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 www.thierrycompany.com .
This article was originally written for Horse Collaborative.
Misconceptions About Horse bits July 3, 2015 21:29
This article will help solve some of the mysteries involved in horse bits. Thank you to Horse Collaborative it was lovely to work with you on this one!
Bomber Blue Mouth Horse Bits June 9, 2015 08:47
Bomber Blue Mouth Horse Bits
Horses love these bits for several reasons. The mouthpiece has a low port, which provides room for their tongue without interfering with their pallet. The mouth is made of hollow steel core so the bit is light yet strong. It is then covered with Bomber’s signature blue Nylon composite. Horses love the taste of the composite and the material encourages salivation.Currently, these bits are (in North America) considered the new kid on the block. They have been used in South Africa (where they are made) as well as Australia for many years. If you were in Wellington, you would, without a doubt, have spotted a couple of the “Bomber Blue” bits from across the ring. Their signature mouthpiece comes with impossible to miss Tangerine Orange bit guards. On the West Coast, we will slowly start to see these great bits pop up more and more!
Bomber Blue bits have the properties of a light rubber bit with the strength of steel. When chewed on, the blue material will look scratched but it will last and not break down. These bits are very well priced when compared to their competition.
Why we love Bomber Blue bits:
-Ported mouthpiece for tongue relief
-Hollow steel core so bit is light
-Horses like the flavor
-Chewers will scratch the bit but it won’t break down
The Hackamore- Using a bit-less bridle May 18, 2015 09:09
A Hackamore applies pressure to the nose and to the chin. The longer the shank, the more severe the leverage of the Hackamore will be. The Hackamore should be adjusted to sit just above where the nasal bone ends and where the cartilage begins. Generally speaking, you will need to invest in shorter cheek pieces to be able to fit your Hackamore correctly.
The Hackamore is used with a chinstrap. There are many options when is comes to choosing the type of chinstrap. Leather straps come standard with our Hackamores but often are swapped out depending on the specific horse and rider needs. Chinstraps are available in nylon, stainless steel, elastic, rope, etc. The harder the material, the sharper the Hackamore. The chinstrap should be adjusted snug like a noseband would be adjusted.
Hackamores should also be used with a leather Hackastrap to prevent them from flipping up. The Hackastrap is a piece of leather that loops around the top of each cheek piece, goes down the cheeks and attaches under the jaw. On some Hackastraps there is even a little leather loop for your throat latch to go through, this way you have fewer leather pieces moving around.
Hackamores are usually thought of as the bit-less bridle. They are used on horses that react better to nose and chin pressure as opposed to tongue and bar pressure. They are also wonderful for horses do not like bits in their mouth or for horses who have cuts or sores and cannot use a bit while they heal. These are all good reasons for using a Hackamore. What riders often forget is that Hackamores can also be used in combination with a bit. They can be used similar to when using a Weymouth Set. The bit can be used with a Bradoon Hanger, while the Hackamore is held on with the bridle’s original cheek pieces. Using a snaffle in conjunction can give the rider some extra help in the turning department, which is one thing the Hackamore does not offer. One thing to be aware of if doing this, is to make sure your snaffle cheeks or rings aren’t too large thus interfering with the shank of the Hackamore. It is best to use a Bradoon when using the combination.
Mullen (straight bar), Port and Waterford Horse Bits May 11, 2015 07:24
Mullen (straight bar)
The Mullen mouth applies even pressure across the entire tongue as well as to the bars. It is able to do this because it does not collapse in the horse’s mouth. Mullen mouths are often good for horses that back off from your leg. The down side to this bit is that some horses tend to lean on your hand with a Mullen mouth. If your horse is one of them, try using a double jointed bit or a Waterford.
Many people look at ported bits like they are cruel medieval contraptions; this is not the case. Ports allow space for the tongue because it is able to move into the port.
Ported bits take the pressure off the middle of the tongue while still applying pressure to the sides of the tongue and on bars. Ported bits are often good for horses that can’t figure out what to do with their tongue!
Waterford bits (also often called Bubble bit) have several joints through the entire mouthpiece. These bits are very moveable due to the loose flowing joints. What this means to your horse is that there is nothing to lean on and this means they have no choice but lighten up on the bit. This is a good bit for horses that like to lean on your hand. The Waterford forces them to hold themselves, which equals less work for you!
