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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I will never understand this.

There is this strange need in the horse world to have a nifty gadget to make our horses do what we want. Some piece of magic hardware to fix every training issue you can imagine. This item, the Mikmar Flexion Combination bit claims to fix all of your "headset" problems and improve collection and balance. Really? I was under the impression that you achieved collection through training and that you achieved a "headset" through collection. Silly me, I have been putting all that effort in for nothing! I could just go spend nearly $200 on this little gem and skip all of that! Genius!
Heck, I am not entirely sure I could figure out how to attach this contraption to my horse!


  1. I know! This is a natural extension of the "kitchen gadgets," which started selling on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in the early 20th century and are now a part of television (especially TVG and HRTV, lol).

    We need the English guy, the one that did the special mop, pitching tack contraptions on late-night television.

    Also the New Jersey guy that does Slap-Chop, he'd be amazing!!

    Natalie Keller Reinert
    Retired Racehorse Blog

  2. Now that I see this thing actually on the horse, I'm like... whaaa?

    There was that knock down drag out with the dude who liked them, and I guess, on a finished horse, if you NEVER touched it...

    But I don't really see how it teaches anything constructive any better than good old-fashioned schooling.... you can't show in it anyway....

    If the AQHA, APHA, ApHA, AHA, etc. went all radical on us and outlawed the dreaded headset, instead requiring all judges to learn what real collection looks and feels like, then .... well, ok, then that same day I'd start farting rainbows, but it would sure cut down on the gadgets, wouldn't it?

    Wouldn't eliminate 'em - but ....

  3. Woo first time poster

    okay on topic. I saw that first picture and was like O_O I saw the second one and was like O.O. I read the price tag and was like X.X I wouldn't even be able to figure out how to get that hardmouthed contraption on a horse. Sad part is there are people who will buy this.

  4. About 15 minutes before I visited this blog I wondered when are you going to talk about Mikmars...
    I've seen them being used and it's not a pretty sight. Some even remove the padding on the nose...
    I also have heard that luckily it's a pain in the ass to put on bridles with them. The sad part? Even if some people stop using Mikmars because of it, they always find alternatives...

  5. I'm more worried about riders hauling on cheap curb bits from the feed store with overtight chains, and the poor horse evading the bit.
    That photo looks like a heavy bit, however, Mikmar bits are extremely lightweight and the point is to achieve a very light hand. I've seen their DVD and found it very interesting. It looks odd but it's worth further research. When there is a problem with any bit, it's frequently the rider and the tack adjustment, not the bit itself and that can true of the mildest snaffle.

  6. I did use their D snaffle (that is double jointed) with no strange curb/over the nose thing... My mare just likes the roller thing... I do agree, their others are quite scary looking...

    Have you seen some of the bits that barrel racers use? Sheesh! Makes a hunter princess like me look like a weenie!

  7. Careful there Tacky, some Moron showed up on SITHSR and was backing these things with a lot of gusto when she featured it there...

    And he only used them on finished horses, only used them for this, only used them on gaited horses, only used it for that, only, only, only...

    Well suffice it to say, he was ever so condescending to anyone who disagreed with his views and contradicted himself at every turn. Point it out and he flipped his lid, going nutters on you for doing so. And why does condescension and contradiction always travel together?

    I know a gal who uses one of these on her lame gelding that she jumps. Alas, there is just no getting through to some people.

  8. I know how it fixes the headset! The freaking thing probably weighs so much the horse can't pick his head up high enough NOT to be in a frame.

    :) kidding, of course.

  9. Oh, noes! How in the world did my great grandparents get by without these majikal gadgets?!

    Good lordy.

  10. Cut-N-Jump said...

    Careful there Tacky, some Moron showed up on SITHSR and was backing these things with a lot of gusto when she featured it there...

    BRING IT ON...

  11. SCAE- He was quite the jackass as I recall.

    "I use it, everyone should!"

    Then came the backpeddalling.

    "I only use it on this horse because s/he wouldn't do this. I used it on that horse because they did that. But I am a great trainer!" *chest thumping of course*

    One of the horses was his wifes horse(?) a started too young, 4 y/o mare who was a former reiner. He was trying to achieve softness and this bit helped him. Yessirree Bob, it sure did!

    Everything he presented as a 'problem' was simple stuff really, none that couldn't be fixed or required any real effort, just common sense, simple tack and T/S/K, Talent, Skill and Knowledge for those who haven't seen that yet.

