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Ask H&H: leather-covered elevator bit

Q: I spotted show jumper Graham Lovegrove winning the 1.40m accumulator on Huron Des Gerbaux in Spain using an unusual-looking bit and noseband combination. Could you tell me what it is and what the benefits are of using it?
LS, Bedfordshire

GRAHAM was competing in the Toledo CSI*** in Spain last month in what he tells us is a leather-covered elevator bit with both a drop and rope noseband.

How does it work?

THE bit has a snaffle mouthpiece with long shanks that attach to short cheekpieces. The shanks lift the bit higher in the horse’s mouth while applying poll pressure. The lower the rein is placed on the shank, the more severe the leverage. When pressure is placed on the reins, the bit rotates in the mouth and applies pressure to the poll.

“I think it is a western bit primarily that can be used for English-style riding as it has a lot of leverage,” said Lucy Nicholas from The Saddlery Shop in Devon.

“The leather coverings on the metal shanks are there to prevent rubbing.”

What type of horse does this bit suit?

THIS bit is suited to strong horses. Graham has used the elevator bit successfully on Huron Des Gerbaux, who he describes as “a bit of a tank”, for three years.

“I do not use this bit on any of my other horses as it would be too severe for them,” he explained.

“The elevator can be a useful schooling aid to teach a horse to respect the rider’s hands. However, it should only be used by experienced riders as it can be quite severe.”

Why two nosebands?

HURON DES GERBAUX is not only strong, but he tries to evade the action of the bit by getting his tongue over it.

“Only together are the rope and drop nosebands sufficient to keep his mouth closed to stop him from getting his tongue over the bit,” said Graham.

Where can I get one?

THIS type of bit is currently unavailable in the UK. Graham picked his up on the Continent, but they are widely available via the internet in the US. Visit www.tackroominc.com or The Saddlery Shop www.thesaddleryshop.co.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (12 June, ’08)

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