Champion trainer and $1 million rider Brandon Cullins rides in the Shallow Creek clover bit to get lateral shoulder control on a horse that naturally rates and drags its hind end.

About the Bit

“It’s a little more than a ring bit, and most of my horses I start off with a Loomis. I don’t get along with a ring bit great, so with a Loomis I can pick the front end up and get a lot of drive from behind, but it’s tough to run one in a Loomis. This clover bit is a good one to go to from a Loomis, because you can still get that lift similar to a Loomis or a ring bit where you can tuck the nose and elevate the front end, but you get more pull across without pulling it through their mouth or getting in their face. I like it on a horse that really sets their butt and pulls with their front end, because I can keep them square between the reins and then if I need to help them on the backside I can get their cheek and bring their shoulders with it, instead of just getting the corner of their mouth [like with a Loomis or ring bit].”

Cheekpiece: Cloverleaf

“I only use it on the bottom ring; that gives me the feel almost like a shank. I might stick one up [on the middle ring] if I’m in the middle of a ride and feel like I need a ring bit right then, but otherwise I’d just use a ring bit from the start.”

clover bit front view hanging against wall

Mouthpiece: Smooth Square

“I’ll use the square mostly, and this one’s been taped. I like the square because I feel like it’s not as rough on the horse’s mouth, but they won’t lay on it either. I never thought of this until I talked to Kassie [Mowry] one time, because I used to use the twisted a lot. She was saying if you run your hand across the twisted, the ridges keep hitting you when you pull it side-to-side and it can roughen their mouth up, whereas the square is a lot smoother [with lateral pull] and it’s just that one sharp edge [on a backwards pull], so it’s not dragging all those bumps across their mouth.”

Curb: None

“I don’t use a curb with this bit, and it doesn’t come with one. Boyce [Wilson with Shallow Creek] makes the bit, and I was talking to him and he said he never really uses it with a curb either. If I’m going to use a shank with a curb, I’ll use something else. The horses that run the best in the clover are already setting their hind end and I just need to change their direction, so I don’t want to slow them down any more with a curb by slowing their front feet down.”

This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of Barrel Horse News.


Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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