Maryland Equestrian- Company Profile on Thierry Horse & Home Co. May 4, 2015 09:45
Thank you Laurie and Maryland Equestrian for your kind words while giving your review of our company.
Double Jointed Horse Bits April 27, 2015 09:09
Jointed Bits: Double jointed, roller & bead lozenges, and French Links.
We often have people ask us “What is the difference between the different jointed bits”?. Double jointed bits take a lot of the pressure away from the sides of the tongue as well as from the bars and cheeks of the horse. They are able to provide centralized and constant connection to the tongue without bumping or interfering with the horse’s palette. Here is the break down between the different jointed bits:
Double Jointed Lozenge Bits
Double jointed bits are softer than a single jointed snaffle. The angle of the joints is more important than you think. If angled properly, the joints will lie on the tongue at all times providing constant and even connection and communication. A well made double jointed bit will put constant pressure on the entire width of the tongue whereas a poorly made double jointed bit will put pressure on the palette instead of the tongue when the reins are activated.
Double Jointed Bits with Rollers or Beads Lozenges
Bits with rollers or bead lozenges rolling over the tongue provide gentle centralized stimulation, which encourages salivation and acceptance of the bit. Beads and rollers soften their top line (neck and back) and encourage relaxation by helpingthe horse to stay focused because of the rollers and beads moving over their tongue.
The French Link is a flat metal rectangular double joint. This link is able to pin point central tongue pressure, which alleviates pressure to the bars and corners of the mouth. This is good for horses who are sensitive in these areas.
If you have any questions about double-jointed links or other bits please email your questions to email@example.com
Single Jointed Bits April 6, 2015 08:16
Single Jointed Bits
Single jointed bits are good for horses that tend to have a busy mouth should the opportunity arise. This can be either a horse that plays with the bit too much and/or is unresponsive with a double-jointed snaffle. Angles mean everything when it comes to these bits. A 45 degree angled, single jointed bit will put constant pressure on the tongue and avoid the outside edges of the tongue. When the angle is reduced or there is no angle on the mouthpiece, the jointed bit will cause a nutcracker effect on the palette when the reins are activated and create a sharp effect on the tongue and bars. This means if you have two bits, which look the same except for the angles, one can be very soft whereas the other can be severe.
Leverage Bits- Lift me ups part 3 March 30, 2015 07:30
3 & 4 Rings
3 & 4 Rings are great for horses that like to put their head down and pull you and your hand down with them while they have their way with you. They are also great for horses that are built downhill. These bits should be used with two reins: one rein on the snaffle ring and one on the middle or lower ring. When used with two reins the rider is able to access more leverage and control when necessary. Depending on the curb ring you choose to use, the bit will have more or less leverage. The lower the ring from the mouth, the more leverage.
Gag bits look similar to a snaffle but have additional horizontal rings built into the top and bottom of each bit ring. Gag rounds (rope or leather) are passed through the gag holes then passed through a stainless steel ring, which is looped back through the rope and to which the rein is attached. Leather gag rounds are often dismantled via the buckle instead of the rein loop with a screw eye type fixture. When the rider pulls the reins, the bit activates by rotating and traveling up the gag rounds putting pressure on the horse’s poll and the sides of the mouth. This action causes the horse to lift and bend at the poll simultaneously. Gags should be used with two reins, the main reins on the snaffle and the curb rein on the gag round ring used only when necessary. Riders often use gags with only one rein. This works for many rider and horse combinations but often you see an over bent horse because of too much gag, not enough leg or a combination of both.
Leverage Bits- Lift me ups part 2 March 23, 2015 07:52
Experienced riders should use the Swales Pelham on strong horses. This bit is not recommended for less advanced riders. The Swales Pelham is a great bit in the correct rider’s hands. This bit actually lifts the horse’s head instead of putting pressure on the poll like regular Pelhams. This bit provides this action because the bit rings are connected and move along the mouthpiece. When the bit is activated, it pulls up and puts pressure on the curb chain thus lifting the horse’s head. Swales Pelhams usually have a low port on their mouthpiece. This small port makes room for the horse’s tongue. This bit is very effective in the Equitation division as well as for a strong horse in the jumper division.
