Guide To Bits
Selecting the correct bit to use can be a bit of a mine field, available in a multitude of styles and materials with verying levels of control, the choice can be confusing, with this in mind we always recomend that you take the advice of your instructor when looking for the most suitable bit.
If you are local to us and come in store we are able to offer a bit hire service.
Snaffles are probably the most popular type of bit, they can come in many different mouth pieces- single jointed, french, straight bar etc, all of these work in slightly different ways. They can also have diffrent cheeks theese can be loose to allow greater 'play' or fixed to help prevent pinching, 'D's, fulmers, and full cheeks can help prevent the bit being pulled through the mouth, or help with steering. All though some snaffles are very mild, not all are, twisted and Dr bristols have a greatly increased severity.
Doubles or Weymouths are most commonly seenin the dressage and showing arena, Doubles are made up of 3 parts: bradoon, curb bit, and curb chain.
In addition to the normal areas on which a bit works, doubles also act on the chin grooveannd poll and this can help encourage more advanced head carriage and improve control.
Gag bits are related to the snaffle, however, they
are much more severe. As well as working on the bars, tongue and soft
palate, they put much more pressure on the lips and the poll.
Traditional gag bits run up the cheek pieces when the reins are pulled,
encouraging the horse to lift its head. Cord cheek pieces create a more
severe effect than leather as they allow the bit to move more freely.
Often two reins are fitted on these bits so that it can be used as a
snaffle as well as a gag.
Pelhams aim to combine the action assciated with a double in one bit. It can either be used with roundings or with double reins to encourage refinment.
Pelhams are genrally quite severe and should only by used by experienced riders.
The Dutch Gag was designed to combine this sliding and pulling on the lips with the leverage action of a shank. A bit with leverage pressure- a shank extension below the mouthpiece- is asking for head lowering, “outline” and nose retraction. So, the Dutch Gag is trying to ask for lifting and lowering at the same time. Can you see the problem with this?
In reality, a greater amount of pressure is applied to the tongue and lower jaw through the lower rings (the “shanks” of this bit), than is applied to the lips, so the majority of horses will respond more the leverage pressure, rather than the gag action. The Dutch Gag is therefore really not a gag at all, it is a leverage bit, and as such asks for head lowering. It is not particularly elegant solution, as most riders use this bit with only one rein on the bottom rings, which leads to very fuzzy direction aids.
Bitless bridles or hackamores are not technically bits but are used as a alternative. Despite the lack of bit, bitless bridles can be sever. They rely on points of control outside the horse's mouth , especially the nose.
D oes the bit fit ? To measure your horse for a bit.
-Gently pull the exsisting bit to one side of the horses mouth so the ring is flush against the horses face
-Check that you can fit between one and two fingers between the horses lips and the other ring (ideally 1/2")
-If this seems s ok remove the bit from the horses mouth and measure between the rings, this should give you the size of your horses bit.