In their two-year-long partnership, Alexandra Crown and Von Cim have earned top results at the international CSI2* level, including wins at St. Moritz and Brussels. Under the guidance of trainer Kent Farrington, Alex and the 12-year-old Holsteiner mare spent their 2016 season building their confidence over larger, more technical courses. And one way they’re meeting this challenge is by changing Von Cim into a different bit—in this case, a roller hackabit.

We caught up with Alex to learn more about this unique setup and why it’s helping her and “Cimi” reach the next level in their training.

NF Style: Can you talk a little bit about the bit that Von Cim is using in this photo? 

Alexandra Crown: Cimi’s bit is a copper roller hackabit with added vet wrap across the rubber-covered nose piece. This custom piece was also the bit of choice for Kent’s horse Uceko in his younger years.

The hackabit is a good bit for horses that require a light touch and who react well to nose and chin pressure. It encourages flexion at the poll while providing effective steering. The mouthpiece contains copper rollers that encourage salvation and acceptance of the bit. The addition of vet wrap provides extra padding, making the bit less severe.

How long has she been in this and why did you decide to try it?

I started using this bit before WEF 2016. I was riding her in a pretty mild bit and I was finding that I didn’t have the control necessary to jump bigger, more technical tracks.

When I first got Cimi, I was new to the 1.45/2* level, so Kent wanted her to be taking me a bit more to the jumps, sacrificing a bit of control so that I could gain confidence at that level and not take away from her jump. As I have gained more experience and my riding has progressed, it has become more necessary to be able to make more adjustments and finesse my rounds. The most important thing we found with this bit was that it did not sacrifice the quality of her jump, but still gave me enough control.

Cimi is a very hot horse. She gets quite strong and her hotness builds as you jump a course. However, although she gets aggressive, she is very sensitive and has a generally good mouth, so she would not be happy with a bit that was overly sharp. She tends to get above the bit, so the leverage from the hackabit helps prevent that. This bit provides enough control without offending her.

Have you ridden Cimi in anything else?

Yes. For the first year or so when I got Cimi, I rode her in a blue rubber two-ring (Poponcini bit), with one rein on the bottom ring.

Does this bit require anything in particular from you as the rider in order to make it effective?

The biggest thing I have to remember with this bit is to give Cimi enough of a release over jumps so I don’t interrupt her jump. Along with that, I need to make sure not to take my control for granted. The hackabit is stronger than the Poponcini, so I need to make sure to let her go in between the jumps and not be constantly in a battle or adding to the fences.

What do you hack her in from day to day?

I mostly flat her in a rubber, straight-bar gag.