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 younghorse'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.
Choosing a bit with a similar mouthpiece makes the transition easier. 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. But because he is still so green, and I take him out on field rides and in new places I don't feel as safe.
However, at this age, they’re still learning the aids and the feel of the rider’s connection, so it’s important to use a kind bit that helps in their education. This allows the horse to place the port at the angle it finds most comfortable, which helps to eliminate tongue pressure.
“Many sensitive competition horses react negatively to pressure placed on their tongue, so I’m a big fan of the new breed of swivel bits. I like the Bombers Bits DC Morgan, as I find it helps prevent green horses getting their tongue over the bit and keeps any poll pressure stable, which in turn helps to keep them relaxed and round in front of the fence.
Hayden has used the Bomber Blue DC Morgan on several of his horses, including Jerry, an older horse that show jumped successfully at the British Masters in 2018 but is sensitive in the mouth, Fools In Love, a green youngster, and five-year old Cartoon Galaxy. “The swivel action of the DC Morgan gives the horse confidence to take the contact and not block the rider,” Stephen explains.
“It can help him relax across his back and become more through in his action, in turn creating more swing and engagement from his hindquarters. The DC Morgan has a drop, or hanging, cheek, but the action is a little different to a normal bit of this style, as the loose ring bridle attachment keeps poll pressure stable, as Hayden has found.
This ensures that pressure at the horse’s poll and cheek areas are drastically reduced,” Bomber New, who created the bits, adds. Please keen in mind, that these suggestions are general, and do not take into account the details of your exact situation.
Use them as a guide, read the product descriptions of the bits listed, and consider them as they might apply to your particular issues and training that you are also undertaking. A mouthpiece around 16 mm is a great place to start, and 14 mm is the thinnest permitted for young horse dressage classes- and most trainers would not use anything thinner than this on a greenhouse.
I generally suggest the use of the egg butt or other fixed cheek- you can read more about the benefits of this over a loose ring bit on my previous blog post here. It can be a nice bit to start in, as your aids are very direct, there is not a lot for the horse to play with and the slightly bendy plastic can be more forgiving than a metal mouthpiece.
A lovely bit, very nicely weighted, and with a flatter egg butt cheek to sit more like a Dee. The Minos Vision Balancer Dee Gentle curved, with a mouthpiece along similar lines to the loose ring Team Up.
Again, this bit is nicely weighted, the slightly larger Dee rings sit flush against the sides of the face, giving the rider the benefits of full cheek, but without the worry of the pointy bars. This bit will sit very even and steady in the mouth, and the copper alloy will mean it will be nice and warm.
The single join is much maligned, but a lot of horses do simply go better in them than a lozenge style, so it is not to be discounted! You can add FM keepers to steady the mouthpiece further should you wish, plus control the full cheek bars a little for safety.
This is quite a fine mouthpiece at 10 mm, but for most of the smaller ponies this is a very comfortable thickness for them as they simply do not have as much room between the upper and lower jaws as the horses do. Giving a young horse the right start to its training is essential to finding its true potential and making sure you are using the right bit is a major factor in doing this.
The support offered by using the right bit for a young horse is essential when starting to build the foundations of the horse’s training that he will need throughout his career. Riders are realizing the horse’s bit is equally important piece of tack.
To solve this problem, Heather suggests finding a bit that works on different pressure points collectively in order to give you better control, “The basis of a bit for control is to save the mouth, so you don’t have to haul on the reins, once a horse has experimented with a bit he’ll work within those parameters.” Failure to maintain a contact or being tentative in the contact is another common problem with younger horses. Heather suggests trying a fixed cheek bit to offer stability, which will help him to reach for a contact more.
Working on the lunge can help a horse get to grips with a new bit as it is easier for him to take his neck forward and down without having to think of the weight of the rider as well. “They shouldn’t be tight or restricting his neck, but should offer enough support for the horse to feel secure and confident.
“Horses can get very tense under unfamiliar demand and can revert to old habits or an incorrect way of going, so if you know the penny won’t drop for a while use a familiar bit to support him and give him confidence.” However, you must ensure that your youngster understands all you’ve taught him before you move on, or you risk confusing him and setting your progress back. It is hugely important to make sure all of your horse’s tack fits correctly.
A horse’s mouth is a very sensitive area and so needs to be handled with care. 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. If the bit is too long there will be excess metal from the mouthpiece on either side of the lips.
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. The example in the picture is the Steel JP Stainless Steel Jointed Egg butt Snaffle RAP £21.50.
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.
In result of them doing so, they are typically softer on the reins and reduces them from leaning or pulling. 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.
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.
A great training aid and answer to those experienced riders who have a strong horse. You will see bits made from many materials so here’s our guide to help you pick which might suit your horse.
This creates a sweet flavor that should encourage them to produce more saliva and mouth on the bit. 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. If you have a horse who chews heavily on their bit these may become out of shape and teeth marks can make a rough surface.
The bit in the picture is the Happy Mouth Loose Ring Snaffle RAP £18.99 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. The double joint with copper lozenge will soften the nutcracker action and assist with salivation.