Universal Bit (called many different names such as a two ring or a three ring)
This is a great bit with a hefty price tag. Before disqualifying it based purely on price lets go over its uses. It is unbelievably versatile because it has many rein configuration options (four options). It can be used as a Loose Ring with one rein, a Pelham with two reins, as a Gag or as a Pelham with converters. This bit can also be used with a curb strap or chain. It is a strong bit but at the same time a kind, soft bit. This bit is gentle but offers control when needed. Horses generally accept this bit and yield to it.
Loose Ring Twist Horse Bit Review by Team Canada's Tiffany Foster March 16, 2015 09:38We interviewed Team Canada’s Tiffany Foster and asked her opinion of this bit:
Thierry: When would you use this bit?
Tiffany: "This bit is on the strong end of the scale for a snaffle. I would use this bit on a horse that has
a somewhat dull mouth but that doesn't need any leverage to put its head down."
Thierry: What do you like or dislike about it?
Tiffany: "I am always a fan of a snaffle whenever possible so I like that there is no curb or gag rein. One downside is that I generally find horses are not very supple side to side in this bit and the nose band needs to be paired accordingly."
Thierry: Who should or shouldn’t use this bit?
Tiffany: "Again, this is a fairly strong snaffle so someone with a heavy hand shouldn't use it."
Thierry: If you were using this bit and you needed something slightly different or stronger, which bit would you try next?
Tiffany: "A stronger snaffle would be a corkscrew or a double twisted wire. If that wasn't appropriate, I would go to a Pelham or gag."
Thierry: Thank you for taking the time to explain this bit.
Tiffany: “Of course, any time!”
Leverage Bits- Lift me ups part 1 March 9, 2015 07:31
The Pelham applies pressure to the poll, which encourages the horse to bend into a frame. When used with two reins, Pelhams have leverage. The longer the shank of a Pelham, the more strong and severe the bit. Pelhams are available in many lengths. The Pelham with the shortest shank (about four inches) is known as a Tom Thumb or a Baby Pelham. The longer shanks are usually five to six inches in length. The Pelham also applies pressure to the horse’s lower jaw in their curb groves and the mouth.
The Pelham works well with either one or two reins. Many would argue this bit should only be used with two reins but it would be very dangerous to make an inexperienced rider use two reins if they were not comfortable doing so. Pelham straps, otherwise known as Pelham convertors, have been used successfully by both professional and beginner riders for several years. When activated the top rein works similar to a snaffle by applying pressure to the horse’s mouth (differently depending on the mouth-piece of the Pelham). The lower rein, when activated, rotates and applies downward pressure.
Kimberwicke also called Kimblewicke
The Kimberwicke works similar to a Pelham but is significantly less severe. The Kimberwicke’s cheek is shaped like a Dee bit but with slots in the cheeks. The slots put the reins in a fixed position so they cannot move around the bit ring. When the reins are fixed, they engage the curb action of the bit. If the cheek slots of the curb rein were not used to fix the rein, the Kimberwicke would work as a Dee Snaffle.
Weymouth Sets (Double Bridles)
Weymouth Sets should only be used by advanced riders and on horses that have been trained to understand a simple snaffle bit and a Pelham. Using a double bridle allows you to get extremely clear reins instructions to your horse because you are able to give directions using two bits. This bit set gives an advanced rider the tools to engage their horse’s entire body, especially the horse’s back end.
The Bradoon bit is fixed to your top rein. The Bradoon acts as a snaffle by applying pressure to the mouth, tongue and bars (depending on which type of Bradoon you use). The Bradoon gives your horse a lift but does not give your horse directions to bend into a frame or to stop.
Your Curb rein (bottom rein) is attached to the Weymouth bit. The Weymouth, when activated, applies pressure to the horse’s poll, encouraging the horse to lower their head into a frame. The Weymouth is also used to stop and slow the horse. The Weymouth also applies pressure to the lower jaw (chin groves) by activating the curb chain. The Weymouth should fit your horse’s mouth snuggly. The Bradoon will be slightly wider (by a quarter inch) than the Weymouth.
Curb Chains and Curb Straps
If a steel curb chain is too much pressure for your horse and your horse starts backing off, try wrapping the curb chain. There are many curb chain pads on the market such as gel or memory foam pads. To wrap the curb chain more economically, you can cut cotton gauze (Gamgee), wrap it around the middle of your curb chain and cover this with black vet wrap. You can also try using different curb chains; they are available in leather, nylon and elastic, etc.
