View Full Version : Let's Talk Bits......

Oct. 14, 2009, 03:20 PM
SO tell me . What do you guys start your youngsters in ? I wanted to find out if you use Rubber , Eggbutts , Or Snaffles. What are most trainers using these days and why ?
Also ,,, which would be less stressful for a youngster being started without causing alot of wear & tear or pulling on the corners of the mouth ..:confused:

Oct. 14, 2009, 03:31 PM
I use a plain snaffle, sometimes with a double joint- depending on the horse's preference. I use a fullcheek at the start to help them with the concept of steering and then move to a loose ring. My trainer also said that he loves using the key bits or rollers with his youngsters as it gives them something to play with. I had one 3 year old mare that was a a bit difficult to find a bit she liked, we ended up using a korsteel double jointed full cheek with a copper rolly ball in the center- she loves it.

I used to think that I would use a really soft rubber bit or happy mouth, however, the at the breed inspections in the performance test, I'm only allowed a simple mouth, so I figured, just start out with that rather than have to adjust to it later.

Oct. 14, 2009, 03:38 PM
Another one for plain snaffle

Oct. 14, 2009, 03:55 PM
I have heard alot of trainers say that they start out with a Full Cheek Snaffle for about 30-45days to get the concept of steering . And then from there they change bits to others.
So how do you determine what bit to start with and what bit makes your horse happy and works for them ? Just trying to understand the logic here.:confused:

Oct. 14, 2009, 04:23 PM
I started my mare in an eggbutt, then switched to a full cheek. Both bits were single jointed and smooth. The reason? I ride two horses. The trained one only goes in the eggbutt and my girl didn't know the difference. I was tired of changing the bridle back and forth for them, so I just use different bits and bridles now.

That said, my girl likes her her cheek with keepers and fusses with anything else. I think she must prefer how still it stays in her mouth.

Oct. 14, 2009, 04:37 PM
I always start mine in a D-ring french link bit (one of the sprenger KK ones). No real rhyme or reason to it other than the fact that it seems to be the softest bit to the majority of horses that I've ridden over the years. It's also the only bit that I have that's "simple" and not already in use by one of my other horses. So I usually just pop that in first and go from there (on untouched babies I'll usually adjust it to a lower position than I'd ride a "finished" horse in). Haven't had one object yet.

But I'm curious to hear what other people have to say.

Oct. 14, 2009, 04:39 PM
I am one of those who is a big fan of starting in a full cheek plain mouth snaffle also. I've found it makes the most sense to them due to the ability to apply pressure from the side for the beginning stages of learning to turn. Once they get that far I switch to whatever fits in their mouth the best and what they go the best in. Most of the time it is just a simple regular snaffle or the rubber, but it really depends on the horse.

Oct. 14, 2009, 04:43 PM
I have heard alot of trainers say that they start out with a Full Cheek Snaffle for about 30-45days to get the concept of steering . And then from there they change bits to others.
So how do you determine what bit to start with and what bit makes your horse happy and works for them ? Just trying to understand the logic here.:confused:

Well for one of my mares (the 4 year old- we ended up putting in a double jointed ball roller full cheek). When I started her, she had quite a high head carriage and would throw her head up when I asked for downward transitions (and it wasn't that I was too hard with my hands)- despite having a very soft mouth on the lunge line and for the initial WTing, so that told us that something was going on in her mouth. Sure thing, the single joint was not working well with the conformation of her mouth so we switched to a double jointed bit and added the roller to give her something to do.. worked like a charm. With this mare, I think she'll live in this bit for the rest of her career.

With the 5 year old mare, I've switched bits on her quite a few times. She doesn't do well with a double joint because it collapses a bit in her mouth because she is very wide in the mouth and she doesn't like things lying on her tongue. So we put her in single jointed bits. Now that that's been established, the ring types depend on the function I'm looking for- right now I'm jumping her in a 3 ring- she needs a bit of leverage and bits with curb chains are too harsh. With this mare, she seems to develop "Immunity" to the bits and so I've found that changing it up with her gives me the best advantage depending on where she is in her training and progress.

Then I have another 4 year old mare that from day one went in a french link snaffle and seems just fine in it.

So to make a long story short- every horse is different and the conformation of the mouth makes a big difference when choosing a bit. And, play it by ear- see what problems develop as training progresses (if any do). Goodluck!

Oct. 14, 2009, 05:07 PM
SO tell me . What do you guys start your youngsters in ? I wanted to find out if you use Rubber , Eggbutts , Or Snaffles. What are most trainers using these days and why ?
Also ,,, which would be less stressful for a youngster being started without causing alot of wear & tear or pulling on the corners of the mouth ..:confused:

read this thread on mouthing and bitting
and read my helpful links pages on the sticky on the dresage forum read all of page one
and all links perticular link 4
as it gives working diagrams of all bits

Oct. 14, 2009, 05:11 PM
^ I think GLS forgot the link....

