Cierra Chapman Nelson grabs the Troy Flaharty Duke with a slow square twist for almost any type of horse because of its quick reaction time and range of adjustability depending on curb strap.

About the Bit:

“My first go-to bit to put on a horse I don’t know very well is the Troy Flaharty Duke. For me, it’s a perfect universal bit. It’s a bit I can put on a horse that’s a little stiff, one that’s a little too flexible, one that’s a little harder in the mouth, one that’s really soft, because you can make a bit as harsh as you want to by just using your hands. Yes, this might be a little stronger bit, but I’m pretty light-handed, so it’s my go-to to get the feel of a horse. I also like to balance out that bit with a leather curb.”

Shank: Straight Medium-Length with Some Reverse Gag

“The straightness of the shank is a direct contact. If I ask for it, there’s no hem hawing around. There’s no two seconds and then I get a reaction. When I ask for it, the reaction is immediate. For me that’s really big, because I’d rather ask once than ask twice. I don’t want to ask for it, and ask for it, and ask for it, because by then you’re three strides by the barrel and it’s too late to get back on recovery road.”

—> Watch: Cierra Nelson Training Videos

Mouthpiece: Two-Piece Slow Square Twist

Troy Flaharty Duke
Troy Flaharty Duke with slow square twist. Find online at Photo courtesy Cierra Nelson

“I like that it’s a little more than a regular twist mouthpiece. I haven’t tried just a straight square; I’m afraid that would be a little too much. This one adds just enough. I don’t ride a whole lot of three-piece bits, and I don’t own a single chain mouthpiece—I feel like I have to pull too hard with them. There’s too many breaks in those mouthpieces for me and my hands, so I like two-piece bits because of that.”

Curb: Leather Strap or Dave Elliott Beaded Curb

“Your curb changes the severity of a bridle quite a bit. I hate chain curbs—you’ll rarely ever see me ride anything in a chain curb unless it’s a good combination bit. For me, a chain has always been a little too quick and harsh. I feel like horses will elevate their heads because the curb pressure is too much. That’s why I like the Dave Elliott beaded curbs. It’s a strong mixture between a leather curb and a chain. I’ll switch off and on between leather or beaded, just depends what horse I’m on.”


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

Write A Comment