The curb chain must be smooth, flat and adjusted correctly for the Pelham to work properly. Pelham and Weymouth bits often have a small lip strap ring above the curb ring. The lip strap is a small leather strap, which prevents the horse from grabbing the shank of the bit with his lips. A lip strap is not usually necessary for most Pelham bits. The lip strap is useful when using a Weymouth set.
*Curb Chain details apply to the three types of bits described above: The Pelham, The Kimberwicke and Weymouth Sets Although they weren’t mentioned in the sections about these bits.
Snaffle Bits March 2, 2015 08:20
Snaffle bits provide direct pressure, in some form or other, to the horse’s tongue. Depending on the choice of bit; snaffle bits can apply pressure across the entire tongue, to the bars, edges of the tongue, the palette or pin point the centre of the tongue. Snaffle bits do not offer any leverage. They do not provide poll pressure.
Loose Ring Bits
Loose Ring bits are a great training device. These bits provide direct pressure to the tongue but are not as efficient as a more advanced bit. When you pull on the reins, the reins pull on the rings, the rings turn then apply pressure to the mouth. This means that there is a delay or a lag, which is good for practicing. This is the reason why this bit is great for training at home. The rider can then switch to a more precise bit for the horse show (when every second counts).
*We recommend using bit guards when using a Loose-Ring bit to avoid pinching or cutting the corners of your horse’s mouth. When the rings turn they can easily catch this sensitive area.
Eggbutt bits are great for horses with sensitive corners of the mouth. The mouth joint is fixed and thicker where attached to the cheek. These bits are steady in the mouth compared to a loose ring, which means direct pressure is applied to the mouth without the lag time of the ring reaching the mouthpiece. Eggbutt bits do not offer any lifting effects. It is a common misconception to think the small rings of an Eggbutt bit provides leverage. They do not!
The Dee bit is the strongest bit of the snaffle family. The bigger the cheek of these snaffles the more clearly the message (this one throws many for a loop, we think it should be the opposite but it’s not) will get delivered from rider to horse. The Dee bit’s fixed big cheeks work in a similar way to the Eggbutt by giving the rider direct contact to the mouth (no lag time). The Dee bit also helps with steering directions for those of us who need the help (it won’t do the job for you but it will help out)!
The Full Cheek Bit is great for teaching young horses to turn. They are also great for those lovely stiff horses who can’t or don’t want to turn. So yes, they are for the directionally challenged! There is no lag time with this bit (direct pressure). They can be used with or without Fulmer loops better known as bit keepers. We recommend using bit keepers for safety reasons if you have a tendency to be absent minded, etc. We have seen the upper part of the Full Cheek get caught in more things than you can imagine! The horse then pulls back and voila, broken bridle. Let’s try to prevent this from happening! The Fulmer loops are also used to make the bit sit up in the horse’s mouth.
Bit plastics and what they each do in your horse's mouth February 23, 2015 08:09
Coated and Flexi Bits
Vulcanite is a hard black material similar to plastic. At a quick glance, it looks like a rubber bit. This is a firm material, which is much harder than rubber. It is often used to make a Mullen mouth bit without any flexion because Vulcanite is a hard plastic. Vulcanite is very accepted by horses as they interpret it as a “warm” material. The bit is made with a metal bar for strength that is covered with a thick amount of vulcanite. This is a good bit for a horse that needs a softer touch but that does not chew on the bit.
Rubber is a soft black material similar to plastic. It has many of the same functions as the Vulcanite material discussed above. The difference between the two is that rubber is flexible where Vulcanite is not. It is great for making soft strong bits such as a flexible rubber Pelham that has a metal wire on the inside or a soft Rubber Dee for young horses who have just started light work. The young horses generally chew on the material because they are getting used to having something in their mouths. When horses chew on this material, it will slowly wear away. Rubber bits need to be replaced well before the horse reaches the metal interior of the bit.
*It is important that the horses are salivating and chewing before using these bits or they will not move freely due to the nature of the rubber and will cause the horses to be uncomfortable.