    Turns out, I think he was exposed for being associated somehow with the Mikmar company.

  12. It looks like some random piece of metal that fell off a submarine. I mean without seeing it in action I can't really comment on how cruel/gentle it is, but my immediate reaction is 'Why?'. I mean I can sort of see what the rope bit's for and the rein on the bit ring, but couldn't you just use a nice snaffle instead and invest that money you'd save on a couple of lessons with a good trainer?

    It's like the guy who designed it looked at it and said 'no that's not enough', dangle some bits of string off it, add a curb strap and another set of reins and then we can sell it for an extra $20.

  13. "SCAE- He was quite the jackass as I recall.

    "I use it, everyone should!"


    Um ok, I think I'll just stick to my full cheek french link snaffle which my TB mare goes nicely in thank you very much!

  14. It reminds me of a take off of the Mylar Combo bits. Same basic concept with the different options of using a rein in the snaffle ring, or leverage ring. But spreading the pressure between different points, rather than just a couple.

    I reschooled a horse with a Mylar combo to transition him to a hackamore for trail riding. (not everyone does horse shows, so that part of the equation is minimal) we set the Mylar up with double reins, and worked him mostly in the snaffle setting, but had a little something more when needed. He had learned to just set himself against the bit and pull.

    The problem is with any bit, that uneducated riders buy them, thinking the bit will fix their horses issue just by putting the magical device on the horse and heading out. It is those uneducated riders who have companies making this kind of device.

    A friend who worked n a tack shop once said she felt riders should have some sort of license to be allowed to buy a bit. lol

  15. I have a Mikmar, and I use it on my finished gelding, when I have intermediates on board. The particular bit that I own truly disperses a good portion of the "rein pressure" to the nose, which I know my gelding appreciates when someone gets heavy-handed or loses their balance. They are MEGA light weight, and IF FITTED PROPERLY, are very effective in alleviating unnecessary pressure on the bars of the mouth. Just my two cents.

  16. I'm sorry, I don't see the problem here. It's a PELHAM (Yes, it is) that REDISTRIBUTES some of the pressure to the nose. And it's probably the shortest shanked pelham on the planet

    oh, the horror.

    The bridle in the photo isn't set up in this manner, but you can CLEARLY use both the bottom rein and the nose rope simultaneously.

    Mikmar bits have aluminum mouthpieces are are very light. I prefer the ones with two joints over the mullen ones. That' just my preference in general terms anyway.

    No, I don't own one. Sheesh, my bridles didn't cost that much. But no, I'm not going to knock someone for using it. Not unless they are ripping thier horse's face off with it.

    Once again, kiddies, you can rip a horse's mouth to shreds with a d-ring snaffle if you have shitty hands.

    Here, wanna whine about something that *is* trully a horror:

    That's nasty. The Mikmar is just another tool.

  17. I was very happy when I went into the local tack shop and saw nothing I couldn't easily figure out how to put on a horse... and nothing was thinner than my pinky, either. :)

    Proper training is HUGE in my area. If you even school once in something weird, everyone at the next local show will be talking behind your back.

  18. I must say I would never use it. But it bothers me less than some bits, when I realized that it is redistibuting pressure to the nose; theoretically harder for rider to hurt the mouth.

    But I still think people should just learn to ride correctly using standard equipment on good lesson horses before they get into buying horses to ride. A rider should have ridden at a competent level at least 30 or 40 different horses before they think they know enough to train one. Then they might not resort to gadgets.

    That costs money? Taking lessons until truly competent? Money doesn't grow on trees, true, but the person who thinks that response justifies anything probably doesn't have enough money to PROPERLY care for a horse, anyway. I paid for every lesson myself (OK, when I was 13, my mom and dad paid for 1/2 of my first 10 or so lessons). I didn't buy my first horse until after college. I catch rode a lot of friends' nice and nasty horses in those years. I'm not rich, but I truly LOVE and RESPECT horses. Put one's money where one's mouth is and learn to do right by them. Stop shoving weird stuff in their mouths to make up for a lack of knowledge and skills.

  19. Every horse is different. Every rider is different. Every DAY is different. Just because somebody uses something "not standard" or more complicated than a loose ring snaffle doesn't mean they are resorting to a gadget. Nor does it mean they lack skills or knowledge.

