Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Central Missouri
I agree, harshness is mostly in the hands of the rider.
However, the snaffle, that is one of the most common starter bits is also one of the most severe. At one time we used a snaffle to start all of our horses, then I found some of them did poorly in the snaffle. After quite a bit of research, I found the cause of the problem. The floor of the mouth of quite a few horses is too shallow to allow the tongue to get under the bit, without a lot of pressure on the tongue. We started using the toklat #89-20015 HBT 5" shank w/the SI 01 CI mouth. You can attach the reins to the bit at the connection to the mouth piece, so there is no lever action at all. Then when your ready for lever action move the reins to the shanks. The bit has a raised mouth piece that provides clearance for the tongue.
Many, many hard mouthed horses are made this way because the horse is simply protecting his tongue.
The bicycle chain bit, if properly fit, and has the smooth side down, is actually a milder bit than the simple, one joint snaffle. The chain has multiple joints, giving more rise to make room for the tongue.