Professional futurity trainer Craig Brooks has a different way of utilizing the popular Kathy James gag bit by raising it up in the horse’s mouth and tightening the curb to hold up a horse that comes back hard around a barrel.

Kathy James gag bit
The Kathy James gag bit. Photo by Craig Brooks

Shank: Medium Reverse Gag

“A Kathy James is one of my biggest go-tos. There’ve been times where everything in my trailer rode with one. I ride it quite a bit different than some do, especially Jolene Montgomery — I call it a Jolene bit; we all do. She rides it very loose in the horse’s face with a lot of gag action, whereas I suck it up pretty high on the horse. Matter of fact, most people who help me think the bridle was not on that horse last time, because I pull it up so high. I hold my horse’s head in the approach and then when I’m ready to turn around, I just hold them up, they commit, and I hold them through the turn. I like the amount of leverage that it has, but I’ve stuck it up quite a bit tighter so that it has a much quicker reaction time than having all the gag action to it.”

Mouthpiece: Two-Piece Twist

“This Kathy James, the way I pull it up tight, horses don’t particularly appreciate it if you pull on them on the backside, so you’ve got to use it on one that wants to come back.”

Curb: Tight Chain

“I’ve got the curb chain pretty snug to where it’s not the best bridle in the world to pull on one, but it’s a great bridle that holds them up through the turn.”


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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