This week’s bit (I use the term ‘week’ very loosely) is another that I didn’t think I would ever own and certainly didn’t think would work on my seasoned barrel horses – Sharon Camarillo’s Traditional Chain Bit.
The bit is nothing fancy. A trainer I work with went to one of Camarillo’s clinics, taking a 12-year-old mare that she had been having a hard time getting a first barrel on. The mare had been shaking her head and running a half-stride past the first barrel. Camarillo suggested the bit change, and the woman and her horse haven’t looked back yet. She’s been using this bit in rodeos and barrel races for the past five years, and its been all good news.
I switched to the bit on my barrel/pole horse after she started diving on poles just a few weeks before the 2006 Congress. I needed something that I could really hold her shoulder up with but would not completely stop her. I tightened the curb chain, and even though I rarely use a shank, I found that this bit really worked with my hands. Two years later, its all I need to get through a pattern.
The bit has enough pull in the event that I end up past a barrel and need to pull my horse around, but it also has the perfect lift to keep her shoulders square going into a barrel. Like any bit, I’ve found that if I over-use it on the back side of a barrel, my mare shakes her head and over-bends. Obviously, I shouldn’t do that, but it happens.
Around the roping arenas, I’ve noticed a lot of team ropers also using different variations of this bit. Team ropers with hotter horses seem to use this bit to give them the right amount of control before needing to switch to a higher port bit.