I believe it's this thread:


Oct. 14, 2009, 05:24 PM
This is really good.:yes:
My reasons being : I have a coming 2 yr old and NEXT fall when he gets broke I want to know what to have it done it. I will be sending him off and a bridle with him. But I want that trainer to use what I send . I am hearing so many good things about the " Full Cheek Snaffle" as far as starting a baby with steering, and guiding them.:yes:
I want to keep his mouth as soft as possible and not have any pressure put on him.
Once he is broke though he will be turned back out for the winter and not restarted until later in his "3" yr old year.
The reason you might ask.... He is going to be HUGE and we just want to get him broke and then let him chill out to allow those joints to close and continue to grow.!!
So any more Bit advice would be nice..:lol:
BTW,,, I am now reading the other thread / links..;)

Oct. 14, 2009, 06:46 PM
I tend to start with whatever happens to be on the first schooling bridle I grab. Most of my horses have similarly sized heads, and besides the big mare, all of them go in a plain snaffle of some sort, be it an eggbutt, loose ring, etc. If a particular horse then proves to need something different, then ill switch bits. But a full cheek is a good choice to send with your boy, hard to go wrong there.

Oct. 14, 2009, 07:29 PM
Thanks Timex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:cool:
and I LOVE that name.
it was one of my horse's name and he lived to be about 20yrs old. :yes:
Very fond memories.. YOU ROCK !!!!!;)

Oct. 14, 2009, 07:30 PM
I use an eggbut jointed mouth. I don't think it is about the type of bit as much as soft, quiet hands. A baby learns that the bit is "good" comunication with you through quiet rewarding hands. You know you've been successful in teaching this when baby starts to reach for the bit as you present it and holds it happily in his mouth even though you are in the process of removing the bridle and find you have to wait on baby to decide to drop the bit out of his mouth!

I should add, go and watch your trainer as he tacks and untacks his young horses. You will learn as much about your trainer watching the horses reaction here as you will learn watching an actual training ride.

Oct. 14, 2009, 07:40 PM
Its always going to depend on the horse and what they are most confortable with, however I like to start mine in French Links

Oct. 14, 2009, 07:46 PM
We start in a plain snaffle, but we ground drive first, so they start the concept of steering that way. It takes a little longer (about 7 or 10 days longer so well worth it) but it makes getting on go so much smoother and easier for the young horse (or OTTB) with less confusion. The reason being a plain snaffle is simply because that's what's on the driving bridle. After ground driving they go in a snaffle or 2 piece snaffle, mostly either egg butt or loose ring, depending on the horse and the size bridle, and whatever the horse is most comfortable in.

Oct. 15, 2009, 08:13 AM
Great ideas and thougths. This is all so good to know. :yes:
Just by reading the comments here and the other links provided I have learned quite a bit and will continue my studying . :yes:

Oct. 15, 2009, 10:46 AM
All of the babies start long lining in a full cheek double jointed snaffle: http://www.doversaddlery.com/herm-sprenger-kk-ultra-full-cheek-snaffle-bit/p/X1-01484/cn/86/

They start their under saddle training in this as well, then go to a loose ring when they learn how to steer ;): http://www.doversaddlery.com/product.asp?pn=X1-010066&zmam=1460880&zmas=1&zmac=66&zmap=X1-010066&re=categoryrec

Dora is still going in the loose ring, but whenever I get around to placing an order from Dover, she will get a D ring with the same mouthpiece.

The reason: I LOVE the double jointed bits, and so do all of my horses. They seem much more comfortable in the double jointed than in the single jointed. They start in the full cheek to learn how to steer, then go to the loose ring. If I have one that is especially heavy or on the forehand (usually not a baby horse), they go in the three ring that has the same mouthpiece.

Oct. 15, 2009, 12:58 PM
I am really liking the look , and philosophy and concept of these (2) bits. That is a great idea and a sounds like a wonderful way to have a youngster started.
SO,, looks like i need to go and get the bits and have them handy. So when the time comes to send my boy off to be broke he has his bridle ready to go .:D
And after talking to several trainers they are mostly saying that a youngster should be with them for about 90-days or (3) months to get a good foundation on them.
what fun. what fun...

Oct. 15, 2009, 01:20 PM
Fulmer full cheek snaffles are a great starting bit. A bit dangerous, I suppose, as I use them as intended (without keepers). But I'm careful and my horses have good manners. Never had a problem.

