you show. Anglo thinking along these same lines also produced the 'western curb', which is not really an evolution from the Weymouth which Austin's colonists would already have been familiar with, so much as it is a 'chopping down' of a ring-bit -- i.e. 'chop down' the port so you only have a tongue-relief. You then hybridize that by putting on shanks that have both an upper and lower part (notice that mine has zero upper shank and yours has very little), and removing the ring and replacing that with a curb chain. This much is similar to the development which produced the Spade from the Morisco.

Thanks much for the contribution. This thread might turn into a museum gallery, most interesting! -- Dr. Deb

 

 

Joe
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 282
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 08:58 pm
 Quote  Reply 

Dr. Deb:

Agree fully. 

This was the harshest version of the M1859 cavalry bit, as you an see in the side view.  The others lacked the ring and had a graduated set of "normal" ports.  Relatively few of these ring versions were made, for which we should all be grateful, as would the horses if only they had known.  The others of this model were plenty harsh, what with  the same shanks, and with curb chains.  The Army was putting poorly trained recruits on poorly trained horses, and they wanted CONTROL.  However, what they got was broken jaws (for forum readers -- this refers to the splintering of the edges of the underside of the animal's jawbones in the lower "V" around the curb groove).  Pretty horrible, all in all.

The record is not clear as to why, exactly they designed this particular bit, but the contact with Hispano-American on the western frontier is quite obviously the primary influence.  Horned saddles were very popular for the first time about then as well.  The Hope saddle, of which I have a decent period specimen, is a good example.  In many ways that adaptation was more practical than the big-horned Mexican saddles from which it was derived, but it lost some functionality -- but I digress.

In any event, the Cavalry learned gradually over the next 50 years that the massive-force bits were not the way to go.  As is always the case, in good hands, the bits were manageable, but with a rider with an insecure seat or hard hands, heaven help the horse. Over time, several models of progressively milder bits were issued.   By the Punitive Expedition into Mexico to try to catch Poncho Villa in 1916, a double bridle with fairly mild curbs and snaffles (bit and bridoon) had been adopted as the M1909.  These could be made into single-bit rigs by undoing a pair of buckles.  Unfortunately, the curb was what remained when you went to single bit.  At the end of the expedition, Pershing, himself a fine horseman, comented that he wished they had left the curbs at home when the crossed the river, and use only the snaffles.

Interestingly, by the turn of the 20th century, American officers were beig sent to school at Saumar in France, and were translating Baucher and other French masters.  

Going back a step or five though, the next bit after the M1859 was the M1874, called the "Shoemaker" because it was invented by an officer named Shoemaker.  It had long but lighter shanks, and a wheel like connection to the cheek pieces  in order to allow the bit to slide and eliminate poll pressure.  It also used a wide and mild leather curb strap, and a much milder selections of ports.  Shoemaker's idea was for a more humane bit that would eliminate serious problems in the M1859 series. 

Shown in the second image is a "Shoemaker" from my collection with the scarce original version of the curb strap.






Last edited on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 09:04 pm by Joe


 Current time is 03:02 am




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez