Two-Handed Western Bit

“It isn’t the bit that creates the softness, it is the hands.”

As any artist or skilled craftsman will tell you, the tools of your trade are of great importance in the creation of the art. For the serious horseman, the selection of tack is no mere passing fancy at the mercy of whims or trends except where the communication with the horse is directly affected. While all horsemen, just like artists, have their own preferences for their gear selections, the resounding lesson is quality and ease of use to facilitate communication and Soft Feel. Each of our choices in tack should focus on clear communication and clarity of signal to the horse.

This is an example of the two-handed Western bit. It is broken in the middle so each side moves independently. The shanks are also loose, as opposed to fixed, allowing for more variations in communication. There are multiple variations of this bit type available.

Two-Handed Western Bit
“The two-handed Western bit has been around a long time. It has been touted as a way to transition between the snaffle and the more widely common curb bits used on the Western horse. In Cowboy Dressage, the two-handed Western bit has found a more permanent home than just as a transition bit. With a horse that has a good understanding of bend and the basic maneuvers and is ready for a little more refinement, the two-handed bit is a very good choice. There are as many different options for mouth- pieces and shank styles as there are colors of wild rags, and the final choice will depend on each individual horse-and-rider combination.
Unlike a traditional solid mouthpiece Western bit, the two-handed Western bit allows you to continue to facilitate communication to one side of the horse’s mouth at a time, as you refine your other aids in building a horse with Soft Feel and self-carriage. The movement in the bit allows you to lightly lift and apply pressure to one commissure at a time. Used properly the horse can carry and perform quite comfortably in this bit when ridden with light contact. Many Cowboy Dressage riders will transition between this bit and the snaffle and back again, as needed, depending on the horse and the goals of the rider. It is important to note that the choice to transition up to a two-handed shanked bit from a snaffle bit is not because the horse “needs a bigger bit” but rather that the horse is ready for a little more refinement in his communication. When a horse doesn’t understand softness and bend in a snaffle bit, you aren’t likely to find success in a two- handed bit either”.

Read more at Dressage the Cowboy Way.

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