so what does a mouthing bit actually DO? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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so what does a mouthing bit actually DO?

I mean one of the bits in the photos attached.

What is the actual physical function of the mouthing bit? I know WHAT it does, but HOW and WHY?

I have a young horse I'm in the process of training for the bridle and as a part of that I am deciding on what type of bit to mouth her in. The last horse I mouthed, I mouthed in a single jointed full cheek snaffle, and then moved on to a double jointed eggbutt. Magic is similarly "normal" in the mouth but my single jointed full cheek is miles too big for her so I have to buy something specifically.

Before I go out and spend money I want to educate myself so that I can better understand the function of the different bits. I'm pretty sure I don't want the one that's got the ridges on it [although apparently those are only on one side so it can be used either way up, that implies the bit is dead straight and therefore does not fit well in ANY horse's mouth!] but want to understand the function of the ring-link and the keys so that I can make an educated decision.

At present I am tempted to stick with the familiar and comforting and go with a full cheek french link but thought I would take the opportunity to learn.
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File Type: jpg mouthing bit 02.jpg (14.9 KB, 315 views)
File Type: jpg mouthing bit 03.jpg (32.4 KB, 313 views)

blue eyed pony is offline  
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post #2 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 03:26 PM
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Well , I think the first bit might be a mullen mouth, i.e. no break in the middle, a straight bar. not sure. the others function much like a French link in that they have two joints.
I think the rings are to give a fidgetty horse something to focus on , rather than resisting the whole bit pressure, it would play with those keys. When a horse "plays" with something on it's tongue, it will increase salvation (also helps with horse's comfort) and will keep the jaw from locking up. That is probably the number one benefit of having a horse play with the mouthpiece; encouraging a loose jaw. A tight jaw is a clear sign of tension and resistance. If the jaw can be kept loose, the rest of the body should be looser.

However, I don't know of much training using those bits. But that doesn't really mean anything, since I dont' train babies, nor do I watch anyone do it.

lets see what folks who do mouth babies have to say.
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post #3 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Most of the breakers around here actually use loose ring snaffles, generally either single or double jointed. That's a good sign for me because I have one of those lying around that I'm not confident is actually a 5 inch - I think it's a bit smaller - but at the same time if I'm going to be using something I already have might I be better off using my hanging cheek snaffle? That's definitely only about 4.5 inch, though I was sold it as a 5 inch.

Oh yeah - she has a TINY head, she's 16hh and in a cob sized bridle at the moment. Full is miles too big so her new bridle which WILL fit and have growing room is made up of a mishmash of all different sized parts. Very narrow mouth too, the bit that's miles too big is only a 5 inch. So I need something that I can relatively easily source in "pony" sizes. Starting to seem like it will just be easier to mouth her in "just a bit" and buy her whatever I choose as my bit of choice for her.

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post #4 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 03:41 PM
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I used a bit like the third one when I started my first two young horses. This was many, many years ago, though, and I don't bother with it anymore. The idea is that the keys give them something to play with, and keep their mouths moist, as tinyliny pointed out.

Not sure that I would spend money on one, personally. That being said, I never noticed any ill-effect from the mouthing bits, and I'm not going to say I wouldn't use it again if I thought it would help in a specific situation.

I don't know if that's super helpful. I guess one thing to think about is if there's a big difference between the second and third bit in terms of where it puts pressure on the mouth. I think the third bit is harder to pull through their mouths, but I haven't had that problem anyway. I do wonder if it would put pressure on their lips a little, much like a D-ring.
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post #5 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you LisaG, and you don't notice it being any easier or more difficult with or without the keys? Hmm sounds to me rather like if I'm going to spend money I might as well spend it on what she'll be staying in as a dressage horse [she is eventually intended to event, if she's brave enough, but for now I'm starting her as a dressage horse]... which is most likely to be a double jointed eggbutt. Simple enough to find in the right size, can get quality ones cheap, only met a couple of horses that didn't like them.

She is a nervy horse and tends to freeze when she gets over-stressed so something to play with in her mouth might help, though... :/

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post #6 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 04:51 PM
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I agree with the theory that it gives them something to play with but I dislike them as they can often make the horse to ,mouthy and teach them to put their tongue over the bit.
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post #7 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 05:05 PM
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The keys are designed to encourage the horse to play, feel and mouth the bit. I would only be mouthing the horse in those bits but not riding or long reining.

What's inside the horses mouth will determine what type of link to use.

I always use full cheek snaffles with either a standard snaffle mouth, training links or hollow snaffle. Thick bars are better.

I would never ever use loose ring bits or French links. Always take into account the wolf teeth, tongue and pallet of the horse and of course the bars and general condition of the teeth before mouthing.
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post #8 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 05:59 PM
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The barn I'm at uses full cheeks on the babies, infact one of the horses used a rubber mouth full cheek. Single jointed, although I would probably go french link so it doesn't have such a nutcracker effect. After a bit of training, they move down to a d-ring or egg butt. I don't like loose rings because I have heard they could pinch, and I feel like the reins/headstall or bridle can move around on the bit a lot.

If I had to moth a baby, I would use this bit:

It has the full cheek to move their heads easily, copper to help them salivate, double jointed to reduce nutcracker effect, and a roller for them to play with if necessary. If they don't need to play with it, then I feel it wouldn't be as annoying as having a mouthful of keys :p

Intermediate Rider~Learning Equitation and English Pleasure~Interested in Eventing
A horse will tell you everything you need to know about him, if you listen.
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post #9 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 06:25 PM
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I have to say I don't really know how double-jointed bits work, to be honest, so I'm not sure about the eggbut bit you're describing. Whatever you start them on, it should be relatively gentle. Dulcify mentioned the thicker bars, and I agree that it's best to start them out with thicker rather than really thin bars.

It was so long ago that I last used the key thing, I'm not sure if I remember things accurately. I think the horses did play with the bit quite a bit, but once I switched to a different bit, it was fine. Neither of my horses ever got a tongue over the bit, but maybe I was lucky.

Now I just use an open snaffle, single joint, with fairly thick bars to start. I haven't had problems with reins moving around on the bit or anything. After a few rides I move to a slightly thinner bit. I have one three-year-old in a single-jointed copper D-ring now, and she's responding well to that (she started out on an open snaffle, but didn't yield as nicely as I like).

I don't generally use full-cheek snaffles because of the way my reins are set up. I guess they're probably fine, though I do wonder if they would put a little pressure on a horse's lips (not that I'm super worried about that after the horse has a few rides on it - I believe the D ring does the same).

I guess I'd say just go with something relatively gentle to start out. Good luck!
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post #10 of 22 Old 12-20-2012, 06:28 PM
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Actually, when it comes to bits, I think I'm at least as confused as the next person. Whenever I'm thinking of buying a new one, I find myself staring at the rows and rows of bits, trying to figure out how the leverage would work in a horse's mouth. Someone should put together a bit webinar for all of us so we can figure this stuff out!
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