Barrel horse trainer Emilie Veillette discusses her “Winner” reverse gag with a twist and chain mouthpiece in her new line of Metalab barrel racing bits.

About the Winner Bit

“To me, the horses are just not intimidated by it. I can ride my baby-babies with it, and I can ride an open horse with it [and get] a soft response. Some horses when they get a little scared of your hands are going to go stiff first and then they come to you, but I feel like with this bit as soon as you touch their mouth, you’re in—they trust your hands.”

Mouthpiece: Two-Piece Twist with a Chain

“It’s a two-piece twisted with a chain in the middle, so it kind of works like a three-piece. The feel of this one is closer to just a chain mouthpiece, but with the twisted in the corners of the mouth, it’s going to be not as much bend and it’s a little more bit. I don’t feel like they can push through my hands as much as with a chain mouthpiece, but it still gives me the same [softness and feel] that I like.”

reverse gag bit on horse

Shank: 7 1/2 inch Shank with Reverse Gag

“What I like about this bit is I can get them to break at the poll and break at the withers and really collect. I think it’s different for everybody, but I feel like I can control the whole body of my horse—the face and everything together—and it just fits my hands. I love the feel of the reverse gag. I feel like I have more control with that kind of bit.”

Curb Strap: Chain

“I change a lot in my curb chain. I can put a string or a curb strap, but I like a chain because I want a really quick response. I don’t pull hard with my hands, so my bit needs to be very quick. I don’t like to drag my horses around the turn. If there’s a horse that’s a little scared or intimidated by the bit, I’ll switch to just a string. I’ll play around—some horses I’ll put it looser if I feel they’re a little scared and get stiffer with it, and some horses that are really strong it’s going to be pretty tight.”

Adjustment on the Headstall

“At first when I put it on the horse, I do no wrinkles—just make sure it touches the corner of their mouth. I adjust horse-by-horse. Some horses I’ll put it tighter, like one or two wrinkles, for the stronger ones that I really need a quicker response. Most horses need it looser though. It’s pretty rare I’m going to adjust it tight.”

Using the Winner Bit

“This kind of bit fits everybody—guys, girls, top futurity trainers and beginners. I’ll use it on a lot of horses; some horses I don’t run them in this but I’ll ride them all week with it, and then I’ll run them in something else. I do run a lot of my horses with it though, and I’ve never had a horse that hates this bit so far. There are a lot of similar bits, but I’ve found this one has a different feel; a very soft and balanced feel.”

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

Read here about how bits combined with horsemanship help soften a horse.


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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