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  1. #1
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    Question Ranking common bits, including materials thereof?

    Just the common ones people have heard of, or could Google easily, not some of the specialty bits such as leather. I'm curious how people view different bits, and how my views fall into them.

    You and I know there are a TON of variables, such as discipline, legality, conformation of the horse's mouth, horse's preference, needs to fix certain problems and, biggest of all, the rider. So assume a standard horse with no serious issues (rooting, brakes, low palette) that accepts any bit willingly, and an intermediate level rider with independent hands. How would YOU rank common bits from gentle to severe?? Let's not nitpick or get tooooooo technical . Do include materials if you think it applies, such as comparing a rubber mouth to a metal.
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

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  2. #2
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    It totally depends on the horse and the size and shape of its mouth. In general, for example I'd say the fat rubber mullen snaffles are the mildest, but for a small-mouthed horse, that might not be true if it doesn't sit comfortably. Same with a "Plain" single-jointed snaffle...for some horses the nutcracker action is severe; for others it's mild. Some find a double jointed uncomfortable. Some are relaxed and soft in a pelham but anxious in a slow twist snaffle. I think the mildest bit is whatever a horse goes best in and still has all the buttons.

    The other factor that decides is the riders' hands. A mullen snaffle can be severe in the wrong hands, a twisted-wire can be mild in the right ones.

    There's no easy answer to your question, IMO



  3. #3
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    Please see where I asked to consider an average horse's mouth and average rider with independent hands. I understand that there are lot of variables . Looking for a generalization, please.
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

    COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
    Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.



  4. #4
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    Generally, moderately fat is the kindest and super thin is the least kind. Super fat doesn't fit the average horse, so I'm not ranking it.

    Generally, rubber is less severe than metal- unless the horse has chewed on it and made sharp edges.

    In terms of mouthpiece style- from least to most severe: three-piece snaffle (bean or french link), mullen mouth (preferably anatomically curved), single-jointed snaffle), waterford, Dr. Bristol, slow twist, corkscrew, segunda, double twisted wire, etc. I only show in dressage now, so I don't go past single-jointed snaffle.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by joiedevie99 View Post
    Generally, moderately fat is the kindest and super thin is the least kind. Super fat doesn't fit the average horse, so I'm not ranking it.

    Generally, rubber is less severe than metal- unless the horse has chewed on it and made sharp edges.

    In terms of mouthpiece style- from least to most severe: three-piece snaffle (bean or french link), mullen mouth (preferably anatomically curved), single-jointed snaffle), waterford, Dr. Bristol, slow twist, corkscrew, segunda, double twisted wire, etc. I only show in dressage now, so I don't go past single-jointed snaffle.
    I disagree about the waterford being more harsh than a single joint. The waterford is actually pretty mild, especially compared the the nutcracker/stabbing affect of a single joint.
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  6. #6
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    I'm just going to go out on a limb and say I don't know that this concept can be quantified like this. Issues mental or otherwise aside, "severity" is completely subjective imho. A completely "normal" horse might consider bar pressure intolerable, so a comfort shaped mullen might be uncomfortable and therefore appear "severe" to the rider. Some consider single joints "mild" while others cringe at the thought of scraping the horse's mouth roof. I'm with the other poster, I think waterfords have a bad rap, I think they're quite comfortable. They just seem to be very effective at preventing leaning, so naturally thought of as severe. My horse loffed his waterford.

    Heck, I read that some considered the kinelton noseband severe as it had the power to slow a hot headed race horse. All it did was displace pressure from the mouth to the nose, relieve pressure on the mouth basically, how much more mild can you get? But because it was so effective on such a strong animal, people felt it has to be severe.

    I think that might be the root too. If you put a new bit on a bad puller and suddenly they're polite and light, does that make the bit severe? or just a good match?

    Bits are like people shoes. The right one for the right task feels comfortable and correct, while the wrong one can border torture.

    Like you said, there are a ton of variables... too many.

    My vote is that this question has no answer other than "it depends".
    Just because you’re afraid, doesn’t mean you’re in danger. Just because you feel alone, doesn’t mean nobody loves you. Just because you think you might fail, doesn’t mean you will.


