Common misconceptions about Hunter, Jumper and Equitation horse bits. July 6, 2015 10:19

Common misconceptions about Hunter, Jumper and Equitation horse bits.

Every bit is available in every size.

I hate to break it to you but no they are not!

Common factory made bit sizes are: 4 ½” (? mm), 5” (125 mm), 5 ½” (140 mm), European, hand crafted bits are also available in 5 1/4“ (135 mm), 5 ¾” (145 mm) and 6”, 6 1/8”, etc.

Most Warmblood horses require a 5 ½” bit or a 5 ¾” bit when bit guards are being used. Very few of them need a 5 1/4” and even fewer need a 5” bit. Mass produced bits (usually produced in China) are available only in 5”, 5 ½” or pony size 4 ½”. European bits generally are available in more sizes such as 5”, 5 ¼”, 5 1/2“, and 5 ¾”. Once in a blue moon, we have customers asking for 6” bits these are usually not necessary (for hunter jumpers), are a custom order and will have you hand over the big bucks $$$.

Ported bits are cruel, how could you put that in your horse’s mouth?

Ports allow room for your horse’s tongue. Think about it. What’s more comfortable when you are not talking: 1-your tongue pushed to the bottom of your mouth or 2-your tongue loosely resting near the roof area of your mouth? Number 2…we have a winner!!

Your horse will always require the same size in every bit.

A Rubber Pelham and Loose Ring fit differently. The Rubber Pelham has a cushy ball of rubber to protect the corner of the horse’s lips. The Loose Ring has a space between the mouthpiece and the ring, which can easily grab your horse’s lips and cheeks when the reins are engaged. Loose Rings should be used with bit guards to protect this from happening. Needless to say, the Pelham can be a little snugger fitting than the Loose Ring. If my horse fit a 5 ½ “ (140 mm) Pelham, I would go up a size to a 5 ¾ “ (145 mm) Loose Ring.

All rubber bits are made the same. You might as well buy a less expensive one because your horse will chew it and you will have to replace it often.

This is scary for a couple reasons.

  • Many less expensive bit’s plastic or rubber compound can be harmful to your horse. Remember this is your child sucking on a plastic “toy”, chewing it, maybe even eating it! Next time you are buying a rubber bit, ask to see if the rubber is FDA approved.
  • Well made rubber bits have a stainless steel wire running through them or, if they are not flexible, they are made of stainless steel that is coated in Rubber, Vulcanite (hard Rubber) or FDA approved plastic. This is for your safety! If your horse chews through the rubber and your bit was not well made, you will be faced with a very scary way of finding this out. Which is by having it break while you are riding!


Eggbutt bits provide a lot of leverage

People think that an Eggbutt with small rings will somehow have the power the lift your horse’s head. It won’t! Please remember, an Eggbutt is still in the snaffle family. The difference between a cheek on the Eggbutt and a Loose Ring is that the cheek of an Eggbutt is not loose or free flowing. This means two things:

  • The Eggbutt is better for horses with sensitive cheeks and corners of their mouths. This cheek does not rotate and therefore there is less chance of catching their skin.
  • Less lag time. The cheek does not rotate freely therefore, when you pull on the reins, the message is translated more quickly than when you pull on a Loose Ring, which rotates through the bit before passing the memo on to your horse.

If you are looking for more info on bits please check out our blog .

This article was originally written for Horse Collaborative.