Les Vogt on Trouble-Shooting Your Bit
Have a bitting problem? Bitmaker and 15-time world champion in reining and working cow horse, Les Vogt, Arroyo Grande, Calif., has some ideas about how to approach the situation.
"If your horse is a fire-breather, really anticipates in the show pen and knows all the tricks," Vogt says, "and you call and need help, I have a few questions."
"One: What leverage bit are you riding your horse with now? Two: Which bit do you use now? Three: How do you want to change your horse?"
Think about those things, Vogt recommends, so you can adjust to use new or unfamiliar pressure points that haven't been used with your horse. Maybe your horse needs more signal time or less leverage, or perhaps you have fast hands.
Although not everyone likes the idea, Vogt doesn't advise schooling in the same bit you use for competition. Obviously, your horse should respond to the schooling bit, but the competition bit should be the one your horse is most responsive to and comfortable with, yet most respects.
After your horse is educated to the competition bit, Vogt says, "Put it on the tack room wall—no matter how badly you want to use it." That gives you an edge at the show or rodeo, as your horse is a bit more alert and responsive to the different bit.
Vogt recommends you look for softness and respect in a bit, one with great authority, but no fear. "That might seem a tough combination," Vogt says, "but isn't so much a problem if you have a bit set up with the correct leverage and presignals."
For more about bitting, leverage and signal time, see "Give the Signal" in the November 2011 issue or go to lesvogt.com.