Bits: The Rope Gag
It's time for another TidBIT Tuesday! Today we're discussing rope gags, their advantages and disadvantages. It's important to remember that we are exclusively talking about the cheekpiece of the bit here, not the mouthpiece or other pieces of the bridle.
Mechanics of a Rope Gag: First, shown in red, the reins pull back. When this happens, the bit rotates and the mouthpiece slides slightly up and primarily back into the mouth, just like a normal short-shanked gag bit. Then, shown in blue, once the mechanical gag portion has fully engaged, the rope begins sliding through the rings. This creates poll pressure and lifts the bit strongly into the mouth cavity.
As you can probably tell, this bit also creates conflicting signals (here's a hint: all gags do). The bit sliding tells the head to lift, and the poll pressure tells the head to drop. This bit is fast in action and very severe. These bits become more severe as the ring or half-moon size is increased, as you are effectively increasing the shank length.