Best Bit For Your Horse

David Lawrence
• Thursday, 12 November, 2020
• 7 min read

There are many choices when it comes to bits, and the selection at your local tack shop can be overwhelming. If you feel you must use a curb bit, choose one with the shortest shank you can find.

horse bit put
(Source: www.nwhorsesource.com)


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.

You will need to learn to ride with very light, considerate hands. 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.

highlighting horses collection bit horse 1978
(Source: www.historycolorado.org)

The good news is, there’s an easy way to break horse batting” down so that it doesn't have to be so difficult. A curb bit does the same thing but allows the rider to covey far more complex and nuanced directions to the horse via the “shanks”, which act as levers that can pull down on the bridle crown, put pressure on the top of the horse’s head, and pull the curb chain or strap forward against the horse's chin.

While a lot depends on the rider and how the horse bit is being used, curb bits are generally considered to be more “severe” than snaffle bits because they apply more rein pressure. Curb bits vary widely according to shank and mouthpiece design, but there are two main categories -- Western and English.

Western curb bits usually have gentle ports (the upwardly curved center of the mouthpiece). Two common types of English curb bits are the Weymouth, which has straight shanks and a low port, and the Liverpool bit, which has several rein-attachment slots that provide a choice of leverage power and severity.

Snaffle bits create direct pressure on the mouth without leverage. One of the most common types of snaffle bit is the egg butt, which is considered to be the gentlest type of snaffle bit because it doesn’t pinch the corners of the horse's mouth.

Try to find the gentlest horse bit possible that will still allow you to communicate at the level you need to with your horse. If you’re an experienced rider who goes to horse shows, you can opt for a more severe horse bit than a snaffle bit but still always go as gentle as possible.

horse bit
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Outside verbal commands and touch, a bit is one of the most important communication tools in your relationship with your horse. You may not have invested enough time in learning how to handle and communicate with a horse.

Before you can effectively use a bit, you need to be able to control your horse without one using only a saddle and reins. It is hugely important to make sure all of yourhorse’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 you don’t have a well fitted bit to compare with you should measure yourhorse’s mouth.

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.

horse friesian armor horses baroque tack medieval cavalry war military costumes bridle bridles saddles cheval chrome fantasy stallion pretty gear
(Source: www.wideopenpets.com)

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.

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.

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.

bit horse
(Source: www.facebook.com)

In the picture is the Shires Small Ring Curved Egg butt Snaffle RAP £14.99 The bars that protrude up the cheek help with head direction and turning.

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. The first set of reins attach to the cheek strap and run through the bit.

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.

(Source: myequestrianworld.blogspot.com)

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.

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