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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! Hope everyone is well.

So three (I believe) days ago I rode my started mare in a bridle for one of the first times (other times I had a second pair of reins to her halter and it was a while ago - but I've never directly used the bit a lot on her so far). She was good, but a bit brace-y and not very soft in her mouth. Everything was slow paced, there were no spooks, and I was careful to be gentle and soft with any cues. Well day after, I went to bridle her (just for some groundwork) and she was all about avoiding it! We got it in and she calmed. Didn't leave it in for long. I started thinking about it and realized that the bit I was using is pretty thin (I'll try to grab a pic). She's a pretty sensitive mare in most ways so I thought maybe it was too thin for her. I have a second bit - a double jointed bit with a diameter of about 16 mm with a copper roller. I wanted to do some trouble-shooting so I tried that one today and it was prettttyy bad. Her mouth hardly stayed quiet for five seconds straight (not riding, just groundwork), she was putting her tongue over and under it - overall quite upset. I managed to get some peeks into her mouth and A) somewhat proved my suspicions by seeing what I'm pretty sure were small red spots on her bars (they wouldn't be bad sores, since we hardly did anything, but I'm thinking to give her and me a couple of days), and B) saw that this bigger bit practically touched the roof of her mouth. She kept her tongue sucked back a lot. I think she also has rather fleshy lips. The bigger bit is 5 1/2 inches, the other one is I believe 5 in. The interesting thing is just that while the former bit being used made her dislike being bridled (and she's usually really calm about it) she was still completely quiet and settled in her mouth with it in, whereas she could not calm at all with the other one.

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Looking at this bit a bit (oops) more now... it must be very bar-pressure focused? So could I still have success with a single jointed, thin mouthpiece simply without the strong bend? Any bit recommendations? I've also been wondering if loose ring isn't ideal; with the next bit I'm thinking either D ring or full cheek.

Second bit. This one at least I know now is a "no-go".
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I wonder if you have just put a bridle on her (no reins) and let her stand in a stall for a while every day and just get used to having it in her mouth. She can play with it and get comfortable with it by herself
I do that when I'm going to ask a horse to start carrying a bit. And when I'm going to make a big change in bits.
 

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You can always partially wrap a bit to if absolutely needed when they are adjusting to carrying one or a new shaped one in the mouth.

Have you tried a solid mouth, a straight bar or one with a slight curvature?
Dressage oriented bradoon bits come in different diameter barrels, length of mouthpiece, curve and bit metal for flavor/taste..
She may not like the single joints and many of the multi-joints are rather bulky if she has a small oral cavity to fit that and her tongue in.

I found you this.... a bit of a "make you think" article of why and what to look for we sometimes forget how the impact of certain things do to the animal.

Just some ideas and things found by others in the same dilemma as you are..
🐴...
 

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You might teach her this way:


You can use the same approach teaching vertical flexing. FWIW, an inside look at how bits can affect things:
 

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Sis has a nice two year old, she won't be started under saddle until probably sometime next year but she has had a saddle on and a bridle, she puts them on her and leaves her in the stall for a while and the filly is very used to this now and doesn't think it's anything unusual.

I had a young colt that I was starting many years ago, I started him with a bosal and when it came time for a bridle when I put one on him he just hated it, I tried every bit I had but nothing would suit him. he was pretty green and I didn't like going out and around the farm with the bosal, I had no fenced in schooling area just a 100 acres to ride on. I decided to buy a mechanical hackamore, I don't like them at all and have never used one before or since but he went great on it, no problem. you need a light hand with those things but I rode him in it for a couple of years and then I was able to put a snaffle bit on him and he got along well with it for all our riding after.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I wonder if you have just put a bridle on her (no reins) and let her stand in a stall for a while every day and just get used to having it in her mouth. She can play with it and get comfortable with it by herself
Yes, I have done this quite a bit a while back (training's been a bit "sporadic" unfortunately, for many different reasons). She's been bitted a lot while doing other work in a halter. Interesting to me is how in the single-joint she is completely quiet - she's past the chewing and mouthing phase. It was just having it used and connected with that caused a slight problem.
You can always partially wrap a bit to if absolutely needed when they are adjusting to carrying one or a new shaped one in the mouth.
So I've heard about this, but my question is how does this actually help on the long run? If the bit is such that it causes ouchy spots in the horse's mouth, wouldn't it be best to find a better fit instead? Or is there a period where young horses actually have to get their mouths used to this pressure?
Have you tried a solid mouth, a straight bar or one with a slight curvature?
Dressage oriented bradoon bits come in different diameter barrels, length of mouthpiece, curve and bit metal for flavor/taste..
She may not like the single joints and many of the multi-joints are rather bulky if she has a small oral cavity to fit that and her tongue in.
I found you this.... a bit of a "make you think" article of why and what to look for we sometimes forget how the impact of certain things do to the animal.

