A bit with a port has a curved mouthpiece. Port bits can help adjust bad habits of gaited walking horses. Several varieties and sizes of ports exist, such as those with low, high, wide and narrow mouthpieces. Each type hits a different spot in a walking horse's mouth, giving the rider specific results. For example, the high port places pressure on the roof of the horse's mouth, whereas the wide port gives more tongue relief.
Fit your walking horse with a well-fitting bridle and low port bit with a short shank. When fitted properly, the bit creates a wrinkle on each side of your horse's mouth, making him to appear to smile.
Start out with a low port bit to get your horse accustomed to the feeling, especially if you've been riding in a snaffle with no shanks. However, one bit does not work on every horse. Starting with the least severe type helps you determine what works and what doesn't. If a low port bit doesn't work, try another type.
Ride with two hands and ask your horse to move forward. Get him accustomed to the new bit by pulling back gently and evenly on your reins. Don’t jerk or continue to pull if he bobs his head or refuses to respond. When he does the task correctly, release the pressure immediately. Adjusting your walking horse means rewarding him when he gives the correct response.
Experiment with several types of bits. Choose the bit with the proper-size port based on your riding needs. For instance, a high port or curb bit with longer shanks applies pressure that encourages your walking horse to raise his head and tuck his nose. A lower-shanked bit offers less leverage and is less severe. It encourages flex at the pole. Therefore, if your horse simply refuses to slow, a short-shanked, low port bit offers an option.
- Consider riding your horse in a snaffle bit and showing him in a port bit that he responds well to. Otherwise, overuse of a port bit may cause your horse to become "hard" in his mouth and not respond as well.
- When offering a new bit, exercise caution. While some horses do not have any problems with change, others react negatively. Have soft hands when using a bit with a port. Jerking on the reins or pulling too hard may cause your horse pain.
Amanda Maddox began writing professionally in 2007. Her work appears on various websites focusing on topics about medical billing, coding, real estate, insurance, accounting and business. Maddox has her insurance and real estate licenses and holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting and business administration from Wallace State Community College.