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French link vs. Dr. Bristol vs. bean?

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  • French link vs. Dr. Bristol vs. bean?

    I'm taking advantage of the after Christmas sales and am bit shopping for my horse. I don't know if I'll buy anything, I'm just looking for now, but I like to try different bits from time to time. I've ridden my guy in a French link before and he went fine in it, but how does the French compare to the Dr. Bristol's and the ones with the larger, rounder "beans"? If I recall correctly, I think the Dr. B's are harsher than the other two, but I could be wrong.

    Thanks in advance for info.
    "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham

  • #2
    You are correct. Dr. Bristol's are harsher. They actually work differently in the mouth and have an additional leverage action against the roof of the mouth and the tongue. when you use Dr. B. , for example, the right mouth piece works on the bar of the mouth and the corner of the lip. Meanwhile the angled straight bar in the middle, pivots slightly pushes against the roof and the tongue and then gives you a "fixed" (sort of) additional increased pressure.

    I'm not sure I'm explaining that very well. It is harsher, some horses just like it better.

    Flat french link, vs bean: the bean can be shorter and making it more of just a pivot point for the mouth piece. Rounder seems to be slightly softer.

    You really just have to experiment since each horse is so individual with roof arch, type of tongue (smooth,rough) size of tongue, size of bar and then of course sensitivity in all of those areas.

    good luck


    • #3
      A Dr. Bristol's link is set on the bit at a 45 degree angle. The link in a french link is flat- 0 degrees. It's easy to see if you lay them on a flat table next to each other.

      The Dr. Bristol link is typically more rectangular, with a straight edge- in order to enhance the effect. A french link is typically has a curvier plate.


      • #4
        they're all basically the same and are all mild bits.

        Dr. Bristols are the same as the 'bean' or 'lozenge' shape, and provide absolutely NO leverage in the horses's mouth...its on a loose ring.

        Most horses will go fine in any double jointed or single jointed loose ring snaffle, but if your horse has a particularly low palate, I'd go with the french link as they are thinner and therefore lay flatter in the mouth. If your horse has been happy with the french link, I'd just stick with that (unless you find a really great deal on a lozenge type link, then it'd be worth a try, I doubt your horse would have a problem with it unless the palate is an issue).


        • Original Poster

          Thank you for the information. I need a 6" for my gelding (draft cross), which can be a little tough, but I've found a couple of French link or bean options at VTO that are good possibilities.

          Another quick question, and this might warrant a separate thread, but Aurigan vs. copper vs. German silver vs. stainless steel vs. blah blah blah...?? In your experience, what metal produces the softest, most accepting mouth (acknowledging that all horses are different)? I currently have my gelding in one of the Herm Sprenger Aurigan bits and have ridden him in stainless as well as Happy Mouths. I might go with another Aurigan, but I'm just curious about the other options. Thanks!
          "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham


          • #6
            If all other bit elements are equal, assuming your horse has a wide bar spacing needing a 6" bit; here's what each one will do/be:

            Dr Bristol: great if he has a low palate, or a horse that responds well to tongue pressure (the plate lies FLAT against the tongue. If you need to see the patent to believe me, search it and you'll find it on here) but be mindful of bar spacing, the hinges need to sit either wider or narrower than the horse's bars otherwise this becomes a very ouchy bit.

            Bean: for a horse that prefers the way a double joint lays in the mouth, but prefers a quieter bit. The bean ads significant weight, so the mouthpiece tends to be more still in the mouth.

            French Link for a horse with little space for a bit (if we're talking the 12-14mm size, a horse that prefers something to play with, likes an active bit. A great bit for a horse that carries himself nicely in light, playful contact.

            All my bits are stainless.
            chaque pas est fait ensemble


            • #7
              Originally posted by AEM74 View Post
              Thank you for the information. I need a 6" for my gelding (draft cross), which can be a little tough, but I've found a couple of French link or bean options at VTO that are good possibilities.
              Coming from another draft cross owner - take advantage of the sales to expand your bit collection if possible! I could never borrow from friends because they all had 5" bits. I spent a couple years acquiring bits as I experimented. Now that I've pretty much settled on which bit works for what activity, I hesitate to sell my extras. It's nice having them on hand.
              The big guy: Lincoln

              Southern Maryland Equestrian


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Duckz View Post
                Coming from another draft cross owner - take advantage of the sales to expand your bit collection if possible! I could never borrow from friends because they all had 5" bits. I spent a couple years acquiring bits as I experimented. Now that I've pretty much settled on which bit works for what activity, I hesitate to sell my extras. It's nice having them on hand.
                Thanks, Duckz. That's what I figured. Just ordered a couple of 6" JP's - a loose ring with a copper bean/oval and another eggbutt with a bean/oval. Like you, I can never borrow, so I like to have an assortment on-hand.
                "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham


                • #9
                  German silver=aurigan, same thing. i'm not familiar with stainless, but any bit with copper alloy (like german silver) will help the horse salivate. Nancy has a lot of used Sprenger bits in a wide range of sizes/joints, as well as other brands, shoot her an email and see what she has, very nice lady and very reasonable prices http://rockhorseranch.webs.com/


                  • #10
                    Every horse is different although - with the Dr. B it does put pressure on the tongue and it is a stronger bit - I hate to use the word HARSH because that has more to do with the rider's hands.

                    My OTTB who is now 22 - when I was retraining him - he was very very strong and would not soften his jaw - I spent about a year in a rubber pelham and then 6 months in a DR. B and worked him then down to a french. But I still rode in the Dr. B when jumping and the french in dressage.

                    Not all beans are created equal either. And the Happy Mouth's have bean and frenches and they are a bit different.

                    Mainly, I like to stay mild. I like to find a bit they are prefect for in dressage. And I focus on that. Then when we jump, I hope I can ride in that mild bit for a while and as the horse becomes more enthusiatic, I will strengthen the bit - of course, a running martingale can help remind a horse that is getting excited to listen.... etc.

                    It depends on your horse, your level and what work you want to do. MOST of the young horses I train - I start in the french or a reg snaffle. I rarely use a Dr. B unless the horse is strong but I dont want to use a bonefide leverage bit.