I am LOVING the responses! Thank you everyone. Cowchick, how do you know if your horse has a thick tongue or not? Does it slur its speech? I hear/read about tongue relief and I have no idea what that means or how to know if my horse is struggling with his tongue.
If you are brave you can start feeling horses mouths if they let you. But I think this is where a good equine dentist comes in handy or being around when your horses get floated. A good dentist can tell you about the conformation of your horses mouth. I also get hands on, if allowd, and stick my hands in there or at least take a good look. Just like outside conformation, inside conformation varies too, especially with different breeds. It will give you an indication for what works.
Paying attention to subtleties in changing bits and taking notes. I think this the most important.
We found with Zorro, if he is rode with a tongue relief, low port type bit he isn't happy, just cranky,his chin wrinkles up to the size of a raisin. You hang a big spoon spade on him and he's got his ears up, his mouth and eyes are soft and he walks out with his rein chains just a swinging looking for work.
Gracie likes a high port half breed with a roller. She likes the palate pressure and plays with her tongue a lot, loves a roller. She also seems happier with it sitting higher in her mouth than most horses.
The other two have sensitive palates and start gaping their mouths to avoid it, with a low port not so much. One slobbers all over that little square port..he needs a drool rag..lol.
I guess the point I was trying to make was that not all horses love tongue relief. We have owned a bazillion bits and it is trial and error. Mouth conformation, in my opinion, can give you a direction to finding the right bit as long as you understand how the bit works. But most importantly paying attention to how your horse feels and reacts to it.
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