What's most important is that it's soft enough for them to want to "seek" and are comfortable latching onto it little bit but strong enough that they don't want to lean on it. There is some variance there. Some are more sensitive than others. Know your horse and their tendencies. If they tend to be bullyish and require a strong hand on the ground, they will need something a bit less mild. If a little hot and prone to sensitivity, then a very mild one.

Oct. 15, 2009, 01:42 PM
I started my mare in a d ring copper roller. The d ring sides help with steering and the copper rollers give them something to play with. A few months ago I switched to a KK Ultra d ring because I wanted to put a better bit in her mouth. She loves it.

Oct. 15, 2009, 02:26 PM
I really like the idea of the Full Cheeks. So why is it some people use them with Keepers and others go without keepers.???
any thoughts on that . :confused:

Seal Harbor
Oct. 15, 2009, 02:31 PM
I really like the idea of the Full Cheeks. So why is it some people use them with Keepers and others go without keepers.???
any thoughts on that . :confused:

Always, always use keepers on a full cheek it is dangerous not to. In the blink of an eye they can get the cheeks caught on a martingale, stirrup or whatever else is handy to hook over the cheek. They can kill themselves and whoever is sitting on them or near them doing that. Broken neck, flip over, freak out. Just an accident waiting to happen.

Oct. 15, 2009, 02:33 PM
Basically with full cheeks you run the risk of the cheek getting stuck on things. Namely people. :eek:

I find them best used without keepers as they assist in turning. The extensions on top and bottom actually make light contact with the whole outside of the face when the inside rein is used. Makes things very clear for the young ones. The keepers just don't let the bit act in the same way as without the keepers....the cheeks just don't act on the same part of the face.

However, as mentioned above, there are risks. If your horse rubs on things, DO NOT use one! I personally have never had a problem, but I am perhaps overly attentive. I would not want to have an inexperienced or child rider ride in one without keepers.

Seal Harbor
Oct. 15, 2009, 02:37 PM
They don't have to rub to catch it on something. Just reaching back to get a fly nearly killed someone I knew at a horse show. At least her horse just went down with her and didn't struggle or roll over on her. There were enough people right there to cut the stirrup leather the bit was caught in so he could get up and get off of her.

Neither of them were worse for wear just sore. They were very lucky.

Oct. 15, 2009, 03:02 PM
Truthfully, the action of a large-ring D-ring is just about the same....with none of the risk of the full cheek.

Oct. 15, 2009, 08:58 PM
WOW good things to know. It is amazing what animals will do with a bit in their mouth..:yes:

Oct. 16, 2009, 04:11 PM
I'm riding at Tim Stockdale's yard at the moment and what he does is he saw's off the top "cheek" and makes it smooth and just has the bottom one for steering purposes. They look like a half cheek driving bit when you're finished sawing the top bit off.

Oct. 17, 2009, 10:06 PM
Very interesting concept with that . Makes me wonder of the effectiveness with it ??:confused:

Oct. 17, 2009, 10:24 PM
I started my horse in the fattest loose-ring I could find. It is double jointed and he loves it. In fact, I still ride him in the very same bit and he was broke more than 8 years ago. But then again I'm not a big fan of using bits to fix training issues instead of using training, but that's a whole different thread.

I know some people that start in happy mouths or rubber bits, I didn't because I would have been buying a new one every week. My horse has a busy mouth, always has, always will.

I have broke horses that needed the full cheek for a while as well, they do help a lot with steering, as do big D-rings. I've used full cheeks with and without keepers. I know all the safety concerns with full cheeks but if you're careful and aware there usually aren't any problems. Don't let the full cheeks scare you, they're a great tool and if you need to use one, you need to use one.

Hope this helps. :)

Oct. 17, 2009, 11:18 PM
My young horse has a thick tongue and a low palate so I started her in a thin, loose ring, KK Ultra and she goes very well in it. Thick is not alway gentle if the horse, such as mine, doesn't have much room in the mouth. She has a wonderful, soft mouth - a BNT with whom I recently clinic'ed was very impressed and specifically commented on it - that I attribute to the fact that her basic "learning" was done with a "double" bridle. The KK Ultra with one set of reins and a rolled noseband with another set of reins attached. She learnt steering from the noseband and it allowed "emergency maneuvers" (read, bucking!) to be dealt with without hurting the mouth. As most "crude" movements came more off the seat, I transitioned her to just the KK Ultra and she has a great relationship with the bit and has been comfortable taking proper contact almost from the first day.

Oct. 17, 2009, 11:27 PM
Quiet horses start in a plain old loose ring or egg butt snaffle. My more challenging youngsters I start in a full cheek--if I have significant "behavior" it does not pull through the mouth. Personally, if my baby is likely to buck, rear, or otherwise act out a bit at the start, the full cheek is a better bet for disengaging the hind end. It has VERY seldom been an issue, but, better safe than sorry with the more challenging youngsters.