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  7. #7

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    Bit fit is just as critical as bit choice. I worked on a lovely horse yesterday with a nasty sore on his left bar where the bit lies. Although the shallow port Myler bit wasn't intended to cause pain it was slightly large on him and so the bend for the port was sitting on the bars creating a sore.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheJenners View Post
    Please see where I asked to consider an average horse's mouth and average rider with independent hands. I understand that there are lot of variables . Looking for a generalization, please.
    I understand your question; but it's broad enough that any "generalization" will be worth a bucket of warm spit.

    That said, you've got to break the question into two parts: power (how much force you can put into the horse's mouth) and severity (meaning how much pain transmitted to the mouth).

    Discussing power generally means discussions of shank length, shank shape, curb chain/strap adjustment, etc. The question is the leverage that the rider has.

    Discussing severity you're likely in the realm of mouthpiece shape, port height, mouthpiece material, adjustment in the mouth, etc. Is that leverage applied over a broad front or are there "pressure points" inherent in the shape of the bit?

    You've also not included a critical item: fit. I'd put this under "severity." Consider that most folks think that it's axiomatic that a "fat" bit is less severe than a "thin" one. But this is ONLY true if that "fat" bit is appropriate to the horse's mouth. If it's walking around like it's got a giant wad of bubble gum in there it's NOT less "severe." Indeed, it can be an excruciating experience for the horse.

    Last, but far from least, is the horse's acceptance of the bit. This is highly individualized to each horse. I'm starting to work with a 3.5 year old. Right now we're working in an eggbutt snaffle with a very mild "slow twist" mouthpiece. We tried a smooth mouthpiece (copper and stainless) but he just would not settle. The slow twist ended the constant "arguing" and he relaxed noticeably. This is counter-intuitive to a lot of "common wisdom" but there it is.

    Here's a link to some photos of him working:

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1968009&type=1

    Note that determining "acceptance" is not falling into anthropomorphism. It IS being horseman enough to know that you ride the horse under you, not the horse in somebody's book, video, or clinic notes. I get an eyebrow from some folks over using a slow twist bit with a youngster. My response is that I care more about his performance than I do about some "expert's" opinion. And I certainly care even less about the opinions of the "rail birds."

    Once upon a time I was a "snaffle bit nazi." I'm still convinced that for most folks doing trail riding, ring riding, general hacking out, etc. the snaffle bit with a simple mouthpiece will do on a decently trained horse with a decently trained rider. But IF the horse has issues, the rider has issues, or the discipline demands it then there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with using a curb bit appropriate to the horse and discipline.

    This is not really an answer to the question. For a pretty good answer get William Langdon's book Bits and Bitting Manual.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by joiedevie99 View Post
    Generally, moderately fat is the kindest and super thin is the least kind. Super fat doesn't fit the average horse, so I'm not ranking it.

    Generally, rubber is less severe than metal- unless the horse has chewed on it and made sharp edges.

    In terms of mouthpiece style- from least to most severe: three-piece snaffle (bean or french link), mullen mouth (preferably anatomically curved), single-jointed snaffle), waterford, Dr. Bristol, slow twist, corkscrew, segunda, double twisted wire, etc. I only show in dressage now, so I don't go past single-jointed snaffle.
    In our experience, metal is better, as it promotes a moist mouth and so keeps the bit moving smoothly.
    Rubber and plastic less are somewhat "sticky", compared with metal and many colts resented those bits, while going fine with metal ones.

    Also rubber bits tend to be fatter around than metal, although metal can be made too thin, to the point of being dangerous in bad hands or if the bridle gets caught in something and the horse pulls back.

    I think the most important part of what bit to use is a rider that is knowledgeable or under expert supervision.

    Horses also can change with the circumstances in how they respond to different bits, go better hacking out in one, doing flat arena work in another, competing in yet another.

    The bit that has worked best for us across disciplines and all kinds of horses has been a basic medium mouth steel D ring snaffle.
    We can use that and then evaluate from that where to go and what else may work better for the specific horse and what we are doing with that horse.
    That may be because for so many decades that has been the standard bit so many used, so most familiar with for horses and riders.



  10. #10
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    Interesting posts! I knew it would create some squabbling, but that's just the horse world. DH and I argue about chain mouth bits, which he says is the most gentle because it drapes in the mouth. I feel a French link gets that spot in the "list."

    I admit I never considered a rubber bit causing dry mouth, but it makes sense....
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

    COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
    Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.



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