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dbr549 08-27-2013 04:54 PM

Recommendations for a new bit.......
I purchased an 11 year old gelding a few weeks ago. I still need to by all my tack (including saddle). I have an old bridal (which I'll replace) that has a long shanked snaffle bit that he doesn't seem to like so I thought I'd get something else. He's pretty laid back and responds very well to neck reining and I've been told, he's been a trail horse for a long time. Thought I'd mention also, that I purchased this particular horse for a beginner.

So I looked online to get an idea of what kind of bit to purchase that doesn't seem so aggressive. Well....there are more bits out there than I ever imagined! I'm confused and I'm looking for suggestions. Any recommendations??


DraftyAiresMum 08-27-2013 05:01 PM

If it has shanks, it's NOT a snaffle, it's a broken-mouth curb. A snaffle has no additional leverage (so it's leverage ratio is 1:1...for every ounce of pressure exerted on the reins, the same amount is applied to the mouthpiece). Shanks add leverage. The longer the shanks, the more leverage is added. Leverage plus the nutcracker action of a broken mouthpiece equals confusion and often pain for the horse.

That being said, do you know what kind of bit his previous owners used? If not, the best bet is to always go with the mildest bit that will work. I would try him in a loose ring snaffle (single or double jointed) and see how he goes. If he likes it, great. If not, and you KNOW he's trained to neck-rein, maybe try a short-shank low port (or Mullen mouth) curb with swivel shanks.
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Golden Horse 08-27-2013 05:02 PM

What was he ridden when you tried him out? that would be a good starting point.

Or just start from a nice French Link

And work up from there.

dbr549 08-27-2013 05:24 PM

Thank you for the replies! I don't know what his previous owners used and I don't know much about bits. I thought if it was split in the center....that meant snaffle. :-) What is a good online place to purchase these bits??

franknbeans 08-27-2013 05:37 PM

Is there a trainer or someone working with this beginner or are they on their own?

Perhaps post a picture of the bit you are using? I am wondering if it is a Tom Thumb, since those could looked like a shanked snaffle to a beginner. And almost anything is an improvement over that.

I like the one GH posted, but if you intend to neck rein and the horse is controllable you may be able to just ride is a rope halter.

DraftyAiresMum 08-27-2013 05:39 PM


Originally Posted by dbr549 (Post 3477505)
Thank you for the replies! I don't know what his previous owners used and I don't know much about bits. I thought if it was split in the center....that meant snaffle. :-) What is a good online place to purchase these bits??

No worries, it's a common misconception. is a good place to start.
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dbr549 08-27-2013 07:49 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here's a pic of this "old" bit he does not seem to care for. I'm sure the rust on it isn't tasty either! I thought this was a snaffle. Can you identify it?

Yes, the beginner will be going for lessons.

I read something about cast iron bits tasting sweet to them. Also read about a roller or ball in the middle of the bit for them to roll in there mouth. I really don't know the advantages of those bits or if I should consider them.

DraftyAiresMum 08-27-2013 07:57 PM

Eep!! I wouldn't like that bit, either! Holy leverage, Batman! I believe that is indeed a version of the Tom Thumb we were speaking (that is just a ridiculously poorly-designed bit all-around).

A good way to test the "severity" of a bit is to place the bit between your forearm and bicep at you elbow and either manipulate the reins yourself or have someone do it for you so it takes the same action on your arm that it would on a horse's mouth. The way it feels on your arm is the way it feels in your horse's mouth.

A lot of horses like sweet iron. Some like copper rollers, others don't.

Just remember: jointed mouthpiece plus shanks of any length is bad all bad, especially in the hands of a beginner.
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dbr549 08-27-2013 08:03 PM

Yeah.....he kind of thought the same thing. Well I certainly don't want to use it again.

franknbeans 08-27-2013 08:13 PM

OP-I find it really helpful to be able to try bits....unless you have someone you can borrow from, that is difficult. With a beginner-I would stick with something like the bit GH recommended. You can always move up if there is an issue. But beginners tend to pull a bit more than an experienced rider, and you do not want them making the horse sour. That was why I suggested the halter. That is what I use on my guy for my grandson or kids that ride.

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