Bit Information (Snaffle and English-Type Bits) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 287 Old 09-21-2009, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Bit Information (Snaffle and English-Type Bits)

English/Snaffle-Type Bit Information

Non-Port Mouthpieces

Mullen Mouth

This bit is especially mild, as it has no breaking points within the mouth. It is great for a horse with a low palate that cannot accommodate excessive bulk within the mouth. Its disadvantage is that it can have a very unrefined signal to the horse, as there are no independent sides to work off of.

Single Joint

A fairly mild mouthpiece with very slight independent action. Usually horses with low or shallow palates are going to be irritated by this mouthpiece. When put in action, the mouthpiece breaks at the single joint, flexing upwards into the palate and downwards onto the horse’s lips. Some horses do not like this type of contact, as it is quite sharp and can pinch at the horse’s tongue.

French Link

A very mild bit that has two joints. Having two joints eliminates the crackerjack action on the tongue, eliminates upward flexion, and has a more “full mouth” feel to it. This type of bit works well on horses with all varieties of palate heights. A favourite of many horses.

Berry/Oval/etc Mouth

Same “full mouth” feel that so many horses like so much. The shape and size of the link influences the breakover point on the tongue; the shorter the link, the more “single joint feel” you are going to have. Some horses prefer a longer breakover point/link, some a shorter link.

Sprenger mouthpiece

A very nice mild mouthpiece. This is a double joint bit, similar to an oval link, except that the center piece is rotated 45 degrees to the rest of the mouthpiece. Sprenger claims that this gives the bit a more anatomical bend to the bit so it sits nicer in the horse’s mouth.

Myler/ Billy Allen

Very nice mild mouthpiece. The barrel serves two functions: an anatomical curve without allowing the bit to collapse inwards, and independent side action. This bit cannot have a crackerjack action, as it does not collapse. The independent side action is common to all double joint bits, bit seems to be more refined in this mouthpiece. Really a nice, nice mouthpiece.

Dr. Bristol

Long, flat, angled double joint bit. A true Dr. Bristol will have the center link at a 45 degree angle to the rest of the mouthpiece. This angle and length of center piece makes the bit slightly more harsh than other double joint bits. It is designed for lots of tongue contact and pressure. I would recommend this only be used by an experienced rider.


The ultimate in “full mouth feel.” This bit collapses at every link so you get direct contact on the horse’s entire mouth. Since it has so many links, horses with a shallow palate shouldn’t have a problem carrying this bit. The bit collapses at each link, so the idea is that the horse cannot grab onto the bit and take it too much in its mouth, as the side will just collapse under pressure. A con to this bit is that some horses really dislike a “full mouth” feel.

Icky Mouthpieces
(mouthpieces I think should require a test in skill before being sold to anyone)

Slow Twist

All the lovely advantages of a single joint (nutcracker action, palate protrusion) with the added bonus of a twist to the mouthpiece. The twist makes this bit more harsh, as the raised edges are rough on the horse’s lips.


Like the slow twist, but with more raised edges, this bit is quite harsh. The raised edges irritate and hurt the horse’s lips.

Single Twisted Wire

Even harsher than the slow twist, it uses pain to get the horse to “pay attention.” The single joint crackerjacks on the tongue, the twist irritates and hurts the lips.

“I will hunt you down and torture you if you use these” Mouthpieces


This bit acts much like the Waterford in action, but the slim chain and roughness of the links makes it a harsh bit. Mostly seen in western events.

Double Twisted Offset Wire

This bit is very very harsh. You have two different mouthpieces protruding up into the palate at once, they both crackerjack on the tongue in different places, then two wires irritate and hurt the horse’s lips to “make it listen.”


Very very very harsh, it utilizes pain to get the horse to yield to the rider’s will. If you have ever gripped a screw tight with your hand, you can appreciate the pain; imagine that against your lips.

Bike Chain/ Mule bit

Works off of nothing but pain for the horse. I had to mention this bit to make sure nobody mistakes it for a nice bit, ever.

Last edited by appylover31803; 09-21-2009 at 10:56 PM. is offline  
post #2 of 287 Old 09-21-2009, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Cheek Pieces

Loose Ring

This cheekpiece is a very mild, unobtrusive cheekpiece. The ring slides through the mouthpiece, so the horse cannot brace against the bit; the ring will just slide through. A disadvantage to this mouthpiece is that the horse’s lips can get caught while the ring is sliding, and pinch. Bit guards can help with this problem.


The eggbutt uses light lateral pressure to help aid in rein aids; i.e. if you pull on the right rein, the left cheekpiece will come in contact with the horse’s cheek and lips. Still a very mild cheekpiece, it can reinforce a rider’s rein aid for the horse to follow a certain rein. There is no possibility of this cheekpiece pinching. A disadvantage is some people claim this mouthpiece can sit strangely in the horse’s mouth.

English Dee Ring

A Dee ring bit is a very mild cheekpiece which uses lateral pressure to help reinforce a rider’s rein aids; i.e. if you pull on the right rein, the left cheekpiece will come in contact with the horse’s left cheek and lips. The dee can be quite helpful in teaching young or green horses to turn and listen to rein aids. The dee can also be helpful to encourage a horse to accept and seek rein contact. There is no chance of this cheekpiece pinching the lips.