    I use a snaffle side pull on my 1/2 Arab. It works for him PRECISELY because it does redistribute some pressure from the bars to the nose. Since I run in the H/J circles, that is considered very much a strange and NON-standard piece of equipment. (and it's a friggin ugly one, since it's "schooling" quality) To the western folks, that's a breaking bridle and most have one in the tack room somewhere.

  20. Oh, hey now...

    Fair is fair, folks. The Mikmar site's blub about this bit says NOT ONCE the word "headset". And it does come with the jointed mouth as well.

    Snark all you want about things you don't like/understand, but let's not make stuff up, m'k?

  21. Bif, with all due respect, why do the lessons horses have to put up with bad hands while riders learn? What if there is a better way? I know my gelding sure appreciates it, and it's the least I can do for him since he's kind enough to pack unbalanced new riders around in endless circles. I should just put him in a halter and lead rope, right? Yeah, not safe...sorry. So, this is what works for my lesson horse, and it's not a "gadget"; it's a useful piece of tack that has kept my guy nice and light. You can think what you like, but if you haven't ridden with one, then it's not fair for you to claim the knowledge about one.

    Agreed on the pelham statement. And, my Mikmar is MEGA LIGHT!! My horse happily picks it up in to his mouth, much more so than any plain snaffle (remember, please, that not EVERY horse loves a snaffle), and never shows signs of distress when a new rider makes an error. That, to me, is priceless. I can honestly say that I will never sell my Mikmar. I have been riding for 35 years and training for 20. I'm not a newbie, and I don't play "quick fix".

  22. I think Pat may be the same guy...

    Laziness. Sheer laziness.

  23. No, that's not a Pelham.

    It's a monstrosity. A flat bit, with a high port, so there's no place for the tongue to go when you pull. (And when it rotates in the mouth, it becomes a sharp, narrow bit.) I've never seen anything like that on a Pelham.

    A nasty thin cord over the horse's nose - even with its suede pad, it's still narrow. Pull on it, and you'll get a sore nose. Then you use it again tomorrow, over the bruise that's already there. Same system as soring in TWs, but on the face.

    It's a tool hurry-up "trainers" use to replace groundwork and patience.

    In no hurry, Ruthie

  24. Wow, not. No soring. Sorry. I have used this bit for quite some time, and there is certainly no soreness anywhere. It doesn't turn and become sharp and narrow. It hangs nicely, and stays put...not rattling around, and my horse LOVES the danged roller.

    But, you don't have to use one, so relax with the anger. lol

  25. I had to think awhile about this one... It's not so bad, because the rope is attached to a rein and you can decide when to use it.

    Nothing like a Myler long shanked curb "combination" which uses pulleys. I had a friend who used one and pretty much in the same sentence said it was gentle then said she couldn't figure out why her mare was tossing her head... Hmm, let's think this one through. You have a hard piece of rawhide pushing down on her nose (badly adjusted, I might add, so it was sitting on the sensitive, fleshier part of her nose) and a curb pressing up into her chin, and you wonder why she tosses her head...

    She was no longer my friend after I told her that.

  26. Pat,

    I watched an interview with the 'inventor' of this bit. He said right there on RFD-TV (Real F*cking Dumb TV) that his bits would take at least 6 months off the training time, because after all time is money. That, to me, doesn't imply that the horse is learning anything but pain avoidance. He was proud that the horses 'learned' not to toss their head and to have 'headset'. Yes, any bit can be harsh in the wrong hands, but some bits make it very easy to be 'harsh'.

    Anyone that says a thin 'strap', whether nylon or cotton, covered or not, doesn't cause pain when pulled on needs to take a 1/4 inch nylon rope, place it across the bridge of their nose and let someone tug on it for a few days. I guarantee it will cause discomfort, if not pain.

    In perfect hands with a well trained horse, this bit may work, but it is advertised on RFD-TV as a time saver. That ain't training...

  27. Lopinon4,

    I ride and have taught English. We try (and it is try, the world isn't perfect) to teach the riders an independent seat as much as possible before giving them reins, or if that is not possible, an independent seat established enough at walk before they are allowed to go faster, with resulting body control loss and increased liklihood of inadvertent pulling on the mouth.

    I agree with trying to spare school horses' mouths, and I have seen these bits talked about in that regard, and in that way I have less of a beef with them. I have seen riders stuck in hackmores and sidepulls on English horses until they graduated to bits, so there are options in sparing their mouths (get all classical and keep them on a lunge line for two years, Spanish Riding school style!)...

