Bit question? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-23-2008, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Bit question?

How do you know what bit to use and what size to get???

I have my horse on a training snaffle(Tom Thumb Bit - SS/Copper Mouth)
Looks like this
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-23-2008, 10:27 PM
Green Broke
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it depends on what level of training you are at and what you prefer.... personally, i hate those TT bits.... here's a link

what i do, is make sure the horse knows how to flex with the halter, then put in a mild frenchlink type snaffle... the french link i will use for building the foundation, and i don't move up until the horse has a good idea of everything i ask.... then i move up to a billy allen w/ 5 inch shanks, and then a mullen mouth w/ loose 5 inch shanks, and then finally a low port curb w/ 6 inch shanks

most horses will fit in a 5" bit, but if you want to measure, put a piece of string in your horse's mouth like a bit and measure the width of the mouth plus a tad bit over.....
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-24-2008, 01:02 AM
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Good article, that link! Explains well.

I was going to say it depends on what sort of riding you do too. Eg. a single jointed snaffle can be very harsh if used with equal pressure on both reins. It then has a nutcracker effect on the tongue and can also gouge into the roof of the mouth. It is better for single direct rein cues and gentle use with a horse that already knows how to yield to pressure. A shanked bit can give confusing signals if used one rein at a time in a direct manner. A true hackamore or rope halter should be able to be used whatever rein cues, and a mechanical 'hackamore' is not suitable for direct english type style either. Other bitless bridles are often more suited to English, but can be used either way.

I would choose a straight bar, short- or no-shanked bit with a port mouth for western riding and a double jointed snaffle for English or general riding.

Size? The bit should fit neatly into the horse's mouth, with the bars protruding slightly but not much. Thickness? Depends on the horse's mouth size, as fatter bits mightn't be comfy in small mouths, but as thick as is comfortable is best IMO, as the thinner they are, the harsher they are.

Fitting? It still seems very common for people to advise that a bit should be fitted high in the mouth so that there are 2 wrinkles at the lips on each side. I have never come across any good reasons for this tho and it can create problems from discomfort and constant unrelenting pressure. IMO the bit needs to fit into the bars of the mouth in such a way that it is not sloppy and doesn't bang on the teeth. IME this usually means it sits high in the corner of the mouth, but without wrinkling.
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-24-2008, 07:49 AM
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Again, it all depends on what style of riding you are doing.

For me, with any horse I work with, I start them in a rope halter/rope hackamore and make sure they know the basics.....lateral flextion, disengage the hind end, turn on the hauches, sideways, etc. Then I move to a single jointed snaffle, like an O-ring, D-ring, etc. but I do not try to teach collection with a bit like this. Like explained already, it has a nut-cracker effect that can really bother a lot of horses. I use a bit like this for Freestyle riding, like teaching my horse to stop without me using my reins, trail riding, teaching canter leads, stuff you can do on a loose rein. Then I'll move them up to a double jointed snaffle that has a link in the middle.....I prefer the JP by Korsteel oval mouth copper loose ring snaffle. I'll teach collection in this bit and really focus on longitudinal flexion.

Some horses HATE tongue and bar pressure. They'll chomp on the bit, toss their heads, put their tongue over the bit, have a busy mouth, invert, etc. so you may need to do some experimenting. I really like Myler bits, well most of them, so you may want to look into those. Even their snaffles can have maximum tongue relief for horses who like it and they also have a wide selection of curb bits if you ride western. Both of my horses need maximum tongue relief so I ride them in that mouthpiece. It's actually the Myler/Parelli cradle combo bit, the C3.

As for fitting I think the horse should learn to hold the bit, not have it cramed in the corners of his mouth. So I find the place where the bit would be too low and then raise it another notch so it's not hitting the teeth, and that's where I leave it. The horse will hold it in a comfortable position for him. This is with a snaffle, a curb bit should sit snuggly in the corners of the mouth.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-26-2008, 01:13 PM
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I would definitely use a snaffle for now, and not a horrible tom thumb snaffle. A horse has to be taught to give to leverage, and that's hard with a bit that is designed to be a combination of a snaffle and a curb. Everyone has a different method of breaking a horse, and everyone has different things they want their horse to be able to do. I also like myler bits, they are curved on the sides that allow them to fit better in the horses mouth. Even more than mylers, I like Herm Sprenger KK bits, made with either german silver or Aurigan. JMO.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-26-2008, 02:36 PM
Green Broke
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you never really know what bit to use its kinds just a trial and error thing depends on what kind of riding you do..if your just starting ouy I would start out with a snaffle so your horse can get use to a bit :)

3 barrels , 2 hearts & 1 passion
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-27-2008, 03:15 AM
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The softer the better

The younger the softer

usually your first instinct would be to use a happy mouth


being nice on the bars, the small metal connectors irratate and cut the roof of the mouth.

best way to go is a hollow French link NOT bristol (rotation of link is painful) and if thats great thats great

if its a little to forceful I wrap my bits in vet wrap over the points and sealtex over the bars
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-27-2008, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your help! I think i'm going to stick with the bit I have because she seem to responds to it well and she doesn't mind when I put it in her mouth. :P
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