Western Dee

Acts like the English Dee Ring with slightly less contact surface on the cheeks. Still a nice bit for schooling the English horse with, just never use it in the English showring.

Full Cheek

The ultimate in lateral pressure, (; i.e. if you pull on the right rein, the left cheekpiece will come in contact with the horse’s left cheek and lips) this mild cheekpice is great for starting young horses in. Used with bit keepers, this bit cannot be pulled through the mouth for its long “arms” and so is ideal to start the young horse that might pull on the bit in. Bit keepers are to keep the “arms” of the bit secure, and the mouthpiece of the bit rotated in the correct position. One disadvantage of this mouthpiece is that the arms can get caught if the horse tries to rub its head on something like a fence, its boots, etc.


A very nice bit that combines the loose ring and full cheek bit together in one harmonious piece. Unfortunately, this cheekpiece is fairly rare.


For experienced riders only. Uses curb chain action on the horse’s chin. The bridle attaches to the uppermost ring, the snaffle rein attaches to the big ring, the curb rein attaches to the little loosering. The idea with the Pelham is to ride on the snaffle rein 98% of the time, and just “tweak” the curb rein as needed for a little extra “listen to me” power communicated to the horse. A relatively mild bit when used correctly, by that I mean the rider should stay on the snaffle rein only most of the time; the curb rein should not be used in excess. Many riders misuse this bit and/or have a hard time figuring out 4 reins, which is why I labelled it “experienced riders only.”


For experienced riders only. Uses a curb chain on the horse’s chin. The bridle attaches to the small vertical-type ring at the top, then the reins attach to either of the slots. This bit is much less refined than a Pelham, when it comes to discussing English curb bits. The problem with the kimberwicke is that you have no refinement, no snaffle rein, therefore no relief from the curb action of the bit. This can be quite bothersome to horses that don’t need the curb action on a bit. I much prefer a Pelham.


For experienced riders only, this cheekpiece can be severe. The cheekpiece can be a loose ring, eggbutt or dee, this bit has holes drilled vertically through the rings so a piece of leather or rope or string can be inserted. The idea behind a gag is when the rider pulls, the cheekpiece slides up the rope to exert more pressure on the lips of the horse and pull them backwards. It also exerts poll pressure. The one nice thing about this terminal gag is the piece of leather at the top of the image limits how far the bit can slide upwards. The bridle is attached to the top buckle, the rein attached to the ring at the end of the piece of leather at the bottom of the image.

Draw Gag

For experienced riders only. Same function as the above gag, but has no termination ends. This bit can be pulled up to the horse’s eyeballs if need be. Usually used in conjunction with a harsh mouthpiece, as shown with a single twisted wire. The reins are attached to the loop below the cheekpiece. Mostly seen used by western riders.


For experienced riders only. Can have as little as 3 rings (bridle ring, and two rein rings) or as many as … 5? 10? The norm is 2 or 3 rein rings. This bit should be used with two sets of reins; one on the snaffle (biggest) ring, and the second rein on the “gag” action ring (smaller ring) but this has become an uncommon practice; most people just ride on the gag action ring now. This bit reacts much in the same way as a gag in the fact that it uses poll pressure. is offline  
post #3 of 287 Old 09-21-2009, 10:52 PM
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very very informative allie thanks it is very helpful info

The daughter who won't lift a finger in the house is the same child who cycles madly off in the pouring rain to spend all morning mucking out a stable. ~Samantha Armstrong
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post #4 of 287 Old 09-21-2009, 10:53 PM
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Awesome thread! Good information!

When God Made Horses, He Painted The Good Ones.
"All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day."
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post #5 of 287 Old 09-21-2009, 11:00 PM
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Awesome thread!!!!

~CoCo 17hh 4 yo OTTB~
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post #6 of 287 Old 09-22-2009, 07:00 AM
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I think it's a great post. I'd want to add this link:

::: Sustainable Dressage - Tack & Auxillary Equipment - The Bridle & the Bit :::

It actually shows the animated difference between the single and double jointed bits. I didn't quite get the difference and why single joint hits the roof of the mouth until I watched that one.

kitten_Val is offline  
post #7 of 287 Old 09-22-2009, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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Good link KV!
Horse Sport ran an article a few months ago that showed that the single joint does protrude upwards, but the horse's tongue seems to depress downwards to alleviate any palate discomfort. It's trading one discomfort for another, though, and should be viewed as potential pain still; just different.
This is a recent study, so they might find out other things later on, too :)

Last edited by; 09-22-2009 at 08:18 AM. is offline  
post #8 of 287 Old 09-22-2009, 08:45 AM
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What a brilliant post. Even though I knew half the information I read it from start to finish. Brilliant JDI. :)

It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall.
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post #9 of 287 Old 09-22-2009, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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I just wanted to add.. there is some valuable information here, but there is also quite a bit of personal dislike from the author in certain respects, so if you do read through this link, take stuff with a grain of salt.
Also, they mislabel a Fulmer bit as being a Full Cheek :P is offline  
post #10 of 287 Old 09-22-2009, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by JustDressageIt View Post
I just wanted to add.. there is some valuable information here, but there is also quite a bit of personal dislike from the author in certain respects, so if you do read through this link, take stuff with a grain of salt.
Also, they mislabel a Fulmer bit as being a Full Cheek :P
Yes, I agree with you on that completely. That's why I was talking about the animation only.

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