Monday, March 19, 2012

A Bit of Knowledge

I am a huge fan of the right bit for the right horse. And I am a huge fan of understanding how bits work. Every client's first lesson includes information on bits. I don't care if you are learning english or western, you are going to learn all about all of the types of bits, how they work, what 'level' they are, and the idea of graduating a horse up to the next bit.

I am not the type of person who throws whatever I want into any horse's mouth and tells them to listen to it. I don't solve problems by going up a bit (if anything, you should go down). I thought that I would take a moment to walk you through the bits that I use daily, and why. I'll go in order of my most common, to least common.

This is my absolute favorite bit in the entire planet. I have no clue how I came to find it, because lord knows I never would have spent $80 on it without knowing how well it worked first. I have never even been able to find my exact myler online, but it looks like this one, only the port is a bit lower, and the roller is copper.
I love my myler because it's gentle, and most horses take to it really well. You get horses that are salivating, collecting, flexing at the pole, and overall docile. I like giving Roxy a roller because she gets excited and rolls the bit, which I highly encourage. It keeps her salivating, and it keeps the bit soft in her mouth.

Alright, this isn't a bit. But I love my mechanical hackamore. Dolly has a thin rawhide hackamore, and Roxy has a thicker woven rawhide hackamore.

That is like Roxy's it was really tough to find a round hackamore, not a flat mechanical one. Honestly, I like the round ones more because they are much prettier then the flat ones. My girls seem to like them too. As with most tack, the wider the nose band the more gentle. I like the hackamore because it uses pressure points along the horse's cheeks, poll, and chin. Dolly likes it because of the infection in her mouth (I swear I'll tell her story soon), a bit bothers her sensitive jaw.

Tom Thumb
I am not a huge fan of this bit, but it's what the lesson horses use so I use it often. The Tom thumb is actually a pretty controversial bit. I use to use it on my girls, and on most of the horses that I ride. Now the Myler has replaced the tom thumb, and I actually own none! I still use it on the lesson horses during lessons though. The reason that I don't like it, is because it pinches. It can be a really nasty, and painful bit.

O Ring Snaffle

The mouth part on mine is a little big thicker then this- which I LOVE. I only use a snaffle on the babies. It's just my preference to get an older horse into a shank bit. To me, it makes more sense when neck reining for the bit to have shanks. Notice how the sides of this snaffle don't end at the ring? That's to avoid pinching, perfect for babies with nice soft mouths.

What type of bit do you and your horse love? Thinking of shelling out for a Myler? Do you have any specific questions about any bits?


  1. so cute this western style =)

  2. I ride in a O ring Snaffle that has the sweet iron on it to encourage salvating and playing with the bit. My boy is fairly young so i find it is ok. But i am finding that the bit may be to narrow in his mouth and a little to harsh for him because occasionally he will take up contact with the bit (i think) but if i put any pressure on his mouth with the bit at all he will toss his head and immediatly stop when i throw the reins at him. Im going to buy a wider snaffle when i get paid and see how that works. If not ill have the vet out to check his teeth. Im hoping its just the bit lol. Any suggestions?

    1. A good bit can change your entire horse's outlook. I like that your first response to his head tossing isn't to put a tie down on him, you're right in realizing that it's a real problem that can be solved.

      I like the o ring snaffles, as long as they aren't the pinchy kind, but there is a reason that they make so many different snaffle bits. Maybe your fella would prefer something else. If you can, I would borrow bits from friends, and see which he likes best before you buy one that he might not respond to. I also really like D rings, and full cheek snaffles- that's what Roxy started in.

    2. Yeah i definatly dontthink it is a bad behaviour thing he doesnt do it all the time so im thinking it must be something to do with the bit. Im going to look at mine tonight i dont think its pinching but its a possibility :) i will look into borrowing one for now

  3. I ride Sunny and Jack in jointed snaffles. I had Sunny in a french link, but he seemed more focused on chewing it than listening to me, so I put the jointed snaffle in and he seems to like that one much better.

    Sugar is ridden in a bitless bridle, because she HATES bits. I've tried a whole heap on her and I never found the right one, but she seems to really like bitless.

    I agree that problems don't usually get solved by going up bits. I find that if you are having a problem and use a harsher bit that the horse develops the same problem again over time and it becomes a vicious circle. When you move up a bit it should be because the horse's training is becoming more advanced.