Just some ideas and things found by others in the same dilemma as you are..
🐴...
I tried a straight bar happy mouth today. It went in and she mouthed for a second getting used to it and then was quiet. But when I hooked my finger into the ring and applied a very gentle contact I could see the moment it connected with her tongue and she went "nope!" with her head sky high. For reference, in the single joint she understands bit pressure and while a bit bracey initially she does give to it relatively softly and calmly. Also I looked into her mouth again and while I'm not an expert and haven't really looked into any other horse's mouths that closely it still struck me as such a small space! I'm trying to find pictures/info for reference online.
By solid mouth do you mean those black rubber bits? The happy mouth has ridges on it and I believe it's less flexible, so those black ones could be better received. I'm also wanting to try a straight with the slight curvature if I can find one.
Thank you for the article; studying it now!
You might teach her this way:


You can use the same approach teaching vertical flexing. FWIW, an inside look at how bits can affect things:
Thanks for the radiographs! Always interested in understanding more about how different bits work. If you have any more reading material on the matter I'd be happy if you could share it!
That video is very good, very helpful. I've seen it before. Schiller's training vids have been very helpful to me.
I'm going to try a more normal single joint loose ring next (borrowing a couple bits), since I've had the best luck with that so far. For reference, that double joint I have was the first bit she wore and got used to - any excessive chewing or head tossing I just put to young horse getting used to carrying a bit. But like I said, it wasn't really used a lot - it just sat in her mouth and I guess she figured out how to keep it from being too annoying. Maybe by just keeping her tongue out of the way. Then I tried the single joint and was struck by how much quieter and more relaxed she was in her face plus she improved with bridling. Again, that was just bridling for the sake of having her in it - not using reins attached to it.
I'm still thinking to try a smaller, thinner, quieter double joint and see how she likes it (if I can find one). And next I'm planning to borrow a Myler - I'm not sure which level it is and it has shanks but I'm curious to see what she thinks of that idea.
 

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Good luck! Apart from trial and error - usually lots of error! - I've no idea how to figure out which bit a horse prefers. I keep some of my bits in a box in the garage so my wife HOPEFULLY doesn't realize how many I've bought....
 

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I think that a single jointed bit acctually puts more pressure on the bar, while the double jointed pushes on the tongue more. She appears to detest tongue pressure
perhaps go back to a single joint, not too fat, not so curved, and a half inch longer mouthpiece. Or, try the Billy Allen type snaffle bit.

let us knnow if this works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good luck! Apart from trial and error - usually lots of error! - I've no idea how to figure out which bit a horse prefers. I keep some of my bits in a box in the garage so my wife HOPEFULLY doesn't realize how many I've bought....
Ha yeah, that part's a problem! Thanks!

I think that a single jointed bit acctually puts more pressure on the bar, while the double jointed pushes on the tongue more. She appears to detest tongue pressure
perhaps go back to a single joint, not too fat, not so curved, and a half inch longer mouthpiece. Or, try the Billy Allen type snaffle bit.

let us knnow if this works.
Yeah, that's kinda what I'm thinking too. I'm just trying to make sure that I'm testing every type I can. I'd definitely like to try a Billy Allen type bit. You mention half an inch longer - I don't think the five inch is too narrow for her. Actually the 5 1/2 always looked uncomfortably big. Would a bit more length save her bars a bit? Any advice on this point would be appreciated too.
I've come across this bit: JP KORSTEEL STAINLESS STEEL JOINTED PORT HUNTER DEE RING SNAFFLE BIT . Thoughts?
Next silly question: are my options just between bar pressure and tongue pressure or are most bits inbetween? Like the above bit - would it give some tongue relief and room for movement without being exceedingly heavy on the bars (and it looks thin enough to fit)? Just tryna understand/picture this better... My first single joint in the pictures offers tongue relief, no? But comes down strong on the bars/pressure isn't spread out? Out of the bits I've tried so far I think that one is "closest".
 

