Horse Bits

Choosing horse bits for your horse should not be done without consideration. It is vital to know how different bits work and what the individual needs of the horse are. Using a bit that is too severe might damage the relationship between horse and its rider but having a bit that is too mild can be needlessly frustrating for the rider.

Types of horse bits.

Snaffle bits are the most commonly used mouthpieces in riding schools. These bits apply pressure to the mouth without leverage, thus not being as hard on the horse’s poll. Snaffle bit, such as an egg butt or loose ring snaffle, are often chosen for horses with soft mouths. Some snaffle bits can however be quite severe due to the design of the mouthpiece as is the case with the Dr. Bristol bit.

Leverage bits are used to add extra pressure on the poll of the horse. Some of the designs allow a second set of reins to be attached, giving more leverage and control.

- A curb bit, such as the Weymouth bit, has a lever with a ring for the rein at the bottom to enable more leverage and pressure on the poll and chin.

- A Pelham bit, in addition to the shank rings, has another ring for a second set of reins at the end of the mouthpiece. These bits are often used instead of a Weymouth set to get the look without having two bits in the horse’s mouth.

- Another leverage bit is the Kimberwick which is a mixture between a curb bit and a gag. It does not have a long shank for leverage but two possible slots for reins in its bit ring, therefore giving some variation in relation to leverage.

Non-curb leverage bits are used to apply pressure on the horse’s lips and poll. These bits are often used with horses that lean on the bit or are strong pullers. Designs like the Dutch gag enable leverage by having two extra rings at the bottom. Others use a set of slots and gag cheekpieces to lift the bit and thus gain more leverage without the curb effect.

While choosing the right horse bits is important so is the material used for the bit. “Tasty bits” or bits with rubber cover can encourage a better relationship between the horse and the bit.

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