Best Bit For Young Barrel Horses

Maria Garcia
• Tuesday, 05 January, 2021
• 11 min read

The first bit a horse carries in its mouth when beginning training should be as mild and as comfortable as possible. If you’re headed for the dressage ring, your horse will eventually carry both a snaffle and curb a bit at the same time.

barrel horse horses mine amazing racing barrels quarter
(Source: pinterest.com)


That’s a personal choice, but it’s wise to consider that in spite of your best intentions to keep your horse forever, dire circumstances may mean you may have to part with it. A horse will appeal to a wider number of people and have a better chance at a good home if it is able to go in both a fitted and witless bridle.

A young horse will chew and champ on the bit, and perhaps at first rub its head to get rid of this new and annoying thing in its mouth. The first choice will probably be a jointed snaffle bit with smallish rings that would be unlikely to catch on anything if the horse does try to rub its face.

Quite often, though, these mouthpieces are thicker than a metal bit and can be quite bulky in a young horse's mouth. If you want to add flavor to make biting a more pleasant experience, it's easy to smear on a bit of molasses, jam, or honey.

Because the curb bit acts on the horse’s mouth, chin, and head, it can be overwhelming. The shanks are also a hazard if the horse tries to rub the bit, or its head, against objects in its environment.

If you're starting your young horse in the wintertime, make sure the bit is warm. That means your horse needs to be able to get the clearest signals possible in order to have the best performance possible.

(Source: www.horseforum.com)

You can go online or to a tack store, and you will see literally thousands of bits. When you pull back on the reins, the horse throws its mouth open.

Not to mention the signals the horse is getting are mixed and unclear. We have completely reinvented the way the bit works and the ability to give the horse clear signals.

Here is a great video that shows how the bit works differently here. Notice The Ball Joint In The Image ball joint technology keeps the bit from rotating upward in the horses mouth and causing it pain or discomfort.

Each bit has the ball joint and comes with your choice of mouthpiece and length of shank. If you have questions about the perfect bit, then check out our FAQ page here.

There are many choices when it comes to bits, and the selection at your local tack shop can be overwhelming. It sometimes takes some experimenting to find just the right bit for your horse.

(Source: www.pinterest.com)

If you feel you must use a curb bit, choose one with the shortest shank you can find. If you are having trouble stopping, you may be better off going back to schooling and reinforcing the basics.

There is nothing wrong with riding with a curb bit provided you understand how it works and how to use it. One thing that is sometimes overlooked is the shape of the horse's mouth and dental condition.

If you find your horse is having difficulty holding the bit, is lolling its tongue, tossing its head, or stiffening his jaw and poll, it may be because the bit is uncomfortable in its mouth. Some horses have shallow palates, thick tongues, or other conformation that makes it difficult to carry some bits.

It might take some trial and error to find a bit that is comfortable for your horse to carry. It wouldn't be fair to use a long-haired curb bit on a horse that has only ever been ridden in a snaffle and expect it to understand your aids completely.

If for some reason you want to ride in a curb bit, you can school your horse to understand your aids with considerate hands. Either borrow bits to try or head to the consignment section of your tack shop.

barrel racing barrels
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

The bit should rest comfortable at the corners of the mouth and the rings shouldn’t press hard against the horse’s cheek otherwise it is too short. A bit that is too short will pinch and rub the skin at the corners of the mouth and on the cheeks.

Here’s an easy follow guide from Queue Schulz on how to measure for the correct size horse bit : To start with consider the thickness. The thinner the mouthpiece, the more your horse will feel the effects of rein pressure.

You should consider the size of the horse’s mouth as it may not be appropriate to put a very thick bit on a small pony. The joint in the middle allows the rider to apply pressure to one side of the mouth more than the other.

There are different forms this can take such as a French link (which is flat) or a lozenge (a rounded piece). However, not all horses are the same and some don’t like the tongue pressure that comes with the extra link.

Pictured is the Shires Bevel Bit with Copper Lozenge RAP £16.99 It helps them to become more relaxed in the mouth and jaw and hopefully be more accepting of the bit.

(Source: animals.mom.com)

In the picture to the right is the Happy Mouth Loose Ring Roller Center Snaffle RAP £26.99 The entire mouthpiece is movable and so encourages a horse to play with the links in their mouth.

Again we’ll try and just mention some of the most common designs of bit rings and why you might pick them. This allows the mouthpiece some independence from the rein contact in terms of being able to move in with the horse’s tongue and jaw.

It is very important it fits correctly, if too small when the ring rotates it will pinch the horse’s skin. A fixed ring isn’t the best option for horses who tend to lean on the bit.

The bars on the opposite side will press against the cheek and encourage the horse to turn with its head. This is useful for horses who need to learn how to respond to turning aids or those who try to tilt their heads to avoid the pressure on the rein.

A Tom Thumb is a great bit to encourage the horse to improve their head carriage. By adding slight pressure to the poll, it encourages the horse to lower their head.

stainless skirt dee steel rigging steer flange
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

A great example of a Cheltenham Bit is the Shires Cheltenham Gag RAP £18.99. You will see bits made from many materials so here’s our guide to help you pick which might suit your horse.

The pictured example is the Steel Sweet Iron Loose Ring French Link Snaffle RAP £15.29. You’ll find some of these bits have an apple flavor to encourage mouthing and salivation.

To use a double bridle for showing classes or for your higher level dressage you’ll have to decide on which bit best suits your horse. When you attach a snaffle rein to the Pelham it helps to lift the horse’s head.

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1 extension.umn.edu - https://extension.umn.edu/horse-nutrition/feeding-weanling-and-yearling-horse
2 horsenetwork.com - https://horsenetwork.com/2017/08/feeding-yearlings/
3 thehorse.com - https://thehorse.com/14600/feeding-yearlings/
4 ker.com - https://ker.com/equinews/managing-feed-weanling-yearling-horses/
5 www.purinamills.com - https://www.purinamills.com/horse-feed/education/detail/proper-foal-feeding-through-the-first-year
6 tributeequinenutrition.com - https://tributeequinenutrition.com/articles/feeding-weanling-and-yearling