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Q: I have seen eventer Ciaran Glynn using an unusual-looking bit on one of his horses in the cross-country phase this season. Can you tell me what bit it is and what it does?
PL, Warwicks

The horse you mention is Killossery Harvey. Ciaran Glynn was the highest-placed Irish rider with Harvey in the seven-year-old class at the recent International Equestrian Federation (FEI) World Breeding Eventing Championships.

What bit is Ciaran using?

Ciaran tells us he uses a Waterford Nelson gag bit on Harvey; a running gag bit with a Waterford mouthpiece, commonly used on horses that lean on the bit, or “take hold”.

The cheek pieces of the Nelson gag slip through slots in the bit rings to give a clearly defined aid.

The bit is most commonly seen in eventing and show jumping circles, when increased control is required.

How does it work?

The Waterford mouthpiece, which consists of a series of balls across the main part of the bit, is designed to encourage the horse to develop feel and “mouth” the bit.

It is recommended by many riders whose horses are sensitive,but strong.

The Nelson gag, with its full cheek pieces, has some very similar alternatives; with an eggbutt mouthpiece it is referred to as a Cheltenham gag, while the loose-ring version is known as a Balding gag.

Information

www.horsebitbank.com stocks the Abbey Waterford Nelson Gag at £99.34.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (3 December, ’09)

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