Equine Bits, There's Many Choices
Choose the Right One for Your HorseThe mouthpiece of the equine bit rest on the "bars" of the horse's mouth between the incisors and the back molars. Bits are designed to work by pressure, not pain. Depending on the style of the equine bit, pressure can be brought to bear on the bars, tongue, and roof of the horse's mouth, as well as the lips, chin groove and poll. Bits offer varying degrees of control and communication between rider and horse depending upon their design and on the skill of the rider. It is important that the style of equine bit is appropriate to the horse's needs and is fitted properly for it to function properly and be comfortable for the horse. A hard-handed rider can make even the mildest bit painful, and a skilled, light-handed rider can ride in a much harsher mouthpiece without damaging the mouth or causing any distress to the horse.
Develop Gentle Rein PressureA slight tightening and loosening of the grip on the reins is all that is needed for the trained horse to change direction. Rather than jerking on the reins to change direction, a very slight squeeze that is almost unnoticed by an observer is the desired action to signal the horse to turn. When slowing or stopping, a rider sits deep in the saddle and closes their hands on the reins, avoiding jerking on the horse or hauling back on the reins in a "heavy-handed" fashion. Change of position of the seat and the pressure of the rider's seat bones are also extremely useful for turning, speeding up and slowing down. Many factors need to be considered when choosing the appropriate equine bit. If you are showing western you have to show in a curb bit. Whether you are in a curb or a snaffle bit you will want to get your horse in the most mildest bit possible and still get the desired response.
Factors to ConsiderThe length of the shanks on a curb bit are a big factor as to the severity. If the shanks are long you will have more leverage, therefore creating more pressure on the bars with a slight pull of the reins. The shorter the shanks of the equine bit, the less severe the bit is on the mouth due to less leverage. Snaffles are usually considered to be a mild bit and are usually used in training. They provide direct contact on the corners of the mouth and bars when pressure is applied to the reins. The bars of the horse’s mouth are very sensitive and should be handled with care to keep them that way. Some equine bits are made with sweet iron or copper to cause more salivation keeping the bars soft and more sensitive. The gentlest type of snaffle bit is the Eggbutt snaffle. The name comes from the somewhat egg-shaped connection between the mouthpiece and the bit-ring. This equine bit is designed so that it doesn’t pinch the horse’s mouth. A bit like the Tom Thumb have small shanks along with a broken mouthpiece. Because of the shanks it is considered a curb bit but is often confused as a snaffle due to the broken mouthpiece. This bit was originally used as a transition bit from a snaffle to a curb but has proven not to be a good transition bit because of the many places it applies pressure it often confuses the young horse. Many people use it with a direct rein and is best used with a neck rein. This bit should be used on a well-trained horse with an experienced rider. Below are some general functions of different bit and things to consider before purchasing a bit.
Your equine bit is your direct communication between you and your horse, choose wisely!