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While I was pregnant last year I decided that my horses still needed to be out and about and for this I enlisted a friend of mine who had just sold her horse and was looking to buy a new one. I managed to convince her to ride and compete one of mine for 9 months whilst she looked for her perfect horse. Now I compete in dressage (or used to!) and she tends to do show jumping which is fine as my one horse has done both and I handed the reins over to her.
Now my one horse can be a bit rude, head strong and generally a bit of a sod but once he is working properly and in the right hands he suddenly transforms into an absolute angel and fortunately for me my friend won't put up with his childish strops. After a month of working solidly at home over jumps we decided to get him out to our local riding club for a small competition mainly for him to stretch his legs and introduce him back into the competition world.
Because showjumping is all about tight turns, outline and control I use a different bit than I do if I was schooling him or hacking him out. The bit of choice is the Neue Schule Tranz Angled Lozenge Elevator which is classed as a fixed lever action and is a firm favourite with showjumpers.
The Neue Schule Tranz Angled Lozenge Elevator basically helps the horse sit on their hocks and help them make those all important tight turns. The bit has been designed to give the rider extra control so they can keep the horse in a great outline which then in turn helps the rider and horse keep straight which is certainly needed when coming into a jump as an off balance horse will generally run out of the jump, refuse or come into the jump, put an extra stride in knocking the rider off balance.
My horse is quite sensitive mouthed and this bit was recommended to me as because he is quite enthusiastic when it comes to showjumping the side of his mouth can chaff and rub generally because he is so eager he leans on the bit. So far there has been no rubbing whatoever on the sides of his mouth and he is much more accepting of the bit whereas before he sometimes would flat out refuse to have the bit in his mouth.
As you can see on the picture there are three rings or three rein options on the stainless steel cheeks. The top ring is attached to the strap on the bridle and depending on how strong you want the bit you can put the reins on either the larger middle ring or the smaller bottom ring. If you have quite a headstrong horse which needs a bit more control you can use both the middle and bottom ring with the reins and by doing this you have a bit more control and added pressure. Using this method it is best to use Pelham roundings (a small piece of leather with buckles at either end which go around the bit rings and your rein can attach on it).
What I really like about the Neue Schule bits is that the mouthpieces are made from Salox Gold which promotes a relaxed acceptance as it gives off a warm and sweet taste once in the mouth. This is ideal for my horse and any other horse who can get funny about bits and also for those who won't take a contact. The Neue Schule Tranz Angled Lozenge Elevator bit has a 16mm mouthpiece (the gold part) which is a decent thickness which gives a good weight bearing surface without taking up too much room in the mouth.
When my horse was first ridden in this bit he found it slightly odd and he tried to play with it in his mouth. This is normal when changing a bit and eventually after 20 minutes of so he accepted it and I immediately noticed a change in his outline as he was straighter with a lovely head contact. His back legs were coming up nicely and you could see he was pushing through with his back and freeing up his shoulders. With this bit it is important not to be too heavy handed with it as if you are and you yank the horse in his mouth he will be literally sitting on the floor on his back legs. The bit is strong enough when it needs to be and you don't need to be heavy handed with it as once the horse knows he cant get away with something it probably wont do it again.
For my horse I noticed in competitions he was a lot more relaxed and wasn't as tense which helped get the straightness into the jumps and his turned was a lot more rounded and was able to bend and flex whereas before he could be a bit wooden and he would turn in straight lines instead of bending his body. Apart from being more relaxed which unlike before he would go round the course a bit like a headless chicken he was a lot more focused and accepting which made for a better ride.
The Neue Schule Tranz Angled Lozenge Elevator is available at all Neue Schule retailers both online and in store. It currently costs around £65.00. It comes in sizes 5", 5.25", 5.5", 5.75" and 6". It is important to get a correctly fitting bit as something too small or too large will be incredibly uncomfortable for the horse.
For me and my horse this is a great bit which works well for my horse as he is much more accepting of the contact and can actually start to focus and when he does decide to get a bit strong pressure is applied and he quickly becomes manageable again in a controlled way.