Choosing the Right Bit



Types of Bits

  •     Snaffle Mouth Bits - Normally mild. Apply pressure to the bars and tongue. Available in shanked or ring bits.
  •     Roller Mouth Bits - Pacify young or nervous horses and promote salivation.
  •     Curb & Grazing Bits - Considered leverage bits because when the reins are pulled, there is pressure against the horse's bars as well as from the curb strap.
  •     Correction Bits - Leverage bits that apply pressure against the bars and tongue as well as from the curb strap. Jointed to be less harsh than a solid mouth bit and to give the rider the ability to work one side more independently of the other. Can be harsh if overly pulled on.
  •     Hackamores - Designed to apply pressure above the soft tissue of the nose and chin area. Controls the horse without putting undue pressure on the horse's mouth. Great for horses who need help with stopping and horses who cannot tolerate a mouthpiece.
  •     Wonder Bits - The sliding action of these bits applies pressure to the corners and lips of the mouth. This action along with the position of the rider's hands, helps to elevate the horse from its quarters. Popular with barrel racers, gaited and trail horses.
  •     Tom Thumb Bits - A basic snaffle shanked bit used to transition from a ring or snaffle to a curb or leverage bit. These use a small amount of curb and shank pressure. The cheeks move independently for more lateral flexibility. Great for training.

Other Terms and Definitions

Sweet Iron is actually a cold-rolled "mild steel" or carbon steel that has been work hardened. It is often preferred by horses because the oxidation of the rusting or "seasoning" tastes sweet. It also seems to encourage salivation. Salivation is thought to be a "sensitivity enhancer" and many trainers believe their horses work best when their mouths are moist. A salivating horse is a more relaxed horse. He is moving his tongue and relaxing his lower jaw as well as his neck, poll and spine.

Kimberwick (also Kimblewick or Kimberwicke) has bit shanks, D-shaped rings, and a curb chain. Due to its shanks, it is regarded as a type of curb bit. The curb action is minimal to mild, however, because the shanks have short purchase arms and no lever arms. Some variations increase the curb action. Generally used with one set of reins.

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