Courtesy of Downunder Horsemanship
A lot of people wisely start the Method with a horse that’s already trained, and often times, these horses have been ridden in shank bits. When starting the Method, I encourage people to use a snaffle bit to train their horses. Of course, this brings up the question of whether or not you need to switch to a snaffle bit if your horse is used to being ridden in a shank bit. If you want to get the most out of the Method and want a truly soft horse, the answer is you should start the Method in a snaffle bit. In my opinion, there is no comparison to a snaffle bit’s ability to soften and supple a horse.
After taking my advice about switching their horse from a shank bit to a snaffle bit, people will contact me and say that their horse feels horrible in the snaffle bit. He’s pulling on the reins, leaning against the bit, feels heavy in their hands, etc. I’ll be the first to tell you that when you switch a horse that’s normally ridden in a shank bit to a snaffle bit, he’ll feel worse to you. However, if you follow the Fundamentals exercises and focus on lateral flexion, within two weeks, he will be lighter and feel a million times better than he did in the shank bit.
Remember this: Horses don’t have hard mouths; they have hard, stiff bodies. When you get the horse’s body soft and supple, his mouth will be soft. He’ll feel like velvet in your hands.