Horse bits are complex contraptions, or are they? Let’s take a closer look. January 23, 2015 17:55

There is a lot of confusion and there are convoluted theories about bits. Many horsemen
and horsewomen share bitting opinions and some have their own opinion in the matter. Each horse has their preference and different disciplines use different bits.

Sources suggest that horse bits were created in 3500-3000 BC. This means that, if bits were being used in 3500 BC, they predate footwear! Horse bits have changed a lot since they were first made. They were originally made out of bone, rope, wood and various other materials. Modern day bits have undergone extensive research and innovation in design and material. Bits nowadays are much more humane than they were previously. They now work through pressure not pain. Bits are now used in conjunction with the rider’s other aids whereas they used to be used as a complete control mechanism. A combination of the rider’s seat, leg and hand should (in theory) allow the horse and rider team to complete the exercise successfully.


The correct bit will promote relaxation of the horse. If you are a rider, you are well aware that this is not always straightforward. Circumstances often change with or without warning. The horse may have been giving hints and this change could have been brewing for sometime. For example, you have used the same bit for months or years. You get on one day and your horse is evidently not respecting the bit by acting out through one or more of the following:


  • Excessively pulling and/or leaning on your hand;
  • Grinding or chewing on the bit;
  • Putting his tongue over the bit;
  • Running through your hand;
  • Tossing of the head.


You’ve encountered a communication breakdown. The good news is you’re not alone! Most riders have been through a similar situation. After checking for obvious problems such as mouth sores, getting the dentist to check the mouth and teeth and saddle fitting issues, there is nothing left to change but the bit.

There are so many bits available. They have a vast assortment of designs and functions. The question is which bit will work best?

This blog will continue to cover the anatomy of the horse’s month, pressure points, bitting materials, types of bits, fitting bits and selecting the bit.

Happy Friday!