Pelham Ponies - Yay or Neigh
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   2nd Feb 2013   •   11,568 views   •   14 comments
Yeah, thatís right, Iím kicking off my first article of 2013 with a pun in the title.

Today we are going to be addressing the ever-controversial issue of children riding in pelhams and other harsh bits. As you all probably know by now, I have quite strong opinions on most things; especially socks, the music industry, and anything equine-related. This time, Iíll be expressing those opinions on one of my oldest pet hates.

At every show, without fail, we will see some tiny kid chucked up on the million dollar showjumping pony that Daddy dearest smashed his piggy bank to buy, and 9 out of ten times, little Sally or Mary-Sue will be sitting on the poor critter with a bit that looks like it could stop a tugboat, hauling the poor animalís back teeth out.

Riding In Pelhams And Other Harsh Bits

Now, itís clear for all of us to see that if you bitted that strong pony in a kind, soft snaffle, little Sally will be halfway to China by the time she stops it, but does that really excuse the improper use of a strong bit? I think not.

Pelhams are bits designed to use a different action on a horseís poll, tongue, mouth, chin, etc. to better control the horse and get better performance. They are meant to be used with soft hands and an experienced riding style to improve a horse; not to be pulled senselessly to stop a strong pony. Riding in a pelham is a complex art, and the rider needs to be able to understand what the bit is doing in the horse's mouth. Young riders simply cannot comprehend the complicated action of the Pelham and how it ought to be used. Therefore, in my opinion, young child riders should not be allowed to use bits which, when used incorrectly, can have very serious ramifications.

Overuse of any bit can cause a ponyís mouth to harden, but with a severe bit like a Pelham, it makes it even worse. So while little Sally is hauling at her poor championís mouth, she is essentially teaching her pony to become immune to the strongest possible means of controlling it. And when Daddyís little giftie suddenly becomes a rampaging beast that would be impossible to stop with three tugboats and a steamroller, then how on earth are we going to stop little Sally from showing up in the middle of China after her jumping course?

Over-bitting is never a solution to a problem... But if little Sally simply canít control her champion showjumper, then what is Daddy to do to protect his little angel?

Never fear, because Polo has the answer. This is going to be a shocker; is everybody ready?

Here goes...

Parents, for Peteís sake, stop buying expensive, champion ponies for your frightened, inexperienced child! (And yes, I stand by every one of those adjectives.) If little Sally canít control her pony in a snaffle, then little Sally doesn't need a stronger bit. What little Sally needs is a safe schoolmaster and a few decent riding lessons! A winning pony is never the answer to producing a winning rider. If you want your child to win, donít put the poor thing on some pony that is well out of his or her league in the hope that a good pony will make up for the flaws in the rider. Rather buy a less talented pony that suits the child, and maybe one day that child will be able to move on to bigger and better things.

There are now shortcuts in the equestrian world; that is something that I wish everybody would learn!

What do you guys think? Is it okay to use a strong bit to help an inexperienced child control a strong pony?

Riding In Pelhams And Other Harsh Bits

Riding In Pelhams And Other Harsh Bits

Riding In Pelhams And Other Harsh Bits

Riding In Pelhams And Other Harsh Bits
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Polo the Weirdo
PonyBox  MOD 
"Parents, for Peteís sake, stop buying expensive, champion ponies for your frightened, inexperienced child! There are now shortcuts in the equestrian world!"

Like it!
  Feb 2, 2013  •  14,227 views
I know what you mean. These kids don't know what to do with the Reims or the consequence of harshly using a sting bit. A hard hand on a strong bit (or hard hand in general) can be very counterproductive and make the horse or pony even stronger and harder to control.
  Feb 2, 2013  •  12,954 views
Starlight Farm  
Ah what a complex topic. You've sure opened the Pandora's box here... )

There are two different issues: Pelhams, and overbitting kids on little ponies.

Kids should have ponies that can go nicely in a snaffle or that they can be soft enough to control in a slightly more severe bit. My showing philosophy is that you should go to a show only if you think it will go well, not just to chase points. An issue you can't deal with at home will 99% of the time not be fixed at a show, and is usually only made worse. Having a nice, reliable pony of decent quality should be more important than a naughty, strong one that might give one a better chance of winning ribbons. That's not what showing's supposed to be about anyway!

Now, pelhams. I personally use one (a jointed pelham with a pretty short shank - shorter than in the pictures above). I use two reins, not one, so that I can control exactly how much pressure i put into it and how much leverage i get out of it. Why do I use it? Bucking.
  Feb 2, 2013  •  12,832 views
Let It Ride  

These parents need to hire intelligent, experienced instructors for their kids. Chances are the kids and the parents don't much about horses and ponies. It's up to the person with the most experience to try and make sure that horses/ponies aren't overbitted or treated cruelly in any way.