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The horse having no idea what pressure from the bit means isn't a bit problem.

Before you go about trying the many many different bits that are out there for the best feel on this horse, start with the simplest one you have. If the horse is mouthy and resistant, it's not because of the bit at this point - the horse just plain doesn't know what any of it means.

If this horse already understands flexing, giving to pressure, backing up ect with a halter, work on the same things with the bit and reward the smallest try. Once the horse has an understanding of what pressure in the mouth means, then you can fine tune with trying different mouthpieces. I havent ever worried about different mouthpieces until the horse was well along under-saddle anyways, but I will be trying out my custom made snaffle when it's time for my young girls to pack a bit, it's essentially a Myler but was significantly less money. I've actually rode every single one of my horses in it and really liked the over all feel of it.

ETA: you'll be hard pressed to get any significant amount of tongue relief with a broken mouthed snaffle.
 

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For the record, Happy Mouth bits may be touted as wonderous bits, but to me looking at them they are thick and clunky with knobbies that I personally think would irritate the heck out of a mouth and soft tissues.
I sure would not want that thing in my innocent mouth. No matter what is touted for "flavor", that is no apple they eat and chew on.

I would start with a bit that is thin in barrel {the mouthpiece} design so it take up the least amount of space.
Wrap it one wrap with latex bit wrap...below is a article about how to do and why it might be a option to try....
Wrapping might help, and it might not but all is trial and error right now...

These below pictures are all "bradoon" bits, but as you can see, each is different in shape at ring, diameter or barrel and ergonomic possibly being a better "comfort fit" to your horses mouth.
If you notice though, the mouthpiece is thinner, taking up less room in the oral cavity, but it is said a thinner mouthpiece is also stronger so the wrap might be a softening agent to consider if you try and use one of these or any bit to start out with.
There are also straight bar bits in metal, "mullen mouth" with the same kind of detail of different diameter barrel, and many offer a "bend", ergonomics/comfort fit to the mouth..
The black rubber bit you mention is probably what I know of as a dog-bone bit cause it is what it resembles...some are thicker, some are thinner, some are softer and some are harder in material used.
True dog-bone breaking bits are pretty soft and pliable for initiating a horse to something in the mouth...but they can be chewed, damaged and need careful watching of they not splinter in the mouth.
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In all honesty, I would be more concerned if the horse who has not worn or carried a bit not fuss, make faces and be resistant to now having something inserted in their mouth now needing to get accustomed to, learn to hold it, feel it and still swallow with this "thing" sitting in place.

I did not do a lot of hands-on first time bitting of young horses but saw and observed quite a few..
What you describe, what I did encounter sounds very similar.
Putting it to a different perspective...
Go rake leaves and see if you not get a blister...rake leaves again the next day and the next day...
By the time 5 days has gone by you have a bit of callous in place and not blister as easily OR you have so little tolerance and build-up of skin you have a sore spot and must find a different rake handle or in this case, a bit to use.
Virgin tissue is going to be a bit tender and be expected if realistic...it is how the skin and tender evolves that will dictate what and how you proceed.
I also like the idea of tinyliny about the other mouthpiece..Billy Allen style bits offer a lot of soft and they do come in varying thicknesses to fit the bit groove many forget is a intricate part of bit comfort for the animal.. with independent side motion ability...nice bit design for many.
It isn't just about getting poked in the mouth roof, applying pressure to the tongue or bars, literally fitting in the mouth with the tongue...
It is a combination of all those things that find your horse most comfortable to willingly carry and hold their mouth-gear, aka their bit.
Just some of my thoughts..
🐴... jmo...
 

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I have to start using bits with my new Arabian soon . I really considered going bitless with him. I know Arabians can be sensitive and have a good memory of who hurt them.
this thread is very interesting .
I don’t know if anyone has any experience with that but I saw maybe three years ago in Germany Someone using a bit out of foam. Very interesting. But it looked very big in the horses mouth.
I can say though that it’s certainly true that when you start something new and you get sores, blisters that after awhile it stops, like with new stilettos. I hope that will happen with your horse too. Good luck
 

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FWIW, my TB doesn't like tongue pressure so I use a low port kimbwicke on him. I have one that has no chain to use as a regular snaffle. He doesn't like any jointed or straight bar bit. He needs tongue relief, but no joints.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The horse having no idea what pressure from the bit means isn't a bit problem.

