Lets talk about bits!
As we all know, there are A LOT of bits out there. I just want to talk about what your favorite and least favorite types of bits are. I don't care if its for English, western, whatever. I just want to know everybody's opinions because I think it would be really interesting! Personally, for English, I use the plain D-ring single jointed snaffle. I also like the French links. For western, I like the Mullen mouths and the VERY low ports. For my least favorite bits...well...that's quite a long list. I don't like the cathedral bits. Or any bit with a HUGE port. Unless you have VERY quite hands, you shouldn't be using that kind of bit. And it is very misused. I also don't like twisted snaffles. Snaffles are supposed to be a mild bit. Twisted snaffles...ugh. Just no. I also don't like English bits with huge ports. Or any ports on English bits for that matter. I see english bits as mild. and they should stay that way. I don't mind kimberwicks though. As long as they are just single jointed, they are fine with me. Anyway, after that little mini rant sort of thing...I want to here your opinions!
I only ride western but my favorite bits are low/medium or sweetwater ported bits with short swivel shanks. I like to keep the shanks on mine to 6" or less and they must swivel. Stationary shanks are a no-no to me just because I don't like the way that they feel (or, rather, the lack of feel that they offer).
The only bit that I cringe every time I see someone using it is the Tom Thumb. They are just so poorly designed that it takes a very talented hand to use them without causing some pretty big issues...but they are most often sold to beginning riders.
I once went to a barn that put Tom thumbs of ALL of their lesson horses. With the lesson kids putting full contact and pressure won those horses mouths. I felt really bad for those poor horses.
Ditto on the TT for my least favorite. I judge a lot of 4-H shows and it makes me cringe the number of horses I see in thumbs and the kids & parents that are wondering why the horse is evading. They are cheap and seem to come on every starter set so it really doesn't surprise me to see so many out there in use.
I have tons of bits but a few go to's. Those I use on a regular basis, Myler loose ring comfort snaffle, hollow mouth eggbutt, french link on my english mare, Billy Allen is my go to with a shank, sometimes a jr. cowhorse and my retired reining mare goes in a spoon with a roller (or a snaffle with kids at the wheel). I also completely agree with smrobs about shanks, have to have that independent feel.
I don't like gags or tom thumbs.. see too many people using them on horses and use contact pressure on the horse when it's clear the horse doesn't like the contact! I use a french link baucher/hanging cheek..
My eventer/foxhunter and my other foxhunter use French-link eggbutts, which I like because they don't have the nutcracker action of a single-jointed snaffle. During the cross country phase of competition I sometimes use a French link Pessoa gag (many refer to them as elevators) with double reins and only touch the curb rein when I need a little extra.
My Arab colt (started Western) is in a single-jointed loose ring, which he seems to prefer over a French-link. My reiner is in a medium port, medium shank correction bit with swivel shanks. My mom's Percheron works best in a Myler Dee snaffle. She's ready for a curb, but finding a draft-sized curb with decent construction is difficult. My semi-retired Paso Fino loves his Imus Easy-Gaited curb.
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My arab is in a full cheek single jointed snaffle. She hates anything double jointed and I couldnt find anything else in the size she needs(little mare, small head) at the time.
I like to start them in full cheek snaffles, I also have several o rings, a french link loose ring in copper alot of horses seem to love and a very thin loose ring in sweet iron with copper inlay on my western bridle that every horse I put it on loves.
I cringe with some of the high port bits out there. For a very advanced horse and rider they can improve comunication, for most people that buy them they are a torture device.
Not a fan of thin twisted wire bits, tom thumbs, etc.
Right now my gelding is in an eggbutt French link snaffle for arena work. I'm trying to find a full cheek French link in his size (5.5"), but it's proving difficult.
My least favorite bits are Tom thumbs (Aires was started in one by my BO and HATED it) and twisted wire snaffles (my old gelding was made hard-mouthed by one because his owners rode him in with constant direct contact).
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My favorite bit for my horse is the KK Ultra 2-Type- I was borrowing a KK Ultra loose-ring knock-off from my trainer when I first got him, but it pinched his lips. With the 2-type I get the loose ring cheekpiece without pinching. He also went well in a level 2 myler D-ring comfort snaffle- I might buy one if I ever see them on sale or find a used one :-)
In general, I like any of the smooth, not-too-thin snaffles- mullen, single jointed, double jointed, waterford w/ loose rings, eggbutt, D-ring, full cheek, etc. (I'd consider anything >10mm thick "not too thin"... that's the cutoff for being dressage legal)
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