BRYONY Wilson’s advanced horse Briarlands Firewood (“Woody”) had been tried in various bits — none of which was very effective — before trying a Myler gag. We spoke to Bryony about the problems she has had finding a bit that works.
What makes Woody difficult to bit?
“WHEN I got Woody a couple of years ago, I couldn’t control him,” says Bryony. “He’s a cross-country machine, talented with a huge jump, but I had no brakes or steering. It got to the stage that I was considering giving up with him, because he was going to end up hurting me or himself.
“My equine dentist says that Woody has quite a fat tongue and fleshy lips. The stronger the bit I tried with him, the more he hated it — he’d often come back with a sore mouth. It was as if he was trying to run away from, rather than reacting to, the pressure of stronger bits.”
What other bits did you try?
“I had tried him in the original Myler combination bit, which had worked well on my ride Coquin Du Vallon, but Briarlands Firewood was still too strong in it — we nearly hit a tree during the intermediate cross-country at Osberton.
“So I tried a pelham, but I had no left or right steering, and then various gags — but he hated them all. I went clear using one in the advanced at Bicton earlier this year but it was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had — he was jumping these huge fences and tricky combinations with his head kinked to the left or right.”
What bit did you try next?
ON advice from Gill’s Bit Bank, Bryony tried the Myler gag with Neil Merrill cheeks. It incorporates a “low-port mouthpiece” to give extra room to the tongue, hinged cheek-pieces, and a leather noseband attached to the bit. It works evenly across the tongue, the bars of the mouth, the poll, the curb and the palate.
“This bit has a thick leather strap across the nose [above the nasal cartilage], which provides even pressure. The mouthpiece has a ‘roller’ in the centre and the two sides of the mouthpiece work independently — he can’t lean either way. It has given me left and right steering,” says Bryony.
“Woody navigated the advanced at Gatcombe [where he finished 10th], and having that extra manoeuvrability really helped — it’s the best he’s ever run. I still have some problems with him being strong, but this bit has been a real life-saver.”
Does he show jump in this as well?
NO — in the show jumping, Woody goes in a Myler snaffle, and in the dressage he wears Neue Schule bits.
How do I get one?
THE Myler gag costs around £120
Tel: 01580 292922) www.gillsbitbank.co.uk
This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (28 September, ’06)