Hard Carbon is similar to Vulcanite. It is not flexible. Hard Carbon is a durable material, which is non porous and therefore moves more freely in the horse’s mouth than a rubber bit would. Hard Carbon is used to produce a narrower mouth piece than Vulcanite or Rubber mouth pieces, which is good for horses that don’t like having wider bits in their mouths.
Trust Flexi Mouth Bits
Trust Flexi are the new kid on the block. They are quickly replacing the dearly loved Nathe bits we have all been using for years. Rumor has it: Nathe has retired and will no longer be making bits (we don’t have any confirmed statements directly from Nathe but the bits haven’t been available for the last two seasons, if not longer). Trust flexi bits are flexible (as the name implies). Their plastic is FDA Approved and non-toxic. These bits are constructed using a Stainless Steel interior core making them reliable and safe. They are available in classic designs and are hand crafted. They have their Trust logo visible on the
end of the bit (so we know we are getting the real deal). We are very excited about this bit replacing Nathe!
Sprenger Duo Bits
Sprenger makes a crisp white colored flexible bit, which they have branded as Sprenger Duo. These bits are made from flexible plastic that bends and adapts to your horse’s mouth. The material does not contain plasticizers, it is food-safe, and solvent-free meaning it is safe for your horse. Sprenger’s Duo bits are made with a steel cable on the inside for added security (should it be needed)! These bits are considerably narrower than a Rubber or Vulcanite bit.
There are many other quality brands that are similar in many ways to the materials discussed above. There are also many other brands that produce rubber type compounds bits, which come with a handful of problems. They can be toxic to your horse and should be avoided even though their price may seem tempting. The problem with a poorly made coated or flexible bit is the construction. Often poorly made bits aren’t made with a steel core or steel wire. This means that if your horse chews on the bit too much, you could end up in a scary situation with a broken bit in the middle of a course (which wouldn’t be fun and could be dangerous). … Please think twice before making your purchases. You usually get exactly that for which you pay!
Bit metals and what they each do in your horse’s mouth February 16, 2015 08:41
Steel bits are very durable. Steel makes a very strong bit that will last for many years to come with virtually no maintenance. Another bonus: steel is can be very cheap, which makes it very tempting! The question is: Do horses like steel in their mouths? Many
horses are content to have steel in their mouth even though it is considered a “cold
metal”. You will run into trouble when you use a poorly made steel bit because the bit’s finish and details can often be rough and even sharp to the horse’s mouth. When buying a bit, take a closer look at the fine detail. Steel bits, which are manufactured with “lost wax” in their casting, have a smoother finish, better details and over all, are well made bits.
Sweet Iron as known as Sweet Metal (and blue bits)
Sweet Iron is a great bit metal;unfortunately, it is often looked down on cosmetically. In reaction to this, recently, they have become more popular because some manufacturers are finishing their mouthpieces with a “flamed” sweet metal, which equals a pretty blue finish. When you put this beautiful blue color beside polished steel cheeks…voila, you have an amazing looking bit! I promise you two things: 1-this will be a great bit for many years to come, and 2-it will not look this beautiful blue color for long!
Un-oxidized (new) sweet iron (also called sweet metal) has a bluish tinge. Once the bit is used, it gets oxidized and the blue color quickly disappears. Over time, the bit begins to look more and more rusty and brown. The Sweet Iron rust will not chip off like rusty steel would flake. The rust is not dangerous or hurtful to the horse. Most people don’t want a rusty bit; this is the part where you shouldn’t judge a bit by its cover! The sweet iron produces a taste that horses love. Bits made from this material will last a long time and are less expensive than bits made out of copper blends. The cheeks of the Sweet Iron bits are usually made from steel and will not change cosmetically.
Copper Blends & Registered Blends:
Copper is a good metal, which promotes the production of saliva and in turn acceptance of the bit. The down side to having a bit made entirely of copper is that it is a soft metal. If you have a horse that chews on the bit, you will soon notice the copper changing shape or even developing sharp points in areas of wear. Copper is better used in accent areas such as copper rollers, French links, lozenge links and even in a mixture of different metals.
Aurigan is a registered mix of copper, silicon and zinc made through extensive research by Sprenger with the help of the Veterinary University of Hannover. The copper mixture, Aurigan, encourages saliva production and even has a smell and taste that horses love (I don’t recommend trying to smell or look for the taste yourself, you won’t find it, I’ve tried!). Aurigan bits are available with a German silver cheek or Aurigan cheek.
