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The Pelham Bit

Szerző: Theresa Sandin

The Pelham Bit The Mikmar Combination Bit

The Pelham Bit

The Pelham Curb Bit
The Pelham Curb Bit.

The pelham has recently had a revival, in alternative dressage circuits. Several books have been published on the use of pelhams for dressage or general riding, and big names, like Sylvia Loch and Heather Moffat, recommend them for training and even allow them for showing within their special "Classical Riding Club". To be honest, they don''''t recommend them for showing, but they allow them, rather than having riders sit and fight their horses into flexion with a snaffle.

But what is a pelham? A pelham is a curb bit, much like the dressage weymouth curb bit of the double bridle. The difference is that it is used alone. You could take the curb from the double and use it as a single bit and it would more or less be a pelham. But they look a little different, if you compare the pelham proper to the weymouth. That''''s because they should be used differently.

The Pelham Curb Bit
The Pelham Curb Bit.

The pelham has fastenings at the side of the mouthbar, much like a snaffle. That''''s because it''''s supposed to be used as a snaffle, and have a rein attached to it and this should be the primary rein used. Then it also has a shank like the weymouth and that has a rein attached, and that rein should be used like the curb rein of the double bridle - for flexion of the poll and lowering of the head.

But most riders using it only attach reins to the shank or possibly use a delta (converters) between the two rings. The converters will cause the reins to primarily put traction on the upper ring, and if more force is applied, put traction on the shank. The problem with that is that most of these riders have heavy traction on the reins from the start.

And speaking of problems... There are problems with capital P regarding riding dressage with a pelham. The first one being that if you have a straight mouth bar, you cannot position the horse in the poll or loosen the jaw one-sidedly. But that could be solved by using a jointed mouthbar on your pelham. Now another problem arises. The jointed mouthbar does not work very well with the chin chain (that you need for the curb) because the chin chain will be tightened by the traction on the curb reins and it will wrap the jointed mouthbar around the lower jaw. So there will be a lot of mobility, to the point of slack, with a jointed mouth piece. So, you thighten the chain more. But you still have a mouth piece that is wrapped around the lower jaw of the horse. For this setup to work, the horse must be extremely light, as in well-schooled. A cob that would be fighting with the regular snaffle, rarely is.

I would suggest such a horse to be schooled in a regular snaffle in bending and positioning exercises and flexions, preferably at slower speeds (stand-still, walk...). I would further suggest such a horse to be ridden in quicker, more energetic paces in a hackamore, for schooling balance, strength and only a basic form of longitudal flexion at trot and canter.

The Mikmar Combination Bit

The mikmar Combination Bit
The mikmar Combination Bit.

You probably guessed that I will barf all over this paragraph as soon as you read the headline. It''''s not a bad guess. But sometimes understatements are better at saying what one really means, instead of shooting wildly with a curse word machine-gun.

First of all, I would like to say that a Mikmar combination bit has nothing to do with training a horse for dressage. It is a western bit. It is quite useless for training a horse for anything other than go, stop and possibly flex vertically, because it''''s a straight mouth-bar bit like the pelham above.

Many of my friends throw fits when they see a photo of the bit, calling it a torture device, cruel gadget and so on. But I''''m not so sure. It is fairly thick, and does not have a nut-cracker effect since it''''s straight, and has some way of transferring the pressure from the mouth to the nose and poll, in a relatively soft way. I think it''''s quite hard to inflict pain with this bit.

And, according to it''''s creator Frank Evans, that''''s what the intentions were. To actually stop bad riders from hurting their horses in the mouth:

"But many riders need time to develop good hands. It''''s real easy to mess up the mouth, so riders needed a bit that was mild but effective... He needed something to protect the horse''''s mouth while the owner was learning to ride."

So, to put it in clear text, this is a bit for people who can''''t ride. And people who can''''t ride shouldn''''t train horses for dressage, they should train themselves. Wether they do so with a Mikmar or something else, is up to them, I don''''t think it will hurt anyone, except those who spend the $150 without really being able to afford it, because they find no better way. But that''''s volontary.

Top jumping riders use it, even though they presumably know how to ride. But they school what I earlier stated as "go, stop and possibly flex vertically" and they also try to clear fences. In the show jumping arena, a hot horse can pull or throw the head up hard because it wants to go, or because it wants to manage its own head, or because the traditional bit hurts like hell when the rider pulls. If any of this is made easier with the Mikmar, shoot. But in dressage training, you need to handle that with schooling, trust and skill instead.

További információk: http://www.sustainabledressage.com

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