National Finals Rodeo qualifier Shali Lord has everything she needs to effectively communicate with Freckles Ta Fame in the Neil Merrill medium shank three-piece twisted—lift, whoa, and a balanced feel with a quick response.

About the Bit

“I love it. To me, it has everything you need for a good honest horse like ‘Can Man.’ There’s just enough bend, but I feel like I have enough ‘whoa’ if I need it. I think the medium shank gives you a little more leverage as to ‘whoa’ than the shorter shank, and I like the feel of it altogether. As a whole, it’s a great bit and I think you could use it on a lot of different horses, and I use it on a lot of different horses too, even my young horses at home.”

Mouthpiece: Three-Piece Twisted Wire

“I love the three-piece dog bone bits in general. I like it because it distributes pressure [better than a two-piece], because they’re designed to distribute the pressure evenly across the horse’s mouth. If you have a good honest horse like Can Man, I don’t feel like you need anything else.”

Neil Merrill medium shank
Photo by Shali Lord

Shank: 7-inch Medium Shank with Minimal Reverse Gag

“[Can Man’s trainer] Ashley Schafer was running him in the 5-inch short shank. I continued on with that until Rodeo Houston last year. I like both of them obviously; he ran so good in the short shank. When I switched at Houston, I felt like he needed more leverage and a little more help. Where the ground was really hard, I thought I could help him more and he could rely on me more with the medium shank. He felt really good in it, so I’ve kept him in that since. I feel like the short shank gives you more bend. I like him in the medium a little more than the short, just because I don’t have as much bend or as much fold, because he has so much bend anyway and I like for a medium [amount of bend]. I feel like with [too much] gag, you get more bend and more front-end action. I like this bit that doesn’t have much gag so you can pick up and it’s more instant. It’s not going to be like with a gag when you pick them up and it’s more the front end or the neck movement, whereas with no gag I feel like they are going to pick up and it’s not a delayed response.”

Curb: Chain with Rope Tie Ends

“The curb is not loose, but it’s not tight—I would say it’s average. I don’t change it, because I like to stay consistent with the bit. I don’t really change them on any of my bits. Once I have something set up, I like it and I don’t really like to adjust things if I don’t know the outcome or if I haven’t tried it before.”

This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of Barrel Horse NewsSubscribe to the monthly print magazine here.


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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