How to Use Elevator Bits

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An elevator bit, commonly called an American gag, is used for training performance horses, such as dressage horses. The elevator bit gives the rider advantage when a horse refuses to bend at the poll by providing leverage, lift and turning power that a basic snaffle lacks. Therefore, using an elevator bit requires soft hands and an experienced rider.

Step 1

Attach the top bit to the bridle with the shanks at the bottom.

Step 2

Slide the bit into your horse's mouth and slip the bridle over his ears. When fitted properly, the bit causes a wrinkle on each side of the horse’s mouth, making him appear to smile.

Step 3

Snap or loop your reins onto the top shanks of the elevator bit. Attach a second set of reins, or curb reins, to the bottom shanks on each side of the bit.

Step 4

Ask your horse to move forward at a walk. Use your normal reins and give the stop command. If your horse refuses or raises his head, pull back gently on the curb rein. Release the pressure as soon as he stops and drops his head.

Step 5

Cue your horse to move forward while asking for a trot. Pull back and up gently, and apply pressure to her poll while applying leg pressure on both sides at the same time. This helps her move into the bit and encourages a lower head set.

Step 6

Turn your horse using a direct rein, or by pulling his nose in the direction you want him to go. The elevator bit presses on his cheeks and helps steer him.

Items you will need

  • Bridle
  • Reins
  • Curb reins

Tip

  • Work with your horse before asking her to perform in the bit, getting her used to the feel. Never ride with a loose bridle or headstall. This may cause the bit to bang on your horse's tongue or teeth and cause pain.

Warning

  • Never try an elevator on a “green” horse. Make sure he knows his cues and responds to general commands, such as walk and stop.

    Photo Credits

    • L. Willinger/Lifesize/Getty Images

    Author

    Amanda Maddox began writing professionally in 2007. Her work appears on various websites focusing on topics about medical billing, coding, real estate, insurance, accounting and business. Maddox has her insurance and real estate licenses and holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting and business administration from Wallace State Community College.