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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pictured to the right is the Shires Jointed Mouth Loose Ring Snaffle RAP £9.50 Brass bits are alloyed with copper to produce a strong durable metal.
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.
They are good for horses who don’t like the cold sensation of metal in their mouth. 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 Brandon should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch longer to ensure both bits lie flat.
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. For young horses, Heather recommends mouthpieces with a good weight-bearing surface which then doesn’t target a specific area; around 16 mm thickness is idea.
Heather says “If you put a stronger bit on a horse who runs off when confused or scared it could be disastrous as it is a trust issue, you do need collection and control but if the first thing that kicks in is a strong bit they’ll panic and try and run through it and this could really set them back in their training.” 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.
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.
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.