humane bits - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-10-2007, 08:59 AM Thread Starter
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humane bits

I just wondered what would be considered a humane bit. I know a lot of people use a broken mouthpiece snaffle. Isn't any bit that has a nutcracker action that a broken mouthpiece has severe? I'm a little confused. Is the narrower the mouth ie wire, twisted wire etc the most severe? This is the bit I use (I ride a gaited horse). I can't see where it would hurt the mouth anyplace. It has an upper set of rein attachments for training young horses and the lower for finished horses. What do you think of this bit?

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post #2 of 10 Old 11-10-2007, 09:53 AM
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A single jointed snaffle, like an O-ring, D-ring, etc. should ONLY be used with one rein riding, as in using one rein at a time for control. You shouldn't try to collect a horse with a single jointed bit because of the nut cracker effect, and horses won't want to reach for the bit. They also collapse on the bars, causing some horses to be very busy in the mouth, gape their mouths open, toss their heads, etc.

A double jointed bit, like a french link or the JP by Korsteel Oval mouth copper loose ring snaffle I use on my horse, or like the KK snaffles are nice bits. They are double jointed, so the nut cracker effect is eliminated and the horse will be more willing to reach for the bit. But those go off more on tounge pressure, and some horses need more tounge relief.

Bits that I think are torture devices are as follows:

twisted wire bits, slow twists, dog bone bits, scissor bits, chain bits, gag bits, kimberwicks, bits with shanks on them longer then 6 inches, a lot of gaited horse bits, cathedral bits, tom thumbs (not really torture device, but a piece of poo lol), mechanical hackamores, the Wonder Bit, etc.

Now, ANY bit can be made into a harsh bit in the wrong hands! But I believe that there are some bits (the above) that even the best rider COULD NOT make soft and gentle. Those bits were made to be harsher and to get "better brakes." Just my 2 cents.

Oh, and I don't see anything wrong with that bit Vidaloco :)
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-11-2007, 12:10 PM
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I think that bit looks great.. I like the mouthpiece and it has a nice curve on the bar area and the shanks aren't too long..


I don't agree with your list. Some bits yes I do feel are more severe than others, but a kimberwick? I think this depends greatly on the mouthpiece as well as the hands. I use D ring and O ring simple jointed snaffles with decent diameter mouthpieces and I don't find any problem with them. Wonder bits are normally considered to be mild gags with specific uses.. To simply trailride I don't think they are necessary.. I do prefer to keep it as simple as possible tho.. ;)
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post #4 of 10 Old 11-11-2007, 09:55 PM
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Just my opinions Everyone has their own outlook on things.
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-12-2007, 08:00 AM
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:) of course..
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-12-2007, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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I think bits and saddle fit are the most frustrating things about horses. The horses themselves are pretty uncomplicated but the tack we use is so the opposite. Maybe I try to overthink to much
Every time I think I may go bitless I run into a herd of deer on the trail and Vida has a hizzy fit while my attention is elsewhere. Did that this Sat. first time I almost came off in awhile.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-20-2015, 11:13 AM
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Would love to know where to buy that bit for my gaited horse, my mother in law uses this one to train all ages and loves and loves her horses
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-21-2015, 07:24 AM
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How humane or sever a bit is has more to do with how it’s used than how it’s made. Any bit can be used as a weapon in the wrong hands.
As a trainer I find that most do not have an understanding of the mechanics of bits and there intended use. Too often their thought process is what do I need to “make” the horse perform instead of how can I train the horse to perform or respond to the bit.

Any time you introduce a new bit or a bit for the first time the horse will need to be trained to respond to its signal with foundation training.
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-21-2015, 10:37 AM
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Single joint snaffles have an undeserved bad reputation.

First, many people think they fold and then will poke the roof of the mouth. That isn't how it works.

"When tension was applied to the reins, the mouthpiece pressed more deeply into the tongue, thereby causing the joint to move away from the palate. Single-jointed bits are usually described as having a nutcracker-like action, the implication being that when tension is applied to the reins, the angle between the arms of the mouthpiece closes and the joint is pushed toward the palate. In our study, any nutcracker effect that tended to push the joint toward the palate was more than offset by indentation of the tongue."

- Bitting: The Inside Story by Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PHD, MRCVS

However, Clayton is wrong about what the nutcracker effect means. Nutcrackers are not used to poke nuts. They are levers used to crush nuts. If you pull back hard on both reins with a snaffle when the horse's head is stretched out, you CAN catch the cheek between the metal and the molars, crushing the cheek and bruising or cutting the inside of the cheek high up in the mouth.

From Tom Robert's book "Horse Control - the Bit".

The solution is not to pull back hard when the horse has its head stretched out.

French links are not much better, because they punish the tongue:

With a snaffle, you can pull back with both reins, but need to do so gently - and that is true with single or double joint snaffles.

If you want to use both reins when your horse's head is extended, then a good curb bit is gentler on the mouth. The design of a curb bit means it rotates. It does not go straight back in the horse's mouth. Since it is rotating, it always applies pressure against the tongue and molars. That is the gentlest place to apply pressure, and also the most effective. Curb bits get a bad rap from people who think they work via leverage. They do not. They work by rotating in the mouth and thus applying pressure where it ought to be.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-21-2015, 03:46 PM
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A nutcracker relies on both its arms being moved towards one another by a force applied at approx. 90 degrees to each arm. You can't replicate this with a snaffle unless, I suppose, you were to run the reins from each ring through the other so they cross under the horse's jaw before going back to the hand. 'Nutcracker' is just the wrong way to describe normal jointed bit action, but for some reason it stuck.

The battle that never ends is the battle of belief against unbelief - Thomas Carlyle
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