    I think we have problems with people who go to a "bigger, better, or 'Professional' touted" bit rather than learn the traditional, time tested way to produce a nice riding horse. If they need this to "not interfere with their young horses mouth", they probably need to learn to ride better before they try training.

    Did that make the sense I was hoping to make?

  28. Jennifer, Um. F-U.

    Not the "same guy". Haven't read the thread that's been mentioned. Don't need to dont want to. Can you read? I also said I DO NOT EVEN OWN ONE.

    Don't trash me because you are so single minded you can't understand the construction and function of this bit. Oh, but I'm sure YOU have a horse with a "perfect snaffle mouth". So DO I. More than one, actually. Just because I understand how the bit works and that it's NOT the torture device you think it is doesn't mean I USE it.

    And it is a pelham. Take away that horrible nose rope, and VOILA, a "conventional" pelham. Put it back on, and VOILA, still a pelham.

    No, I have not seen the RFD advertisements. I generally do not watch the RFD horse programing as it is geared towards the NH twits and "western" people in general. Seeing is how I have hunters and jumpers, I have no need to learn how to cut cows better or to perfect my sliding stops.

    If the nose rope causes such great pain, than how can it "fix head tossing"? Ya'll lost me there.

  29. I've actually ridden in this bit or a mikmar very similar to it. We used it on a 17hh + horse who tends to just drop his nose to his chest and drag his riders everywhere (donation to a college team). When paired with a correct hand and a strong leg and with a teaching professional mikmars are useful training aids for a horse that just refuses to cooperate. We used it for a few months on that horse and switched to something else. I've seen it used on others as a training aid, like once in a lesson just to get a point across.

    But emphasis on being used by a rider with a srong leg, a correct hand, and under the watchful eye of a professional. Or by a professional.

  30. Bif, yes, that makes more sense. :)

  31. This actually used to be a super popular bit with the jumpers in my country (Estonia) a couple of year ago. In the bigger classes litterally every second horse would come into the ring with one. But these days you hardly ever see them. I guess it didn't solve all the problems after all...

    That being said I have heard that though the mikmar does look exeptionally scary, it's not really that severe of a bit. Mind you, my horse goes and probably always will go in a KK Ultra Snaffle. Now there's a bit everyone should use :)

  32. if anyone invents something that fixs all our problems, someone let me know because whatever this mystery item is i want one.....until then back to training my crazy-nutty-bolting-hormonal-mare....yay me..

  33. I can't believe how much bad publicity this bit is getting. I use the combination bit & love it. I use it on all my horses and it does fix diverse problems on them. I am in the market for a flexion, slant jointed mouth piece with low port. Anyone out there want to sell one? I can't find any used Mik Mars for sale..wonder why? I have had mine for almost 8 years and it is still as nice as when it was new. If I had a bit that broke from a large amount of stress, I would say hooray, it may save the horses mounth. What would happen if one did not break, something has to give, poor horses mouth. I am in to relationship/natural horsemanship, so I want to ride SAFE horses with the least amount of pressure in their mouth. That is why I bought the MIK save their mouth from HANDS. It is a remarkable bit and I have a tack room full of other bits. Anyone want to buy them? All I need is two bits, one combination and one jointed. Invest in a slanted, low port will love it.

  34. Gosh... Why put such a horrible apparat in a sensitive thing like a horses mouth?
    I imagine the rider pulling the fucking thing, it will put pressure on the bridge, the upper jaw AND the palatine... -.-
    Oh all of thoses poor horses which are trained with these "very useful" little helpers T.T

    Why not just train the horse prperly with a soft bitless tack and a good and calm riders hand? Why?

  35. It looks like a torture device but it was one of the best bits I ever used.
    I was training a horse completely traumatised with the rider's hand. Always trying to avoid the contact with the rider's hand or pulling really hard to take the reins away from me. I had very little control steering and almost no control of the speed. Tried all usual bits: snaffles, french link, simple joints, double joints, rubber, leather, etc and nothing worked.
    I've decided to give this bit a chance and it was the only one she accepted. Immediately she relaxed her neck, back and I could actually have contact with her mouth. It changed from a nightmare horse to ride to a very pleasant and responsive horse.
    Before the Mikmar bit our showjumping competitions were a big challenge with several faults in each course, after the Mikmar bit we were almost always in the ribbon places.

    If this bad looking bit was the only one that my horse with a super sensitive mouth accepted it can´t be that bad.

    Don´t judge a bit just for its looks. Research a little, see some serious testimonials before you decide to critisize a nice bit.