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Ask H&H: Sprenger KK-Conrad Universal bit

Q: John-Paul Sheffield was pictured recently at Houghton Horse Trials riding DHI Hindle — what bit was he using?
TC, Cheshire

J-P SHEFFIELD won CCI* section B at Subaru Houghton International Horse Trials riding Jane Heerbeck’s DHI Hindle, a seven-year-old KWPN gelding.

According to J-P, the bit he was pictured using is a Sprenger KK-Conrad Universal, a loose-ring bit with a double-jointed lozenge.

Why does he use it?

THE bit makes use of tongue sensitivity by applying gentle tongue pressure and slight poll pressure to encourage flexion in the poll area.

The bit is designed to take into account the height of the horse’s palate and the size of the cavity where the bit sits. It is also said to give control without increased severity.

“I wanted something that gave a little more control than a normal snaffle for cross-country, but that wasn’t too severe,” explained J-P.

The horse’s owner, Jane Heerbeck, says that when J-P tried DHI Hindle over a cross-country course in a normal snaffle, he felt he didn’t have quite enough control for the combination fences.

“We use the Universal as it helps set the horse up for the combination fences, and allows the rider to bring the horse back more quickly afterwards,” said Jane.

“It looks a bit like a Dutch gag, but is actually quite similar to a Wilkie snaffle, which has half-moon pieces on the bit ring and provides gentle poll leverage.”

Where can I get one?

Sprenger KK-Conrad Universal is available in Aurigan (a special alloy) from Frogpool Manor Saddlery, priced at £143.99 (code 40608) Tel: 020 8300 0716 www.frogpool.com

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (3 July, ’08)

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