Now I'm not saying it's always possible for them to control what happens. But I find quite a few parents are willing to listen to someone who is a professional.
  Feb 2, 2013  •  12,756 views
Dark Star  
I can't judge a pelhem bit, since I have never used one. Only english bits I have used is a smooth snaffle, a twisted wire snaffle (both large and small), and a slow twist. Now, western bits, I can have an opinion.

A bit is a tool. ANY bit can be harsh in the wrong rider's hands. Personally?

Kids should never start showing until they know how to properly control their horse. If they can't get there horses to behave at home, then taking them to a show is a recipe for getting the child, the horse, and other riders hurt. I have seen many times a kid slapped up on mommy or daddy's 1D barrel horse at a race, and then you see a kid holding on for dear life while speedy mcgee is knocking all the barrels over and hitting walls since the kid can't physically control it. I would rather see a kid lose with a push button, safe pony/horse that they look comfortable on, then to see a kid win on a massive show horse that the kid looks terrified on.

That's just me though.
  Feb 2, 2013  •  12,922 views
Santa Ana Ranch  MOD 
I swear you were reading my mind with this article.

I, personally, LOVE the pelham bit. It's a great tool if you know how to use it. Like you stated in the article, kids need to learn how to ride proper before they move up to the flashy show ponies that need a stronger more experienced rider. Too many trainers and parents for that matter, want to move up so fast they skip steps and in skipping steps they increase the danger they put their children in just for a blue ribbon and a pretty trophy.

To quickly they are like, lets bit up and drug up these flashy ponies so we can make a quick buck off these naive parents that what to buy their kids the moon.

TO add to the pelham debate, One of my biggest pet peeves is a converter on a pelham. It defeats the purpose of the bit, but that goes with my feelings that if you feel the need to ride in a pelham then you need to know how to properly ride in double reins.

Excellent article.
  Feb 2, 2013  •  12,689 views
Polo, I love all of your articles!! The stories you post are absolutely amazing, and educational to boot! And if its alright I would love to share a story of my own on this matter :)

Around 8 years ago my family and I found a broken down, ex-hunter pony. We were told that he could probably do some classes, but years of trying to force the 14 hand pony to jump higher than he could ruined his haunch he was only 9 years old. There were two other things about Bailey that put him at a huge disadvantage in the hunter ring. 1) He was a roan: not bay 2) He wore a rubber snaffle Pelham with chain: which judges will take massive points off if they see it in the lower divisions. Despite these, Bailey would win EVERYTHING. To this day he has not left a single show without winning a champion or reserve champion. He's the most expensive pony we have ever bought, but we also had to nurse him back to health from the miserable shape that he was in.

Enter me, a terrified, un confident rider who k
  Feb 3, 2013  •  12,634 views
Run Free  
polo, you wrote a new article when i am on holidays and force me into the chair to read it :O but anyway i LOVE the article, god i do hate to see 6 and 7 year olds riding Ä250,000 horses with the latest, harshest tack. so unnecessary and stupid!!! i love the title by the way ) and i would write so much more on my opinion but im being given out to for being on the laptop and i shall be killed if i do not leave O.o sorry for bad spelling i am typing really fast XD
  Feb 3, 2013  •  12,419 views
Faith forever  
Lucky for me my parents bought me a cheap rescue. Any she didn't need a harsh bit. And she still doesn't because that`s how she was trained. I love horses with a soft mouth.
  Feb 3, 2013  •  12,308 views
Amen! I totally agree.
  Feb 3, 2013  •  12,534 views
Since I saw this article, I changed my horse to a Pelham Eggbutt bit-- he is a saint in it!
  Feb 15, 2013  •  12,146 views
The only time my horse has been in a pelham was when he was eventing most of the time, and my brother used to have to ride him in one. Since then, he's been having different types of snaffles, and as he has grown older, we've changed his bit one more time, and he loves it. With my Mother's horse, we brought a new bit (a small-jointed snaffle- not sure what type it is) just before she competed (there was a lovely little tack shop :3 ) and he was a saint. Sometimes changing to a less powerful bit can work wonders, but inexperienced riders should really have horses or ponies that can go nicely in a smaller bit, it's nicer for both horse and rider.
  58 days ago  •  11,559 views
I realize this came out ages ago, but I still have to put my 2 cents in.

First of all, all ponies are evil. If you love your child, why would you try to kill them with a pony? End of story.

Second, children should never be allowed to ride in anything but a loose-ring double broken snaffle. If the horse doesn't go in that, they don't ride the horse. Also end of story.

  Sep 29, 2014  •  8,889 views
Rose Stable
Most of the time the kids have no experince with horses, there parents are rich, and, the ponys are headstrong! I say start lerning on a gentel, retired old mare, and then go to the fancy show ponys and tack!!!!!!!!!
  Oct 17, 2021  •  520 views
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