What is the best horse bit to use? There have been many arguments regarding the usage of a horse bit in horse riding. However, regardless of which side you are on, tools are best used when you have a better understanding of their functions. The suitability of a horse bit not only depends on the horse breed but on the rider’s ability to handle it.
In choosing the perfect horse bit, the following points should be carefully considered:
- Style of riding
- The rider’s general ability
- Traditional use and types of bits
- Training level of the horse
- The purpose of horse riding
What is the purpose of a horse bit?
A horse bit is a part of a bridle, which will be positioned into the mouth of the horse. This allows the rider to fully control a horse with different cues by giving pressure in and around the mouth. The said pressure will be used to influence the horse’s direction and speed of the entire ride. In other words, a horse bit acts as a steering gear and brakes during the riding session.
Although the horse bit is not as essential as some other riding equipment, it gives you a much better guarantee that you have control over unexpected emergency situations. Know that the right bit in the right hands will cause no damage and pain; instead, it will only serve its prime purpose.
The ideal bit to use should be the mildest one possible. A strong bit in heavy hands can be threatening for horses and causing discomfort, and as a result, it can trigger undesired reactions. The following points on the horse’s head that will be affected by the horse bit:
- Curb area
Not all points will be affected at the same time. The number of points affected will depend on the type of headgear used.
Types of bits
What is the difference in horse bits? There are many variations on horse bits, but they are mainly categorised into two: snaffle and curb.
Also recognised as a ring snaffle, a snaffle bit is a mouthpiece with a round ring and a bit in the middle. The reins are attached directly to the mouthpiece instead to a shank. This allows the rider to have a direct pull when he/she pulls the reins with no leverage involved. It applies pressure on certain points such as the corners of the mouth, pressure on the tongue, and the bars of the mouth.
A curb bit will be used with leverage than the snaffle bit. This refers to a mouthpiece with shanks. The reins are attached to a shank instead of the mouthpiece. The curb strap is usually placed under the chin of the horse. A curb bit is created to have no rein contact lest the rider gives off a specific cue. When the rider pulls the reign, it places pressure not only on the mouth and chin but to the horse’s poll as well (creating the leverage effect). It applies pressure on certain points such as the bars, lips, tongue, the roof of the mouth, poll, and under the chin.
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What is the softest bit for a horse? Years of development allowed us to have a variety of mouth-friendly selection on horse bits in the industry.
Copper is one of the favoured mouthpiece choices for horses. It benefits dry-mouthed horses to salivate and become more responsive to cues of the bit.
This type of bit is manufactured with high-tech plastics and is flexible and soft. It is made with a natural scent of apple to make it easier for horses to adjust.
Mouthpieces made out of rubber are said to be warmer in the mouth and on the tongue. However, it is said to be too big or too mouthful for young horses and those with smaller mouths.
Stainless steel bits are the most common material you see on display. It stays shiny and easy to use, and it does not easily rust.
Sweet Iron/Black Steel
This is said to be a product that encourages horses to salivate, which makes the horse’s mouth more responsive.
Points in finding the appropriate bit
- Determine what type of bit should you get: a snaffle or leverage? Think about the intent of horse riding.
- Know the size or the proper width of your horse’s mouth. Choose a bit that protrudes about a quarter on each side. You may also consider getting it custom-built according to your desired size and style.
In conclusion, it is important to recognise that each horse has its own preference. They may react differently depending on the different types of bit pressure. Consider testing out as many bits as possible to determine the bit that your horse responds to the best.