Before you go about trying the many many different bits that are out there for the best feel on this horse, start with the simplest one you have. If the horse is mouthy and resistant, it's not because of the bit at this point - the horse just plain doesn't know what any of it means.

If this horse already understands flexing, giving to pressure, backing up ect with a halter, work on the same things with the bit and reward the smallest try. Once the horse has an understanding of what pressure in the mouth means, then you can fine tune with trying different mouthpieces. I havent ever worried about different mouthpieces until the horse was well along under-saddle anyways, but I will be trying out my custom made snaffle when it's time for my young girls to pack a bit, it's essentially a Myler but was significantly less money. I've actually rode every single one of my horses in it and really liked the over all feel of it.

ETA: you'll be hard pressed to get any significant amount of tongue relief with a broken mouthed snaffle.
Thanks for the advice! Heidi does understand bit pressure - flexing, giving to it, backing up, all off the bit. I prefer setting us both up for success as much as I possibly can as far as getting good, comfortable gear goes, which might be why it seems that I'm making a big deal out of a small thing. My thought is that I need to make it as easy as possible on her and myself in any way I can, as I'm not very experienced or skilled in the training field! :p

For the record, Happy Mouth bits may be touted as wonderous bits, but to me looking at them they are thick and clunky with knobbies that I personally think would irritate the heck out of a mouth and soft tissues.
I sure would not want that thing in my innocent mouth. No matter what is touted for "flavor", that is no apple they eat and chew on.
This was my impression of it too, unfortunately. I've been very interested in this style of bit for a while, but this one didn't impress. Those ridge-sorta-things weren't something I wanted in Heidi's mouth.
I would start with a bit that is thin in barrel {the mouthpiece} design so it take up the least amount of space.
Wrap it one wrap with latex bit wrap...below is a article about how to do and why it might be a option to try....
Wrapping might help, and it might not but all is trial and error right now...
I will do that. Do you think I can stick with that single joint a while longer and see if she "adapts"?
These below pictures are all "bradoon" bits, but as you can see, each is different in shape at ring, diameter or barrel and ergonomic possibly being a better "comfort fit" to your horses mouth.
If you notice though, the mouthpiece is thinner, taking up less room in the oral cavity, but it is said a thinner mouthpiece is also stronger so the wrap might be a softening agent to consider if you try and use one of these or any bit to start out with.
Right yeah. That's the reason I wanted to use a thicker mouth piece but now I'm seeing that it's a lot more important to Heidi that the bit doesn't bulk up her mouth so much! Of course I'm absolutely not planning on riding with harsh hands - that's the main thing I'm working on in lessons - but I don't trust myself a ton yet.
There are also straight bar bits in metal, "mullen mouth" with the same kind of detail of different diameter barrel, and many offer a "bend", ergonomics/comfort fit to the mouth..
The black rubber bit you mention is probably what I know of as a dog-bone bit cause it is what it resembles...some are thicker, some are thinner, some are softer and some are harder in material used.
True dog-bone breaking bits are pretty soft and pliable for initiating a horse to something in the mouth...but they can be chewed, damaged and need careful watching of they not splinter in the mouth.
In the future I'm very curious to try a thin straight bar with an ergonomic sort of design but for now I'll see if with wrapping a single joint works.
View attachment 1114816 View attachment 1114817 View attachment 1114818 View attachment 1114819 View attachment 1114820

In all honesty, I would be more concerned if the horse who has not worn or carried a bit not fuss, make faces and be resistant to now having something inserted in their mouth now needing to get accustomed to, learn to hold it, feel it and still swallow with this "thing" sitting in place.