Sensogan is Sprenger’s new registered material and will slowly be replacing Aurigan. Sensogan is a mixture of copper, manganese and zinc. The copper content has been reduced slightly so there is still enough to maintain the production of saliva. This material will not discolor as easily as other copper blends. Prevention of allergic skin reactions, muscle tension, even stress are some of the added benefits of using magnesium. The list of benefits goes on and on; basically magnesium is good for all kind of things! Many training programs include magnesium in their supplement or even in some feeds. Does yours? Either way, we are very excited for this new material!
What is your bit doing for you? February 10, 2015 08:27
A rider should always use the most simple and mild bit, which allows them to control their horse safely and get the desired performance out of their horse. Your bit should be
soft enough to encourage your horse to move forward, take your hand a little and even to pull a little. This does not mean to pull you around and not respect your hand.
Bits are used for stopping, turning and for controlling the impulsion the rider creates with their leg and seat. Out of all the tack we use, we rely heavily on bits for our safety. We want to know we are in control and capable of stopping our horse should they spook or take off. When purchasing a bridle or a saddle, safety is a very distant if even present thought. Yes, we want good quality leather and to be in the correct position and have comfort so we can stay on but safety is not our top priority when making these purchases. Yet time and time again riders spend four thousand to six thousand dollars on their saddle and thirty dollars on a poorly made bit. Why is this? We often hear people saying they are looking for a specific kind of bit and some thirty dollar bits work well and some bits are only available at a higher price, meaning one hundred dollars and up. What makes a bit cost more? Where is the value of a well-made bit?
At a quick glance, a thirty dollar bit and a two hundred dollar bit can look very similar. When you have a closer look, you will start to notice different materials, finishes and hand-fabricated parts. Put the two bits side-by-side and look at the material from which they are made, feel the finish of each bit. Pick up both bits and feel the weight of each. Look at the detail and shape of the mouthpieces. Next time you buy a bit have a closer look!
Next week we will go into the different materials used to make bits and what each material means to your horse.
Anatomy of the Horse’s Mouth February 2, 2015 07:56
Different types of bits work on different pressure points of the horse’s mouth. Applying pressure on each area in conjunction with the rider’s leg and seat has a different effect. For example, a Hackamore applies pressure to the nose and chin; whereas a Mullen Mouth applies pressure to the tongue and bars. Different horses require different pressure combinations to encourage them to bend at the poll. When a horse bends at the poll and is in a frame, it uses its entire body by engaging its neck, back and hindquarter (bum) muscles. This allows the horse to be balanced and results in overall improved movement.
The diagram below labels each pressure point:
The Poll: The poll is located behind the horse’s ears. The crown of a traditional bridle will lie behind the ears and in front of the poll. Pressure on the poll encourages the horse to lower its head and flex into a frame. When flexed into a frame, the horse will use its neck, back and bum muscles, which will allow it to build more strength in those areas
The Roof: Can be extremely sensitive to pressure. When a low-ported bit gently touches the roof it, if done correctly, will cue the horse to lower its head. If done wrong, it will have the opposite effect and produce a negative reaction. All bits will, in some way, touch the roof of a horse’s mouth. Their mouths are relatively small and a bit has no other place to go. Often people consider ported bits cruel. This is not true because ported bits allow room for the tongue.
Nasal Bone: The area where the nasal bone ends and the cartilage begins. Pressure on this area arises on horses daily even when we are not riding them. Halters and lead shanks with chains apply pressure to this area. Pressure on the nose is achieved by the use of a Hackamore in conjunction with a chinstrap, a Hackabit otherwise known as a Combi and or through a normal or specialty noseband. The nose bone is covered by a very thin layer of skin therefore it is sensitive. Pressure to the nose will create flexion at the poll.
The Bars: Are the flat space after the front teeth and before the cheek teeth. A thin layer of skin covers them. All bits lie over the bars. Horses generally respond well to bar pressure because they can swallow freely contrary to when tongue pressure is applied. The lips protect the bars from direct pressure by cushioning them from the bit.
