What Bit is Best for My 2 Year Old Missouri Foxtrotter?
Q. I have a 2yr old Missouri Fox trotter and trying to fit her with the correct bit. It's been a challenge to keep her in settled into her gait for a smooth ride. Help!! TJ
At 2 years old, I wouldn’t worry too much about gait work. At this point, light riding to allow her to get used to balancing a rider under saddle and developing a solid foundation of the basics should be the focus. We generally don’t advocate placing too much emphasis on smoothing out the gait until they’ve had a full season or two under saddle. That will come with time once she is conditioned and used to moving with the weight of the rider on her back.
It is definitely important that she is comfortable in the mouth and doesn’t have too much bit at this point either. Our 2nd Generation Training Transition bit is a wonderful bit to start horses in. It can be used just as a snaffle with no leverage at first. This will allow her to get used to the feeling of the mouthpiece and begin to understand cues from you. It’s pinchless and has plenty of tongue relief and horses usually take to it immediately. We’ve dubbed it the pacifier :). After a season using it as a snaffle you can drop the reins to the lower shanks and add a curb chain and introduce her to very light leverage. This will assist her in being able to collect into the bit, which in turn will help her round up through the poll, neck, and back. This is important for her to be able to do so she can perform a smooth 4-beat gait under saddle. All our products come with our 14 day trial, so you can return it if it doesn’t work out. We only get a couple back per year, so it works out wonderfully for most horses.
For the first season the best thing you can do is work on conditioning, and at 2 keep it fairly light because even though horses look full or almost full-grown, their tendons and ligaments, etc are still finishing growing and strengthening. This prevents putting too much stress on those growing body parts. Our training philosophy when it comes to young horses is to take it slow and build a strong foundation and WORK THAT WALK! Teaching her to walk with impulsion from her hind quarters is key to developing a smooth 4-Beat gait. Hill work is really great for this too.
Also, it’s important she’s comfortable in her saddle to be able to round up and move in good form. If you are unsure of your saddle’s fit for her, you can run through the simple and logical saddle fit tests outlined in our article HERE:
If you haven’t yet, I hope you take advantage of our free online natural gait training articles and videos. Applying the natural gait training riding principles in these articles and videos hopefully will you both on your journey to gait gold!
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to call or email and we’re always happy to help.
I hope this helps!