I did not do a lot of hands-on first time bitting of young horses but saw and observed quite a few..
What you describe, what I did encounter sounds very similar.
Putting it to a different perspective...
Go rake leaves and see if you not get a blister...rake leaves again the next day and the next day...
By the time 5 days has gone by you have a bit of callous in place and not blister as easily OR you have so little tolerance and build-up of skin you have a sore spot and must find a different rake handle or in this case, a bit to use.
Virgin tissue is going to be a bit tender and be expected if realistic...it is how the skin and tender evolves that will dictate what and how you proceed.
This is very helpful, thanks! I was wondering about this especially and it makes sense that it's something she would need to adapt to. Their mouths are so tender. Just don't want it to hurt in the process.
I also like the idea of tinyliny about the other mouthpiece..Billy Allen style bits offer a lot of soft and they do come in varying thicknesses to fit the bit groove many forget is a intricate part of bit comfort for the animal.. with independent side motion ability...nice bit design for many.
It isn't just about getting poked in the mouth roof, applying pressure to the tongue or bars, literally fitting in the mouth with the tongue...
It is a combination of all those things that find your horse most comfortable to willingly carry and hold their mouth-gear, aka their bit.
Just some of my thoughts..
🐴... jmo...
Replies in red.
I'm going to look into finding a Billy Allen type to try. I really want to find what my horse is happy to carry willingly and comfortably; otherwise there's just no point to me.
Btw, I don't know if you remember my saddle search but I'm happy to report that the last one was and still is a success. We got Heidi over her fear very slowly and gradually and she's very comfortable and happy with carrying a saddle now! Plus the saddle is just incredibly comfortable for me and fits my lesson horse. Really got lucky!


I have to start using bits with my new Arabian soon . I really considered going bitless with him. I know Arabians can be sensitive and have a good memory of who hurt them.
this thread is very interesting .
I don’t know if anyone has any experience with that but I saw maybe three years ago in Germany Someone using a bit out of foam. Very interesting. But it looked very big in the horses mouth.
I can say though that it’s certainly true that when you start something new and you get sores, blisters that after awhile it stops, like with new stilettos. I hope that will happen with your horse too. Good luck
Thank you! Good luck with your Arab too. I've considered bitless with Heidi as well. But I'm aware of the fact that bits are only as harsh as the hands on the reins and what a good tool they are for effective communication. It's just figuring out these phases.

FWIW, my TB doesn't like tongue pressure so I use a low port kimbwicke on him. I have one that has no chain to use as a regular snaffle. He doesn't like any jointed or straight bar bit. He needs tongue relief, but no joints.
Interesting. I believe I ride my lesson horse in a kimberwick - I'll take a closer look tomorrow. Could you share a picture or name of yours?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oops, double post.
 

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I had a devil of a time finding something that my young horse didn't object to. Luckily, I have quite the hoard of bits and several friends who were willing to let me try stuff they had.

After much experimentation, I eventually figured out he hated tongue pressure, so anything straight, anything double jointed, and even mullen mouth/ported things he said no way. Then, I went through a variety of single-jointed bits - thick was bad, curved mouthpiece was not appreciated, loose ring instability was not appreciated. In the end, he decided a fairly thin, single-jointed, straight mouthpiece D ring with copper rollers was the most tolerable.

I wish you luck finding what Heidi likes best!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had a devil of a time finding something that my young horse didn't object to. Luckily, I have quite the hoard of bits and several friends who were willing to let me try stuff they had.

After much experimentation, I eventually figured out he hated tongue pressure, so anything straight, anything double jointed, and even mullen mouth/ported things he said no way. Then, I went through a variety of single-jointed bits - thick was bad, curved mouthpiece was not appreciated, loose ring instability was not appreciated. In the end, he decided a fairly thin, single-jointed, straight mouthpiece D ring with copper rollers was the most tolerable.

I wish you luck finding what Heidi likes best!
Interesting! Did you try him in any Mylers? I seem to be seeing a number of people with small-mouthed tongue-pressure-hating horses having success with mainly level 1 mylers.
 

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In response to your asking of me...
I think yes, you can give the single joint a bit more time to see if she adjusts or not.
I would try softening it a bit with the wrap, as she tolerates start removing the wrap so she holds and handles more of the metal...

If you can get a good look at her tongue and see if thick and fleshy, her upper palate high and arched or flatter and peek to see how close the tongue fills the cavity might give you insight to some of what you search for...
You will also see how wide the bit groove is and that might give you more insight to what she will tolerate as metal or anything hitting her teeth is going to "rattle" her attitude.
Those are where my mind says to start, be flexible and willing to experiment a bit.
🐴....
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Going off the last time I looked into her mouth - her palate is flat and "straight", not really arched. Hard to tell with the tongue cuz she kept it sucked back mainly but there definitely wasn't a lot of room. Her bit groove I thought was pretty big. I'll try and get another look to get a better idea of what'll fit.
Thanks very much for the help!
 
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