If you have tried that, not it's not quite enough, here are a few specific styles of bits that I recommend helping the rider a little with a horse that tends to lean, fix or pull. The Tyler MB02 “Comfort Snaffle” Yes, this is what they call a “level one” bit, but I have found that with the lots of movement this mouthpiece combined with the loose ring provides, plus the slightly finer than average mouthpiece this Tyler bit can again give the rider a little advantage in their training.
The central lozenge has a roller built in, so the rider has more play and movement in the mouth. The Nee Schulz Team Up This is a lovely training bit, and recommended for OTTO's all the time by us.
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. On the other side mark onto the string with a pen or some tape where it meets the outside of the lips.
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.
The entire mouthpiece is movable and so encourages a horse to play with the links in their mouth. 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.
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.
In the picture to the left is the Happy Mouth Hanging Cheek Snaffle RAP £30.99 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. The Equipped+ coating also makes it perfect for horses who do not have a lot of room for a thicker mouthpiece.
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.
The double joint with copper lozenge will soften the nutcracker action and assist with salivation. 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. 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.
There are however some conformational pointers you can look for that help to suggest what type of bit may suit your horse and narrow the search. Certain breeds of horse can be prone to certain mouth shapes for example cob types often have large tongues which leave little room for a thick bit to sit comfortably in.
Often, a flash will then be used to stop this behavior, but a bi like cough mixture this reliefs the symptoms but is not actually solving the problem! The table below outlines some common observations in a horses mouth, the batting implications and possible solutions.
This means the horse potentially does not have a lot of space to comfortably hold a bit and restriction in swallowing could be a problem. The horses front teeth don’t meet properly, meaning the molars do not end squarely either.
A single joint should be avoided as this can jab the roof of the mouth causing the horse to toss their head to try and escape the action. A double joint (ideally a lozenge center if the horse also has a large tongue) or gentle Mullen mouth and definitely on the thinner side will be the most suitable.
The bar of the horses jaw (where the bit sits) is sore, bruised or puffy. Mullen mouthpieces, or combination style bits that help to remove pressure from the bars are kindest.
In extreme cases it may even be necessary to use a witless (sycamore) bridle for a time until the horse is less sensitive. Fleshy lips are common particularly with heavier breeds, and can be prone to damage from tight bits.
Any bit is potentially suitable for a horse with fleshy lips, but generally a thinner bi is less likely to cause a split in the corner (as long as the rider is competent) as it will not stretch the skin as much. It is important to allow enough room for the lips particularly with lose ring bits to prevent pinching.
A sore tongue can cause problems for the horse as contact with the bit can be very uncomfortable. In extreme cases it may even be necessary to use a witless (sycamore) bridle for a time until the horse is less sensitive.
Bits made from stainless steel are often responsible for spoil lips if TH horse does not salivate in them. Using a mouthpiece made from a copper or sweet iron type metal will give your horse a taste and encourage him to accept and mouth the bit.
Also, suitable: Thinner, double-jointed (French link) style bits that do not cause tongue pressure. Refusal to soften down onto the bit, poking the nose Usually seen in young or lazy horses.
Usually a thinner, either double-jointed style bit with a hanging cheek works well. The Tyler combination bits, especially the 30 04 can be invaluable for education horses in the right hands with correct schooling.
Traditionally Waterford bits have been used to help prevent leaning and pulling but do need to be used with sympathetic hands. Once this has been established, move the horse into a sympathetic bit such as a Springer OK ultra 16 mm to keep his confidence but further his training.
The Waterford is the most well known a bit for this type of evasion, and can help to prevent leaning but should be used sympathetically. Tyler combination bits often work well, the 30 04 being popular or the 30 42 if the horse puts his head down whilst pulling.
Once a sore back and saddle fit have been eliminated, the Tyler narrow ported barrel high is ideally suited to this problem. The 33 43 combination bites has great success at encouraging a more rounded outline and preventing a high head carriage and helps to school horses out of the habit.
Traditionally, curbed bits such as a Kimblewick or Pelham can be used, but these can sometime lead to the horse bearing down instead.