The Lips: Contrary to popular belief, the majority of a horse’s lips sit inside its mouth protecting its bars. The lips are pink and fleshy. The lips take a substantial amount of pressure off the sensitive bars. The bit actually sits on the lips and not directly on the bars. It is important to make sure each bit fits properly and that the cheek pieces of the bridle are adjusted correctly so that the bit does not pinch and cut the lips.
The Tongue: The horse’s tongue is very similar to a human’s. It fills virtually their entire mouth. It’s a very strong yet sensitive muscle. It is used for swallowing, eating and drinking. When not being used, it gently rests on the roof of the mouth. Applying constant pressure to the tongue restricts swallowing. When the horse gives to the tongue pressure of the bit, the rider releases or softens. The horse learns to listen because the softening of the bit pressure rewards them. Gentle tongue pressure encourages chewing and saliva production that in turns encourages flexion.
The Chin: Pressure on the chin alone would cause the horse to raise its head. This is why pressure on the chin is used in conjunction with nose, poll and or tongue and bar pressure through a chinstrap or various types of curb chains. The cheek pieces move back towards the rider when the reins are engaged. The curb chain or strap tightens into the chin, pulls on the cheek pieces and applies pressure to the poll. This causes the mouthpiece to put pressure on the tongue, lips then bars. Pressure to all the above points at once causes the horse to give, bend at the poll and into a frame.
It is important to choose the right kind of pressure for each horse. The correct pressure on the horse’s mouth along with your leg and seat will encourage the horse to use and strengthen their entire body while exercising them.
When a horse lacks muscle in their neck, back or hindquarters, a simple task such as picking up the correct lead could seem overly complicated!
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.
Welcome to Thierry January 18, 2015 13:52
Thierry Horse & home
Precisely crafted horse & home products.
We are brand new! Our website is live as of January 17, 2015. Precisely crafted horse and home products is what we sell. We specialize in hard to find European bits and accessories. You might be asking why the “Horse & Home”? The “Home” collection is coming soon! We are starting with bits because it’s what we know best. If the bit you want is not on our site (very likely because not many bits are…more are coming soon, we promise!) we can and will find it for you. Please email us a picture of what you need!
Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Sarah, very nice to meet you! I manage and do all the purchasing for a very high-end tack shop in Langley BC and have done so for the past 12 years. You may be familiar with it; it’s called Thunderbird Tack Shop. As you can imagine I love what I do! Horses have been a part of my life since I was five years old. I competed until I was 20 years old when I became absorbed in the tack shop world.
I am blessed; my customers are amazing! One of the best things about my job is catching up with customers. Over the years, many have become my friends and very dear to my heart. For those of you who know me, you know I was in Montreal for the summer. I was on the search for something new that I could create and that would reach a wider audience. Thierry is that in every way!
Thierry Horse & Home Co. was established to complement what I do with Thunderbird Tack not to compete. You will notice some similarities between the two companies.
Our promise to you:
Customers are our first priority. We are here for you. We will stand behind what we sell. If you have a problem with something you have purchased, we will fix the problem in a timely manner.
As Thierry grows it will come into itself with a unique horse meets home atmosphere. Thierry is an online store; we combine our love for the horse and home décor products.
We ship everywhere in Canada and the United States. We plan to make things as simple and straight forward as possible for our customers. If you need bits or other items we carry in a hurry, we can ship overnight. If you are looking for a bit we don’t have, we will find the bit you need. If you don’t know what bit you need, please ask us for assistance!
Why are we blogging? We have a few reasons:
1-Bits are mysterious contraptions. There are thousands of options with very little information available. People always have questions about the bit they are using, how it should be used and when it stops working, what they should try next. We want to narrow the gap by explaining bits.
2- Home décor and lifestyle. We love our homes and lifestyles! We will share the décor, furniture and products we use in our homes. We will share what we are doing and why we use one product instead of another. When you love your house, coming home is one of the best feelings in the world.
3-When we come across something we love, who better to share our secrets than you!
We would love your comments and your involvement. We appreciate and encourage feedback both positive and negative. If you have something to say, we want to hear it! If you would like to see us carry a product that is inline with our vision or if you disagree with something we post please give us feedback. You can contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a message on our Facebook page. If you think the topic requires a phone call please call us 604.340.2454 (Pacific Standard Time) during regular business hours 9-5 Monday-Friday. Please send us pictures of the horsey things you love! Looking forward to hearing from you!