Types of bits - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-21-2013, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Types of bits

What is the mildest, gentlest bit? You can give me brands, but I want to know what bit feels best to a horse.
What is the roughest, most painful bit to a horse?
What is a mullen bit? Is it a really gentle one or is it harsh?
Are rubber-covered bits more or less comfortable?
What kind of bit do YOU use?

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post #2 of 9 Old 01-21-2013, 05:24 PM
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French link snaffles (of any ring type) are considered the mildest you can get.

However, any bit can be harsh in the wrong hands.

As far as the harshest, I'd say the bicycle chain bits.

We use a French link eggbutt snaffle in the arena and a leather nosepiece Little S hackamore on the trail.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-21-2013, 09:43 PM
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All of your questions come down to personal preference for both rider and horse. A mullen bit is a solid bar with no breaks in the mouthpiece. Some horses really like rubber bits, but some have mouths that are too small and others hate the taste. I've also heard rubber bits can be dry.
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-21-2013, 11:54 PM
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The most severe bit, IN my experience is a true twisted wire snaffle.. I've seen horses mouths bloodied in a matter of minutes with improper use.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-22-2013, 06:44 AM
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This is pretty good summary of snaffle bits. Bit Information (Snaffle and English-Type Bits)

I use these bits: http://www.mikmar.com/bit-pages/eggbutt-snafflebit.html & http://www.mikmar.com/bit-pages/loos...gbutt-bit.html
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-22-2013, 12:26 PM
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I would say most French link snaffles are very mild, I myself use a loose ring French link KK ultra. I have seen some nasty twisted wire bits that I would consider very harsh, and some curbs with very long shanks that are harsh- any bit in the wrong hands can be "harsh". One thing to keep in mind while looking, the narrower the mouth piece the more "bite" it is going to have- this is why those twisted wire bits can be trouble. A big fat snaffle or mullen mouth bit (provided it isn't too thick for that horse's mouth) is going to be gentler. It all comes down to the pressure ratio- it would be far less painful to be stepped on by someone in a tennis shoe vs stiletto heels- the pressure is spread out.

Hope this helps!

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post #7 of 9 Old 01-22-2013, 12:45 PM
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It depends on your horse. Some hate fat bits, others love them. My mare likes 2 link snaffles, but not 3. But she is content in a Waterford, which has 5 links and supposedly more pressure. Rode her yesterday in a shanked bit, and she seemed fine with it. But try riding her with a fat french link, and in a couple of rides she'll start fighting to avoid having the bit put into her mouth. For all I know, she may do that with the shanked bit as well. She seems to reserve the right to change her mind...

OTOH, my two geldings have never shown ANY preference in bits.

This isn't mild, but if the horse is happy, then is it harsh?

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post #8 of 9 Old 01-22-2013, 01:02 PM
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Agreed with looking at the link on snaffles. The Snaffle Bit has been the generic starter bit for most horses for many years.
The harshest bits are those with rough or sharp edges. No beginner should use a spade bit bc the spoon can ruin the roof of a horse's mouth in the wrong hands.
Actually, bsms, I consider your bit to be mild. The squared off port is low, it has a cricket, which many horses love to play with, and it is smooth where the mouthpiece meets the shanks. Also, the medium high purchase keeps it from being a harsh fulcrum.
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-23-2013, 12:45 AM
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Most regular snaffles (single jointed, double jointed, mullen; loose rings, D-ring, eggbutt, etc.) are about the same in terms of harshness, but some horses have strong preferences about which they prefer while others don't seem to care.

There are a lot of harsh bits out there. My least favorite commonly found bits are double twisted wire snaffles. There's just no way to communicate with the horse without causing pain in those.

Mullen mouth is a bit with no joints- it's just a solid bar. They're usually pretty mild, but could potentially be harsh with certain cheekpieces or if very thin.

Rubber covered bits can be milder, but are generally very thick, which can be uncomfortable for some horses, particularly those without much space in their mouths.

I use a KK-Ultra 2-Type for dressage (essentially a double jointed loose ring snaffle), and a double jointed eggbutt with copper roller for jumping. I use different bits for different activities at the suggestion of my trainer- not because one is better suited per se (although the copper roller is not legal for showing in dressage)
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