Buying the right horse bits

Apr 7


Innes Donaldson

Innes Donaldson

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When buying horse tack, the importance of correct bit choice cannot be overestimated. The bit rests inside a horse's mouth and is used to allow the ri...


When buying horse tack, Buying the right horse bits Articles the importance of correct bit choice cannot be overestimated. The bit rests inside a horse's mouth and is used to allow the rider to communicate with the horse by exerting pressure inside the horse's mouth with assistance from the bridle and reigns. The horse moves away from the discomfort when pressure is applied, and so goes in the direction the rider is asking them.

An incorrectly fitting horse bit will cause problems for both horse and rider. A horse that is uncomfortable will feel edgy, and behave as such fighting against their bit. However, a horse that is comfortable with their bit will relax and be easier to ride. As a result a horse that appears tricky to control may actually need a milder bit, not a stronger one.

There are so many types of bits to choose from in a range of materials, so where do you start in selecting the correct one for your horse? Listed here are just a few types of bit, there are many more available:

Loose ring - Allows much more movement than a fixed cheek or eggbutt and discourages the horse from fixing and leaning and encourages mouthing.

Eggbutt - This is a fixed cheek bit, keeping everything stiller in the mouth - it can encourage horses to stretch into the contact.

Baucher - The mouthpiece lifts when a contact is made - suspending it in the mouth and reducing the pressure across the tongue and the bars, making this a good bit for sensitive mouths.

Full cheek - This supports the turning aids and if it is the correct size it will not allow the mouthpiece to slide back and forth across the tongue and bars, reducing friction.

Several different types of materials are used to make horse bits, and they can help with making your horse comfortable. Different materials have different properties. Stainless steel is a common choice, but some horses find it too cold. Copper is a good alternative to this as it is softer and warmer. Other metals can be used to encourage mouthing with their sweeter taste, such as sweet iron, Aurigan (a mix of copper, silicon and zinc) or Salox ( a copper aloy). Manmade materials like rubber, vulcanite (a form of rubber hardened through heat) and a plastic called Nathe are also used to make bits, offering a softer alternative to metal.

You also need to take the shape of your horse's mouth into consideration. Check if they have a big tongue by gently parting your horse's lips at the side to see if the tongue bulges through the teeth. Also look at what room they have between their tongue and the roof of their mouth. This will give you an idea of the size and shape of the bit your horse needs. For example a flat tongue may need a thicker bit to spread the weight, whereas a horse with a big tongue and limited room will need a bit that is smaller and gentle on the tongue's edges.

There's a lot to think about when selecting a bit for your horse. But if they appear to be fighting against their bit, it's worth trying something milder. There is so much choice and new innovation to aid your horse's comfort and in turn your riding experience.

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